The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
It’s true; the latest Ace Attorney is only available via download in the Nintendo eShop. Just because Capcom is scared to lose money on physical copies doesn’t mean you should let Phoenix Wright’s return pass you by.
In Dual Destinies you can’t help but notice the new presentation. Familiar locations like the courthouse and detention center have received a facelift (don’t worry, the guards haven’t moved a muscle) and the characters all still look hand drawn while performing more complicated motions than were remotely possible before.
The classic, zany tone is spot-on, with a weirdo witness who refuses to leave a cardboard box and an astronaut who pretends to suffocate when his oxygen hose comes loose. Most of the fun is meeting this rogues gallery of strange characters and villainous suspects while keeping your fingers crossed for cameos from your favorite Ace Attorney alumni.
Phoenix Wright returns to his lawyering job, sharing the starring role with Apollo Justice and newcomer Athena Cykes. Athena’s new mood matrix device senses subjects’ emotions during testimony, and it’s up to you to pick out what doesn’t match (like someone being happy when a bomb goes off). It doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it and classics like the Psyche-Lock are sprinkled in enough to shake up the standard press-statement-and-present-evidence loop.
New prosecutor Simon Blackquill has a hawk pal he commands to attack people, and is somehow able to practice law even though he’s in prison for murder. He’s got his quirks and expected stern demeanor, though I don’t think he quite measures up to past rivals like the hard-nosed Miles Edgeworth, silly Klavier Gavin, or multi-faceted Godot.
Investigations get a boost via new 3D crime scenes in which you can rotate all around the room. This adds more interesting options to what the developers can do and makes the environments feel more a like real place instead of an interactive painting. It’s also easy to get directly where you need to go as opposed to the old convoluted travel system. A new task list highlights what you need to do to progress. I never felt lost, which was relatively common in past games.
Conversations are all saved in a log that you can access any time. It’s nice to be able to double-check your facts, though sometimes text boxes show up empty in the occasional annoying glitch.
Cases all have their own charm and loopy resolutions that you would never expect, and it still feels great to nail a cocky suspect to the wall in court. Even though the last two connected cases kept me glued to the screen, I’m getting tired of the overall structure. Early cases have small connections to the one big mystery, which is connected to another big mystery from seven years ago that happens to involve many of the characters. This reused device is the only element that hasn’t received some kind of upgrade. For a series that’s constantly struggling to grow beyond a cult audience, it needs to fire on all cylinders.
Rated M For MurderWhile this is the first Ace Attorney to receive an M rating from the ESRB, I didn’t find it to be any gorier than usual. I think the impressive new cinematics may have pushed it over the edge with fully animated murders and dripping blood.
Email the author Bryan Vore, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.