Ace Attorney to Phantom Detective

From the team that brought us the Ace Attorney (2001- ) series comes Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective (2011) [Warning: spoiler in plot section]. Though it features radically different gameplay and looks from the team’s previous projects, the same spirit lives on in Ghost Trick’s cast of quirky characters.

In Ghost Trick, players take on the role of Sissel, a new-dead (as opposed to new-born) ghost. Using his ability to possess, manipulate objects and turn back time, players will assist Sissel in rediscovering his identity while unravelling the mystery of the night.

There were a few things that stood out when I played Ghost Trick. Besides the humourous  dialogue and situations that I expected, I was impressed with the animations which are smooth and intricate for a 2D game. As revealed in an interview, provided by a link below, the characters were first modelled in 3D and hand-animated before being rendered into sprites. The result is a bunch of very sleek animated characters that everyone wants to be made into animated gifs.

The game’s use of the stylus to transfer Sissel from object to object fits the touch-screen UI metaphor perfect but I ended up foregoing that for the buttons instead. It could be that the buttons felt more responsive and immediate and that was crucial in some scenarios that required precise timing and quick reaction.

The game spans 18 chapters and while I was constantly engaged, I can’t help but feel it was a little short compared to offerings from the Ace Attorney series which usually features 4 to 5 episodes of  3 to 5 chapters. The gameplay was very forgiving in nature, partly due to Sissel’s ability to turn back time. Other than the 2 occasions I had to seek help, I managed to figure the puzzles out pretty quickly.

As far as I know there is only 1 solution per puzzle and that might be an area to look at if a sequel is ever to be made. The story involves lots of twists and turns, the final plot-twist especially took some time for me to wrap my head around. That was the single segment in the game with the most text and I dozed off in between, admittedly. The story is fine on its own but I’m sure they can work in a sequel somehow if they want to.

Ghost Trick being one of the quality games released as the NDS ushers in its sister the 3DS, shows that a console doesn’t need to die out slowly and quietly. I’m not sure if this is the last NDS game I’d get but my guess is developers will still make NDS games given the huge volume of NDS out there and the fact that 3DS features backward compatibility. I’d probably play 999, anyone wanna loan me?

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