Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies
Explaining the appeal of the Ace Attorney series to those who haven’t played it can make you sound a little strange. The games are full of hilarious conversations, a court system where the same inept judge presides over every case, and lawyers with incredibly pointy hair. Nevertheless, it’s the kind of wackiness that keeps you coming back for more.
Phoenix Wright: Dual Destinies is the long-awaited 3DS title for Capcom’s Ace Attorney adventure game series and marks Phoenix’s return to the law after his mysterious disbarment. He comes back to the Wright Anything Agency to manage his young employees Apollo Justice and Athena Cykes as they take on new (and crazier) cases. Those who have played the previous games in the series would already be familiar with Apollo, but this is Athena’s debut.
Over the course of the game the player defends clients as Phoenix, Apollo, and Athena, each with their own unique powers to expose the truth in court. The game also introduces a new rival prosecutor – Simon Blackquill. Blackquill just happens to be a convicted murderer who, for some strange reason, is allowed to continue prosecuting cases (apparently they’re getting THAT desperate for good prosecutors). Since allowing a murderer to walk around free is probably a bit dangerous, wherever Blackquill is, he is followed by Detective Bobby Fulbright, the overzealous and loudly dressed law enforcement representative for this entry in the series. The game comprises of five cases, each introducing new and colourful characters, as well as including some cameos from old ones. Despite being a handheld title, this isn’t a quick game to finish and definitely feels more like value for money than some other 3DS games.
The case progression is much the same as ever. The player is presented with a preview of the case they are about to take on before investigating. These have been revamped with lovely anime cutscenes as opposed to still images, though the voice acting can be a little lame at times. After taking on each case, the player works through the investigation phase by navigating through the crime scene and surrounds, with the movement, investigation, and interview options all appearing on the touchscreen. Investigation has always been a struggle for those who enjoy the series because the games have never offered much in the way of guidance. Dual Destinies attempts to streamline it by providing a case notes section explaining current objectives, only allowing players to investigate areas that will provide clues, and automatically moving them to the next objective. The playable portions of the game retain the visual novel aspect in that the player doesn’t have control over an avatar. Surprisingly, this doesn’t come across as a restriction because the conversations are really the focus of the game.
Courtroom drama, much like all Ace Attorney games, usually unfolds during cross-examination of witnesses by finding contradictions in what they’re saying and watching the true culprit have a massive meltdown. Knowing when to present evidence still involves a bit of guesswork but it’s not as much of a concern in Dual Destinies as it has been before. As in the previous games, cases are heard over a three day period to speed the process up and suspects are considered guilty before proven innocent by their defence attorney. There’s plenty of fake evidence, false testimony, and dirty tactics by the prosecution to keep even the hardened Phoenix Wright on his toes.
This is the first Ace Attorney game to receive a PG rating instead of G, mostly for a couple of references to violence. It’s not a game where you can brag about beating it but it’s still worth playing if you enjoy games that don’t take themselves too seriously. Although Shu Takumi, the original creator of the series, was not as involved in this project due to his focus on the Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright crossover title, it still maintains the atmosphere of the previous games. In terms of gameplay, Dual Destinies makes some adjustments to the series to take advantage of the more capable 3DS. These include new 3D models instead of sprites, new voice clips, and the ability to check out some areas from different angles. Once you’ve played the revamped Phoenix Wright, all the others will seem absolutely ancient by comparison. Capcom have also released an additional case for purchase in the eShop – no spoilers but it might just be the weirdest one ever.
What you’re left with is a game that is very amusing in spite of the lack of challenge. Despite how strange the people and cases are, they seem to make sense in the weird universe that has been built around them. Phoenix might be getting older but there’s still a lot of madness and fun left in this series.
- New powers to play around with, along with all the old ones
- Decent writing with lots of funny cultural references
- New features to review cases and previous dialogue
- No physical release – only available for purchase from Nintendo eShop
- No replay value
- The translation can be a bit weak at times