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Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies Review (Lifesperience Blog)


As a fan of the "Ace Attorney" series since first hearing about "that lawyer game" on the original Nintendo DS, I am saddened that this game has been released as a digital only title.  That is the reason that this is such a late review of the product from me.  I refuse to buy from Nintendo's eshop due to their anti-consumer policies.  Especially when it comes to full price titles like this.  At $30, this is definitely not in the forgettable "Angry Birds" 99cent territory or even in the Square-Enix $7-$15 territory.  Granted, this is an entirely new game.  It's not a completely fair comparison BUT, Android and iOS don't tie your games to a single hardware device.  There are two 3DS machines in my home, a standard 3DS and an XL model.  This game was downloaded on the 3DS but I would have loved to play on the XL.  Sadly, because it has a different family members account on it, that was not possible without difficulty.  With a physical release, it would have been as simple as swapping the cartridge back and forth between systems.  Nintendo has lot of work to do before I personally make any other digital purchases from them again. With that said, let's get on to the review.

Familiar animations are now fluid and in 3D.
Graphics:

The Ace Attorney series has always had a beautiful, clean art style that has suited the visual novel approach of these games very well.   This game now uses 3D models instead of the 2D sprites of the past games and has transitioned over incredibly well.   The new models look great and just as detailed as the old models.  In many cases the details "pop" out even more with the 3D effect turned on.  The sense of depth in the investigative portions of the game are particularly nice and allow for the use of alternative angles at crime scenes. The camera pans around in the courtroom and gives the game more visual appeal than past titles.  Main characters and the supporting cast are now animated fluently and are a joy to watch even in 2D.   Even on the low resolution 3DS screen, most things look as sharp and clear as its technology allows.

Sound:

Most characters have their own theme song and the game sounds are still mostly old school blips.  There are anime cut-scenes with voice acting.  Objections and pressing witnesses still have sound clips attached to them.  Overall, the sound quality is nothing to write home about.  Some people may enjoy the theme songs for certain characters and I definitely won't hold that against them.  Most of the music is well composed, and adds a feeling of depth to the game.  I just didn't find any of it particularly catchy.  It does its job but isn't necessary for about 95% of the game.

Gameplay:

If you have played Ace Attorney games in the past, the gameplay is nearly identical to past titles.  You will still search crime scenes for evidence, scour through said evidence, present it in court, and press witnesses and suspects.  The touchscreen can be used in place of the physical controls in most cases.  It also allows you to closely inspect certain items in 3D when needed.  New to this game is the "Mood Matrix" which allows you to compare a characters emotional output in comparison to what they are saying to search for contradictions.  It's a nice gameplay touch that suits the "psychology" angle in this game and allows it to shine a little more.  The pysche-locks from the older games are also here as well as the "perceive system" which allows you detect the nervous habits of a suspect/witness to find lies in their testimony.  What system you use will depend on what character you are playing at the time.   In trials, there is now the "revisualization" system that helps you tie together facts and logic.  It looks slick and is a great addition to the series.

Story:

Like in the past Ace Attorney games,  the story consists of seemingly unrelated chapters that revolve around a major storyline that ties most of them together.  Without spoiling too much of it, Capcom does pull a Konami here.   Like with the Metal Gear Solid 2 game where the trailer had you playing as Snake only to be switched to Raiden in the actual game without much of an advanced notice, this game does the same with Phoenix.  Most of the first few cases involve you playing as Apollo Justice and Athena Cykes who are subordinates to Phoenix.  As stated earlier in the review, the system that you use to interrogate witnesses will depend on who your main characters are at the time.

While I am personally not too fond of either Apollo or Athena's personalities, I do like their gameplay additions.  I guess that when I purchase a game named "Phoenix Wright," I expect to play as him more.  You may feel differently depending on what character you associate with the most.   In the last game, Phoenix did overshadow Apollo Justice in his own game, so many this was Capcom's way of making it up to Apollo's fans.

Cast:

As diverse and colorful as ever, you will come across a "Joker" lookalike, typical anime school kids, astronauts, wrestlers, demons, robots, etc.  Some old characters do make an appearance while others are alluded to.  Sadly, for you Gumshoe fans, he's nowhere to be found.  Maybe in the next game.  The new main prosecutor, "Simon Blackquill" is a convict who mysteriously is still able to work as a prosecutor using "psychology" as his weapon.  He's a decent character, but to me, his samurai gimmick got old quick and his design was just average.  In court, he's a decent adversary but just was not as interesting as Edgeworth or Godot.  In my opinion, he's more interesting than the Von Karma's and the Payne's and about even with Klavier whose style is the complete opposite of his.

The new detective in the series is "Bobby Fulbright", who seems like the polar opposite to detective Badd from the Ace Attorney investigations series.  While Badd was dark and brooding, Fulbright is the opposite being bright, cheery, and full of over the top animations.  Unlike Gumshoe, he's not quite as bumbling, but he does have his moments.  In terms of design, he looks like an anime inspired Miami Vice character.

"Blast processing" eh?  Nice homage to the Sega Genesis era there Capcom.
Issues:

This game definitely seems like a rushed translation.  While there have been occasional errors in the past games, it seems that this one only had a spell check run on it.  There are a ton of obvious grammar errors.  It's really bad to the point where it got distracting and I hope that Capcom fixes this with a patch seeing as this is a download only title.

His brain is not the only one that has gone M.I.A. Blackquill...
I "though" the same thing, Apollo!
"That like?"
I hope that you are looking for your grammar contradictions as well Phoenix.
¿Que?
These are five examples of the grammar mistakes in this game that I am showing you.  There are many more of them but I do not want to spoil any more of the game than is needed.  This is by far the most error prone Ace Attorney game that I have played.

Capcom should be ashamed about all those grammar mistakes.
Overall:

If you are a fan of this series, then playing this game is almost a no brainer.  There are still some cases that drag on too long, some evidence and statement combos that make no sense, and of course the text flaws peppered throughout the game.  The game itself though, is still fun and the story once completed feels worth the read.  The main issue is whether you want to spend the money on the eShop versus a physical copy that will probably never exist in the U.S.A.  There is also additional DLC in the form of additional costumes for the main lawyers as well an an extra case which I have not purchased.  Again, that is due to Nintendo's eShop policies and DRM.  Maybe when they fix those issues, and prices come down, I'll revisit them.

In the meanwhile, this game gets a 4 out of 5 from me.

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