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Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective (Nintendo DS) Review
Review by 
8.88/10 from 13 user ratings

What's a floating blue entity to do? First the poor guy wakes up in a junk yard, he doesn't know who he is and he's DEAD. This unfortunate guy has only one night to figure out the mystery that was his life and the only thing around to help him is a knowledgeable desk lamp. Toss in a female in imminent danger, and you have the opening to one of the most original DS games available.

Story: In the game you play the role of a wayward spirit named Sissel who simply wants to learn about himself. “Who was I?” and “Why was I killed?” are the two main things on his mind throughout the game. Along the way he meets a cast of memorable characters (some moreso than others) who help, hinder and generally make the gameplay experience quite entertaining. The game was created by Shu Takumi, the creator of Phoenix Wright, and it shows. Dialogue presentation hits with white flashes and “smash” sound effects, and Sissel even meets a spunky female detective by the name of Lynne who certainly reminded me a little bit of Maya Fey (don't worry, she's not a spirit medium and she eventually comes across as an original character).

The story also comes to a satisfying conclusion that had me smiling. I like weird stories though, so your mileage may vary.

Interesting characters to say the least

Gameplay: At its core, Ghost Trick is a puzzle game and the basic controls are pretty simple: First, tap the lower left “Ghost” button to enter the Ghost World. From there, time stops and you can think out your actions. Once you have decided on what you will do, you may drag your spirit into a number of inanimate objects on the screen. Anything with a blue “core” (a blue ball of light) can be possessed and possibly manipulated in a specific way. In the game these possessions are referred to as “Ghost Tricks.” If you wish to manipulate an object, simply click the back button to return time to its natural flow then click the bottom-right button to perform your “Ghost Trick.” Ghost Tricks come in many varieties depending on what object you are possessing. For example, a toolbox can be “tricked” to open or a ladder can be “tricked” and made to extend. These possessions will help Sissel move about the environment as well as solve the puzzles laid before him. For example, an early puzzle has Sissel knocking a gun out of a gangster's hand by possessing a tollbooth gate and “tricking” it to move upward into the goon's arm.

Sissel's most important “Ghost Trick” is his ability to change a person's fate by rewinding time to exactly four minutes before his or her death. This is used multiple times throughout the story since our zany cast of characters is pretty prone to pushing petunias (yes, the term is “pushing daisies” but I enjoy alliteration far too much). It is then Sissel's job to use his other tricks to change the way the situation unfolds.

You will find yourself tapping the bottom corners of the screen A LOT (you can also use the L and R buttons to perform these functions). It can sometimes get tiring (pause time, move, restore time, trick, pause time, move, restore time, trick, etc.), but when you figure out a puzzle and ultimately alter someone's fate, the experience can be quite gratifying.

The gameplay changes up a bit here and there, but due to spoiler territory I will not go into specifics.


Presentation: This game is pretty. Character design is definitely original and lovely to look at. The characters move about the 2D sets in an amazingly animated way and the music is very catchy and never overstays its welcome. It is seriously a pleasure just to watch the characters move about the screen.
When Sissel converses with others, the game will show close-up portraits of the characters involved, similarly to Phoenix Wright's presentation. During these conversations there is often a good amount of text to read and you will want to read it because each conversation may bring you closer to the answers Sissel is searching for. Plus, the dialogue is witty and oftentimes outright funny.
Additionally, when you learn something important regarding the characters or story, it will be added to a file that can be accessed on the top-left corner of the screen, so you shouldn't get lost even if you need to stop playing for a week or more.

Replayability: The game has no real replayability factor. Once you have played out the story, that's that. There are no variations on how to solve the puzzles, so if you do feel compelled to play again it will be for the story and characters and not for the gameplay. The game took me about seven hours to complete, but it was a very entertaining seven hours.

Verdict: Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective is an attractive, original, and highly entertaining game. Sometimes the constant switching between the Ghost World and the real world can be cumbersome, but overall the gameplay is a breath of fresh air. The story is intriguing and you will want to play it to its (awesome) conclusion, but once it's finished you will probably be done with it forever. It is certainly worth picking up however, so go out there and see what the deal is with that dead guy... You know, the one with his bum up in the air.

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Posted: 01/23/11, 10:45:21  - Edited by 
 on: 01/24/11, 20:41:49    
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Excellent! I just started this last night, but didn't get farther than what was in the online Flash demo.

I'm a bit bummed that there is only one way to solve each puzzle. Where are all of Capcom's designers who made Zack and Wiki?

Posted by 
 on: 01/23/11, 17:45:08
Can't wait to pick this game up! Just need to find a decent deal on it.

It's kind of weird how I'm a lot more excited about the next 3-4 months of DS games than I am 3DS games. DS just won't quit!

BTW, I don't want any spoilers, but is there some specific reason the D is red on the cover? Or is it just artsy, like a red D for D-ead?

Posted by 
 on: 01/24/11, 02:57:08
You any further? How are you liking it?

Yeah, the DS is a beast. I've been keeping myself pretty busy with it. 999 sucked away a lot of time and this one was played nearly non-stop. I did have some time to play through Shattered Memories on the Wii however. That was a great experience.

As for the red D, I was actually thinking about that the whole time I was writing the review. I can't figure it out myself.

Posted by 
 on: 01/24/11, 08:11:03
This sounds kinda ridiculous, but I'll read your review once I finished the game. I got sidetracked with other stuff so I'm only on chapter 4, but it's seriously great so far.

Posted by 
 on: 01/24/11, 08:26:48
I did the exact same thing with Zero's 999 review. I understand.

Posted by 
 on: 01/24/11, 08:36:19
I picked this game up in the Amazon thing, along with Tatsunoko and Miniland Mayhem. Loved the demo. I actually preferred the gameplay to Phoenix Wright's by quite a large margin.

Posted by 
 on: 01/24/11, 18:24:51
What Amazon thing!?

Posted by 
 on: 01/24/11, 18:30:16
Buy 2 Get 1 Free. It's o-ver.

Posted by 
 on: 01/24/11, 18:53:34
Good review, it gave me a good sense of what the game is about without revealing too much about what happens story-wise.

I enjoyed the DS demo from Wii's Nintendo Channel. I would like to play this game later on. It's cool to see something new from the creator of Phoenix Wright.

Posted by 
 on: 01/24/11, 19:24:48
I really enjoyed the gameplay as well and it was refreshing compared to PW (which I DO love). The constant switching between ghost world/human world did bug me a couple times though, especially when I had played and failed a scenario a few times.

I was almost afraid to say "Sissel" in the review but then realized that's no big deal. I actually re-wrote a couple paragraphs due to spoiler issues. I'm big into not ruining stories in games, especially mysteries!

Posted by 
 on: 01/24/11, 19:56:33

I've only been prompted to save twice, so I think that means I'm in chapter 3? I've probably played less than an hour so far, so I don't have much to say except that I'm enjoying it. And the music clearly was composed by the same guy who did Phoenix Wright. I love it!

I'm also enjoying the mystery surrouding Sissel's death. I don't trust anyone, especially that lamp!

Well, I trust the pomeranian. He seems pretty guileless.

ploot said:
You will find yourself tapping the bottom corners of the screen A LOT.
Do you know you can use the L and R buttons?

Posted by 
 on: 01/24/11, 20:25:25  - Edited by 
 on: 01/24/11, 20:25:46
Ah, yes I did luck into the L and R buttons when I was near the end of the game. I should add that to the review.
Oh, and Missile is awesome.

Posted by 
 on: 01/24/11, 20:39:18  - Edited by 
 on: 01/24/11, 20:39:58

Yeah, the game is probably almost as wordy as the Phoenix Wright games minus the interrogations, but taking those interrogations out still improves the pacing of the game greatly.

I agree with ploot when he says that the constant "going in Ghost World", "going back to reality", "use Trick", rinse, repeat can get a bit aggravating, but it still beats going back and forth during a witness' testimony, "pressing" at every sentence and trying to find the contradiction.

And as I said in the "Ghost Trick story thread", I'm just super satisfied with how the story unfolded, and especially how it wrapped up.

Great stuff guys. Pick it up!

Posted by 
 on: 02/07/11, 20:10:45
Finished this game over the weekend. Loved it! The sprite work and animation in this game is amazing. I especially liked Cabanela's entrance, and the "nervous dance", haha. The story was good, with excellent pacing and nicely wrapped up. The ending kind of blew my mind, actually, it's quite deep but makes sense. The characters were funny and memorable. I'm not a dog guy, far from it actually, but how can you not love Missile? Best dog character ever!

Edit: How can it be that only 5 members of NW own this game...wtf?

Posted by 
 on: 07/11/11, 19:19:29  - Edited by 
 on: 07/11/11, 19:22:57
I want this game really badly.

Too bad! I am going to the United States next week. I wish I went this week so I could have picked it up at Bestbuy in the 2 for 1 deal.

Posted by 
 on: 07/11/11, 19:58:32
My brother finished this up recently and really liked it. In fact, he posted this on my Facebook: "Did you start playing Ghost trick yet? That shit's bomb."

But I'm still trying to finish off my DSiWare games and Okamiden before I start another game.

Posted by 
 on: 07/12/11, 00:24:53
Yeah, it's weird. I remember all the hype before it released and nobody bought it!

Posted by 
 on: 07/12/11, 00:26:06
I think it just came out too late, and everyone ran out and bought the 3DS. Except that everyone didn't buy the 3DS, and there aren't many games on 3DS to play anyway, so people should be playing this game!

I say, having not gotten around to playing it yet. But at least I bought it!

Also there is the fact that not enough NW members keep their collections updated in the database.

Posted by 
 on: 07/12/11, 00:40:06
Sounds like a really cool game. Sucks though thats it a retail game. I was hoping it was a downloadable game, I would have bought it in a heartbeat. With all the games I have between the Wii, VC,WiiWAre, 3DS and eshop, no way I'm forking over $35 bones. What sucks is, if this review had went up a day sooner, I still had my $25 giftcard for Gamestop and I would have then just added $10 bucks to buy the game. But I bought a points card and download FFIII, which is pretty amazing(my first pre-FF7 rpg ever). Well, maybe one day, when I can get the game used for under $10 I may give it a whirl.

Zero said:

Also there is the fact that not enough NW members keep their collections updated in the database.

Here we go again, beating a dead horse again.

Or maybe just no one really bought it.

Posted by 
 on: 07/12/11, 05:33:27  - Edited by 
 on: 07/12/11, 05:36:40
I don't get your first picture. But I know more than 5 people on here own it. Probably not too many more, but more than 5.

It's not a dead horse though!

July 8 2011

Total games owned: 11,222
Total games rated: 9,623
Total games in backlog: 3,920

July 11 2011

Total games owned: 11,741
Total games rated: 9,821
Total games in backlog: 4,976

People responded to that thread! Especially the backlog, we got about a 25% increase there in a few days.

Posted by 
 on: 07/12/11, 05:46:14
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