The Jake Hunter series, known in Japan as Detective Saburo Jinguji, has had a long and established history. The first one appeared on the Famicom Disk System in 1987, after all. The English versions had some awkward beginnings, which ranged from Saburo being renamed as Jake Hunter to the initial DS installment, Jake Hunter: Detective Chronicles, not having all of the cases the Japanese version did. But Alternate Jake Hunter: Daedalus The Awakening of Golden Jazz is a new beginning! It is an opportunity to reintroduce the character to the west in a more positive way! Fortunately, everything about it makes it a great way to get started.
Alternate Jake Hunter: Daedalus The Awakening of Golden Jazz starts off at the very beginning by showing the events that inspired Saburo to become a detective. That’s right, Saburo. This localization goes back to his original Japanese name, rather than go with the Jake Hunter moniker. It also offers something of a more faithful retelling of his roots. The introductory “case” is a test from his grandfather, the established and much beloved detective Kyosuke. 10-year-old Saburo must find a great treasure, determining if it was stolen or simply misplaced.
This initial investigation is an invaluable way to show people what this version of Jake Hunter is like. Alternate Jake Hunter: Daedalus The Awakening of Golden Jazz is a point-and-click adventure game with visual novel elements. As young Saburo looks around the room, many of the most important mechanics are shown. We see how we can take in a full 360 degree view of the world around him. We can search to highlight specific points of interest, then check out areas there. We watch as clues are added to his Tree of Thought, allowing us to keep track of information that could lead us to the truth. When we interrogate Kyosuke, we can see new questions added after discovering details or change Saburo’s stance to get different responses and perhaps new lines of questioning to pursue. By initially locking us in one room with the person Saburo trusts most, we have a safe place to learn the most important mechanics and get to connect with a character who shapes his whole life.
Providing this opportunity means there’s a greater sense of connection once Alternate Jake Hunter: Daedalus The Awakening of Golden Jazz gets started. It is Kyosuke’s untimely passing that brings Saburo back to New York again. With every step of the way, the game is establishing him, his background, and the characters around him. When he gets to New York again, we’re told that some old friends he had made from back when he came to visit as a child will be picking him up. After seeing a makeshift memorial for his grandfather and going out to dinner with these people who are new to us, the game takes the time to show they became friends. Rather than just telling us that these people are important to Saburo, it is showing us exactly why they matter.
This case with these three friends is the first real one in Alternate Jake Hunter: Daedalus The Awakening of Golden Jazz. It once again offers a flashback. Spoilers aside, it takes many of the mechanics Kyosuke gave him the chance to test and puts them in action. When the group of kids investigate the camp’s storage shed, we occasionally see words in the background saying, “Rustle rustle.” When you come across a note in a trashcan about meeting someone somewhere, you get a new topic to talk about with Leo. Using the stance shift with an elderly groundskeeper shows… well… he’s not having any of your meddling, kid. It’s very effective storytelling.
The only downside to it all is a bit of an awkward translation. It is very refreshing to see this more true to form Jake Hunter tale. The Japanese names are preserved and we’re seeing his first steps toward becoming a detective in Alternate Jake Hunter: Daedalus The Awakening of Golden Jazz. However, there can be awkward phrases and some odd word choices that can throw you off as you play. Avoiding spoilers, that major case set at camp has a Search Phase called “Find of the Emma.” Considering the series’ history, we could count ourselves lucky that the game received a worldwide release at all, but it’s an unfortunate trait for a game that relies so heavily on text.
Alternate Jake Hunter: Daedalus The Awakening of Golden Jazz is a good way to finally get to know Saburo Jinguji. People don’t need any prior knowledge of any other Jake Hunter game. The way it teaches people to investigate means familiarity with adventure games is unnecessary too. It is here to teach you and welcome you into a world where a young man who lost his grandfather could use your guidance and problem-solving skills to help work things out and find the truth. Along the way, it will help you with everything you need to know. Minor translation issues aside, it is a great primer.
Alternate Jake Hunter: Daedalus The Awakening of Golden Jazz is immediately available on the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4.