4 Minutes Before Death: The Music of Ghost Trick

Gamer Grooves

As always, a friendly reminder that this post may contain spoilers.

Ghost Trick is another story-centric game with many twists and turns leading to the end. Like the Phoenix Wright post, I would definitely urge you to play this game before reading. If you don’t really want to play it or already have, then by all means go ahead. There are a couple of major plot elements that I’m going to spoil because I have to, but I’ll try and not mention the endgame at all and also be as vague as possible. The game was made by Shu Takumi, creator of Phoenix Wright, so you know it’s a great experience. It’s on the app store as well, so you can play it on your phone too.

Ghost Trick released in 2010 in Japan, then 2011 in the international markets. It had 3D sprites that used super smooth animations which helped to create characters with mannerisms that would stick with you, like how Inspector Cabanela walks down stairs or how one of the guards reacts at the prison. The smoothness is not just aesthetic; it plays an integral part in the gameplay as well.

The mechanics of Ghost Trick are as follows: You are a ghost who can travel back 4 minutes before the death of a person to try and avoid their fate. The gimmick is that Sissel (the main character) can manipulate objects when he possesses them, so timing when dealing with a puzzle can have the utmost importance. So long as the animation is smooth, a player can time their actions accurately, and there will be no confusion about how objects and people interact. It’s Sissel’s mission to find out how he died, and he only has a certain amount of time in the night to do so.

The soundtrack for Ghost Trick is one of my favorites on the Nintendo DS. This should come as no surprise to anyone who knows the composer, Masakazu Sugimori. Don’t remember who that is? As I mentioned in the Trials & Tribulations post, he was the composer for Ace Attorney 1 and 2. Once again, the music is catchy and helps carry the story along, and much like the Ace Attorney games, this game wouldn’t be nearly as good without the music that goes into it.

Songs

Main Theme

This is the song that plays whenever you successfully save someone’s life in the past and when things seem to be going your way. It’s sort of a victory theme in a way, and whenever it plays, I find myself brimming with self confidence. It really does a good job of giving you that feeling of, “Yeah! I can do this!” Another thing I associate this song with is relief, especially after a hard puzzle. Saving a person’s life and having this song play means I can take a deep breath because the section is over and I was victorious. This would be a great song to play after a person successfully defuses a bomb. There’s an alternate version in the final credits, serving as a celebration of a job well done. If any song got me to buy this game, it was the main theme.

Lynne ~ A Targeted Redhead

Because of the nature of Ghost Trick, people dying a horrible death can be saved by Sissel. So Lynne, who gets killed the most out of any character in the game, has an upbeat theme. Thanks to Sissel, Lynne has become accustomed to dying; she knows everything is going to be fine. She ends up treating death like a silly little accident, which is reflected in the sound and name of her theme. Thanks to this theme, every time you see Lynne’s dead body, instead of going, “Oh no!”, you go “Oh you.” It takes a special kind of game to do something like that.

Missile ~ A Courageous Little Animal

As you can see in the video, Missile is a Pomeranian with the happiest look in the world on his face. His theme represents his boundless energy and limitless optimism, which is certain to put a smile on your face. Indeed, whenever this song starts, I smile because I know the character that is associated with it. Even when dead, Missile wishes to say hello to everyone and bark out the strange things on the TV. Despite being able to talk to Sissel, he’s still just a small excitable dog with a lot of love to give. When you bring him back to life near the beginning of the game, he is determined to get out of the apartment and save his master. So he only does the most adorable thing ever and starts running at the door repeatedly trying to get to the doorknob. I think Missile may be my favorite character in Ghost Trick, even more-so than Sissel, so it’s a real treat to listen to his theme.

Detective Jowd ~ A Captive of Fate

Detective Jowd seems to snap to awareness when you talk to him as a ghost, faster than anyone else. As this theme began I had the feeling that I had no idea what to do and that Jowd was the real one in charge of the discussion. He’s the best detective on the police force, or at least he was before a horrible incident that put him on death row. But you and Jowd both know that he didn’t do whatever it was, and this theme only reinforces Jowd’s determination to see the true perpetrator of the crime brought to justice. Sissel gives him the opportunity to live and investigate, so Jowd takes it.

4 Minutes Before Death ~ Variation

This is probably the most spoilery part of the post, so avert your gaze if the article made you want to play the game. This is a big one.

You go through the phone line (oh yeah, Sissel can do that, too) to see what happened to Inspector Cabanela. What you find is completely shocking, as the man who just shot and killed Cabanela was none other than a man who seems to be in your body! You see how he died, and in those 4 minutes, you see Cabanela shoot this mystery man and sends him flying on a rolling chair. The chair then seemingly moves on its own back to the desk it was at, and the man gets back up as if nothing happened. And this theme plays:

So, with this new information in mind, you go back in time and try to save the inspector. You start by moving an item nearby and then the second surprise hits you. This man notices that the item has moved, and he begins talking to Sissel directly. The bigger twist is that he knows you’re there and what you’re up to because he has ghost powers as well! So he speeds up the process and shoots Cabanela way ahead of schedule.

This song represents a true opponent for Sissel. Up until this point, he was an outside force that couldn’t really be stopped by anyone else. But this new individual has the same powers and more, and will require skills and solutions that are outside the box. While he doesn’t actively battle you, whenever this theme plays, you realize that things have just gone from bad to worse. He’s a sizable roadblock in what’s already an uphill battle, and man do I love it. It was definitely a breath of fresh air because I didn’t know if I would ever run into any direct adversity in the game.

Afterthoughts

I’ve never been more happy with an impulse purchase than I was when I bought Ghost Trick. Masakazu Sugimori certainly did it again in creating themes for characters that are memorable and music that will stick with me for a long time. Whenever I think of Ghost Trick, I immediately recommend it to everyone in the vicinity. (Especially during funerals! – EDITOR FRANK) It really is that good, and I recommend it wholeheartedly as one of the best DS games I own. You will be doing yourself a favor. Trust me.

Anywho, that wraps up day 20 of November, but there’s 10 days to go, so we’re not done yet. Comment below on what songs from Ghost Trick I might not have picked that you liked, or just on the post itself. Either way, I’ll see you all tomorrow!

Fate Averted

Ghost Trick cover

Alex McVeigh
About Alex McVeigh 28 Articles
Alex has been a nerd for as long as he can remember. Every normal conversation he has had could be matched 1 for 1 with a conversation about why Scrooge McDuck is obviously richer than Edward Cullens' Dad and here's why. He can talk about and play video games for hours only to conclude with "anyone wanna play some magic?