Review: Touch Detective 2 ½

TD2frnt.jpgPlatform: Nintendo DS
Publisher: Atlus USA
Developer: SUCCESS/BeeWorks
Release Date: 10/9/07
Genre: Adventure
Players: 1

If I were to compile a top five list of my favorite DS games, Atlus’ quirky crime-solving adventure game Touch Detective would easily make the cut. Its brilliant art direction, colorful cast of characters and witty humor captured my heart and never let go. Despite my love for it, though, plenty of room was left for improvement and expansion with an inevitable sequel. Now that the sequel has indeed arrived in today’s release of the appropriately off-titled Touch Detective 2 ½, I can now report in with my full review investigation.

As you would want in a sequel to an already excellent game, Touch Detective 2 ½ doesn’t make any attempts to alter the original’s winning formula, it merely adds to it in all the necessary places for an even longer, more well-rounded experience. In terms of gameplay, not a thing has changed as far as I can tell. The interface and mechanics are identical: tap the screen with the stylus to move around, gather evidence and interact with other characters. For better or worse, puzzles are still completely outlandish, pushing you to think outside the box in order to solve the mysteries at hand. At times the crazy conundrums can cause tedium to set in as you backtrack through the game world and wrack your brain to put the pieces of the puzzle together, but given the nonsensical nature of the game and characters it’s only fitting that the puzzles follow suit. Ordinary puzzle solutions you can find rampant in any other run-of-the-mill adventure game just wouldn’t feel right in the Touch Detective universe.

Similarly to the gameplay, the distinctive presentation that made the original Touch Detective such a treat is back and beautifully unaltered. Just like the original, Touch Detective 2 ½ is the most attractive game on the DS with its vivid color schemes, captivating character and environmental artwork, and overall comic book-meets-cel-shaded style, once again proving that creative art direction trumps cutting edge 3D engines and fancy effects, in my opinion at least.

Ultimately, Touch Detective 2 ½ sole improvements come in the areas of plot structure and an overall expansion of content, which surely enough are the two main areas the original needed beefed up. Star sleuth Mackenzie makes her triumphant return now as a full-fledged member of the Great Detective Society with five wacky new mystery episodes to solve, each lasting a good two hours minimum, along with an even longer bonus mission you can mess around with on the side. There are also loads of characters and locations to discover for the first time, all-new Touch List and Investigation Reports to complete, and unlockable art galleries, character bios and jukebox tracks to collect and enjoy.

Alongside Mackenzie, returning cast favorites like Funghi, Cromwell, Penelope and Chloe are back in their familiar roles, with a variety of other memorable characters making their Touch Detective debuts, most importantly the game’s villainous new thief The Cornstalker. I really don’t want to give away even the slightest detail regarding any of the crimes, because with this type of game it’s better to experience the unpredictable and offbeat nature of the plot firsthand, but just know that the bizarre humor from before is back and better than ever, and the plot as a whole is much more cohesive thanks to all five episodes now being intertwined with one another, unlike the disjointed episodes found in the original.

All in all, Touch Detective 2 ½ is the perfect sequel. The winning qualities that made the first title a gem – charming characters, unique art style, wacky puzzles, and sharp, witty dialogue – are fully intact, while the game as a whole has simply been restructured and fleshed out with added care and thought put towards creating a more unified story flow. Left largely unchanged, Touch Detective 2 ½ is still very much a niche title given its script and dialogue-heavy style, but like the original before it I strongly urge all DS owners to get out there and give it a shot.

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About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!