Review: Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies (Nintendo 3DS)

Reviewed by Brandon Boui, posted Oct 31, 2013
Ace Attorney was one of the first series I got into when I started my gameplay on the Nintendo DS. I loved the unique story and the well-developed characters. It feels like ages since a true Ace Attorney game has graced a Nintendo system, and it is nice to see that Dual Destinies made it out in the United States considering Capcom's failure to localize Ace Attorney Investigations 2.
Oct 31, 2013
  • Release Date (NA): October 24, 2013
  • Publisher: Capcom
  • Genres: Visual Novel
  • Single player
    Local Multiplayer
    Online Multiplayer
Ace Attorney Dual Destinies is the first of the series to land on the Nintendo 3DS. It released in Japan several months ago, and has recently been released as a digital download only release. The game picks up a year after Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney left off, with titular character Phoenix Wright regaining his attorney's badge to combat the dark age of law that has since passed onto society. Many familiar mechanics and quirks in the Ace Attorney franchise return.
Brandon Boui

Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies is the first game of the popular series to grace the Nintendo 3DS. It released in Japan several months before, and received a localization that released on October 24 in the United States as a digital download (eShop) release. 


The game picks up about one year following the events of Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney. Phoenix Wright has since regained his attorney's badge, having been exonerated in the crime of forging evidence. Phoenix Wright returns to combat the "Dark Age of Law," an era of flawed justice, in which the end justifies the means. Put simply, prosecutors and defense attorneys are trying anything to gain the upper hand, legal or illegal. The game also follows the storylines of Apollo Justice, who essentially is the senior partner at the Wright Anything Agency, and newcomer Athena Cykes, who becomes a lawyer at the young age of eighteen to help clear the name of her protector. 

In terms of story, the plot is much darker than the previous titles, though it does not really deserve the Mature rating that ESRB has laid upon it. Violence and blood may be present but those are staples of the Ace Attorney franchise. A slight disappointment noted is that Phoenix Wright no longer has an enormous role as the sole lawyer. In this game, Phoenix Wright takes on the role of a mentor, similar to Mia Fey from the previous games. Phoenix will receive his time in court, but it is a lot less than the older games. His development is minimal in the title, and fans will most likely be slightly disappointed that Maya Fey does not return. 

In summation, the story mostly revolves around the newcomer Athena Cykes, who has the unique ability to gauge people's emotions with the help of her Widget. A vast amount of the story elements revolve around Cykes' character, as much of the events are central to her development. Of the three lawyers in the game, Athena by far develops the most. A lot of the twists and turns in the story will most likely center around Athena.

Visuals and Voice Acting

Capcom absolutely nailed this aspect. The visuals are very crisp on the Nintendo 3DS screens. Animations are very smooth and fluid, while maintaining an organic feel without looking robotic. Cutscenes were animated by Bones Studio. A very good job and attention to detail was done with these cutscenes, which are fully featured mini clips instead of picture stills that have been in the Ace Attorney games since the beginning. The interface and appearance of the courtroom are very polished, and the 3D effect fairly magnificent. The 3D effect reveals the depth of the courtroom and the environments, which is a huge plus. The previous 2D art models have been replaced with fully 3D models, and they look fantastic. 

The camera is also much more dynamic and the 3D depth effect is fantastic in a panned out shot like this.

In terms of the voice acting, however, Capcom dropped the ball on it. While bearable, the voice acting in the animations could be cringe worthy at times. Some of these voices are similar to poorly dubbed anime. Capcom should have considered adding the Japanese voices to the cast as well, as a lot of the characters lose some of their personality that players have come to know over the past few years. A perfect example of this is Miles Edgeworth, who makes a triumphant return as the Chief Prosecutor for the district. Miles Edgeworth is still a fairly young man, and his voice from the previous games accurately reflected this. In the newest titles, Edgeworth sounds far older than he appears to be, sounding more like a late middle aged man. It is a jarring comparison to the young and vibrant Edgeworth. 


Dual Destinies takes already familiar gameplay and makes them much more streamlined. The game still consists of an investigation phase, followed by trial. The newest and most immediate change is the fact that environments are fully 3D, which allows for the viewing of the environment at multiple angles. Investigation is streamlined and will give you a small check icon to indicate that the area has been explored. Also handy is the new feature which will playback text. This proves useful as sometimes players may rush through the text and miss an important point. In regards to skipping text, it is also possible to forward text from the getgo, instead of having to play through the case for a first run. When replaying an old case, the case divides itself into its respective parts of investigation and trial so replaying the entire case is not necessary if you only want to enjoy a small snippet of the action.

Each attorney also has a unique gift, which the game takes advantage of as well. Familiar elements are present and the newest addition is the use of Widget to analyze character emotions. This was one of the more fun parts of the game. It is a very colorful interface, and very easy to use. 

This feature is very fun to use. It is well implemented.

During trials, the player will still be pressing statements and presenting evidence at faulty ones. This is made slightly easier with the "consult" feature, which will pop up if you struggle enough during a case. This feature merely allows you to find which statement is faulty. It does not show you what evidence to use. If you are a veteran of the franchise, it is not recommended to use this. It is actually a lot more fun to sit and struggle with the game a little bit.

Character Development

Capcom takes an already extensive cast and is able to expand on them. A good amount of characters return and the player finally will learn of their whereabouts after the several years of time that passed. Old characters retain their personalities due to the great writing, and the newer characters have defined personalities as well. Just from quickly looking at a character, you can easily recognize them for their quirks. That is the beauty of the writing in the Ace Attorney series. Each character will feel fresh. However, the wear may be starting to show a little bit as some of the quirks were duplicated from other characters in the series. Take the new character Aristotle Means, from the third case. His wide smile shares an uncanny resemblance to the news reporter Spark Brushel from Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney. This is purely speculative, but it will not affect your enjoyment of the title. 

Familiar and new faces return!


The tracks are very well played for this title. Most of the titles are unique and charming while remaining familiar. This is also the first time the Ace Attorney game is fully orchestrated, as well. 

Closing Remarks

Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies takes a great franchise and develops it further. With an already incredible cast, Capcom has managed to add a host of new characters, all of whom are well developed. The visuals are top notch, the music great, and gameplay streamlined to make life a lot more fun for the player. Minor hiccups involve slightly subpar voice acting, grammatical errors that should have been swept up at the quality control phase, and the fact that the game is only an eShop title. Besides those minor gripes, the game is still a worthy purchase for the Ace Attorney fan. In terms of development, however, some of the major characters from past titles will be sort of left in the dust, and not quite developed as much as the newer characters. This game is definitely worth the price, though, and will definitely provide some good gaming for any player. To compare to other Ace Attorney titles, though, this game takes a second place seat, losing only to Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations. Longtime fans should be able to jump straight into the game with no problems, and newcomers can as well, though they may miss out on the snarky comments that the characters often make. 

+ Very well developed and written characters
+ Excellent visuals
+ Orchestrated soundtrack
+ Streamlined gameplay enhancement
+ Animated cutscenes
- Subpar voice acting
- Grammatical errors more rampant
- eShop only, no physical copies
- lower plot development for Phoenix Wright despite being the titular character
8 Presentation
The game is well laid out, and easy to navigate. A lot of the details are very easy to follow, and the player should not have major difficulties trying to understand how the game works. Being able to check back on old text is extremely handy. Grammatical issues are more rampant throughout the game, however.
8 Gameplay
Gameplay improved overall in a more streamlined manner. New features appear and spice up the Ace Attorney formula.
8 Lasting Appeal
Definitely a go to game for the Ace Attorney fan, but definitely has its limitations in development of Phoenix Wright as a character. Story is engaging, but could definitely improve. This game definitely has replayability and allows the player to jump to specific spots once the case is finished.
out of 10
Overall (not an average)
Despite its several flaws, Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies is still a great title and pickup for the Nintendo 3DS. I would highly recommend this game to both fans and newcomers.


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