Touch Detective 2˝ (DS) review
"As a budding super sleuth, Mackenzie has successfully recovered many missing objects, but now she's finally found her inner voice. In her previous adventure, the titular Touch Detective stared out blankly from the top screen, with wide eyes and an ashen face. Right beside her, a perpetually empty thought-bubble sucked in all the energy of the otherwise crazy cast and wacky cases. Every moment was hers to shine, and she failed miserably. In Touch Detective 2˝, that bubble is fil..."
As a budding super sleuth, Mackenzie has successfully recovered many missing objects, but now she's finally found her inner voice. In her previous adventure, the titular Touch Detective stared out blankly from the top screen, with wide eyes and an ashen face. Right beside her, a perpetually empty thought-bubble sucked in all the energy of the otherwise crazy cast and wacky cases. Every moment was hers to shine, and she failed miserably. In Touch Detective 2˝, that bubble is filled more and more. The shift isn't drastic – she's still the straight man in a sea of oddballs – but her mental activity provides a bridge between the player and the outrageous world she inhabits.
And everything is weirder this time around, from the characters to the conundrums. The town is full of life: plant, animal, artificial, alien, and undetermined. (Except for the extras, who all look like embalmed corpses.) Mackenzie actually resides with a mechanical butler and a mute mushroom. Cromwell the robot is constantly drilling his charge in the proper behavior of a young lady, while her pet Funghi follows wherever she goes. Her best friends are Penelope and Chloe, and they're at least human. Penelope has an obsession with bananas, and screams in terror at the sight of most anything else. Chloe is still a wannabe detective, spouting nonsense theories for every crime. Other frequent guests are the dashing Inspector Daria, who is equally beautiful and incompetent. She can't even make an entrance without sustaining major injury (which inevitably knocks her out of commission). Mayor Tom is a turkey who's tight with the budget... until it comes to personal pork projects. Amongst the varied residents, there's one commonality; they're all disturbingly self-absorbed.
There's also one major villain: The Cornstalker. The enervating ear shows up to cause trouble in all five mysteries, whether he's the main culprit or not. Each case starts off with a rather innocuous robbery, but they quickly morph into unbelievable affairs. Mackenzie's first job falls on the eve of the annual Noodle Festival, where someone is stealing all the colored pasta. However, petty theft turns into a nefarious plot to open an interdimensional portal. That's followed up by fossilized archaeologists, haunted mansions, and alien spaceships. Unfortunately, the adventures don't lead anywhere in particular. There are bits in each case that point to a larger story, but these are never explained in a very satisfactory way. Also, there's a continuing ambivalence to the repercussions of the crime, even from Mackenzie herself. Like, The Cornstalker always escapes without punishment. Catching the culprit never seems to change the landscape of the town.
With so many sensational elements, the detective work isn't exactly grounded in reality. I can only think of one truly logical exercise. Our heroine picks up a heart-shaped artifact that serves as a key. It's up to the player to observe an innocuously placed, similarly shaped keyhole. More often, though, you just have to blindly experiment. For example, Mackenzie needs to clean an antique lamp, and one item on hand is an empty banana peel. This garbage somehow transforms tarnish into sparkle, instead of leaving a grimy, sticky residue. Who knew? Solutions boil down to touching everything, exhausting combinations, and presenting random items to strangers to elicit a reaction.
Obviously, Touch Detective 2˝ is not a game to play in order to exercise your analytical thinking skills. Instead of becoming frustrated by the insanity, just sit back and enjoy the oddities. Now that Mackenzie has found her voice, it's a halfway decent ride.
Community review by woodhouse (May 11, 2009)
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