Sunday, February 20, 2011

More Tricks Up Takumi's Sleeve (Ghost Trick Review)

Ghost Trick features a pointy haired protagonist on a quest for the truth,
a food loving girl you must save on a number of occasions,
a lovable oaf of a detective,
a young girl who has a parent in jail,
a dead mentor,
a lawman that will stop at nothing to have a perfect record
a wishy-washy minister of justice--
wait a minute

When I first heard that Ghost Trick was being made by the same man who was behind Turnabout Trial, initially I was a little worried. I was thinking that this meant there would be no more Turnabout games, no more Phoenix Wright, and bye-bye Edgeworth. Fortunately, I was very wrong. Turnabout Investigation came first, along with the announced Prof Layton vs Phoenix Wright game, and now there's a second Turnabout Investigation game being released soon. With this franchise growing strongly, it seems like Phoenix is still here to stay. So with those worries aside, I was finally able to suck it up and try out Ghost Trick.

And boy, was it worth it.

Platform: DS, iOS
Company: Capcom
Released: Jun 2010 (Japan), Jan 2011 (North America and Europe)

Overall Plot Summary
When one wakes up, they expect to be in their bed, the rest of the day ahead of them. But unfortunately for Sissel, as he slips out of unconsciousness, he sees his body there-- he's dead! Even worse, he can't remember how he died, who killed him, or even his own name! Now he only has until dawn to find out; otherwise, his spirit will disappear completely. The only tools at his disposal are his "ghost tricks," the ability to manipulate inanimate objects. The race is on, and he only has this one shot!

The spirit known as "Ray" welcomes Sissel to the world of the dead and guides him through the first steps of understanding his new powers before setting him off into a phone line- Sissel's only means of travel. While journeying through the world, Sissel meets a wide variety of characters. Their motives are varied, but they all share one common point in their past: an incident in a park ten years ago.

Shu Takumi truly is a master of mystery writing. It's hard to really dive into the specifics without spoiling the entire game, but a quick review of the events once you play through it reveals how carefully he went about revealing the mystery bit by bit. In my opinion, mysteries are best when the answer is always there, laying in wait for you to solve it, instead of coming out of no where.

While there were a few points that I would have liked examined a bit more, I can chalk it down to hoping that Takumi is simply holding out for a sequel. Which, to me, is certainly fine since the points I'm worrying about are so tiny.

Grade: A
Original, interesting, loveable.

Again, writing is clearly Takumi's strong point. My oh my did I enjoy this game. It was a delightful blend of seriousness and comedy. The ridiculousness wasn't even overwhelming like it could get in the Ace Attorney games; he clearly put what he learned from that series into this game.

For those of you who don't like to read, this is one of those games with lots of reading. Fortunately though, you can just tap through. It completely spoils the mystery part of the game, but eh, your call. This is just Shu Takumi's style-- if you dislike reading, then I wouldn't pick up any of his games.

Side Note:
OKAY, there is one thing that bugged me. I played with it in the opening picture, but in all seriousness, I can't help but notice the similarity. Sissel is like Phoenix. Lynne is like Maya. Beyond that the similarities are a little faded, but the underlying premise is still there. But maybe that's just because Phoenix and Maya were such important characters to Takumi, so much that he became used to using those character archetypes. Who knows. Regardless, the story still worked well. It's just not entirely original.

Grade: B
Great, but because of the character similarities to his previous work, I just couldn't give this section an A in all good faith.

Another area that I was pleasantly surprised with. In the game, there are two worlds: Ghost world, and the normal world. You can enter the ghost world and freeze time to whip between objects. But if you want to use your tricks, you have to enter the normal world and tap the "trick" button. Depending on what objects you use, it can solve the puzzle and save innocent lives. This can be as simple as playing a guitar to distract a shooter or as twisted as dropping a wrecking ball on them.

Should you fail to save a life, fear not! You can always turn time back four minutes before their death and replay the events that lead up to the character's death. Sometimes you might even need to just sit back and watch the events play out-- you can gather helpful hints this way.

But at the same time, this presents a time limit. The timing of your tricks, the timing of the events as they play out-- you have to take everything in the scene into consideration. Fortunately, if you change their fate slightly, you have the opportunity to turn this into a "check point" and turn back time to that point.

Grade: A
I really had fun playing Ghost Trick! I hope this isn't the last of this franchise.

Now, this is the first section I've come to that I have mixed feelings about. Graphics are one of the first impressions a game has on you. It's very important that the graphics are well done. Otherwise... well...

He must go through hundreds of dollars in hair gel a month.

On the actual character designs, I just couldn't enjoy the artstyle at first. It's a little heavy on the outlines. And... my words are just failing me right now. I CAN'T put my finger on it, but something is just off about certain characters. I almost want to say the colors are too chunky, but that makes no sense. Eventually everything stopped looking so weird and seemed normal. But I don't think I can say I actually enjoy any of them except for the girls.

Now, for world graphics and animation. I don't get how a game can have a chunky, clunky character design yet have wonderfully smooth animation. Everything is just wonderful about the animation. I mean, look:

If I were ever horribly murderd, I want him to investigate it.

So it's a mixed bag. While I can't say I really like the art, I have to say it's at least not because of a lack of talent. There was obviously a lot of work poured into the graphics side of this game.

Grade: A
While I have different tastes in art style, I have to respect the quality of the work.

I ... actually don't have much to say about this part. Really, the music didn't leave much of an impression on me. Which might not entirely be bad; if it was too distracting I wouldn't be able to focus on the puzzles. There were a few that reminded me of some songs from the Edgeworth game, but that music was good so that's fine.

Really, the only songs that really stuck were the songs for the final chapters, and those were amazing. It really added to the tension of the final puzzles. So overall, while the music wasn't as outstanding as they could have been, they weren't bad or distracting, which is alright.

Grade: B
More than half of the songs didn't leave any impression on me, but this is probably because I was so engrossed in the puzzles. They at least weren't distracting; the final ones were amazing.

I really, really, really didn't want to like this game when I started playing it, if not to simply show my dedication to Phoenix. But dammit, I failed. I absolutely loved Ghost Trick. I almost cried at the end. It was truly touching. The only upsetting part of this game is that it seems like there is zero chance for a sequel with the same characters... but alas, Shu Takumi is wonderful at making memorable characters, so I shall be hopeful.

Listen to me, the next Phoenix Wright game might not come to America and the next Miles Edgeworth game hasn't even been announced for American release! Why am I talking about supporting this series at a time like this?! Augh, I'm so conflicted!

So if you're like me, I recommend you have a change of heart. In the very least, if you're an Ace Attorney fan, go out and buy this game to show your love for Capcom! Guaranteed they're holding out on announcing the next Miles Edgeworth game to see how Ghost Trick sells here. You won't regret it! And who knows, maybe you'll be like me and be pleasantly surprised.

Overall Grade: A

So anyways. I'm going to bed now. You know how I said I get in after eight hours of work yesterday? UH, well, I haven't slept yet...



  1. good review thanks for posting.

  2. Professor Layton Vs Ace attorney?

    Oh god yes.

  3. sounds good ill make sure to check it out!

  4. how much is it? is it out already?
    and do you know any dating sim on DS or PSP?

  5. Awesome review. I smirked at 'pointy haired protagonist.'

  6. cool game dude, nice layout on the blog as well - props

  7. Good review, might be worth checkin out

  8. nice review, going to check this out

  9. will give it a shot if i find the time

  10. This looks like it would be fun!

  11. That look very cool, but unfortunately the newest hand-held I have is a Gameboy Pocket.

  12. Sounds fun. I'll try any game once.

  13. Nice review, I have been looking for something to play after Ace Attorney, this might be just the thing

  14. I've been wanting to check this out, but I need to first finish up all of the other DS games that I haven't gotten round to playing yet :|

  15. This game is excellent guys. Capcom really has the whole puzzle in real time thing down. It is hard to believe that the events in the game all happen over the course of a night.

  16. hahah the protagonist looks like such a bro ahaha, might give it a try just because its capcom we are talking about here