Ghost Trick (DS) - Rotoscoping ain't dead!

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Post » Mon Mar 21, 2011 8:06 am

Okay, who owns a DS?

Who has also played at least one of the Ace Attorney games?

If you say "yes" to both of these questions, then you will love this game, no question. If you only own a DS, you should still get this game, because it's practically one of the last great games for the system, and critics agree... Except for the Game Informer reviewer, who obviously had no idea what he was talking about. Seriously, what a crappy review. Anyway, I digress...

- The writing is as I expected from the team who did Ace Attorney, but they topped themselves once more. The dialogue is clever and funny, the characters are well-written, likable and memorable, the plot twists vary between brilliant and somewhat convoluted, and, well... If there is any genuine proof that games are indeed art, this game is it.

- The whole "Ghost Trick" mechanic is clever, and it never gets stale, nor do the puzzles, which are at times quite brilliant. Sure, there's some moments of trial and error, but considering the game is highly forgiving and allows you to 'rewind' and rectify mistakes, this is far less of an issue than it normally would be.

- The music, as usual, is really good, and memorable. Then again, I didn't expect anything less from the Ace Attorney team.

- The 2D art isn't animated, unlike Ace Attorney... Which isn't an issue because it's made up for by the 3D art. It's 2.5D done perfectly. The style of the models is slightly akin to Another World and Flashback, in a way, except in 3D and not vector animation, they blend very well with the 2D backgrounds and don't look at all out of place, and hell, they even look flat when imposed over each other! And the animation is fantastic. In my personal opinion, very few games even come close to the quality of the 3D animations in this game.

Actually, speaking of which, I'd like to talk about the animation, because it's not only one of the most stand-out aspects of the game, it's also proof that rotoscoping ain't dead.

It's 3D animation rendered as 2D, with the animations done by hand rather than motion-capture. Many have compared it to Rotoscoping used in games like Another World and Flashback, it's not the same technique, but it's similar, and its intended to create similar results. While it's not immediately obvious, there is one game that uses a very, very similar technique - an indie game no less - Iji.

Iji's animations are fluid and smooth, not unlike Ghost Trick's - unfortunately, I don't have a GIF, but the trailer makes an equally good demonstration. While obviously the level of detail in both games is obviously different, there is one thing that both games share in their model renders - they use "flat" colours (correct me if I'm using the wrong terminology here) as opposed to textures. In the case of Iji, while it has lower detail than Ghost Trick does, it makes the renders look perfectly flat 2D sprites. It fooled me for a long time, too.

Anyone with a good eye for detail will discern that Ghost Trick's animations are in fact '3D', but the flat colours provide an illusion that disguises that fact, and allows the sprites to blend in well with hand-drawn backgrounds, and also make them look 'flat'. Now, I digress, I don't normally like 3D rendered in 2D. It looks 'fake' most of the time, even well-done examples of it such as Donkey Kong Country generally fail to escape it, and when it's NOT done well, eg, Sonic 4, it generally looks horrible. However, many objects in Ghost Trick are also 3D renders, but quite often you generally can't tell the difference between a 2D sprite/background and a 3D render until they actually animate (and even then, you still can't unless you watch carefully). It's brilliant, and I wish more games used that sort of flat-colour technique.

Hell, if someone else were to use the technique, and were not satisfied with the 'flat colours' and want more detail, they can always modify the sprites and add in more detail by hand. Easier than having to draw up every animation frame from scratch, at any rate.
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Post » Mon Mar 21, 2011 2:23 pm

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