Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Reader Review
There were many reasons for me to buy a DS. Games like Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow, New Super Mario Bros. and Meteos are all fantastic games, and all exclusive to Nintendos wonderfully innovative handheld. However, in retrospect, none of these games were necessarily system-sellers for me. They are all great, but there is only one game that, in retrospect, made the DS worth buying all by itself. What game is that, you ask? Why, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney of course!
I am assuming the premise of the game is known to most of you reading this, but for the sake of being complete, I'll explain regardless. You assume the role of fledgling defense attorney Phoenix Wright just before he takes on his first case. Your job as the player is to guide Phoenix (or Nick, as he is also inexplicably called) through the various trials. You do this by listening to testimonies and pointing out contradictions in the witnesses' statements by either pressing them or by presenting a piece of evidence. After the first case, you will also have to do some investigative work, which sees you scanning areas for clues and talking to potential witnesses for vital information. Very few parts of the game are actually interactive. You read conversations and click on buttons to examine things. As with most adventure games, however, the real fun comes from the character interaction and the style of the animation, and it is here that Phoenix Wright truly shines.
The game employs a wonderfully quirky anime style in its character designs and animations, which brings them to life extremely vividly, despite the quite simplistic animations. But you will laugh when the old security lady suddenly bears fangs and calls you a whippersnapper, and you will actually be intimidated by prosecuter von Karma's constant objections and finger-snapping. When a vital piece of evidence is presented, the screen will fill with typical anime 'speed lines' as if Phoenix were in a fight out of Dragonball Z. Still shots don't do this game justice, it really needs to be played to be appreciated.
The game's other major strength, the writing, serves the style of the game as well as the visuals. Most of the time in-game will be spent talking to the many colorful characters, so it is good, then, that they are actually worth talking to. Phoenix himself is a rather stiff chap who isn't exactly streetwise. His assistant, Maya, is a 17-year old psychic in training, and is quite excitable. She counters Phoenix's dry personality and proves herself to be a valuable asset at set points in the game. Other major characters include detective Dick Gumshoe, a not-so-bright but likeable detective, and Miles Edgeworth, a prosecutor who you will probably also start to feel for as the game progresses. The game manages to juxtapose its quirky humour quite well against more serious moments, and at times you can't helped but be moved by some of the events that unfold. The same can be said for the music, which is just as quirky but ocassionally quite moving.
On to the game's flaws, then. There aren't many, but some frustrations may ocasionally arise. As has been mentioned by most every review, the game is extremely linear. Sometimes the player might have already discovered some vital clues or evidence that you simply can't use yet because the game won't let you, forcing you to pretend you don't know it. Also, at one point in the game I was stumped during a cross-examination simply because the evidence I was supposed to use didn't actually state explicitly what I needed to know, which led to trial and error and frustrating guesswork. However, this only happened once and for the most part, the game is quite clear on the evidence in your posession. If you don't mind the linearity, there is very little to fault in this game.
It is very hard to describe the feeling this game evokes in a dry review. I have experienced joy, sadness, laughter, excitement, and everything in between while playing this game. There is quite simply nothing quite like it, and if you own a DS and have even a remote interest in graphic adventures, you owe it to yourself to check this game out. In fact, if you don't own a DS and the game sounds appealing to you, go out on a limb and get one, as I did. You won't be disappointed.
9 / 10