Just about every day, I find a little time in my busy day to sit down with my Nintendo DS and get a some quality hand-held gaming in. And while I’ve yet to finish Phantom Hourglass from Christmas, I recently picked up a used copy of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, in order to see what all the fuss was about, and further diversify my library of DS games. Turns out that there’s not a lot to object to – public defender Wright’s got a pretty fun game on his hands.
The game plays much like you’d expect from a defense attorney pseudo-simulation; you are presented with a series of trials in which you help Phoenix carry out his duties and have the defendant found not guilty. This is accomplished via a combination of pre-trial detective work and courtroom shenanigans. There is a lot of reading to be done as you work your way through interviews, witness testimonies, and the courtroom process. Those who take the time to actually read all the text are rewarded, though – sifting through the details carries the obvious benefit of helping you solve the cases, and you’ll enjoy the game more, as it is very well written.
The presentation of Ace Attorney is excellent, and the graphics and music really fit the game’s writing style well. All the characters in the game, important or not, are brought to life in a sharp anime-like style, with a sprinkle of animation here and there. The backgrounds all have a painted quality to them as well. I especially enjoyed the courtroom / lawyer segments. The mix of the written drama with the expressions of Phoenix and company are great, and had me laughing and booing at all the right points. The musical score, while slightly repetitive at points, is also very well done, and help move along the story at the appropriate times.
I’d estimate that at the time of this writing, I am about 95% finished with the game, and though I found most of the game fairly easy, I did stumble on a few sections. In my opinion, this is where Phoenix Wright truly shines, though. Throughout each trial, you’re asked to present key evidence or to answer important questions at certain points. Each correct answer moves the story forward, and inches your client closer to vindication, while each wrong answer results in a penalty from the judge, which can only happen five times before the trial is over and the defendant is declared guilty. Sometimes the solutions are obvious, and sometimes they take a lot of thought, but I appreciate that Capcom actually tried to make you think and use logic to solve the crimes… it’s something that more studios could afford to do these days.
Once I’m done with Ace Attorney, I’ll probably try to find a copy of the second installment of the series, or maybe even jump to the third. I’ve really liked this game so far, and if you’re not afraid of doing a little bit of reading on your DS, I highly recommend it. Phoenix Wright is a quality game, and aside from the Mario and Zelda staples, it’s probably some of the best gaming I’ve done on my DS.
And now, for one last law-themed promotion: It’d be a crime not to play this game!
Oh, and in completely unrelated news, I’ve been interviewed by Complete Indie Gamers… check it out!