I reviewed Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters back on PS3, so I’m going to spend my time talking about its improvements and how it’s changed whilst you can read my original thoughts here – much of these, such as the story, visuals and audio, remain more or less the same in Special Gigs.
As was the case with the original game, the story is pretty strong and feels very ‘Ghostbusters’ as you join the Gate Keepers and defeat evil ghosts and send good spirits into the afterlife. There’s a new scenario and new characters to meet, but otherwise the content remains the same and is still follows an episodic format where a new case is presented with each episode. Colourful and engaging, Special Gigs still proves to be a solid visual novel that’s sadly let down by its ghost battles – this may be a cool idea in concept and was supposed to be tweaked here, but it remains the same frustrating, guess-work experience that it always was.
Combat sees you using a home-made device that allows you to see ghosts and predict where they’ll go next so you can intercept and defeat them – yes, you really do have to guess and just hope for the best, which isn’t enjoyable. If people decide to not complete this game, chances are it’ll be because of the battle system which does all that it can to not be user-friendly. You can set traps which are helpful, but it’s still a nightmare aimlessly running around when the ghost could head off in any direction, and it quickly becomes tiring when you’re forced to do this in every chapter.
It isn’t just the combat that’s lacking – it’s the emotions system too. When speaking with someone, you’ll sometimes be prompting to pick from two wheels which have symbols such as an eye or tongue, or a handshake. These indicate sight, taste, sound, if you’re feeling happy or angry and a few other things, but it isn’t made clear and even when you do play the game with the knowledge as to which is which, they just don’t add up. I tend to choose sight and handshake a lot but it tends to just have the characters wonder why I’m staring at them, which is clearly not what I want. This is a cool idea but one that is poorly executed and I’m surprised that it hasn’t been fixed with the remaster.
Special Gigs expands upon the story which is great and makes this the best version of the game to get, but the gameplay mechanics feel as broken as they were back on PS3 and Vita, and it’s a huge shame as they really hold this back game from being something really special. The art, with its aesthetic bringing back memories of Summer days, and it’s rock-centric soundtrack help Special Gigs to stand out and if it were a standard visual novel then there would be very little to complain about it, and although I admore Toybox Inc.’s attempt to create a strategic gameplay system, they failed to do so and it’s hard to look past. I think it’s still worth giving a go for its beautiful art and its interesting cast and story, but if you’ve played it before then there isn’t a whole lot to see here.