For those reading one of my DS review blogs for the first time, here is the basic concept:
The DS is one of the greatest consoles ever, and it had a massive games library. Despite playing a lot of DS games a huge number of great underappreciated games flew under the radar. This series attempts to review those game and see if they should have had more time in the spotlight.
Origianlly, I post most of my stuff in a football forum "Goallegacy" which is the first online community I have ever joined. Which is the best place for a football fan (the REAL football, not handegg) to hang out in the internet.
Also, here are a number of extra rules for Destructoid:
-If you have any suggestion of a game that is not in the Gamesradar list that I should review, please suggest it.
-Make a bet on each game to check whether Chris Charter played it or not.
Without further ado, here is:
Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective:
Genre: Adventure/ Graphic Novel.
First things first, I am changing my rating system to better rate different genres according to their own rules. It will still be from 50 quality points, but every title will start from 25 and earn/lose points according to criteria important to the titles and genres themselves.
Creating one hit game can be attributed to luck, but managing to create a second hit is proof of skill. If you consider Shu Takumi's first hit to be the Ace Attorney series, then Ghost Trick is the second hit that proves both his ability and eye for the ridiculously sublime.
Reportedly, the idea for the game took five years to materialize, and those five years probably are the reason such an intricate plot managed to be.
Without exaggeration, Ghost Trick is one of the best games of its genre.
"Use your powers of the dead to find out the truth"
Right at the beginning, you are dead. A simple blue flame symbolizes your soul, the only attachment left in this earthly realm. With no form, no memories, you are tasked in answering the most existential questions about yourself.
Who are you? Why did you die?
Thankfully, your soul is unique among souls as it can influence the world of the living. Greeted to the world of the dead by a desk lamp (you read that well), you realize quickly that you have the ability to manipulate the world of the living, and that you should use that ability to find the truth about yourself.
One catch, you only have till dawn to find out before you disappear, and its 7PM now.
DON'T YOU DARE GO TO THE BATHROOM NOW
This sense of urgency propels the plot at breakneck speed. Yet, it always manage to entertain and surprise all the while keeping its pace. Along with the ability to manipulate simple objects, you are also able to rewind the death of others, to see if you can save them.
As you can imagine, your ability to save people who just died plays well into the story, as you change the fates of a host of different characters. Characters that are all well developed, likable, all the while being completely insane. I am talking about detectives that walk around dancing, and Pomeranian dogs (that can talk to you in the spirit world).
Thankfully, once you save any person, you are able to communicate with them (hence there is a lot of dialogue between the dead as well as the living). Which is great, because the dialogue is funny, smart, and all around just top-notch.
There is also a lot of dialouge you just eavsdrop in
All of these elements combine to create a truly wonderful story. A story that manages to be thrilling, funny, and heartwarming all at the same time. Throughout all chapters, the mystery of yourself is being slowly solved. Yet, it is connected in significant ways to the mysteries each of the other characters are pursuing.
Twist and turns are plenty, and sometimes surprises spring like a landmine. However, the plot does not depend on those surprise. On the contrary, it is all crafted with the wonder, precision, and love of a perfect Rube Goldberg machine.
Great Story: +5
Great Characters: +5
Story Presentation: +5
"But what can I do? She is already dead"
The central conceit of Ghost Trick is preforming said "Ghost Tricks". Because of your ephemeral form, you are allowed to posses certain inanimate objects that posses "cores". Which objects posses cores? It doesn't really matter, because the game basically lays out a bunch of stuff that you are able to posses with all other stuff being background objects.
As a "ghost" you are supposed to manipulate objects to do two things: get around, and help people.
In the world of the dead, you are only able to be of influence to objects with "cores" and you can only travel through using them. Additionally, to can travel from place to place using phone lines (provided you know the number). Also, you only have limited travel distance between any two objects. Therefor, you will need to manipulate the environment in order to travel about. For example, you can slide a wheel chair from one end of the room to the other, or simply swivel a desk lamp to be nearer to another object that you can posses.
To help all the other people, and to help yourself in the process, you are frequently asked to rewind their death. Then, you see exactly how they died, and get a limited amount of time to save them. You can always rewind again if you fail, and sometimes you are forced to rewind if you do a serious mistake. You can even make things worse; its generally a bad idea to substitute a bullet with a hard hat.
You can even save characters from "natural" death
For the casual reader, this might suggest a number of trial and error approaches, as you grind through the text you have already read (even though there is a fast-forward button). However, that is not the case.
Simply, while a brute force method can work, I found that most of the puzzles are intelligent and can be solved through careful examination of what you can do. In fact, it can be argued that its a little too simple
It is rare that any given puzzle gives you a false solution, and only latter in the game does you options expand beyond simple manipulation of inanimate objects. That is not to say that the gameplay becomes a chore at any stage, just that it doesn't often reach the heights it manages to occasionally reach itself.
Thematic Unique Gameplay: +3
Fast and Easy: +2
Not Challenging Enough: -3
"I feel like a top Pomeranian"
Honestly, I doubt the game's story and characters would have worked as well if not for the amazing style in which it was presented in. At first, the lower resolution graphics might make you wonder at Capcom's decision in using purely 3D animations in a 2D plane. Once those character's move, however, you will start realizing exactly how great this game looks.
Characters don't simply walk into a scene, they swagger in, they dance, they showcase their entire personality through their exaggerated body language. It says a lot that two similar looking characters are fleshed out entirely not only through their dialogue, but their completely different poses and animation.
It looks much better in the DS screen
Of course, the characters being animated are as well-designed as any Ace Attorney game. Ironically, despite the big personalities, the designs are actually a little more conservative than Ace Attorney games. Don't get me wrong, there is a guy with a pigeon for a hat, but you won't see whales testifying in court though.
What you are going to see a lot of is Missile the dog. Perhaps this is the single greatest side-kick character in videogames. Not only is he unbearably cute, but his whole design and personality is simply perfect.
This showcases that a game can look great despite low-res graphics, and again, we see how smart art direction than make use of the weakest of consoles.
As for the soundtrack. Initially, I thought it manages to lend to the atmosphere to the game without excelling too much. However, I started to appreciate it more as the game went on. Each character have their own theme that complements them well, and the puzzle sections are underscored with suitable music depending on the urgency of the situation.
Far from a truly memorable musical collection, the soundtrack manages to excel well enough to enhance the gaming experience without being a standout addition.
Great Animation: +4
Good Character Design: +3
Low Resolution: -2
Rare is a game that manages to grab my attention from start to finish, all the while consistently being engrossing and fun. Ghost Trick is perhaps one of the best games I played of the genre, and I am not sure I want a sequel.
The reason is that Ghost Trick is simply near perfect, especially in its conclusion, that a sequel cannot actually move forward much. Shu Takumi wouldn't have been able to make this game if the Ace Attorney games were not as successful. As a result, the idea stayed with him for a while, which is why the final product is such a well-crafted gem.
Also, it made me completely rethink my attitude towards dogs, which makes it one of the few games that affected me in some tangible way. Go Missile, we all love you, you brave lovable dog.
"Looking Back at Destructoid's Review:"
One of the shorter Destructoid reviews, Nick Chester gave Ghost Tricj it an 8.5 back in 01.11.2011. Nick liked the game and sums it up really well at the beggening: "For a game about death, Ghost Trick is full of life, with a unique cast of characters, genuinely sharp writing, and fresh gameplay. It’s a great way for Capcom to kick off the New Year, and an instant classic that’s bound to be a cult favorite".
Going on with the lively nature of the game (despite its subject matter) the comment's section was lively as well, with many excited about that type of games such as Script:
"Great, I can`t get enough of these types of games! I was afraid the puzzles could lead to frustation for being complex or illogical, but looks like they`re pretty straightforward, while not being TOO simple."
Also in the comments is someone who played the game and really liked it, as Hasney did:
"Just finished this. Amazing game, played for 2 days straight because I could not put it down. And what am end game.
Totally stunned by how it turned out. Even better than Ace Attorney."
Wow, even giving it a thumbs up over Ace Attorney.
Of course, being Dtoid, there was some cynicims courtesy of none other than Chris Carter:
"Can't wait for the impending cheaper iPhone version, with promises of DLC."
Capcom actually released the iOS version at the same time in Japan, and had the chapters as DLC with the first few as free. It was not a bad model, and it actually fit in well with iOS. Still, according to Capcom's statment, the DS version made more money despite having a fraction of the install-base.
I am generally not intrested in the sales of the games I like, and I don't measure my penis size through the sucess of games I like. However, sales data is intresting in studying market trends, people's general intrest, marketing strategy, genre effect, and other factors. Which is why I am going to check the sales data of every modern game I review (Gen 4 and beyond).
I don't know why visual novel games didn't sell very well in the DS despite the instal-base, popularity of the games among its fans, the prevalance of the casual gamer, and the fact that they fit really well with the system. Outside of Professor Layton games, the best performing games are the Ace Attorney, and Ghost Trick did comparable to the AA titles by selling 380K Units. It actually did well financially for Capcom, but this is a game that deserved much more.
1- Hold B to fast forward.
2- You can always hit the rewind button if you are stuck.
3- If you feel you cannot get anywhere, listen to the hintsitio.
4- If you feel you still cannot get anywhere, maybe you need to wait for something n the environment to move.
Ghost Trick is the reason I am doing these reviews; the hope that I play something truly fantastic and memorable.
Now, I am going back to RPGs with one game that perhaps five people know that Nintendo developed. Glory of Heracles is such a little-known game, Nintendo probably forgot they made it.
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