Pros: Brilliant story writing and character design.
Cons: Some minor interface issues makes navigating more annoying that it
could be. Also there's the next to none replay value.
Most American gamers were introduced to Phoenix Wright or as it's known
in Japan, Gyakuten Saiban, from Capcom's US announcement. The first US
game entitled Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is actually a remake of the
original Game Boy Advance title, Gyakuten Saiban. In the game you play
the role of Phoenix Wright, a defense attorney bent on saving his
innocent clients. Part lawyer and part detective you guide Phoenix on
his quest for justice.
Each of the cases are presented in different
episodes, but with an overarching story. You start out way at the bottom
on your first case, where your old friend Larry Butz is being tried for
murder. The facts are stacked against him and Phoenix has to work a
miracle to spare him from being convicted of his girlfriend's death. You
do this by reversing the case, revealing that the witness is the actual
killer. Since Phoenix is a lawyer your only tool is your wits. You need
to carefully analyze the case, look for glaring holes in the testimony
and counter with evidence. When the witness testifies that he saw the
victim watching TV, you can counter with a blackout record for the same
time. Early on the cases are semi-obvious. Later on you're going to need
to think. Just how can you edge in any doubt that the person in the
photo is different from the murder? Maybe you need to soften the witness
up by "pressing" her with some questions. However, you can't just throw random pieces
of evidence together. After five missed leads you have to give up cross
examining your witness, which means your client gets an automatic
guilty. The way you cross examine witnesses is done in a battle style
with objections being thrown back and forth. So, instead of merely
reading each text statement, the game is presented to make what would
seem to be a boring C-SPAN event as action packed as possible.
Later cases require more out of court work. You'll need to analyze
crime scenes and persuade the bumbling Detective Dick Gumshoe to give
you leads. In fact Phoenix is more a kin to Sherlock Holmes with a law
degree than an ordinary lawyer. Phoenix and his assistant Maya can scan
areas with the bottom screen. You can touch different objects to examine
them and possibly pick up more clues. Since there is a set way that each
case progresses, the game won't let you continue on until you've got all
of the necessary clues to win the case. This requires a fair amount of
backtracking, which is a little painstaking due to the interface. When
you're navigating on how you walk from place to place you use the touch
screen. Instead of letting players automatically move from the law
offices to say a trailer in the movie studio, players are forced to sit
through a couple of menus to get to where they want. A better option
would have been to let players go anywhere they want once they've been
to a location before. In longer cases, menu navigation can get tedious
as you search for a person to talk to just to move the story along.
The story is really what makes Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney great.
Cases are written with elaborate plot twists. You always start out with
a client that appears guilty on paper, but Phoenix always ends up with
the right facts to save them. Capcom also has some clever character
design like Sal Manella. He's the director of a children's show called
the Silver Samurai, but he speaks in "1337" internet talk. Phoenix's
buddy Larry is always at the wrong place at the wrong time, but has a
knack for picking up models. Even the Phoenix's crew is unique. His
assistant is a 17 year old, who happens to be a spirit medium too.
Phoenix's arch rival Edgeworth, is a stuffy prosecutor who will do
anything for a guilty verdict. Within the five episode structure there
is an overarching plot As you begin to unravel the DL-6 mystery you'll
see many familiar faces, some in predicaments that are well...
surprising. The unique cast of characters and
entertaining story makes Phoenix Wright worth playing, once. After
you've seen all the plot turns and twists the game loses its appeal.
There are some changes from the original Gyakuten Saiban, which make
the remake worth picking up. First there is the obvious touch screen
control. Then there's the upgrade in graphics. Everything is more
animated, which give the already great characters new life. The real
reason to pick up the game, even if you own the GBA classic, is the
brand new fifth story. The fifth episode is nearly as long as the four
episodes together. There are also new elements in the fifth case that
take advantage of the DS hardware. When you do fingerprint analysis you
blow on the screen to scatter the white powder around. Some neat tricks
like that make the game more a part of the DS' library.
While it is a remake for Japan, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is new
for the rest of the world. It's one part "Cased Closed" and one part Law
& Order. A blend that is an engaging play, at least once through.
You can switch languages when you start the game by picking the second
option (kanji for English) on the opening menu. From this point on the
game is entirely in English, with a great translation to boot!
The current release date set by Capcom is October 11, 2005. Supposedly
you can get the finger pointing stylus with a US order, but you'll miss
out on all of the goodies from the limited edition Japanese release. The
Mask Vision Murder Case package contains a manga, the soundtrack, the
"objection!" stylus with a combo screen cleaner and the game.
If you didn't check out the original GBA title Phoenix Wright: Ace
Attorney is worth picking up. Any objections to this statement?