DS: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Justice For ALL
Published by Capcom
Developed by Capcom
Rated T for Teens
Yeah I know, another day another sequel, what else is new? “OBJECTION!” This is not just, “another sequel” this is Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Justice for All and unlike most sequels that plague the world of gaming today, it maintains the magical enjoyment of the original.
For all those not familiar with Phoenix, (Shame on you if you are not.) you play as a defense attorney whom tends to be thrown into the middle of seemingly impossible cases and it is up to you to prove that your client did not commit the murder in question. You prove his or her innocence by investigating, finding evidence and presenting said evidence during the trial. The gameplay is strangely reminiscent of the old “Choose Your Own Adventure” books, though much more cleverly done.
To help Phoenix out along the way is a cast of characters that truly make the series worth playing. Whether it is a friend or foe, each character is brought to life with emotion and personality rarely seen in videogames. It’s impossible to play through and game in the Phoenix Wright series without finding a character you can either relate to or just love to watch.
The key to doing a Phoenix Wright review is conveying the interesting aspects of the game without ruining the surprises, as it is such a story driven game. Justice for All has for chapters (i.e. cases) for you to solve. As in the original game you unlock each case in succession. This is instrumental as each case feeds off each other in regards to reflections, cameos and the overarching story. Truth be told characters return from the first game as well, so if you have yet to play the original, I would suggest doing so to get the full experience.
The gameplay at its core remains the same as the original; you investigate the crime by talking with witnesses and examining crime scenes by “looking” at things with your stylus. If you find things in the setting that are of interest, there will be a scene in which you will discuss what you find. (Usually you discuss these things with your sidekick Maya though later she is replaced by Pearl.) If the item you see is vital to your investigation you will keep said item in the court records to be used at a later time. Talking with witnesses you can work to pry more information out of them by presenting the meaningful evidence you find. Figuring out which piece of evidence to present to whom, is the fundamental skill needed to progress the game. In actuality, the only time your game can really end per say is when you are in court and you play the wrong piece of evidence multiple times. (There is a “health bar” that shows how many mistakes you can make before it is game over.)
The Psyche-Lock is the new addition to the gameplay that is a rather ingenious way to bring the courtroom sense of urgency to your questioning techniques. When a Psyche-Lock appears over a person during your investigation it means that the individual is keeping a secret and it’s up to you to provide the clue (or clues if there are multiple locks) that will get the person to cough up the info. As if you were in the courtroom you have a certain amount of energy during your Psyche-Lock breaking attempt though if you are not successful it does not end your game, though it will force you to stop and leave you with little “energy” for your trial inquiries. In all, the Psyche-Lock gives you a reason to pay more attention to the clues and to make really smart educated guesses when presenting the evidence.
Graphically Justice For All is really an interesting title. Graphically the game is series of hand-drawn slides pieced together to tell the story or provide a setting. The hand-drawn slides are perfect for this type of game; it gives a great medium for creating expressive characters. Facial expressions and body movements really do a great job of portraying the emotional situations the characters are in. It is a good thing that the graphics fit so well wit this game as the soundtrack is probably one of the worst in gaming. Re-using most the of, if not all of the mediocre music from the first title, there are times when the music just does nothing to add to the experience and even more times when it really detracts, usually by just boring you to tears.
Normally this is the section in which I would take the time to complain about the title’s shortcomings, but this is not the case this time. Complaint wise there are very few things outside of the sound that really stick out.
Overall Justice For All does an incredible job of balancing out the need of a sequel to stick to its roots and yet venture a little out on a limb to keep things fresh. I found that the difficulty was notched up just a hair this time around, enough to keep returning players challenged (Admittedly I found myself stuck a few times not knowing what clue to present but never for too long.) but not too hard so that newcomers are turned away. You could do much worse than picking up Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Justice For All. While it may be a mouthful to say, it is a pure joy to experience, likeable characters, challenging cases and surprising plot twists leave you guessing to the very end and even then you’re guessing. My advice, pick it up today… you won’t be sorry you did.