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Review: Phoenix Wright, Ace Attorney
Bar Harbor
I wrote a mini-review of this earlier, but have now finished the game, so am updating. I ended up enjoying this quite a lot, despite its weaknesses.

This is really a classic adventure game in a new guise, and has all the problems (and benefits) that come with that. There were frequent occasions when I couldn't read the designer's mind properly, and had to resort to brute force inventory manipulation to proceed. Sometimes a clue which was obvious to me was not 'dramatically appropriate', and couldn't be used until it was.

On the plus side, the stories were engaging, with lots of wacky characters and absurd plot twists. Phoenix is forever on the verge of defeat, yet somehow always manages to come up with just the right "Objection!" at the very last possible moment. There's also more than a bit of slashiness between the protagonist and a recurring prosecuting attorney who was his childhood friend, but became darker and more cynical after certain tragic events (which end up being crucial to a modern murder trial, of course).

If you play this game to the end of its (apparent) story arc, stick around for the credits. After they run, a bonus chapter is unlocked, a baroquely-complex case of police corruption and old secrets, which takes almost as long to play through as the entire rest of the game. (issendai take note: one of the important witnesses in the last episode is a lunch lady who uses a wide variety of bento box lunches as metaphorical punctuation to her dialogue.)

I was briefly stymied in this last episode by some new mechanics that were introduced, that required using the DS' touch screen. Up until that point, the D-pad and buttons had sufficed to do everything, and it took me a while to realize that I needed to whip out the stylus. I later found out that this is because the first chunk of the game was a port of a Japanese game released for the Gameboy Advance (before they had introduced the touchscreen tech), and the bonus chapter was a new addition for the DS.

I was researching it online because I enjoyed it enough to want to play more. Luckily, more is available, as this series has done quite well in Japan. A second installment is already out, and a third is due to be released in a few weeks. If the third does well in the US, there exists a fourth one in Japan, just waiting for translation.


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