Platform: PC88, PC98
Release Date: 1990
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Musician Kazuya Mizukami has just returned to his home country of Japan after spending four years abroad in the United States. He comes back home to attend a concert and ends up getting in a shouting match with a man named Matsumiya, the band’s producer. He chills out after spending a night at the bar reconnecting with some of his old high school friends, including his old flame Maiko. Unfortunately when he awakens the next day, he discovers on the news that Matsumiya has been murdered; a visit to the crime scene reveals that the police believe Kazuya to be the prime suspect. It’s up to him and his friends to investigate and find the true killer.
Murder mysteries are nothing new when it comes to Japanese adventure games, and indeed, it plays similarly to many others, as you select commands to interact with the scenery. But Misty Blue is different than most, primarily because it’s also a romantic drama, with a heavy emphasis on character interaction. Even though sleuth work is technically at the forefront of the game, it’s just as much about Kazuya and his love interests, and the story ends up resembling a shoujo manga. To dovetail with this, there’s quite a bit of dialogue, where your conversation options will affect that character’s attitude towards the hero. Depending on you treat them, the story can play out differently. Kazuya can also hook up with some of the women, too, though since this isn’t really an adult game, it’s all relatively tame.
Misty Blue also has a nostalgic vibe for Japanese players. The game has a very distinctive late 80s/early 90s vibe, right down to the fashion style, and is indicative of the excess of the Japanese bubble economy. Plus, there’s a high class vibe to the proceedings, as most of the characters are part of the entertainment industry, either as musicians or models, and you spend much of the adventure visiting clubs and luxury apartments. The band at the center of the mystery, Orfe, is also heavily reminiscent of the J-rock group Boøwy, which had disbanded in 1988, just a bit before this game’s release.
The production values are also stellar. The characters were designed by Naoyuki Onda, a well-known anime director, and both the intro and ending sequences are quite a bit cinematic than what was seen in PC adventure games at the top. But most interesting is the soundtrack by composer luminary Yuzo Koshiro, whose catchy synth rock perfectly accompanies a story focused around the music industry. The original packaging even included a music CD with a handful of the game’s tracks. The only downside is that the music is infrequent, and much of the game is played in silence.