A game review? Objection!

Phoenix Wright: Ace AttorneySure, why not? It’s not as though you, my dear readers, are under any delusion that this blog is purely about books any more :-)

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney on the Nintendo DS doesn’t fall too far from the tree anyway, since within its interactive nature lurks a linear narrative. It’s not exactly a recent release either, considering that it was originally released in Japan way back in 2001 (isn’t it funny that the early 2000’s seem so long ago now?) More recently, it was updated for Nintendo’s new touchscreen platform and translated into English. The game consists of 5 loosely inter-related cases, where the eponymous lawyer must outwit his opponent and out the truth.

The graphics are simplistic, with each character having only a few frames of animation to show emotions such as triumph, remorse, shock, etc. The bulk of the storytelling is left to the dialogue, which is surprisingly competent, even with some of the lines and jokes which must have been quite difficult to translate well from the original Japanese version.

It should be no surprise that the experience is nothing like a real courtroom trial. Progressing through the game is mostly a matter of deduction, matching up various clues with holes in the witness testimonies and calling them out as “Objections”. Sometimes the game’s linear nature can make for frustrating play, as what might seem logical isn’t expected to unfold until later in the storyline and you’re left to figure out exactly what it is that you’re supposed to be discovering.

I found the stories just entertaining enough to keep me plodding through the game structure, but I could see how others might prefer to just read their stories unfettered by a game mechanic that, ultimately, is designed to impeded progress. If that’s you, maybe you should just stick with books. Then again, this game is nearing 10 years old – an eternity in the medium, and newer titles in the series (including a follow-on starring a different lawyer, Apollo Justice) may have improved on the forumla. Well worth picking up if you can find it on the cheap, purely for the novelty value of yelling “Objection!” into your DS and getting a reaction.

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