The Phantom PI Mission Apparition

By Jorge Figueiredo - August 27th, 2014


One of the nice things about tablets is the screen real estate available to the user. Touch-based games play especially well on these larger devices. So, it is no surprise that Rocket 5 Studios’ side-scrolling adventure, The Phantom PI Mission Apparition, is especially fun on the iPad. This amusing title has a cute story and is full of neat little puzzles, all of which are presented in a “point-and-click” type of format, making it an easy game to get into.

The Phantom PI is all about an intrepid adventurer named Cecil Sparks, who specializes in investigating the paranormal; and oddly enough, he’s hired by the paranormal to do so. The story kicks off with the theft of a guitar and microphone from Ravensmaw Manor, both of which belong to an expired rock star named Marshall Straxx. As Cecil, your job is to chase after the ghostly thief (named Baublebelly), making your way through a number of haunting levels collecting keys and other objects to solve various puzzles in your quest to arrest, finishing the level by jumping through a swirling purple portal. Of course, there are other hidden goodies to collect, giving you incentive to explore before you leave each location.

Some of the extra objects that you can collect are snapped up by way of simple mini-games. For instance, some of the boxes lying around the levels contain ghosts that can be trapped (by using your special ghost gun – using your finger) and dragged around the screen to collect gems. These ghosts are then put to rest by dragging them into the gun with your finger. Other restless monsters play a short game of tag with you, flitting about when discovered and foiled by touching them as fast as you can before they escape. There are also notes squirreled away in various hiding places.

Ghostbusters, eat your hearts out!

Mission Apparition is not without its challenges, but I wouldn’t classify it as a difficult game. The game can be played in small or large chunks without losing your place, and makes for a great way to pass the time while in waiting rooms, on breaks, or sitting on public transit. Each level is made up of multiple floors, connected by doors, ladders, stairs and other modes of inter-floor transportation, with some challenges being thrown into the mix in the way of blocked passages, locked doors, and wiring challenges. All of these factors make for great level design that keeps the player engaged and in the plot, balancing out the relative simplicity of the puzzles.

Controls are intuitive and make the game easy to play, making this a good title to play with your kids. Touching either the left or right edge of the screen will cause Cecil to walk in that direction; double-tapping and holding at the edges will change Cecil’s slow gait to a fast jog. Interactive objects will make themselves known as you pass them, encouraging you to see what they are all about by way of a tap or two. I found that I never really needed to get Cecil to run, as none of the levels were so massive as to warrant it.

Visually the game is a treat. The levels, on top of being well-designed, are also easy on the eyes, and do well to serve as a backdrop for hand-animated characters. I played this title on an iPad 4, and I found that the animations were smooth with little stuttering. The soundtrack and sound effects work well with the visuals. While all of these elements work together to be spooky, I don’t think they ever cross the line into true “horror”, which makes this a great game for kids who like to do puzzles.

Puzzles are not so hard as to make you want to electrocute yourself.

The Phantom PI Mission Apparition is a cute and charming little game that is family-friendly and generally fun. If you are easily bored, you may find this repetitive; however, those who like adventure games with an interesting plot should give this a whirl. Controls are easy to learn and are very responsive, ruling out any potential frustration with the interface. No deaths means that the younger crowd can really get into the game for the sake of discovery (rather than pure survival), reinforcing the puzzle element. 20 levels will keep players busy for a while, and a veritable plethora of collectibles will add some playtime to the mix. This title also works on iPhones and iPod Touches, and it works well enough; but I would definitely play this on an iPad if only to be able to look at all of the love that the developers poured into the environments and characters (which are easier to see without your fingers in the way). You can check out this title on iTunes.

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