Gaming’s favourite lawyer is back. Phoenix Wright has been missing from the courtrooms since 2007’s DS port of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials & Tribulations. While the series itself has carried on through the eyes of characters Miles Edgeworth and Apollo Justice, it’s good to see that spiky hairdo and sharp blue suit in action once more.
Thanks to the events of Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, Phoenix Wright has regained his cherished Attorney’s Badge and is now fit and ready to bring justice back to the courtroom. It’s a good thing too, considering the justice system has become so twisted that even convicted felons are able to become legal prosecutors, marking what is referred to as the “Dark Age of Law”.
But despite the slightly less sunny outlook, the series’ unique humour and lightheartedness is still here. A revolving door of old acquaintances and new characters should keep fans happy, while those new to the series will still be able to enjoy the courtroom chaos. In fact, Dual Destinies is a very good jumping off point for wannabe attorneys.
Taking elements of all the previous Ace Attorney games, you must use your detective skills to search crime scenes and gather evidence, while using this evidence in court to spot inconsistencies with a witness’ testimony. This time around, Capcom have switched the gameplay up a bit by putting you in the role of both Phoenix Wright and Apollo Justice, while also giving you an assistant in the form of Athena Cykes. All three heroes have skills that can help turn the tide of a court case, such as Athena’s ability to examine a witness’ emotions, or Apollo’s ability to detect when a witness is lying through subtle movements or tell-tale tics.
The cases themselves are all ridiculous, ranging from trying to prove a young girl didn’t bomb a court house to settling a case involving ancient Japanese demons. Rumour has it that a DLC case involves Phoenix defending a killer whale with a moustache. Yes, really. But that’s just how these games roll. While the court cases themselves are strangely exciting and highly compelling, the weird and wonderful characters and events keep things entertaining – just don’t expect a realistic simulation of how a courtroom actually works.
As mentioned previously, this is a great game to introduce new players to the series, and that has a lot to do with some helpful new functions. For a start, you can now read a log of previously read dialogue; very handy for those occasions where you missed a vital piece of verbal evidence. As per previous games in the series, during court sessions, presenting the wrong evidence or making the wrong decisions can deplete your penalty “health bar”. Full depletion will cause you to lose the case. During particularly tough court cases, struggling players that lose too much of their penalty bar can also obtain hints by pressing X. Dual Destinies’ learning curve is also nigh-on perfect, with new gameplay features drip-fed to really help you get to grips with every aspect of the game.
It’s a challenging title even for the cleverest of attorneys, with some really great puzzles making for some highly enjoyable “A-ha!” moments. Breaking apart a prosecutor’s argument with the clever use of evidence is highly satisfying, as it always has been in the Phoenix Wright series. However, newcomers must be aware that there’s a lot of text to be read. At times there can be a fair bit of exposition, which can mean you have to wait a fair while before you can get down to business. It’s not a negative point, but it’s something that might be mildly irritating for people who just want to get on with proceedings.
This instalment of Ace Attorney has dropped the 2D visuals of previous entries, and has now gone fully 3D. Luckily, this isn’t at the cost of character and personality, as it looks absolutely gorgeous. While backgrounds are still static, characters are well designed and animated. This new 3D perspective also adds to investigations, as you are now required to look at crime scenes from various angles. In addition to the new 3D lick of paint, the narrative is also occasionally accompanied by anime cutscenes, which look great and suit the game perfectly (especially in 3D). The dialogue in these scenes features full English dialogue, which is well implemented. Finally, the whole soundtrack retains the catchy Japanese-style tunes of previous games in the series, but of a much higher quality.
VERDICT: Dual Destinies is more of the Ace Attorney you know and love. With five full cases (plus an extra DLC case to purchase and download), each lasting tons of hours, there’s a full game here for a relatively cheap price. The new additions keep things fresh for the series and there’s never a moment of boredom. Capcom did a great thing in bringing this game over as an eShop only download; support that decision and buy this game right now. Your 3DS will have no objections!
SUPERB. This is the mark of greatness, only awarded to games that engage us from start to finish. Titles that score 9/10 will have very few problems or negative issues, and will deliver high quality and value for money across all aspects of their design.