Talking mushrooms, robot butlers, and other surreal situations are pretty much everyday occurences in the world of Touch Detective...
Let me start by asking all of you: what is a girl's best friend? Diamonds you say? Wrong, dear gamer - it's actually a mushroom. And what do mushrooms have to do with girls? Mackenzie the young girl and star of Touch Detective for the Nintendo DS, likes to keep her cheerful and cute mushroom buddy Funghi around to help out. I mean really, don't you realize that a good girl detective would always rather have a good reliable mushroom around than some indestructible jewelry? (Hasn't Mario taught you anything about mushrooms?) If you got that question wrong, then maybe you will need to pick up Touch Detective and practice your reasoning skills in solving such mysteries. Why a mushroom? Uh, well, the game is a Japanese import, so anything is bound to happen - so don't be too surprised when it does and you will enjoy ride even more. Anthropomorphic mushrooms are the least of your worries.
Touch Detective, originally called Osawari Tantei Ozawa Rina, is the story about a wide-eyed young girl by the name of Mackenzie, whose father dies unexpectedly of a heart attack. Naturally, she inherits the family detective agency business. The robot butler Cromwell aids as Mackenzie's guide in this new world of detectives and criminals, along with the happy-go-lucky Funghi.
Mackenzie will encounter four big cases that she must solve. Some, like a missing person case, is what you would typically encounter as a detective. But others, like searching for the missing dreams of a friend, show the fun and creative nature of what you will encounter with this game.
Game play will essentially be a lot of touching. (I could make a really bad joke here but it would be too easy.) Using your stylus on the bottom screen, you touch items, collect evidence, and talk to people. The top screen will display Mackenzie and her hidden thoughts and intentions with the people and items she will encounter. Using your intuition and reasoning you will need to find the suspicious elements that will lead you to sniffing out the clues and solving the case.
In the Item Investigation Screen you will gather your evidence and combine items to reveal more clues. You will also need to log and keep track of the actual textures of items, which will play an important role in your cases. What's most exciting is that the touch gameplay is not just a gimmick to move the story forward - you must use your thinking abilities by finding evidence and following clues to progress through the game.
In addition to the four cases, you will spend time between cases to practice and develop your abilities. By patrolling neighborhoods and other places, like the shopping mall, you will learn and develop the skills to take on the big cases, and honor your family business.
Part story, part adventure, part brain challenge, Touch Detective is a funky combination of noir and anime cute. With not a huge amount of marketing behind this game, this could easily gear up to be another sleeper hit on the DS, not unlike Capcom's own Phoenix Wright.
Touch Detective, published by Atlus, will be available on October 17th on the Nintendo DS, for $29.95. Look for a Modojo hands-on with the title in the next few weeks.