One of the first games I was able to try at San Diego Comic Con last week was Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective for the DS. In Ghost Trick, you play a dead man named Sissel with no memory of how he died or who he is. While investigating his identity and death, he tries to prevent the murder of other people by manipulating the environment with spirit powers.

It's definitely an interesting concept for a game. However, perhaps a bigger reason why it's generating buzz is that its designer is Ace Attorney series creator Shu Takumi. Soon after my hands-on demo, I was able to sit down with Takumi and producer Hironobu Takeshita and ask a few questions.

Note: Takumi and Takeshita's responses were translated and consolidated by Janet Hsu, who also handles localization for Capcom.

Are there supposed to be multiple solutions to the scenarios?

Basically, most of the puzzles have only one solution but there are some stages where there are multiple paths so you can feel free to pick and choose how you want to get to the end. Also, in terms of the scenario, there's a main scenario but there's also sub-scenarios that you can check out while you're playing through the game.

In the game, you're often trying to save characters in the last four minutes of their life. I was kind of curious how that timer was working. I didn't know if it was real-time or if there was something else pushing the clock forward?

It's not exactly real-time. We paced it so it kind of matches the flow of the story and what we wanted to express. While it's not exactly real-time, it's pretty close to it. You'll notice in some of the events you have to time your moves to the event as it happens on the screen. In that sense it's real-time because you have to react to what's going on. The good thing about that, though, is that if you miss the action, you can always go back and re-try that section. You may not necessarily solve a puzzle in four minutes but that's kind of the gyst of what we're going for.

How long does it take to complete the campaign?

Well, the first time you play through, the average play-time is probably 15 to 20 hours. That also depends on your ability to solve puzzles [laughes]. The good thing about this game is that there's a really big twist at the end of the story. If you play it through a second time, a lot of the lines and a lot of the characters do take on a double meaning. It's one of those games that's fun to play the first time but it's just as fun the second time because you get a real enjoyment out of the foreshadowing and the other little details we stick in there. As I mentioned earlier, there's also a lot of different sub-scenarios so it's always fun to go and find all of the ones you missed the first time around, too.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney spawned an entire series. Do you see that happening for Ghost Trick as well?

Well, what happened with the first Ace Attorney game is that they made it thinking it was the only one they were going to make. They put everything into it and thought "Okay, that's it." But through a lot of fan reactions and encouragement, they were able to go on and make a second and third and make a series. They're hoping that if the fan reaction is good and people really want a sequel, they're hoping to make one. Right now they're still kind of waiting on the fan and press reaction.

Ace Attorney eventually went to the Wii, iPhone, and PC. Is that possible here with Ghost Trick?

Certainly that's something we'll look into in the future. The reason why [Ace Attorney] went to the DS and cellphones and the PC in Japan, is because we wanted other people to play and to introduce it to a broader audience. It is possible we could in the future [bring it to other platforms] but we made this game specifically for the DS hardware and we took advantage of the dual screens and things like that. We'd really like to focus on promoting this as a DS game and just focusing on the DS aspect. Also, the other thing is that we have to consider technical aspects. For example, if we bring the game to the Wii, we have to figure out whether we want to make it hi-res or keep it the same. One thing that is in favor of maybe bringing it to another platform is that we've heard that, in America, portable devices are not as popular as they are in Japan. The DS and PSP titles haven't been doing as well. Maybe because of that, just introduce the game to more people, we might consider bringing it to more platforms.

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