Oct 26, 2007
Strangely titled Touch Detective 2 1/2 is the second screen tapping adventure for the DS released by Atlus. Relying on nearly obsessive-compulsive touchscreen use, you play as "Touch" Detective Mackenzie who investigates mysteries in a town of cute bobble-headed anime style characters. With periodic help from Funghi, her mushroom-shaped sidekick, Mackenzie literally feels out the clues, groping her way around town as you tap your stylus on every possible pixel to uncover and pocket anything not glued down.
Forget protecting fingerprints and other crime scene protocols. This game is all about uncovering the mystery behind missing pink noodles and other cutesy pseudo-crimes. In fact, it's not so much about following any coherent story as picking up the right objects and using them the right way at the right time.
About 90 percent of this game is repetitious wandering through the same locations, talking to the same people and hoping you'll find items that mysteriously materialize and incoherently combine to entice someone to talk about something new. And talk. And then repeat everything they said each time you return unless you have tripped or equipped the correct, enigmatic object.
The game's path is so highly sequential that you must find items in precise order to progress and unlock the next item, next response or next event. Sure, the game is trying to be mysterious but finding items - or using them - rarely ever makes logical or coherent sense. Want to make the fire burn hotter? Use a dart gun. Shine a worn, antique handle? Use a banana peel, of course (by the way: we just saved you about an hour of confused wandering).
Objects are often too small to be seen or simply hidden, resulting in the unfortunate tactic of tapping on every character, object and every friggin' pixel in every area, often more than twice. With only a few exceptions, each new item means repeating the entire process.
The other 10 percent of the game is actually fun and makes some sense. Then you can finally rejoice and feel like you are progressing when all those funny trinkets you collected miraculously fit together. Unfortunately those few minutes make you feel rather silly for the hour or so you just spent in a seemingly endless time-sucking vortex of potentially mistranslated confusion.
In terms of overall design and controls, the mechanics of TD2.5 work well. The touch controls are well incorporated into the game, making this one of the best intentioned uses of the touchscreen. All of the scenes have a rather nice art style with cute, animated 3D characters, along with a few snappy tunes and sound effects.
Touch Detective's concept is great and technically decent but it's the game's unforgiving linear style mixed with incongruent, hidden objects that make it pretty much unplayable to anyone but a fan of the first Touch Detective game. A few small tweaks, overlapping missions and a reduction of redundant verbosity and this could be as exciting and addictive as old school adventure games. It'd be destined for the bargain bin if wasn't already as hard to find in a store as objects are to find in the game.