Review Review - Phoenix Wright (NDS)

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Aug 2, 2004
United Kingdom

It takes a lot of guts to try and make an unlikely subject into a video game. Harvest Moon did it and proved that farming can be fun. So... here we've got a lawyer game. WAIT! To say that this is an accurate lawyer sim, you might as well say that Super Mario Bros is an accurate plumber sim. From the makers of Resident Evil, Viewtiful Joe, Megaman and countless other titles comes Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. Originally released in Japan on the GBA as Gyakuten Saiban: Yomigaeru Gyakuten, it's finally landed on Western shores... albeit to a few skeptical gamers but the flurry of HOLD ITS and OBJECTIONS on the internet has shown that PW:AA has made it's mark. Now let's put this game under cross examination.



You play Phoenix Wright, a rookie lawyer (or more accurately, a defendant) whose job it is to defend people against murder charges. Each case is linked to the previous case so throughout the whole game, you are watching a conspiracy which unravels in front of your eyes and it manages to make it feel like a really good crime novel that you cannot put down even for a second. Also the fact that it's really comical, fun and has scenarios will never, ever happen in a real court is why the story in this game is really good.


As mentioned, this is a lawyer game but proving your clients as not guilty is only one part of the game. The other part involves you playing detective and investigating the crime scenes, collecting evidence and asking people questions which will later be vital in court. The touch interface is used when you want to examine an item closer or select a button to move to different areas. As this was originally a GBA game, there isn't a lot of emphasis on touch apart from using it to trawl through the conversations, selecting evidence and choosing the right answers. Microphone can also be used to shout "HOLD IT" or "OBJECTION" in court but sometimes it's very fussy about recognising what you say that you'll find yourself better off using the stylus to select the option instead. It's only in the last part of the game that the full use of the touchscreen and microphone is implemented for a DS exclusive case.


As this is a text based game, there is not a lot of emphasis on the graphics. Just a simple 2D anime design which really does make the character stand out a lot. Here, we have an example of the graphics on one of the character:



The sound is essentially the same as the GBA version but it really does help convey the mood a lot. From the slow paced when you're cross examining a witness, to the really fast tempo when you point out the contradiction in a witness' testimony or present the vital evidence to the "happy" tune when your client is announced not guilty. Not exactly the type of tune you would put into your iPod and listen to a lot.

Lasting Replay

This is the game's weak point. With 5 cases, it's a fairly lengthy game but a huge portion of the game is spent on collecting evidence which makes it feel like it's dragging on a bit and when the game finally ends, there is literally no replay value. But this is like a murder mystery novel book. Even though you know what happens in the end, chances are you'll relive it again in the future.

Score: 8/10
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