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TGS 2009: Hands-on: Ghost Trick


Ace Attorney series creator Shu Takumi's next game is Ghost Trick, a puzzle adventure game which is very different from the chronicles of Phoenix and Edgey, but carries over that series' trademarks of humorous characters and sharp, brightly colored suits. There is no English demo for the just-announced DS title yet, so I can't really say anything about the dialogue, but I understood the story in the demo quite well just through animation and gameplay.

Gallery: Ghost Trick (TGS 2009) | 5 Photos

When the game begins, Sissel, the protagonist, is lying dead on the ground in a junkyard. He's just been shot by a dapper gentleman in a silver mask. Sissel quickly learns that, as a ghost, he has not only the ability to inhabit objects, but the limited ability to move through time as well. And so he attempts to prevent his girlfriend's death by possessing a guitar and distracting him. That doesn't work, so he goes back in time four minutes to try again (a time that also comprises the level's time limit).

Sissel can move a short distance from object to object, and he can also move or activate objects. For example, in the demo, I jumped from my slumped-over body to the wheel of a nearby bicycle and then to the horn. I selected "trick" and activated the horn, which temporarily distracted the gunman. From the horn, I then moved across the room, sometimes "tricking" things to bring them closer to other objects, like making a ladder fall over. The final goal was a lever to operate a rather conspicuous crane, which, when possessed and activated, dropped a wrecking ball on the assassin, saving (this iteration of) the day.

This demo level played out in gorgeous 3D animation (in a purely 2D side view), whose impressively smooth animation and flat, outline-free color scheme reminded me more of Out of this World than anything else. The gameplay in this title seems much more trial-and-error oriented, and less logic oriented, than Ace Attorney: it would be hard to predict how the world would react to your actions without just trying them, and much of the challenge seems to come from creating a path to your goal. Of course, it would be really disappointing if Takumi's completely separate series was also about finding contradictions in people's statements. The stylish Ghost Trick is due out sometime next year.

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