Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Justice for All Hands-On

Last October, a popular game series from Japan known as Gyakuten Saiban made its way into the States via the Nintendo DS. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, as it was called here, quickly became a hit amongst gamers. Well, a hit amongst those who bought it, at least. Despite rave reviews and a rabid fanbase, Phoenix Wright suffered in the sales department and became one of the DS games taken out of circulation. But that was not the end of Mr. Wright.

Due to the sudden rarity of the game, more and more people began to buy it. Ebay prices shot through the roof, and stores everywhere were completely sold out of the previously unsellable product. Much like Fox with Family Guy, Capcom decided to bring Phoenix Wright back, and the game reentered circulation in the early summer. The sudden onslaught of Phoenix Wright fans was so great that Capcom decided to bring the next Gyakuten Saiban game for the DS over to North America, as well. That brings us to the next installment of Phoenix’s DS adventure, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Justice for All.

I was lucky enough to spend some time with an early English demo of the new Phoenix Wright at Comic-Con. The demo I played was fairly short, but it was definitely enough to make me want more.

The second of Phoenix’s DS games (and third in the series) finds gamers in a recognizable place-controlling Phoenix Wright (Nick, to his friends) through a series of four cases, and defending those who have been wrongly accused. Like before, the game is split up into two distinct phases: the Investigation Phase where gamers will examine crime scenes and interrogate witnesses to gather info, and the Court Phase where gamers will need to put their information (and lawyering skills) to the test.

New to the series are the "Psyche-Lock" feature and the court "life bar." Psyche-Lock works in a way very similar to the standard cross-examination from the first Ace Attorney. During a testimony, a suspect may "forget" key pieces of information. By asking them questions in a certain order-and catching them on inconsistencies-you’re able to break them down, and thus force the truth out of them. While it sounds good on paper, it’s hard to know if it will actually add more to the game, since it sounds like it’s just a slightly expanded version of the cross-examination already present. The other new feature, the life bar, is a meter showing how Phoenix is doing in the court. Are you nailing the suspects inconsistencies and asking good questions? If so, your meter will go up. Do you keep pressing with no result, and make inaccurate objections? If so, your meter will go down. It’s a simple concept, but it will be interesting to see if it has any actual bearing on the gameplay. (For example, in Ace Attorney if you make enough mistakes it’s game over-will the life bar do anything but act in a similar fashion?)

The demo started off with Phoenix in the throes of a nightmare. In this nightmare, Phoenix is released of his duties as a defense attorney. A strange looking man appears in the dream (who looks very similar to Phoenix) holding a fire extinguisher, and then he wakes up. Upon waking up, Phoenix has no idea where he is, and no memory of what happened before. He doesn’t even remember that he took a case from a woman named Maggey Byrde until she shows up at his place! Of course, being the suave lawyer he is, Phoenix tells her that he doesn’t remember a thing. It turns out Phoenix is defending the woman on the charge of murdering her boyfriend, and things don’t look good. From there everyone enters the courtroom, and after some witty speech by the good ol’ Judge, Detective Gumshoe begins to refresh your memory about the details of the case.

Sadly, the demo didn’t go much further than that. However, the trademark wit and banter of the Phoenix Wright series was very evident in the game, even at these early stages of the translation. While there were a few very slight mistakes and some spacing errors (I’m talking about the kind only a professional editor and self-proclaimed "Grammar Nazi" would be likely to notice) the translation looks good so far, which is expected of this series.

If you’re a fan of the original Ace Attorney game-or the series in general-don’t worry, because the game looks just as good as before. The two new features are a little iffy since it seems like they just cleverly reworded features already present, but we’ll see if they do anything with them later on in the gameplay, since the demo available at Comic-Con didn’t get very far. One thing I find intriguing in Justice for All is the lack of the more detailed evidence examination from the last case of Ace Attorney. While admittedly the more immersive examination was made to showcase the power of the DS, this game is on the DS, so I don’t know why Capcom wouldn’t capitalize on that and use it in this game. But that’s really my only objection about Justice for All.

Look for Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Justice for All to hit US and EU shores in Q1 2007, and keep your browsers locked on for future screenshots and trailers as they become available.


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Author: Brendon Lindsey View all posts by

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