Nut Load. Mini reviews of games old and new. No fuss. No spoilers. Occasional shock face.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Ace Attorney: Phoenix Wright (2005)

Genre: Adventure, Visual Novel | Players: 1 | Developer: Capcom

If stepping into the shoes of a defense attorney doesn’t sound entirely appealing to you, you aren’t alone. I wasn’t enamored with the idea at first, either. The large cast of quirky, slightly over-the-top, but infinitely endearing characters will see you through this trepidation but they will not make you enjoy wading through seas of text anymore than you already do. An appreciation of old-school point-and-click adventures and visual novels is indeed the most important prerequisite to enjoying this series.

To that end, and this game’s credit, a number of improvements have been implemented that greatly decrease the probability of experiencing DEAD STOPs. Gameplay is divided into two discrete modes: investigation and trial proceedings. On trial days, you will cross-examine witnesses and attempt to expose the real criminals (usually murderers) by pointing out contradictions using evidence you gather while investigating. To relieve the strain on the legal system, trials in this world have been capped at three days. To relieve the strain on your sanity, investigation segments will not end until you’ve found everything the script deems necessary. If you present incorrect evidence or choose a wrong dialogue option, you are given a strike. Five strikes and you’re out. However, you can save at any time and scum like a boss.

This is not a particularly damning game.

As mentioned, while the characters can be cartoony at times, they are obscenely memorable and painfully relatable. Few things in this world (not just games) have as much heart as the Ace Attorney series. This derives significantly from the cast, which tent-poles a plot that ultimately and masterfully pulls the strings tight on what can initially seem like unconnected trials and events. Don’t get me wrong, the sleuthing and intuiting gameplay is well-executed and leads to some jaw-dropping moments, but it is not the keystone of the series. This is why adventure game fans should give it a shot, even if they don’t have any great interest in the legal system.

Buyer’s Guide: This was originally on the GBA in Japan, if you’re so inclined and linguistically equipped. The DS version contains an extra trial that is covered in full, here.

It has also appeared on PC, Wii (as WiiWare), iOS, and mobile phones (partially).

4½ Well-Deserved Burgers out of 5

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