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Visual Novel / Jake Hunter

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A Japanese noir mystery Visual Novel series originally known as Tantei Jingūji Saburō, developed by Data East with character designs by Katsuya Terada.

The story stars Jake Hunter (aka Saburo Jinguji in Japan), a heavy-smoking hard-boiled big city detective who runs his agency in the big city of Shinjuku, Tokyo (Aspicio, USA in the translated version.) Recurring supporting characters include his Deadpan Snarker secretary Yulia Marks (aka Yoko Misono in Japan), jovial mustachioed police inspector Scott Kingsley, Lab Rat Samantha Martin, Neighbourhood-Friendly Gangsters Vincent Drago and Don Vitore, and Ryo Hsu, a badass Chinese foreign police agent.

Originally debuting in 1987 on the Famicom, various iterations of the series have sold over 2,220,000 copies in total, making it one of the longest standing and best-selling Japanese Adventure Game series.

The series had little to no American presence until 2008, when a Nintendo DS remake of the first three installments featuring the character was translated in America as Jake Hunter: Detective Chronicles. To put it kindly, it was a "Blind Idiot" Translation and it came off as a Darker and Edgier rip-off of the Ace Attorney series and a poor one at that, making the chances of it ever catching on in the US slim. One year later, the three cases were re-released as Jake Hunter Detective Story: Memories of the Past with much better Woolseyism-type translations, three additional cases, six Super-Deformed mini-sodes, and a ton of unlockable extras. If you would be at all interested in the games, the 2009 release is the one to get. You'll thank us later.

The franchise consist of the following games:

  • The Petty Murder of a Fragile Heart
  • Seaside City Conspiracy
  • Crash and Burn
  • As Time Goes By
  • The Unfinished Reportage
  • At the End of the Dream
  • While the Light Remains
  • Innocent Black
  • The Girl with the White Shadow
  • The Ancient Memory (Released overseas as Jake Hunter: Detective Chronicles/Jake Hunter Detective Story: Memories of the Past)
  • The Abiding Spirit
  • The Withheld Truth
  • Ashes and Diamonds
  • Red Butterfly
  • Round of Revenge
  • Ghost of the Dusk (Released overseas as Jake Hunter Detective Story: Ghost of the Dusk)
  • Prism of Eyes
  • Daedalus: The Awakening of Golden Jazz

Daedalus: The Awakening of Golden Jazz is a prequel to At the End of the Dream. Saburo, prior to being a police officer and detective, arrives in New York City to collect the belongings of his grandfather Kyosuke, who was murdered. He is helped by Yoko, who is a Japanese international student studying in the city and by his old female friend, Abby.

Overall, the games are quite linear and definitely more read than played, but those who enjoy mystery games should find them intriguing.

Jake Hunter shows examples of the following tropes:

  • Black Sheep: Jake is the son to the owner of a huge corporation, but turned his back on his family to join the police force, then start his detective agency. His grandfather did the same, leaving Japan shortly after World War II ended to avoid the infighting between his family.
  • But Thou Must!: The correct/morally right decisions let you unlock Bonus Material. Poor ones still move the story along.
  • Character Tics:
    • Jake is a big smoker. And a heavy drinker. Yulia comments on his ability to apparently survive on nothing but cigarettes and scotch.
    • These are actually shown when utilizing the series' hint system: Jake smokes, Yulia fingers her hair, Ken adjusts his glasses, etc.
  • Compilation Rerelease: The DS release combines his first four cases and the first exclusive cell phone case.
  • Foregone Victory: Would you believe the entire game? The six main cases of the DS release literally cannot ever be given a game over. Jake Hunter Unleashed averts this, however.
  • Hint System: Jake can gain insight into what he's currently supposed to be doing by stopping for a smoke. In certain places, he remembers he's not allowed to smoke (but you still get the hint), and other characters have their own hint-gathering tics.
  • I Call Her "Vera": At least in the 2009 version, Jake has names for every one of his mobile phones. Girl names, naturally.
  • The Mafia: Vincent Drago, a member of the Salvatore crime family works as a source of information for Hunter, as many of his cases involve competing families in the city.
  • Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: In Seaside City Conspiracy, Jake and Yulia take on what appears to be a simple missing persons case, but soon find themselves in the middle of an international entanglement centering on a smuggling operation.
  • Nested Story: If you play the "Memories of the Past" case first, this trope results as Ken reads Jake's files, thereby letting the player go through the first five cases.
  • Pop Quiz: Periodically, the game forces you to stop and answer questions about the story so far. They're always questions about important plot elements, so the answers usually aren't very obscure.
  • Retro Universe: Invoked Trope. The game takes place fairly closely to the present day, with cell phones and PCs being fairly ubiquitous, but Jake and the other characters look and behave like they're straight out of an old crime novel, with Jake in the revamped translation even using dead phrases like "dollface" and "You're a (real) peach".
  • Super-Deformed: The minisodes.
  • Take Your Time: Modern installments give the player a lot of leeway to solving perilous situations regardless of urgency, like hostage negotiations, fighting with gangsters, and finding someone in a place that's set on fire.
  • Unwitting Pawn: In Crash and Burn, Ewan Tidwell was ultimately a tool used by his bosses to kill Keagen Yates. The fact that Tidwell already had a grudge against Yates made him especially easy to manipulate.
  • Updated Re-release: Memories of the Past both subverts and plays this straight, being a fresh release of Detective Chronicles, which itself was literally half the game it was supposed to be.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Jake and Yulia bicker a lot, but it's clear that the two of them have each other's back.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Though it usually ends up being a But Thou Must! situation, you'll still get chewed out for refusing to help people in need.
  • Working the Same Case: "As Time Goes By". Jake investigates the theft of a painting from a mob family, while Yulia is trying to find the missing mother of a little boy.

Alternative Title(s): Jake Hunter Detective Story