Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney DS review

Kim checks out the newest instalment in the Ace Attorney series... and happily, it's quite good!

Nintendo's Ace Attorney

The Ace Attorney series started in 2005 with Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. Many gamers laughed at the thought of a game based upon what surely must be one of the most boring things ever – lawyers. Many of us went out, played the first game and wore egg on our faces. Not only was it quite original, but also engrossing and brilliantly executed.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve been gripped by this series. Changes come though; the protagonist from the first three games, Phoenix Wright, has stepped back from the bar for the last time. It’s over to the young and hair-gravity challenged Apollo Justice to make a stand in the dock and show what he’s made of. I call my first witness!

Immediately you’re thrown into the game, given the option to select only the first mission. No intro, no frills. It would be safe to say that Capcom are assuming the gamer is likely to have played at least one of the previous games, though your first case does offer a mini tutorial in the form of game-playing advice and instruction from Apollo’s mentor, Kristoph Gavin. All at once you find yourself standing in the court lobby area, listening to a slightly screechy piano and beat version of old music from the first three games. Scenery is recycled in places, borrowing from earlier games, especially court scenes. There’s no evidence gathering before the first trial – you’re straight into the action.

Winston Payne is back for the first case, sporting long hair and an aweful mustard yellow jacket. If possible, he actually looks more silly than he first did. The courtroom itself seems to have some new dark wood added. Nice, but it’s so last year…

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The Judge hasn’t aged a day and is still white haired, big bearded and old as the hills.

Your first case as a rookie lawyer is pitched sensibly at beginner level, so despite the assumption that you’ve played before, a beginner can easily pick up the trail. Teaching the Ace Attorney way from the get go, the case offers a slow start with twists and turns in the latter stages, preparing you for what is to come. The cases from there do grow harder, though perhaps the most tricky thing to overcome is when to present what. Quite often in a Phoenix Wright game, you knew roughly what was going on but had trouble on occasion displaying the correct evidence at exactly the right moment. The game hasn’t got rid of this problem, but generally I found the cases to be fair and pitched at the right level.

Apollo Justice seems a bit more abstract and bizarre than Phoenix Wright titles previous, though not by much. I suppose the idea of having a Prosecutor doubling as a rock legend helps to create a world that is truely fictional in every way. Instead of a spirit medium travelling with you, this time there’s a girl magician.

You can still shout ‘objection’ and so on into the microphone on your DS, though it’s equally pleasing to play with the stylus only.

There’s a bit more to do in terms of the interface in Apollo Justice, such as filling in footprints with plaster and inking them to take prints from crime scenes, dusting for prints and of course, luminol spray for finding bloodstains. The examine item feature is also retained from previous games and is well used. Other new features include animated sequences where previously, still art was used to portray scenes. This works especially well in the third case during a rock concert.

Apollo senses lack of truthfulness in those he questions at certain key moments, with the aid of his bracelet. This is the direct equivilent of Phoenix Wright’s ability to see psyche locks, so it doesn’t really add to the game, though it is more detailed. You have to move your ‘seeing eye’ over the person speaking in slow motion, watching for the slightest tell tale signs of a lie or half truth, etc. If you spot something on a comment they are making, you can declare them to be hiding something and blow the case wide open. This isn’t made entirely easy for you, and the challenge is a welcome addition to the game.

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The rich selection of colourful characters will leave you feeling welcomed to their world and willing to play again. Old fans of past Phoenix Wright titles are given a warming up period with Apollo in the first case…he may not be a lawyer anymore but Phoenix Wright is very much still part of this Capcom universe.

I’m addicted. I love it, and the only downsides I can possibly offer you to this game is that you absolutely must play the first three beforehand – they’re good games and they’ll give you more background to appreciate this fourth one. Perhaps there are occasions when you’re just showing everything to everyone in order to progress the storyline, but this doesn’t happen very often. Regular saving means that any mistakes can be rectified, but there are some abstract and wierd moments that feel a bit disjointed. Once you work out what’s going on and progress though, the moment is forgotten.

Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney is a very decent third sequel to the excellent Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. Best played after all three Phoenix Wright games, this will please almost anyone, especially those who like ‘who dunnits’ and murder mysteries. Probably a bit too clever (and wierd) for young kids, this is a gem for adults and teens across the board. Drop your frag cannon and get the gavel out, because it’s objection time once more! A definate thumbs up from this girl gamer.

4 out of 5

Rating:

4 out of 5