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Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is like nothing I’ve played in the last six or so months. I’ll be honest: I got pretty bored with all the recent games. But Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, of all the games in my vast collection, has managed spark my interest. Instead of being a first-person shooter, where I have to invade the beaches of Normandy, blast through vicious demons, hell spawn, and aliens, or some sort of survival horror game where I’m chased through dark tunnels and subways, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is a classic style adventure game, complete with cumbersome navigation and long dialogue segments. But behind some of the adventure genres most annoying nuances lies an entertaining game that will have you hooked from the moment you load it up.

Yeah c’mon Ace, put your money where your mouth is.

Not surprisingly, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney stars attorney Phoenix Wright as he attempts to protect the innocent and uncover the truth while battling corruption and scandals at every turn. One part detective, one part lawman, Phoenix has to search for evidence before the trial begins and then use it to trap witnesses in lies in order to save his clients from unjust jail time. He does nothing “by-the-books,” and I’m sure most of the evidence that he gathers would be inadmissible in a real court of law (I don’t think you’re allowed to break into computers and take data off them without a warrant), but these evidence gathering portions do provide a fairly challenging and often clever diversion from some of the trial shenanigans.

In court, the trials play out more like a soap opera than anything you’d see in the movies. Witnesses will take the stand and constantly change testimony and retract statements, so Phoenix has to stay on his toes and keep pressure on the witness until they crack. Using all the gathered evidence and by searching for discrepancies in testimony, Phoenix can successfully crack the case and keep innocent people from being locked up. The dialogue between Phoenix and the witnesses is usually entertaining and pretty goofy, and I liked that the game didn’t take itself too seriously. When a fat, greasy director gets on the stand and starts screaming “ROFL” and other Internet slang, you’ll probably find a smirk sneaking across your face.

Everyone who’s ever watched a courtroom drama has always wanted to do that.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney makes excellent use of the touchpad, allowing you to navigate through menus without ever having to touch any buttons. It also lets you quickly browse important evidence and navigate through areas when searching for more, but the latter is not as easy as it could be. During the third act, the trail of Will Powers, who has been arrested on suspicion of murdering Jack Hammer, you have to move between the different areas of a television studio. To get from, say, Will Power’s dressing room to the studio two trailer, you have to travel through five different areas, instead of just selecting “studio two” and going there. This is a minor complaint, but it really does bog the game down at times.

This game offers some pretty unique, stand-out graphics. The touchscreen handles all of the menus and provides nothing really exciting, but the character models in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney and the environments on the top screen are fun and easy on the eyes. Each character is uniquely animated, with Ms. Wendy Oldbag characterized by her gray hair, small eyes, and huge mouth when she gets upset. The previously mentioned fat, greasy director Sal Manella also stands out, as do several other characters. Every environment is well-detailed and full of surprises waiting to be investigated, which is handled nicely with the touchscreen. As for the audio, there’s not too much here to be talked about. Some lighthearted music plays along for most of the game, but it’s nothing too fancy, and it certainly doesn’t tax the DS’ audio system.

What is a gawker anyway?

In the end, I’m really glad I got my hands on a copy of this game. It might be a little stiff, but the game is just plain fun to play thanks to some outstanding writing that’s just plain lacking in many other games. Your adventure through Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney will leave you laughing, even if it isn’t an action-packed adventure full of bullets and carnage. If you’ve got a DS, this is a must-have for your collection, and if you don’t own a DS, this is definitely a game to consider purchasing the system for.

8 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in February 2003.

Gentle persuasion

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