The concept for Ghost Trick was created back in 2004 when the development for Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Trials and Tribulations, the third game in the Ace Attorney series, was finished. The goal for its creator, Shu Takumi, was to create a completely new mystery game that was different from the Ace Attorney series. The original concept had the main character as a spy and was called Ghost Spy, but overtime, the spy idea was out of the picture and the name was changed to Ghost Trick. According to Takumi, the name was chosen because the Japanese word "toriko" meaning "to possess" sounds strikingly similar to the English word "trick".
As of late 2009, the game was said to be more than fifty percent complete. It was released in Japan on June 19, 2010 for the Nintendo DS. The North American release was January 11, 2011 and the European release was January 14, 2011. A Japanese version for Apple's iOS platform has been released as an episodic title on December 16, 2010. A similar version for the North American and European markets was released on February 1, 2012.
Ghost Trick's main plot revolves around finding out the true identity of the game's main protagonist, Sissel. Upon waking up in a junkyard, Sissel soon discovers that he has died, his own corpse sprawled out on the ground in front of him, and that murder is about to take place, quite literally, over his dead body. Before Sissel even has time to react to this turn of events a voice appears in his head imploring him to save the young woman currently being held at gunpoint. This new presence, who is eventually revealed to be a possessed desk lamp known as Ray, teaches Sissel about his newfound "Powers of the Dead" and the "Ghost Tricks" he can perform as a result. Using his Ghost Tricks, Sissel succeeds in saving the young woman from a grisly death at the hands of a mysterious hitman, but the victory is bittersweet. As one life is saved, another is lost as Ray explains that not only is it impossible for Sissel to prevent his own death, but that he has one day left on the earth before he will cease to exist entirely.
With this newfound information being the only certainty in Sissel's mind, he becomes determined to find out who he is and why he was murdered before he disappears forever. Along the way, Sissel finds out that there is much more going on tonight than immediately seems apparent and that the secret of his identity seems to be tied to an event that could change the fate of an entire nation.
Most of the game is played out on the bottom screen. Sissel's spirit is controlled by touching and dragging it with the stylus. Sissel's "Powers of the Dead" prevent him from controlling people directly, but he can affect the situation by possessing and manipulating the inanimate objects around him. There are hundreds of items in the game, each specific to their own areas, many of which contain unique "Ghost Tricks" that Sissel can perform. The difficulty in many of the puzzles arises from the fact that Sissel's spirit has a limited radius that it can move in when jumping from object to object.
The other major aspect of Ghost Trick is time travel. Sissel will often come across dead bodies which may be helpful to his search for the truth and change the fate of the victim. After talking and getting info from the person's spirit, the game rewinds back to exactly four minutes before their death. The player then has a certain amount of time to use Sissel's item manipulation skills to help prevent the character's demise.
Outside of the trick-based puzzles, Sissel is able to navigate through the city at his leisure by traveling through telephone lines. He can discover new locations by using his powers to trace a phone call. During sections in which Sissel travels into the past, he is only able to travel between phones that are currently connected, and if either party hangs up he will be unable to travel to the other location.
The new ghostly Sissel is, most likely, completely unlike the corpse formerly known as Sissel. Having lost all of his memories, including his name, and even the understanding of basic concepts like darkness, the spirit Sissel is very much an empty vessel. Despite these circumstances, however, Sissel is quite the valiant figure. Although he is driven solely by his determination to find out his true identity, he never forsakes the opportunity to save another victim from his own fate. Although Sissel is essentially a blank slate, some personality quirks do pop up now and again. He often refers to many of the games female characters as "little lady" and is generally a pretty sarcastic and easy going guy when the situation permits, especially for being a stiff.
The red-haired girl whom is first found crouched over the body of a recently slain Sissel, it is soon uncovered that she was to meet Sissel at the junkyard that night for an information exchange of some sort and that, according to Ray, she is the key to solving the mystery of Sissel's identity. A very dynamic and flamboyant personality, though at times a bit dense, Lynne is fueled by a burning desire to solve her own mystery that could have a profound impact on those closest to her.
Ray (as in "Ray of Light") is a friendly little desk lamp and the first entity Sissel has contact with. Presumably another recently deceased soul, Mr. Ray serves as a teacher for Sissel in the nature of his Powers of the Dead and Ghost Tricks. After instructing Sissel in his newfound abilities and assisting in the rescue of Lynne, Ray implores Sissel to uncover the truth behind the mysterious events happening in town. Ray insists that the mystery behind these events and the mystery of Sissel's identity are one in the same and that Lynne is the key to both.
Kamila is Lynne's adorable little roommate; her and Lynne have a very close-knit relationship, not unlike that of sisters. She gets caught up in the mysterious events of the evening when another hitman is sent to Lynne's apartment after Sissel foils the first hitman in the junkyard. Lynne has tasked her with retrieving a music box that seems to be of great importance.
Missile is a energetic little Pomeranian who lives with Lynne and Kamila. His loyalty and companionship knows no bounds; protecting Kamila from any harm that may befall her is his only goal in life. He has quite the penchant for barking, much to the chagrin of the upper-class, wine-drinking novelist who lives next door to them.
A strange inspector with a little bit of funk and a whole lot of soul, Cabanela is the head of a division known as the "Special Investigation Unit." He is known as being a natural born genius when it comes to solving cases and is obsessed with his own personal advancement in the force. Although he was tasked with heading up the group looking into the big event happening in town tonight, he rushes over to the junkyard when he hears of Lynne's involvement in Sissel's murder. He always appears to be dancing with a swagger in his step and constantly stresses words like "boooys."
Jowd, also known as prisoner D99, is an inmate at a facility known as the "Special Prison" who spends all of his free time painting portraits in his cell. Although his identity seems arbitrary at first, it soon becomes apparent that he holds a very important connection to Sissel, Lynne, and the big event going down tonight.
The soundtrack listing below is from the Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective Soundtrack. Original composition by Masakazu Sugimori. The first CD of this collection was available as a pre-order bonus.
- Prologue - The Beginning of the "Night"
- Ghost Track
- 4 Minutes Before Death
- Fate Updated
- The World of the Dead
- Lynne - A Targeted Redhead
- Kuneri - A Beam of Light
- Welcome to the Salon
- Missile - A Courageous Little Animal
- Madam - An Enveloping Small of Roses
- Chicken Paradise
- The Imprisoned
- A Dashing Enigma
- Kabanera - A White Lovely Lanky Man
- Intermission - The Deepening of the "Night"
- 4 Minutes Before Death - Variation
- Fate updated - Variation
- Elegy for the Torn-off Gentleman
- Beauty and Dandy
- Towards nothingness...
- Joad - A Captive of Fate
- Chained Past
- Dead Afterimage
- informing About the Parting
- The Last Desperate Struggle
- Epilogue - The End of the "Night"