Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
Platform: Nintendo DS
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Genre: Adventure
Format: Cartridge
Released: US 10/12/05
Japan 09/15/05
Official Site: English Site

Graphics: 95%
Sound: 98%
Gameplay: 99%
Control: 92%
Story: 99%
Overall: 97%
Reviews Grading Scale
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Your plucky assistant, Maya.
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There is a heavy dose of punnery in the character names.
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Press your witnesses for more information...
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... but remember to back up anything you say.
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Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

It's a rare thing when a game comes completely out of nowhere, but is so good that it becomes one of the greatest games of all time, especially one from a genre that's been dead in the mainstream for almost a decade. However one game has done just that this year; Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney is an incredible adventure game that is worthy to shine with the genre's best, including anything Sierra and Lucas Arts have ever had to offer.

This game is a remake of a first-gen GBA title, Gyakuten Saiban, that was released only in Japan, only with a new case added that uses the DS's capabilities (the first 4 cases are a straight port of the original game.)

The gameplay is split into two distinct parts. There's the trial phase and the investigation phase. The trial phase is just that: you get to cross-examine witnesses and pick apart the lies in their testimony. You can present evidence, and even press each statement in the testimony further, hoping that the witness will give you a lie that you can hang them on.

The investigation phase is where you gather information and evidence that you can use in court. In this phase you question witnesses and snoop around crime scenes and other areas looking for clues to use in the next session of court.

The music is great. Not content with the excellent soundtrack the GBA version of this game had, all the music has been remixed and sounds much better on the DS's synth. The sound effects are good, from the judge's gavel to hands banging on the tables, and there's even voice acting; all the main characters have their own voice sample for "Objection!" and the player can even yell it (along with "Hold it,") into the DS's microphone.

Control is entirely menu-based. You can do everything from the DS's touch screen, or with the regular controls. The exception is in the last case, where you need to use the DS's proprietary features, such as the stylus, to rotate objects looking for clues on them. The control is responsive, though the text scrolling is pretty slow. Capcom would have done well to put a way to speed it up, but that's a small gripe in an almost perfect game.

The graphics look good, though they're almost all GBA graphics. They're almost all stills with character sprites overlaid on them. The characters all look good, and the backgrounds are pretty and colorful. All this is impressive, especially for a port of a 1st-gen GBA game as but it still looks like a GBA game. The last case has some 3d for the evidence that you can rotate, and even a video for you to look through and find evidence in, which is all well done for the DS and takes advantage of the itís graphic capabilities.

Each case has it's own story, and I won't get into each of them, but the underlying story is that of Phoenix Wright, an attorney straight out of law school, who is starting out in the real world of trying cases. His boss is Mia Fey, a seasoned attorney of 5 years who has her own practice. All the characters are very well developed, and usually have pun names (take a few points off if you don't like that.)

Also, the writing in the game is superb. You really get to like or hate the characters, and a lot of them are really funny. There's a director that talks in 1337-speak, a spirit medium, and even a mysterious CEO with bling-bling. The script is loaded with humor, though it can get intense and dramatic at times.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is THE killer app for the DS. There's no other game like it in the US. This is a game that will get around by word of mouth (I haven't heard of anyone who's played it that didn't like it,) and hopefully sell well enough to justify Capcom bringing out the rest of the series (part 4 is coming to Japan in 2006) to America.


© 2005 Capcom, All Rights Reserved.

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