Thursday, April 10, 2008

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

GENRE: Digital Novel, Mystery, Strategy, Role-Playing
CREDITS: 2005 Capcom Co., Ltd.

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Description (from the Apollo Justice Official Website):
Meet Phoenix Wright, the rookie defense lawyer new to the scene with the wildest cross-examination skills in town! Take on five intriguing cases to reveal dramatic, stunning, and even comical court proceedings. Use both the dual touch sensitive screens to investigate the crime scenes, question witnesses and present shocking evidence.

"Objection!" ...It's outrageous fun!

Bishoujo game makers should learn a thing or two from this... >>> by skysenshi (04.09.2008)
My Nintendo DS was a gift from my boyfriend. So were most of the games he puts in it. When I saw that I had 4 Phoenix Wright games, I asked him what it was. His response made me go, "No thanks!!!"

Phoenix Wright's gameplay is very similar to a bishoujo game's. In short: it's a digital novel. I normally find digital novels boring as hell, most especially if they're not of the erotic kind. Now, you can probably imagine how pleasantly surprised I was when I found myself hooked. The only time I can bring myself to put it down is if I had to do something extremely important. No digital novel has ever carried me to that level of addiction, with the sole exception of Knights of Xentar. But Phoenix Wright took me beyond even that.

At first I had difficulty swallowing the premise. You're playing Phoenix Wright, a defense lawyer, who not only snoops around crime scenes but also implicates the real murderers in court. Having uncles for lawyers, I was aghast to see Wright lift evidence directly from his investigations and go above the normal protocols. I end up frequently asking my boyfriend, "Can he do that???" or exclaim, "He's searching illegally!!!"

Not only that, his court battles can get ridiculous sometimes, with logic being too linear. It's like solving an Analytic Geometry problem that only accepts solutions from a teacher's answer key. For instance, I'm seeing another angle in a particular case but the game only wants me to go with its pre-programmed angles.

I also have issues with running around crime scenes like a headless chicken if I happen to miss examining something, if I don't know where to go next, or if I have to go over a testimony/location twice just to trigger an event. When that happens, the game becomes my cure for insomnia.

Heh. For all my complaints about Phoenix Wright, I can't deny that it is addictive. You don't select from mindless, luck-based choices like what most bishoujo games are wont to offer. You're actually out to look for the truth in every case and it means searching every nook and cranny for it. Of course, you're following a logical trail while you're at it. The court record hands you a gamut of clues, puzzle pieces, and evidence to throw against your opponents both in court and during your investigations. My favorite part is dismantling witness testimonies by pointing out contradictions.

To make things a little bit more complicated, a couple of your allies -- ace attorney and mentor Mia Fey and her sister Maya Fey -- are involved in supernatural activities. You'd think solving cases would be easy with spirit mediums involved, but you know you need to back your cases up with tangible items. Furthermore, the main prosecutor, Sephiroth look-alike Miles Edgeworth, will do everything in his corner to pin you down. Even tamper with evidence. All these make Phoenix Wright a gargantuan battle of wits amidst a collection of crazy incidents. It's up to you to sort out the mess and fumble your way through. Believe me, you'll be doing that a lot. Wright has the tendency to bluff and come out with the most outlandish theories that will inadvertently make sense.

Take note that this is the version that's been ported to the DS. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney was first released for the Game Boy Advance as Gyakuten Saiban Yomigaeru Gyakuten (逆転裁判 蘇る逆転). The original contained only four cases. A fifth case was added for the DS and it allows you to make use of the mic for fingerprint dusting. Luminol fluids and other forensic tools are introduced as well. Gameplay-wise, I really loved solving the fifth case. Story-wise, I think it should be stricken from canon as it opens up major plot holes in the series.

RATINGS: Gameplay 10; Battle N.A.; Story 8; Visuals 10; Characters 10; Sounds 8; Replay Value 7

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