Japanese Video Game: “The Mirage Of Reminiscence”
European Video Game: “The Mirapolis Investigation”
Original Japanese Release Date: May 17, 2007
Original European Release Date: May 01, 2009
Platform: Nintendo Wii
Developer: Marvelous Entertainment
Original Version Published By: Marvelous Interactive
Original Version CERO Rating: A (All Ages)
European Version Published By: Nobilis / Ascaron Entertainment
European Version PEGI Rating: 7+ (Ages 7+)
Video Game Thoughts
I hear it all the time. It’s a question I’ve grown accustomed to answering. I know it won’t be very long before I answer it yet again.
“Case Closed has a video game?”
This is going to be different from the usual TV episode and movie comparisons because I feel the need to actually explain what this product is. “Detective Conan: The Mirage Of Reminiscence” is but one among dozens of video games inspired by Gōshō Aoyama’s hit mystery series. Following the release of his very first game in 1996, Conan’s résumé has grown to include hits on the Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, WonderSwan, Playstation, Playstation 2, and many more. Today, Conan seems to have found a profitable home on Nintendo’s “DS” family of handheld consoles, on which the franchise has enjoyed new releases on a near-annual basis since the late 2000s.
Released in 2007, “Mirage” brought the series to a Nintendo home console for the first (and thus far, only) time. The main story (in which Conan, Heiji, and Kogorō attempt to prevent a series of murders from taking place inside a super-resort called the “Mirapolis”) features 3D environment exploration mixed with point-and-click elements, though most of the player’s time will be spent on the former. Players control Conan as he explores the Mirapolis, interrogating guests and inspecting crime scenes for evidence. These clues can then be combined into “Trick Chains” (“Clue Chains” in the English version), which piece the story together and allow progression through the game’s four “acts.” The objective (and gameplay) rarely changes, though motion-controlled mini-games attempt to break up repetition and add variety.
The original Japanese voice actors wonderfully reprise their roles for (non-animated) cut-scenes, while new actors have been assembled for the cast of suspects. Mamoru Miyano particularly stands out as Kyōichi Kurosaki (I swear, anything this guy touches turns to gold). Rikiya Koyama, who would assume the role of Kogorō Mōri from Akira Kamiya in 2009, also gives a praiseworthy performance as Tadaki Kai. It’s surreal (and a little heartbreaking) to hear both actors for Kogorō having so many scenes together just two years before Kamiya chose to leave the show. Arrangements of Katsuo Ōno’s classic Conan themes comprise the background music and nicely compliment the actors’ performances. This authenticity and faithfulness to the show is easily the game’s greatest strength.
You just need to ask yourself if authenticity alone is worth the price of admission.
Truthfully, “The Mirage Of Reminiscence” offers very little for Detective Conan fans and practically nothing for anyone else. Fans of the genres to which this game strives to pay homage will find no clear point of entry here. Evidence is collected in such a way that each and every clue is shoved down the player’s throat, eliminating any tact from the storytelling. The gameplay is condescendingly basic. Walk around the Mirapolis. Talk to someone. Get a clue. Walk somewhere else. Talk to someone. Get a clue. Repeat until the game says you can stop. It’s hard to fathom why such a huge environment like the Mirapolis was designed when all the player can do is walk around and press the “talk” button. The motion controls for the mini-games rarely work. The music is great, but poorly utilized. You’ll learn to loathe “The Detective Conan Main • Theme” as it loops and loops for nearly your entire adventure.
The only reason people talk about this game as much as they do (and the only reason I’m talking about it today) is because this baby actually left Japan. “The Mirage Of Reminiscence” was translated for English-speaking audiences during the height of the Wii’s popularity, though a United States release (assuming one was ever planned in the first place) was ultimately canceled. The game eventually made its way to European audiences as “The Mirapolis Investigation,” and FUNimation’s Case Closed cast was along for the ride… sort of. FUNimation actually wasn’t involved with this game in any way. The English recording sessions were conducted at OkraTron 5000, the independent recording studio of FUNimation veteran Christopher Sabat (who is credited as the English voice director and producer here). No English language translator or dub scriptwriter is credited.
Name Conversion Guide
Ai Haibara = Anita Hailey
Kazuha Tōyama = Katrina Tolliver
Tadaki Kai = Jack Chase
Utako Kai = Utako Chase
Kyōichi Kurosaki = Keith Kozlof
Emili Hanayama = Emily Hill
Linda Hanayama = Linda Hill
Moe Kasuga = C.J. Arnold
Megumi Oikawa = Meg Wexham
Naoya Imaizumi = Al Watson
Shunsaku Ogino = Jim Oger
Yuri Matoba = Jess Rayburn
Hasegawa = Don West
Yamada = Jon Evans
Amuse • Making, Inc. = Amusement, Inc.
The Mirapolis, “Mirage,” and the “Labyrinth Of Ice” keep their original names. Hisayasu Kurashige and his son, Mamoru, also make it into the English version without having their names changed. Kyōichi Kurosaki’s stage name, “Prince Kurosaki,” is logically changed to “Prince Kozlof.” Oddly, all references to Nobunaga Oda are changed to reference John Rockefeller. For this reason, one of the resort’s computer passwords is changed from “Nobunaga” to “John.” The other three passwords (“Mirapolis,” “Utako,” and “Money”) are the same in both versions.
So, obviously, the entire game has been translated from Japanese to English.
There is no “dub script” this time. None of the game’s cut-scenes are animated. Thus, there are no mouth flaps for the actors to match. Thus, nobody was assigned to rewrite the translated dialogue. Nearly every bit of dialogue you see in this game is a faithful translation of the original Japanese script. All the localization team did was replace the original Japanese names with their corresponding American names. All in all, the game’s English script is pretty fantastic.
Keep in mind that FUNimation and their dub scriptwriters had nothing to do with this game. The “laws” of FUNi’s Case Closed dub do not apply here. You’ll notice this during the game’s very first cut-scenes, in which the English-speaking protagonists acknowledge that they’re in Japan (something that never happened in FUNi’s dub of the TV series). The script translates a conversation about “20,000,000 yen” without converting it to dollars or even euros (again, something that never happened in a single Case Closed episode).
It’s pretty awesome, I must admit. Disregarding the American names for a second, this game provides a glimpse of what FUNi’s dub of the show could have been if it weren’t plagued by localization.
An audio language option has been added to the English version of the game, allowing players to choose between the original Japanese voice cast and FUNimation’s American voice cast. Regardless of which language you choose, the game’s script stays the same (meaning you’ll still have to put up with the dub names if you choose the original Japanese voices).
Okay, so we’ve established that FUNimation and its dub writers were not involved with “The Mirapolis Investigation.” Pretty awesome, huh? I mean, we’ve got a super-faithful script now. No silly rewrites! Everybody wins, right?
Would you believe that the lack of rewrites actually creates a few problems?
For example, Richard’s dub nickname is changed to “Sleeping Richard” in this game. This is perfectly faithful to the character’s original Japanese nickname (“Nemuri No Kogorō,” which translates to “Sleeping Kogorō”), but its use here creates an inconsistency with FUNi’s dub of the TV series (in which Richard’s dub nickname is “The Sleeping Sleuth”). Likewise, Gorō Ōtaki, whose name is changed to “Odin” in episode 118’s dub, keeps his original Japanese name in “The Mirapolis Investigation.” Lastly, Anita and Harley, who both normally refer to Conan as “Kudo” in FUNi’s dub, inconsistently call him “Jimmy” in the game.
Wait, did I say “Anita?” Sorry, I meant “Vi.” Er… I think?
Ai Haibara actually has two completely different Case Closed names. The first name, Anita Hailey, originated during the (short) lifespan of Score’s official Case Closed Trading Card Game in 2005. Viz Media’s writers have consistently used “Anita Hailey” in their English translation of the Detective Conan manga. Logically, the character is once again called Anita Hailey in “The Mirapolis Investigation.” In December 2009, FUNimation’s dub of the third movie surprised everyone by giving the character a second name: “Vi Graythorn.” Her voice in FUNi’s dub is provided by Brina Palencia, who makes her debut here with a horribly stale performance. But who can blame her? A minor role in a video game is hardly an ideal starting point for an actress in a new role.
Kazuha Tōyama’s situation is a little more convoluted. In the Case Closed Trading Card Game, she was named Katie Thompson. In Viz Media’s English translation of the manga, she (thankfully) keeps her original Japanese name. Here in “The Mirapolis Investigation,” she goes by Katrina Tolliver. In FUNimation’s dub of the TV series and the third movie, her name is once again changed to Kirsten Thomas. As if this wasn’t strange enough, the character has two completely different American voice actors. In FUN’s dub, Kirsten is voiced by Gwendolyn Lau. In this game, Katrina is voiced by Amber Cotton. I enjoy both actresses for different reasons; I really couldn’t pick a favorite between them. Regardless, I don’t think the way they handled this character could be any more confusing if they’d tried.
Interestingly, Amber Cotton also provided Amy’s voice in episode 007 (briefly filling in for the character’s usual voice actress, Monica Rial).
Moe introduces herself as a “Maid Detective” in both versions, but the original Japanese term (“Maid-Tantei”) contains an extra joke. It’s actually a play on the term “Meitantei,” which means “great detective.” This is the same “Meitantei” that’s used for the title of the series (“Meitantei Conan,” which obviously translates to “Detective Conan”). “Maid-Tantei” sounds almost exactly like “Mei-Tantei,” which is a humorous way of twisting a term that we’re so used to hearing on this show.
The only script edits I need to mention involve Naoya’s puns. Wordplay is always difficult to adapt from Japanese to English, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that the character’s corny jokes were translated pretty faithfully. There is one exception. Something you’ll frequently hear Al Watson saying in the English game (whenever he delivers a punch line) is “Wacka! Wacka! Thanks for the applesauce!” Naoya’s original Japanese line is “Nanchatte! Hai, dōmo!” (“Just kidding! Yes, many thanks!”), which is an expression used by many Japanese comedians.
The novelty of playing a Detective Conan video game is indeed worth something, and I’m sure many fans will find that reason enough to track this down (provided you have a European Wii console, of course). The story’s pretty good, the original Japanese voice acting is fantastic as always, and for a while, there’s at least some amusement to be had (intentional or not) within the walls of the Mirapolis. Once that novelty wears off, most fans will probably agree that this is the rare Conan production that fails to work on any level (pun intended).
Those who do feel compelled to snag a copy of the game can rest assured that the English translation and voice acting do it justice. Viktorin, Jewell, Clinkenbeard, Elliott, and the others are all back and as entertaining as ever. Some of the newer performances fall flat (Palencia improves once FUNi gets around to dubbing the movies), but the script is fantastic. Case Closed fans starving for new dubbed material are encouraged to check out this “lost episode,” provided they have the proper hardware (and the patience) to do so. Thanks for the applesauce!