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Trace Memory – Nintendo DS

Trace Memory – Nintendo DS

tracememorybaPlatform: Nintendo DS

Release Date (NA): September 26, 2005

Developer: Cing

Publisher: Nintendo

Genre: Point-and-Click

Nerd Rating: 7.5 out of 10

 

Continuing on through Nerd Bacon’s October festivities is the Nintendo DS game Trace Memory, another point-and-click game with a lot of mystery on an abandoned island.

tracememory-i05

D has PTSD or something…

To say that I’ve been waiting to play Trace Memory for a while seems like an understatement. Ever since I read the description of the game in the Nintendo DS catalog I got from Kmart as a kid, I’ve been dying to figure out the mystery that surrounds this thirteen year old girl and the Blood Edward Island. Luckily, when you’re an adult with an income, you can afford to buy all the things you spent your childhood waiting to get…

tracememory-i02

It turns out Ashley’s dad invented the Nintendo DS.

The story of Trace Memory is simple.  The protagonist, Ashley Robbins, receives a package for her birthday from her missing father who is supposed to be dead telling her to come to Blood Edward Island. So Ashley hops on a boat with her aunt and guardian Jessica and heads on over. However, when they get there her father isn’t there to greet them. Jessica decides to go look for him, leaving Ashley at the docks. But when she doesn’t return after a while, Ashley heads out to find out what’s going on herself.

On the way to find Jessica and her father, Ashley encounters a friendly ghost who refers to himself as D. D doesn’t remember who he is and asks for Ashley’s assistance with helping him to restore his memory. For the remainder of the game, Ashley and D explore the Edward Mansion in an attempt to find Jessica and the lab where Ashley’s dad is supposed to be. What’s really wonderful about this game is that once Ashley and D are inside of the mansion, the story is told more through the puzzles and items that can be examined than long dialog sequences or droning narratives. In doing so you also explore the secondary story of D, who he is, and why he died.

tracememory-i03

Jessica, it was a Nintendo DS.

The game is split into chapters, each beginning and ending when Ashley and D reach a new area of the mansion. The chapters are bookended with a miniature quiz of what was learned during that chapter. It came across as kind of weird to have the protagonist constantly quizzing herself on the strangest details rather than jotting them in her fancy DTS. However, I think this was implemented more for kids playing the game on and off than for an adult doing a longplay…

Some really beautiful artwork.

While the game was short and most of the puzzles were easy, the way the puzzles were incorporated was simply brilliant. Trace Memory may have been specifically made for the Nintendo DS, but the programmers clearly went above and beyond with it. The puzzles not only take advantage of the hardware, but they use it in incredibly interesting ways. Playing Trace Memory on a Nintendo DS is truly the only way to play this game, emulation just doesn’t give players the full experience.

I also found Trace Memory‘s art style and soundtrack really added to the moody atmosphere of the Edwards Mansion. The soundtrack that plays as Ashley and D navigate the mansion feels very ancient, mysterious, but also sorrowful. The art style, with its heavy shadows give off the look of a noir, but aren’t too dark for the kids. I’m usually not one to babble on and on about art and music in games, but everything in that department fits the game to a tee.

gfs_67724_2_298

Are you sure this isn’t Myst?

Like Cing’s other games, the characterization in this game is realistic. At first I was worried about how Ashley would be characterized after having played other adventure games with similarly aged protagonists who were either complete airheads or just whiny. Ashley, however, is truly different. She’s not a badass nor is she a useless child. Ashley’s determined. She’s determined to find the truth, even if it means having to take on challenges that seem difficult or scary. And as D begins to recover more of his memory, he too begins to become more determined in solving the overarching mystery.

It’s disheartening to learn of Cing’s bankruptcy only a few years after Trace Memory was published. Although the company would only go on to develop eight titles, in their short time they really proved to the gaming industry that story-heavy, character-centric adventure games were far from dead. And although Trace Memory doesn’t really have much replayability, I felt completely entranced with the game while I was experiencing it.

Written by Doc Croc

Doc Croc aka Kelly is Nerd Bacon’s Editor-in-Chief and resident narcoleptic. In the off-chance she isn’t already asleep, you can find her here at the Bacon!

 
 

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2 Comments

  1. This is one of the first games I got for my DS. I remember loving it back then, and I kinda want to replay it now. I wish I still had it. Thanks for a great review/trip down memory lane!

     
  2. I’ve always been curious about this game and Contact for DS. Thanks for quelling my curiosity about Trace 😀

     

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