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Touch Detective - hands-on

What is it with Atlus and off-the-wall DS games? Last year's Trauma Center remains one of the handheld's most sought-after titles and October's Contact blends action-RPG fighting with cell phones and costume changes. Now we've got Touch Detective, a stylus-only mystery game that's nestled in a creepy Tim Burton-esque world.

The game's divided into four cases that you've got to piece together by collecting evidence and talking to everyone in sight. On the surface, the cases seem normal, but quickly descend into areas that no Earthly sleuth could ever hope to see. For example, the very first assignment you take on is one concerning stolen dreams, mushroom hallucinations and a bird-faced landlord who loves to be inflated with a hand pump.



Cracking the case is just a matter of eyeballing several rooms for clues. Using only the stylus, you touch anything that looks suspicious to have Detective Mackenzie scope it out - if it's worth noting, she'll pick it up or log it into her "touch diary," a list of everything you've run across up to that point. Once you've got an item, you can investigate it up close to see if there's more to it than a first glance might reveal. Case in point: a cuddly teddy bear found in a shop just happens to have a pointed head. What might you do with a sharpened toy?

The first case only spread across four locations (home, shopping center, dormitory and park), but more pop up as the missions grow deeper. Each area carries the same "out there" appeal, with undead-looking citizens conversing about health food or unspeaking creatures guarding a fortune-teller's doorway.

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