Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies Hands-On: Evolving In All The Right Ways

By Matt Hawkins . June 18, 2013 . 3:20pm

One focal point of this year’s Capcom E3 booth was the return of the original Ace Attorney, Phoenix Wright, in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies. It’s been over five years since we’ve seen him as the star of the show, 2007’s Trials and Tribulations to be exact, so anticipation is high, to say the least.


The E3 demo kicks off with the game’s leading case, which sets up the entirety of the game’s narrative. As one might have guessed, it’s the return of Phoenix Wright, who is now practicing law after having his name cleared by Apollo Justice in the last main Ace Attorney game, one year prior.


Wright’s first client is Juniper Woods, a meek and modest high school girl who is accused of a fairly nefarious crime: blowing up a courtroom. Wright is determined to prove her innocence and discover the true culprit, especially since Apollo was injured in the aforementioned accident. Apollo makes a quick cameo before the trial starts, but he doesn’t play a bigger role until later in the game.


The overall look and feel is similar to Ace Attorneys of past, except for one key distinction: the 3D visuals. All of the flat, 2D line art has been replaced by full three-dimensional polygons. The character models look great; any concerns that any of the personality would be lost are ultimately unfounded. Phoenix Wright and company move great, and not unlike how everyone moved in Ghost Trick, another of Capcom’s excellent adventure games. By the way, the backgrounds are equally fantastic, to the point that they can be often mistaken as 2D artwork.


What really makes the visual overhaul work, though, is the camerawork. Pre-trial it’s not that dramatic; it’s simply characters addressing you, straight on. In this case you meet your new assistant, Athena Cykes, whose specialty is analytical psychology. Aside from explaining the case’s specifics, you get some backstory as well. Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies explains this is Wright’s first case since Trials and Tribulations, as well as how Cykes is actually friends with the accused. You also get to chat a bit with Woods herself, who seems innocent, but you can never tell, since this is an Ace Attorney game.


The graphical overhaul only becomes truly apparent during the actual trial. The camera glides in and pans around, to highlight the drama, giving everything added oomph. For example, instead of Phoenix pointing towards off camera, it now slowly shifts in front of him. It’s simply a joy to see a moment we’ve become so accustomed to in such a different, dramatic fashion, even if it is relatively minor. There are plenty of other smaller yet equally impactful flourishes as well, like slow trucking of the camera towards the witness stand, with the same kind of onscreen text that we’ve seen before given a new sense of personality, as it too is treated like an onscreen object or character. Even the courtroom itself feels more regal.


The nuts and bolts of Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies’ first case is exactly what Ace Attorney fans have come to expect: a wacky witness whose accounts you must dissect, and Wright trying his best to do so without losing his cool. This is Wright’s first time back as a defense, so shaky nerves are understandable. The key witness is Ted Tonate. At a first glance, he’s your average looking bomb disposal expert, but he has the same over the top character design as other Ace Attorney witnesses. Ted’s goggles double as googley eyes and he communicates purely through a touchpad that speaks what he says. Did he lose his voice when a bomb went off accidentally in his past?


The key evidence against Juniper Woods is a stuffed animal that Woods was in possession of, which supposedly had a bomb inside, and which set off and blew up the courtroom. The case itself is relatively short and not exactly complex, but it does the job of explaining the mechanics to someone who is new, and reviving the instincts of those who haven’t played a traditional Ace Attorney game in some time. Every step of the way, from hearing Ted Tondate’s account, to accepting and examining evidence, Cykes points out everything that’s importance and explains what needs to be done, much like past assistants of Wright’s.


Eventually, the player is able to deduce that Ted Tondate’s account is wrong. He claims to have seen signs that indicated that the stuff animal was a ticking time bomb, but given that it was enclosed, no such signs should be visible. Still, there’s the matter of the smoking gun in Woods’ possession, the tail of the destroyed stuffed animal that has her fingerprints on them. Thus we are introduced with a brand new gameplay element that Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies introduces—emotions.


This is where Cykes and her ability to read emotions come in. Whereas Wright’s job is to hear a witness’ testimony and then try to find inconsistencies or flat out lies with the evidence that is made available, Cykes’ duty is to see if the person on the stand is holding any information back, perhaps due to being nervous from being cross-examined.


As Woods recounts that day in the courtroom, four icons that form the brand new Mood Matrix indicates her emotional response as statements are being told. The key here is to see if what is being said matches what the Mood Matrix tells us. Example: if something pleasant is being recounted, a happy face icon should light up. But if the sad face icon lights up, that’s a clue right there.


In this case, Woods tells us that she was elated to be rescued by the courtroom’s rubble by Apollo Justice and the Mood Matrix clearly indicates happiness. Yet it also detects traces of sadness, which doesn’t make sense. Leading to Wright to probe Woods, with the discovery here being that there were actually two stuffed animals, and she was sad to see one of them blow up. The tail that she was in possession of belonged to another that she also owned and not the one that was housed in the incendiary device.


It’s definitely an interesting addition to the gameplay, but the way it is introduced and executed has a real mystical quality. (Although, granted, there’s always been a supernatural element to the game, in the form of Maya Fey.) As is, Phoenix Wright fans should not be disappointed and even Apollo Justice devotees will be happy to know that their guy has a role in Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies as well. While the jury is still out on the Mood Matrix, it’s at least an interesting idea and adds to the rock solid gameplay.


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  • Nightmesh

    I thought there was voice acting in this one? I haven’t watched a lot of trailers but I remember a Japanese one had some voice acting in it. Am I mistaken?

    • SuperSailorV

      For the cutscenes, maybe. Imagine if every line had been voice acted, the time it’d take and the effort?

      Well, I mean, I guess Persona 4G did it, but… this is a heavily text-based game!

      • Nightmesh

        Oh I wasn’t expecting every line. Maybe just the “No.”s and “Okay.”s and a few things like that. Little bits.

        • Time Sage

          You mean something akin to Fire Embalm Awakening?

      • RisukuAozora

        But even Persona 4 Golden wasn’t every line. Some Social Links didn’t have the voice acting. I’m pretty sure of it anyway…

      • Silent-Hal

        And yet Virtue’s Last Reward featured a lot of voice acting despite being heavily text based. Not that I really mind this game being largely unvoiced, just saying they probably could have done it if they really wanted to.

        • J_Joestar

          Voice Acting for this game would probably have to be of VERY high quality, especially considering you may have to hear it over and over again during testimonials, and that even the slight changes in tone and execution may change your interpretation of the testimony.
          Listening could easily be used as it’s own detection system in the game along the lines of Apollo’s body language or the new emotions.

          • Barrylocke89

            I agree with this. Full Voice-acting in an Ace Attorney game would either turn out REALLY well (because the voice actors nail all of the right emotions and subtleties that make investigating even more interesting, or REALLY poorly (if they fail to pull this off).

            But either way, I imagine it would make the game much more expensive. I’d be interested in trying an AA like this, but it may be best that it hasn’t happened.

    • linkenski

      No, there will not be a full voice over for the game, and that’s for the best i think. The voiceovers in the japanese trailer were only for the trailer. There WILL be the usual court voices like “OBJECTION!” and “HOLD IT” and so on, but there will also be fully animated cutscenes and those does have voice overs.

    • Guilherme Matheus Silva

      It seems every cutscene has voice acting.

      “Will have full English voiceovers in the anime cutscenes.”

      But not sure about the in-game dialogues…

      • GH56734

        The bleeps for regular dialogue were already confirmed for the Japanese version. Only anime cutscenes (and Objection! Hold it! and the like are going to be voiced.

  • Alestaos

    This has just got to come out in physical edition for the 3DS in EU/NA. With digital console games i never feel like there right or i own them unless i can touch their box and put them away. I guess its habit from playing since PS1 and i would need a new memory card for the game.

  • Hyli

    Wooooowww this sounds sooo cool!! I am incredibly stoked for this game and looking forward to all these new mechanics!

  • porkiewpyne

    Alright guys. If you want a physical release, here’s your chance. If you haven’t heard, go to Capcom-Unity and show your support for the physical release in the link below.

    DISCLAIMER: This is NO guarantee that it will be fruitful but at least we now have a sliver of chance and if I am to be denied of it, I’ll want to know that I did everything I could.


    tl;dr Click link and show support for physical release. Please and thank you :)

  • Kavyn

    Really excited for this! I plan on getting the game (digital or not) and I can’t wait :)

  • wahyudil

    cannot access NA e-shop in Indonesia … ugh …

    • Ouch My Head Said Dionysus

      What region model is your 3DS?

      • Guest

        Is the NA e-shop accessible anywhere as long as you have a NA region 3DS or can only be accessible when you live in NA? I’ve never bought digital copy before…

      • darknessfool

        Is NA e-shop accessible anywhere as long as you’re using a NA region 3DS or can only be accessed when you live in NA? I’ve never bought a digital copy before…

        • Ouch My Head Said Dionysus

          You can purchase things with your debit/credit card without address verification if you set your location to Brazil, but you need an NA/SA machine to access the NA e-shop. I’m in the UK with an NA 3DS, works for me just fine.

  • s6_miller

    I hope they have a good excuse as to why they aren’t going to use a jury, considering how big a deal it was made that they needed one in the last game.

    • Juan Pablo Fernandez

      maybe the SPOILERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      explosion made them flee and never try it for the time being?
      end spoilers

  • Guilherme Matheus Silva

    Hey, I found this video of the Japanese demo of Ace Attorney Dual Destinies. Enjoy!!

  • Xerain

    What is it with pyromaniacs and stuffed animals?

  • Sardorim

    I still stand by that they will at least tease Apollo x Athena.

  • linkenski

    …and then came the other news and Phoenix isn’t even playable in case 2/3

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