Due to the many "OBJECTION!" photos swimming around the waters of the web, many have probably at least heard of the Ace Attorney series in passing. However, the game itself is a fair bit more unique than a bunch of flashy speech bubbles with tinny voicing accompanying them being thrown around. A highly linear adventure game with an intriguing plot to be told and a lot of wit to be used on the player's part, the very first Ace Attorney game, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is a game that deserves looking at.
Got a problem, pal?
Phoenix Wright's gameplay is something of a strange beast. You are a defense attorney, and you start out in the first court sequence of play, where your goal is to cross-examine witnesses, pressing out more information from them and ultimately proving that they are liars and your client is innocent. The cross-examination system is done by having a witness give a testimony with several separated statements in it; on each of these statements, you can either press, further questioning witnesses about the information given in their statement, or present, where you can present a piece of evidence to that statement to prove some kind of contradiction in it.
Cross-examinations in the beginning of the game are simple, with somewhat blatant lies in the testimonies so beginners can learn the game's ropes. However, later on cross-examining grows quite a bit more complicated, frequently involving more subtle lies stitched deep in the testimony and sometimes requiring some clever pressing to force the witness into a good situation for you. It gains a rather strategic, challenging, and fun element.
However, there is another side to the game, and that is investigating, which first shows up in the game's second case. In investigations, you poke around crime scenes and locations related to the crime in order to find more information, with the options of examining the scene, talking to whoever is there, presenting evidence to whoever is there, or simply moving to another location. The mainly irritating thing about this is there are times when there is just one small piece of evidence to find or present to somebody, and when you get stuck in tedious situations like this it really gets frustrating. In addition, it's a bit simple, and the strict linearity can occasionally get on one's nerves as well, but there is still a fun quality to this and it helps give the game more substance.
Overall, players who love to branch out and explore different paths and such in their games may oppose against Phoenix Wright's linear style of play, but in the end it's an enjoyable system and a brainbending one on aprticularly tricky cross-examinations.
Mwee hee hee... time for my daily doing of evil!
Phoenix Wright originally released in 2001 in Japan as a game for the GBA, and the version released here in 2005 on the DS was actually a remake of the original on two screens and with another case to tackle. Even without those margins, the game's 2D sprites and environments are impressively done, and the rare cutscene is animated well, as well as all those sprites that move.
Unfortunately, not too much else to say about the graphics, as they aren't exactly the most intriguing facet of the game, but still, good job to the art team.
You know epic music's gunna play when I point my finger.
This game's music can only be described as... well, in my opinion, awesome. There is a very high amount of great tunes to be discovered here, with almost everyone being composed and recorded wonderfully. Some of my favorites happen to be Objection!, Pursuit ~ Cornered, Investigation ~ Core, and most to all of the Reminiscence themes.
In addition to this, the game has a moderately large amount of stock sound effects to utilize for different situations and cutscenes. These are generally used well and tastefully.
Overall, the composers of this game should give themselves a pat on the back, as they have exceeded expectations with this game's music.
Um... witty screenshot caption!
The writing team is another group that worked on this game that should be giving themselves pats on the back. The tale starts off simply, featuring you as an unconfident defense attorney named Phoenix Wright, who is on his first case, defending his childhood friend and accompanied by his mentor and boss, Mia Fey.
However, the plot evolves very well afterwards, featuring some tear-jerking moments every now and then and fleshing out believable, charming characters that I became rather attached to. The writing is quirky and humorous, offering many, many laughs over the course of the game. There are some notable plot twists and developments later on, and some particularly strange moments. (I'm going to give away a hint that some may ask me to take away; a non-human is questioned at one point.)
Overall, the storyline is excellently written and developed, and is one that should entertain most.
So, coming to our conclusion, Your Honor, should we conclude that Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is a bad game...?
Ummm... excuse me for the bad pun.
In any case, no, Phoenix Wright is not a bad game; in fact the truth is far from that. Phoenix Wright is a linear, but well-written and well-designed game. It does require some wit and intelligence from the player to progress, and so those who while away most of their gaming time playing fast-paced, non-thinking twitch shooters like Halo or GTA might not want to pick this one up. But those looking a rewarding brainbender with great writing and music should grab this one.
Final Score: 8.5
(Thanks for reading my third review!