Luminous Arc
Platform: Nintendo DS
Publisher: Atlus
Developer: SUCCESS/BeeWorks
Genre: Adventure
Format: Cartridge
Release: US 10/09/07
Japan 05/24/07

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Noone believes the internet..
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So that's why they sell Jumbo eggs at the store.
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Welcome to Chrono Touch Detective.
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Neal Chandran
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Neal Chandran

The graphic adventure, a game genre long since considered mostly dead, is finding renewed life on Nintendo's DS handheld. Entries such as Trace Memory, Hotel Dusk: Room 215 and the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney games, to name a few, have earned praise from both gamers and gaming press. Another game that threw its hat into the ring back in 2006 was Touch Detective, a whimsical graphic adventure that Atlus published for US audiences. Touch Detective put you in the shoes of Mackenzie, a young sleuth in training, who had to solve four rather absurd cases in order to become a licensed detective.

Despite lukewarm response from both press and gamers to Touch Detective, Atlus has seen fit to localize the game's sequel, entitled Touch Detective 2 1/2, for US audiences. Touch Detective 2 1/2 puts you back in the shoes of Mackenzie who has to solve five cases with the help (or lack thereof) of her faithful cohorts Funghi the mushroom and Cromwell the butler along with her friends: the spacey Penelope, and Chloe, who fancies herself smarter than she really is.

Although Mackenzie is a licensed detective now, she is still not taken seriously and wants to change that. Cromwell starts off the game once again by locking Mackenzie in her room and forcing her to find an obscure solution to get out. The first real case is once again presented by Penelope, who's freaking out that someone stole the color in her pink noodles. Towards the end of that first case, Mackenzie meets a villain called The Cornstalker, a master of disguise who becomes the recurring villain throughout the game. It looks like Miss "Touch Detective" has become noteworthy enough to earn an arch nemesis. The trademark wacky humor is back in full effect where characters deliver ridiculous lines with straight faces.

The individual cases are not that long (2-4 hours apiece) and are not as disjointed as they were in the first game. The individual cases presented here come together to form a more cohesive story. Having a recurring villain definitely helps keep the narratives focused. The game's world has also expanded. There are new locations to explore in town and one case even takes place on a train. In addition to The Cornstalker, some more new and wacky NPCs are introduced, such as the bumbling red-haired Inspector Daria seen in the game's introductory cinema. The Touch List to chronicle everything Mackenzie has touched is back, as well as the between-case bonus rounds where Mackenzie helps out the various townspeople with their minor concerns.

The graphics, art style, and music style remain unchanged from the first title. In other words, the game consists of bright, colorful, detailed, 2D backdrops with large 2D sprites that animate fluidly and have an almost 3D look to them. The eclectic art style features anime styled characters, Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas styled characters, anthropomorphic animals, and various combinations thereof. Pivotal scenes in the game are punctuated by well-drawn anime cutscene stills. The whimsical music heard in the first game returns here with the same above-average sound quality. There are also some new compositions for the new locales and those fit into Touch Detective's existing musical repertoire quite well.

The interface of the game is also the same as that of the first game and is the tried and true find, use, and manipulate item interface seen in your garden variety graphic adventure. Instead of pointing and clicking with a mouse, gamers point and click with the DS' stylus. If the first case is any indication, the puzzles are still wacky (for example using a banana peel to polish an antique lamp), but are less obtuse than before. Fans familiar with the first game will ease into this one right away. Additional upgrades such as multiple save slots, instead of just one, will certainly be welcomed.

Graphic adventure fans can get their hands on Touch Detective 2 1/2 when it hits store shelves October 9, 2007.


© 2007 Atlus USA, BeeWorks. All Rights Reserved.

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