Touch Detective 2½
If you loved the wacky adventures of Touch Detective Mackenzie, there are two and a half good reasons why this sequel is for you: firstly, many of the quirky characters from the first game return, bolstered by an even more insane cast of not-so model citizens, and secondly, there are more excellent point-and-click style puzzles to figure out, and this time they are somewhat more logical (relatively speaking) - hence the extra half good reason.
But make no mistake about it: you’ll either love or hate Touch Detective 2½, depending on how much you take to the characters and whether or not you can cope with some often illogical solutions.
Detective Mackenzie may look like a sweet, innocent child, but she has a knack when it comes to solving the many mysteries that crop up in her town. More often than not, the answer is utterly preposterous, with everything from fairies to now aliens being held accountable for missing things or persons. Take the first chapter for example: there’s a noodle festival going on in town, but oddly enough all of the coloured noodles have mysteriously turned white. Sounds like someone threw some bleach into the cooking pot; that sounds like a ridiculous solution that fits in well with Touch Detective’s outlandish style. But that’s not the case: it seems that there is an alien figure who has infested the ranks of humanity in hopes of opening a portal to destruction… by using white noodles. I kid you not - Touch Detective is as unbelievably unreal as anything you could possibly imagine.
The alien leader makes himself known early on as the Cornstalker - throughout the entirety of Touch Detective 2½, he will meet eye-to-eye with Mackenzie as he attempts to pull off his dastardly plan for global domination (why he picked this bizarre town to begin with is anyone’s guess). This is an improvement over the original Touch Detective as each of the five cases are now intertwined (as opposed to the first game’s random occurrences).
You’ll love the crazy proceedings: they are now more fleshed out, yet maintain their easy-going, nonsensical nature. This does, however, make several of the puzzles rife in Mackenzie’s life difficult to figure out. For example, would you have ever guessed that a banana peel (the inner “chocolatey” flesh has already been eaten away) could be used to clean a dirty old lamp? Or that when you have obtained three bundles out of a required five, all that it takes to complete the task is to talk to one of your friends and have them break you three bundles into six halves? That’s right: there is a lot of conversing to be had with the locals and whilst they are leaking drainpipes of information, they won’t say anything useful until the time is right. Thus, there is a lot of backtracking and guess-touching of everything until you find the right object to use or person to talk to that will shift things along once again. This can be frustrating, although it is less of an issue than the first game - if you’re interested in the series, feel free to start with this slightly easier one; the story doesn’t continue on from the first.
When you do solve each little mystery - and the ridiculous reasoning is explained - the outcome is generally satisfying; closure of the crazy conspiracy theories is downright absurd, but I can’t help but feel that “alls well that ends well” - much like the “surprising” turn of events seen in episodes of popular TV cartoons such as Mona the Vampire. Just try not to think so much and you’ll enjoy the unravelling of the unorthodox capers.
Touch Detective 2½ adopts the exact same Tim Burton-esque graphical style; it fits in perfectly with the grim satire. Many of the first game’s environments, such as the condominium and the shopping plaza, look nearly exactly the same; there is an air of familiarity which makes it feel like you’re back at home (assuming you have played the first). There are many new areas too, though, and some really fantastical events play out here; can you imagine the shenanigans that go on when Mackenzie enters an ancient pyramid or an extraterrestrial space shuttle? Similarly the audio is a direct rip of the first game with some additional tracks to fill the ambience required by the new areas. The music is generally light and dainty which is in stark contrast to the look and feel of the game, but I dunno - it works, and very well at that.
“Just try not to think so much and you’ll enjoy the unravelling of the unorthodox capers.”Once again there are several bonus missions to complete once you’re done, and the touch list returns once again so that if you’re a completionist, there’s still quite a bit to do before you can call it a day. The game is still fairly short, though, clocking in at around the 8-12 hour mark depending on how often you get stuck (due to failure to think illogically). These kinds of games tend to be a one night stand in that once you know what happens, there’s not much to make you want to dive back in anytime soon.
Think of Touch Detective 2½ as a continuation of the series, retaining everything that made the first set of cases so adorable and spicing it up with an overarching plot development. The puzzles are somewhat easier, but there’s still a lot of trial and error to be had, especially with characters that remain tight-lipped until the moment’s just right. I’d like to compare it to the Sam & Max Seasons - they both share similar adventure game roots and are comprised of individual episodes full of laugh-out-loud comedy - but Mackenzie’s adventure is less refined. This is perfectly acceptable for the DS handheld, though, and if you are able to bear with the somewhat slow proceedings, I’m sure you’ll soon fall in love with Touch Detective Mackenzie and co. if you haven’t fallen already.
Seven out of ten
- Great touch screen interface
- Good dose of ridiculous comedy
- Charming characters
- Often illogical solutions to illogical puzzles
- If you didn't like the first game...