During our preview of Professor Layton VS Phoenix Wright, we mentioned that not many people are aware of Phoenix Wright and the Ace Attorney series. Although the franchise has had huge success in Japan (with even a live action movie made in it’s honour) the franchise here, in the Western world, has only really found success as a cult following. This may not sound like much, its followers (including me) have a strong adoration for the series and its unique characters. We have often been rewarded for our loyalty with the quality of each release.
The latest release – Phoenix Wright Dual Destinies made its western release at the end of October and is a digital download exclusive from the Nintendo eShop. The fact that the game never saw a retail release is perhaps an indication to its niche market. Cost to produce the game on cartridge and distribute it may not be as economic once sales for the title were complete. Either way, a game which only receives a release as a digital download does not mean that it is unworthy of a retail release. As this game , much like its predecessors, is extremely fun, funny, clever and will test your wits and memory.
For those that might not be aware of the Ace Attorney series, the game follows defence attorney, Phoenix Wright, and his colleagues of the ‘Wright Anything Agency’, as they defend their clients and prove their innocence in court against all of the odds.
The game features five cases, which on the surface are seemingly different but as the stories of the cases progress you find they are more connected than you realise. The opening case introduces a newcomer to the series – Athena Cykes. This is Cykes first solo case working for the ‘Wright Anything Agency’ and this gently eases you in to the wacky but clever world of Ace Attorney and the court room battles. You will find yourself cross examining witnesses, pressing for more information and presenting evidence to point out the contradictions in their flawed statements – all of which help towards proving your clients innocence.
After the opening case, the next episode will introduce you to crime scene investigations, where you will be able to use your detective skills to examine anything and everything that you deem necessary and helpful to your case. In true Japanese style, the story lines are always over the top and the characters just as much so, all of which wear crazy costumes.
However, none of this detracts from an otherwise serious and dark tone throughout. The incredibly well written and intricate storytelling that can be found in this eShop gem is nothing short of a joy to be a part of. Each episode and story will give you plenty of hours of gameplay, usually lasting anywhere between 6 and 10 hours each. Every episode is also riddled with twists and turns, that will leave you guessing who is the true culprit of the crime and whether or not your client is really innocent.
Followers of the series will get a kick out of seeing returning characters from previous Phoenix Wright games. Fans will also be happy to know that none of these characters or any of the new ones have lost any of that fantastic charm, overly dry or sarcastic humour that is so well scripted and written. All of which, at times, had me genuinely laughing out loud.
For the first time in the series the game features animated cut-scenes from award winning studio ‘Bones.’ Voice actors are also introduced and help to flesh out the story and bring further life to this well crafted game. Previously characters were only ever presented to us as 2D drawn characters and all dialogue was converted to text.
This is also the first of the Phoenix Wright series to be released on the 3DS. The new power at the games disposal is ever present during every facet of it’s presentation, with beautifully drawn and brightly coloured characters and environments. A new, enhanced soundtrack with familiar and updated compositions fit the scenarios or conversations perfectly.
It would be easy to presume that a game that takes place in court, has you pressing people for information and presenting evidence, could get very repetitive very quickly, but it could not be any further from the truth. The games formula may seem silly but it’s a true celebration to an excellent narrative and truly compelling storytelling. When this alone is enough to keep the game mechanics feeling fresh and rewarding, there is nothing more exciting than spotting out a contradiction and raising your objection as you present your evidence.
Overall, the Ace Attorney series is a truly original concept and no game truly matches it’s unique gameplay style. Dual Destinies pays homage to this fact and has managed to stay true to its original, which was originally released in Japan on the Game Boy Advance!
It may not be the greatest place to start for newcomers but if gamers are looking for something to test their wits and give them value for money – at £19.99 for hours and hours worth of gameplay, some awesome storytelling and some genuine laughs along the way, this is a game that should not be missed.
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