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Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Nintendo DS Review

Meet Phoenix Wright, the rookie defence lawyer new to the scene with the wildest cross-examination skills in town! This is Europe’s first chance to meet Phoenix but the zany character made his debut long ago in Japan on the Game Boy Advance in three different games of the same style. The DS’s Ace Attorney is in fact an updated version of Gyakuten Saiban (one of the GBA games). Fear not though as Phoenix’s first outing on the DS and our first look into his world is without doubt a very capable game that is worth considering picking up.

All Rise

So, what is Phoenix Wright? When all is said and done it is a basic point-and-click style adventure that was all the rage a few years back. This one places you firmly in the shoes of Phoenix Wright, an up-and-coming attorney that has not had a wide load of experience in his craft. In fact the first chapter of the game is Wright’s first trial, this chapter is also a chance for you to learn the ropes as you take part in an investigation that would not even challenge the most inept of lawyers that grace this world. However, the game is not just about the trial process though, as a good portion of the game consists of digging for evidence as well. In both of these sections, the DS is put to good use by pointing and clicking on a touch-screen (although you don’t have to touch the screen if you don’t want to).

Now The Case Is Open Wide

As I said, in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney you will participate in two unique gameplay modes: the first being the gathering of evidence and the other (and arguably most fun) is being in the actual court proceeding. The investigation phase of the game lets the player look over crime scenes, interview some witnesses, and examine many of the areas available for clues. It is this section that plays the biggest part in the game as oodles of info can be found on upcoming cases if you snoop out all the right places and know where to look. The game tries to hold you by the hand in this section making it obvious where to look for clues but it is all too easy to miss evidence if you don’t watch out. Then there is the court phase…

Objection Overruled

During the Court Phase it’s up to you to sort through witness testimonies, which are seen via dialogue boxes. At each testimony statement the game offers you the option to press further into the witnesses’ statement (by shouting “Hold it!” into the mic) or to present evidence which will lead to the witness being proven to be incorrect. You have got to be careful though as presenting useless evidence which has no bearing on the outcome of the trial will get you penalized. If you mess up too many times it will mean you lose and thus have to restart the trial; in actual fact you may end up restarting a lot, at least in the last two trials in the game as by this point playing Ace Attorney can feel like a process of trial and error. It is obvious that the game has a set story that must be followed through to its outcome and it is very fun to do that but perhaps the game’s biggest strength is also its greatest weakness? It could be argued that PW:AA is so linear that it could lead to the title getting boring after lengthy periods of play but great praise must be given to the game writers as this never happens and the title remains fun throughout.


Graphically, the game uses Manga style cartoons, cartoons which barely move other than to express the very basic of emotions. Thankfully due the every varying script these emotions range to all manner of expressions from bawling tears to a fresh faced expression of joy. At many points through the game the story gets so weird it’s enough to make you laugh out loud at what you are watching. The game does not just use this lol-educing text for dialog but also to describe many of the occurrences in new areas in which you enter, this leads to a very fun game to play. The game’s musical score is also of a respectable quality but seems to have no pacing as it jumps from slow tempo to high tempo tunes without anything in between. Seeing as the game as a whole is so random and unpredictable this really does not matter and just adds to the fun factor even more. In terms of dialog there are some snippets of words used now and then but there is such a small amount you will almost not even notice it.

I Rest My Case

All in all Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is a fantastic addition the DS’s growing library of quality titles. Even though it is an extremely linear experience, and you probably won’t be playing it a second time after you reach the end, the game still shows enough quality on that one run through to warrant a full price buy. A few months down the line you may look up at your shelf (or pile) of games glance at Phoenix Wright and remember the great times you had playing it which is, while all is said and done a great sign of a quality title. Definitely worth picking up, wait until an imminent price drop in the coming months if needed but you certainly won’t regret adding this to your collection.

8 out of 10