This is what's so frustrating with Apollo Justice. It's filled to the brim with brilliant ideas, and then barely uses them. Fingerprinting is done a grand total of twice at the beginning of the game, and then disappears forever. All the gadgets get a cameo when they should be the means by which investigations are performed. Without the Magatama there's a big gap in the game, and they had the tools to fill it. Even the inventory items barely ever have a reason for being rotated, and those that do are mostly for a gag, rather than a puzzle piece. The stories are great, but why cut back on the game? (For people who've finished it and are waving their arms in annoyance, yes, I know - but I'm not going to say that, am I?)
Look, I'm just going to keep griping, and then reminding everyone that the game is non-stop fun to play. You'll have to put up with it. But understand that this is why Apollo Justice, despite being the game that should have raised the standards to the magic 9/10, is stuck at 8 along with the rest of the series despite the DS-focused design.
So next moan is the prosecution. The previous games have distinguished themselves by creating broken and vicious prosecution attorneys. Edgeworth's arc throughout the first three was just stunning, and the Von Karma family were deeply sinister. And while I could have done without watching those coffee-drinking animations nine billion times, even Godot was dark and cruel. Apollo's recurring opponent is pretty boy Klavier Gavin, a lawyer by day, rockstar by night, with long blonde hair and a mild German accent. He has Eurogamer's Keza MacDonald going embarrassingly gooey, and his air guitar animation is possibly the best thing ever in the history of things. But he's nice! Far too nice! He never feels like a threat. You never suspect that he's going to go to any lengths to win, no matter how corrupt - something that's marked out all the previous prosecutors. Grow some balls, man!
Here's my final gripe, and it's a much more personal one. Over the previous three games, anyone who's played them all will know how much affection they have for Phoenix and Maya. So where on earth is she? She goes unmentioned throughout, but for one extremely ambiguous reference. Why? How could they think that we wouldn't be desperate to know what's happened to her in the last seven years? To just leave her out completely is bewildering. And Pearly! While it's great that old characters are reprised, to ignore these most special ones doesn't make sense. I'm telling you this so you don't spend the entire game hoping they'll appear any moment, and feeling constantly disappointed, like I did.
What a negative Nancy I've been about a game I've thoroughly enjoyed. Although know this - it was looking set to receive a 7 until the final chapter (of four, which is the best chapter in the series history - while still huge, it's the shortest game so far) exploded into a flurry of complicated and innovative ideas. Last-minute recovery there. It's the best chapter we've had so far.
The most important things are: it's all about Phoenix Wright, which is clearly what you want if you're a sane human being; four superb stories brilliantly interweave giving you cause to care about the new crew; and the writing is just stunning, and constantly hilarious.
See, I've been very clever. I've gone on and on about my issues with the game, without telling you anything of what actually happens. That's the joy of the Ace Attorney games - being told a story. That's the precious part, and that's the bit they get so very, very right. It's so tempting to regale you with moments, one-liners, asides, and running jokes that permeate throughout, but why ruin the moment for you?
One more thing though - if Gyakuten Saiban 5 doesn't tell me about Maya, I'm going over to Capcom's house and smearing poo on the walls.
8 / 10