Get ready for more thrilling courtroom action in the latest installment of Ace Attorney. Phoenix Wright is back on the case...
..., and it's up to the gamer to help him defend his clients and solve a variety of cases using evidence and witness testimonials. There are 5 cases in Dual Destinies filled with drama, comedy, thrills, and plot twists that explore morality concerning the justice system. For this review, it's up to me to pass judgement on whether Ace Attorney is guilty or innocent.
Gameplay: For the uninitiated, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney plays like a visual novel, a genre of game popular in Japan that uses sound, graphics, and minor gameplay mechanics to tell a story. Right off the bat: if you're on the fence with this game and rely on a more action oriented style of gameplay, Ace Attorney is not for you. Be prepared for a lot of reading.
Interactivity is spaced out between long conversations that move the story along until you need to question a witness’ testimony. In these sequences it’s the gamer's role to press certain lines of text to discover inconsistencies within their testimonials and back it up with evidence. Following these cross-examinations, the story continues onwards until the next questioning sequence. In between days in court, you can explore the crime scene, question witnesses, and gather evidence that can be used the next day to strengthen your case.
An additional gameplay element worth noting comes with the introduction of a new character, Athena Cykes, who has the ability to read the emotions happy, sad, angry, and shock in testimonies with her Mood Matrix. It’s not a major change, but it keeps the questioning sequence from getting tiresome and dull. Fans of the series will be pleased to know that not much has changed.
Quirky witnesses like Ted Tonate the bomb expert make it difficult to defend your client.
Newcomer Trials and Tribulations: Dual Destinies is very unkind to newcomers of the series. It’s been a while since I played the Ace Attorney games, and jumping into the fifth installment is like being pushed into the ocean when learning to swim. The previous Nintendo DS games are a little difficult to procure, but luckily the first case was made into a live action movie and the first three games are available in the iOS App Store. My advice is to catch up using Wikipedia; however they are all worth playing through.
Graphics: Prior to this, Ace Attorney used vaguely animated, flat sprites that were reused to demonstrate how a character reacted to developments in court. Dual Destinies is the first to use 3D models to instill life into the broad range of quirky witnesses and prosecutors in the Ace Attorney universe. Phoenix Wright still has his table slam, ‘Objection!’ point and the puffed out chest that is a staple of his character, and these things have transitioned amazingly to the 3DS platform. Dual Destinies has definitely benefited from a good amount of polish, and the boost in power that Nintendo’s beefy little handheld has to offer.
Can you convince the judge that your client is innocent beyond a shadow of a doubt?
Bottom Line: Ace Attorney has an amazing following, and it’s easy to see why Capcom keeps making more. Quirky characters, interesting and bizarre court cases that are absolutely addictive, and an effective method of story telling all create a franchise that has legs. If you can’t stand more reading than gameplay, this isn’t the game for you, but open minded players will find much to love in Dual Destinies. Personally, this will be enough to tide me over until the Phoenix Wright/Professor Layton crossover comes out next year.
Side Note: If you played through Dual Destinies and would like to play more just like it, I highly reccomend Zero Escape for the same platform.
Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. This specific product was purchased by the reviewer for game review purposes.
(Image credits: Capcom)