Last Level Press

Review: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies

Reviewer: Olen Bjorgo

“These are dark times where the law has been reduced to rubble, and it’s up to us to restore it to its former glory.”

The Ace Attorney games are, on paper, a strange concept to explain: you play as a lawyer to prove that your client is not guilty of a murder, conduct investigations, and all of your clients are presumed guilty because the evidence is stacked against you. In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney- Dual Destinies, you play primarily as bluffing extraordinaire Phoenix Wright who finally re-obtained his good name after being framed for using forged evidence in the previous game in the series. However, things have changed where forged evidence and false charges have become the norm in the legal system where victory is more important than the truth: this “dark age of the law” even has your primary adversary, Simon Blackquill, as a prosecutor who was found guilty of murder. It’s up to Phoenix and his two employees, Apollo Justice and Athena Cykes, to make sure that the truth prevails.

Welcome to Fallout: New Phoenix.

Just like with the recent releases of Pokemon X and Y, the Ace Attorney series had to make its jump from 2D sprites to 3D eventually, and the jump was on solid ground. The visuals of Dual Destinies is simply stunning, with a feeling of familiarity with how the courtroom and other environments are set up while adding new depth to game that wasn’t possible before due to the limitations of sprite animation. In a rare effect for 3DS games I’ve played, the characters have some actions that make use of the 3D; this mostly involves throwing or shooting objects towards the screen. It’s mostly a throwaway gag or character tic for many of the actions done, but it is nice to see Capcom of all companies doing this. The backgrounds and environments also make use of the 3D as well, since there is now a real feeling of space as you examine areas. And, with its motley collection of eclectic and colorful characters, the game’s vibrant colors match the insanity. A new addition to the series are the animated cut scenes that appear at specific points during a case, primarily before and after, and while they are amazing bits of animation, they don’t really serve for much of anything beyond showing off voice acting or as bookends for a case.

Bloody avian footprints, feathers strewn everywhere, and dead mafiosos

staked to their chairs.   The Goodfeathers are back!

The audio has also upgraded along with the graphics. While the earlier games in Ace Attorney series were definitely bit-track pieces, especially since they had their origin on the Game Boy Advance in Japan but were released on the Nintendo DS in America, and the music for Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney was much more advanced than its predecessors, Dual Destinies sounds like it would be right at home with any home console. The music just sounds so much smoother compared to the MIDI tracks from prior games, and in fact, many of the tracks are updated versions of songs used in prior games that help to bring a sense of old meeting new. The prior Ace Attorney games were short on any voice work outside of snippets during trials, and were done by people who worked in the localization department but, with those cut scenes I mentioned about three sentences ago, things have gotten more professional with talents like Sam Riegal (Phoenix Wright in Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3), Orion Acaba (Fire Emblem: Awakening, Shin Megami Tensei IV), Wendee Lee (Cowboy Bebop, Outlaw Star), and even Kyle Hebert (Dragonball Z) coming into the mix. While it is hard to imagine these new voices replacing what many fans in North America have heard for years, they do grow on you, and they just sound right.

For what is essentially an adventure game in the guise of a murder mystery visual novel, Dual Destinies has a lot for you to use. You’ve got the return of Phoenix’s Psyche-Locks that you need to unlock using his magatama so that people open up about something they’re lying about, Apollo’s bracelet that lets him see the twitches of when a person is lying, and now Athena’s Mood Matrix that uses Athena’s knowledge of analytical psychology and her keen sense of hearing to sense a person’s real emotions. With the exception of the camera, there’s really not anything on the 3DS you don’t use during the game: you can even use the microphone to yell “Objection!” if you want to but, needless to say, I didn’t because the game is silly enough for me already. You can use the touch pad to go through testimony or present evidence, you can press the Y button to see the court log in case you might have missed something important as you blazed through dialogue with the B button, and you can even consult with your co-counsel if you screw up too many times and need a hint. For what it’s worth, I needed it a couple times too.

While you’d be better off watching an episode of Law & Order or CSI to get a better understanding of how the legal system works, the Ace Attorney series has never portrayed or marketed itself as a realistic game of how trials are conducted, and anyone who takes the games too seriously are typically the sort who would get angry at the inconsistencies while watching Law & Order or CSI or even question video game logic to begin with. However, for what it presents itself as and how it is played out, Dual Destinies is an engrossing game, because each case is a puzzle or a riddle to solve. The only normal looking person is the Judge, who will allow robots and animals to take the stand, and the only sane man is someone who wears a purple suit with a cravat. But when you have witnesses who believe they are possessed by Japanese monsters, a professor who wears a toga, a detective who spouts the word “justice” like a campy Power Ranger parody, and even a man who believes himself to be the very center of the universe while the prosecution has a pet hawk, looks like he’s an edgier version of Osamu Tezuka’s character Black Jack, uses old-fashioned words, and uses the outdated Japanese honorific “-dono” when speaking to the defense while speaking of swords and samurai, you’ve pretty much got yourself a barrel of laughs that’s greater than the infamous “circus case” from Ace Attorney: Justice for All. The series, let alone the game, is one hell of an experience.

Really, where else is this normal?

The game is fun, no doubt about it. Despite that M rating it has, there are only very few moments where I felt it was actually justified, and most of them are in the tail end of the game, but even then you needn’t really worry about the delicate sensibilities of teenagers that have grown up with the Internet. If you’ve loved the previous entries in the Ace Attorney series, then chances are you’ve already bought it from the eShop since it is a digital download only, and have beaten it (holy crap, that ending!) before this has been posted and silently waiting for some DLC cases since this is a Capcom game we’re talking about. If anything I’ve described sounds like it’s worth buying, I certainly recommend it. If you’re a bit unsure or want to work your way through the prior games just to feel like you’re up to speed, I would recommend that as well, but rest assured that references to prior games aren’t too hard to grasp. But if you’re a stickler for the legal system and how it works, I’m sure you can find some old episodes of Night Court or Boston Legal somewhere so you can come back with a sense of humor.

Rating: 8.2

Visuals: 9
Audio: 8
Controls & Mechanics: 7
Atmosphere & Experience: 9
Entertainment Value: 8

David Caruso, is that you?

  Consoles: Nintendo 3DS

  Developer: Capcom

  Publisher: Capcom

  Release Date (U.S.): Oct 24, 2013

  Release Date (U.K.): Oct 24, 2013

  Release Date (JP): Jul 25, 2013

Final Verdict:


Last Level Press © Copyright Cliff Davenport  Est. 2013.  Links | Legal Notices

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