And so the story begins on Ghost Trick, the new game from Capcom and Shu Takumi, the creator of the Ace Attorney series, and my second game of 2011 (The first being Lost in Shadow, also a great game). And despite this only being the first month of the year and the second game I’ve played so far this year, I am confident in saying this will be in my top 5 games of the year.
So just what is this game anyway? Is it just a reskinned Ace Attorney game? Not at all. The premise is this: you “wake up” as a spirit hovering over your recently dead body with no idea who you are or how you died and are immediately witness to a girl about to be shot by an unknown man. It’s at this point that you meet your new friend Ray the desk lamp who explains to you your power to manipulate inanimate objects and suggests you try to save the girl’s life by doing so. Unfortunately, you fail, leading to the introduction of your other ghost power, the ability to go back in time to 4 minutes before a person’s death in order to see how they die and potentially stop it from happening. So, you reset her death, save her life, and the story begins as you attempt to find out who you are, how you died, and a whole lot more.
So why is this game so great? Let’s start with the gameplay. As I mentioned before, your ghost powers allow you to manipulate inanimate objects in order to cause things to happen. But your spirit must remain attached to things and only has a very limited distance it can move. So in order to get to the object you are hoping to manipulate, you must find a path, often interacting with other objects along the way in a sort of Rube Goldberg machine to get where you are going. In this way, not only preventing deaths, but also just moving from point A to point B becomes a puzzle. And they are almost always very creative in their execution and very fun to solve. As much as I love the Ace Attorney series, there are quite a few moments, especially in the trial sections where the puzzles just seem impossible to solve because even though I know what I want to argue, I don’t know what to present or where to press to make it happen. Luckily, in this game I almost never felt this way. Every puzzle, even the most difficult ones, were solvable through perseverance and logic. (I will add though, that sometimes it’s worth it to fail or let time pass so that the game might offer hints as to what you need to do.) Throughout the game, you also unlock a few more powers, such as the ability to travel through phone lines, but I will not mention them here to avoid spoiling their introduction in game.
The other reasons I love this game come from the fact that it is a Shu Takumi game. The first of these is the design. This game is full of great characters with very distinctive, very fun personalities, that also look great. The environments are all very well designed, with great layout as well as just a really cool look. And the biggest surprise, the animation is awesome. I never expected DS quality graphics to be able to move so smoothly, but everything is just animated flawlessly, and most specifically, the character animations are great. The fluidity with which the characters walk, dance, run or whatever else they are doing is truly impressive and made me question if they were rotoscoped or used any kind of motion capture, which is damn impressive for a DS game. Check out this trailer for an idea of how it looks.
The other thing that Shu Takumi brings to every game he does is story, and he certainly doesn’t fail here. Again, while I love the Ace Attorney series, some of their stuff is just too goofy or just way out there and it’s very episodic in nature. This game tells one complete story and it’s a really good one. Lots of twists and turns as questions are answered only leaving you with more questions, ending the game satisfactorily with one final little twist just to cap it off.
The other fun thing for me about this game is that I had to translate a few sections of it for an interview I had with Capcom and I was curious to see how they ended up translating it. Here’s one of those sections between an assassin(A) and his boss(B), first their translation:
A: This is “One Step Ahead” Tengo. I’m at the target’s apartment now.
B: And? Out with it man! Have you taken care of her?
A: No, she isn’t back yet.
A: It only stands to reason. If the target got here first, they wouldn’t call me “One Step Ahead,” now, would they?
B:…………. I don’t get it… But in any case, man, once you’ve take care of her–
A: Then you’ll promote me to the head of the hitman division…?
B: Bah! No, man! Now you’re even getting “one step ahead” of me!
A: We can discuss my new salary later.
B: Great Scott! Now you’re even getting one step ahead of your last one step ahead!
A: I’ll get back to my job now, sir.
B: Confound it! You’re even hanging up one step ahead!
And now, my version.
A: “Tengo the Preceder” here… I’ve arrived at the target’s house.
B: …and? Has everything been dealt with?
A: Well… The target hasn’t returned yet.
A: Just think about it. I mean… If the target had arrived first, I wouldn’t be “the Preceder.”
B:…………. I don’t really get it, but, yeah, OK, whatever. Soon as she’s taken care of…
A: I can accept my post as Chief Assassin in the organization…yeah.
B: N…no you idiot! Quit trying to be ahead of everything.
A: Well, then… We’ll discuss my salary when I get back.
B: Jus…just wait a minute! Forget jumping the gun, now you’re miles ahead!
A: Now then, back to the mission….excuse me.
B: Hey! Hey wait! Don’t even think about hanging up before me!
So, what do you think? I think the translation in the game is more than good enough, but I really prefer my translation on this part, especially the use of Tengo the Preceder over “One Step Ahead” Tengo. Either way, it’s interesting to see how different people translate the same original text into two different results. This all being said, the translation in the game is very well done and the humor definitely comes through perfectly well.
Anyway, that’s all I’m gonna say about the game for now. Great game, lots of fun, and definitely worth playing. Leave comments about the game if you’ve played it and any thoughts about my translation if you want. Next game on my list, Tron: Evolution for the PS3. Also, stay tuned for a review of the first book in the Hunger Games series.