Thursday, February 17, 2011

Current Addiction: Ace Attorney, Part 2

Well folks, I'm really sad as I type this. Is it because of Ace Attorney: Justice For All? Not quite. It's because yesterday, I bought two new DS games: Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective and Time Hollow. I played Ghost Trick for a bit and I am absolutely thrilled with it. But then I realized it was time to put down the DS and open up Blogspot. The sacrifices I make for you all!

At any rate, today's review is a continuation of the Ace Attorney series. Taking place one year after the events of the first courtroom drama, this game brings back all of the stars from the previous one, including... von Karma?!


Game Title: Ace Attorney: Phoenix Wright Justice For All
Platform: Initially GBA, Re-released for DS, Wii, and iPhone

Company: Capcom
Year: 2002 (Japan/GBA), 2005 (DS), 2010 (Wii, iPhone)


Overall Plot Summary
The last game did an overall good job about tying all of the cases together and slowly built up to the climax and conclusion of the story. Justice For All also attempts to do this, giving a familiar feeling to the previous game. The game rules haven't changed very much; murder is still treated as seriously as before, the stakes are still quite high, and Phoenix is just as much between a rock and a hard place as before.


However, at a certain point the plot begins to break down and doesn't connect from episode to episode. It feels more like a series of non sequiturs than an actual plot, however weakly they tried to connect the first episode with the last. This is a shame as the plot behind the last episode was very compelling and really made me stop and question the direction of my own life (probably more or less because I was actually planning on being a defense attorney before playing this series). It would have been wonderful if they tried to expand on the theme of "What being a defense attorney means" instead of making something like this: Weak Reference A - Sub Plot B - Filler C - Suddenly an Overall Plot Arises D.


That being said, the overall plot certainly isn't the reason why I love this series, it's the murder mystery aspect. It just would have been nice if the plot was as fleshed out as the first game was. At least it wasn't too forced in some areas and the main theme in the last episode had a valid point to be made.


One BIG difference between this game and the previous as far as episodes go is that I did not care too much for the filler episode this time around. The Steel Samurai episode in the first game is a classic-- that's why just about every game in the series references it! However, no one really cares about the Berry Big Circus. It was quite annoying. The case itself was also pretty easy compared to the other ones! Although, anything might seem normal after the crazy case involving spirit mediums.


Grade: C
While it lacks a plot for a majority of the game, it finally finds its real message at the end.






Script
Uh... well, this was actually an interesting change. It's interesting that while the plot got worse, the script got better. The ending was certainly more emotionally charged than the last one, if it can be believed. There are also some interesting memes thrown in here and there, which makes me wonder who exactly wrote it.
"In West Clownadelphia born and raised on the playground is where I spent my day's clownin" - Moe the Clown
The cross examination sequences are also shorter and less broken down, making the gameplay experience overall less wordy. However, the investigation scenes are much longer-- replaying the first game after immediately playing the second, I was surprised at how quickly the investigation scenes seemed to go in the first game! Perhaps they were making up for not having too strong of a plot by adding in more dialogue? Either way, it's not necessarily a bad thing, unless you hate reading. And if you hate reading you probably hate this game anyways, so... :|


Ace Attorney already pushes the limit about what can be done in a court of law. Except this time it gets worse. Well, for Phoenix. For me, the player, I enjoyed it. There is a case based on spirit mediums and channeling, a prosecutor who whips the judge, Phoenix, and her witnesses into submission, and other crazy incidents. It certainly takes away a great deal of the dryness of the previous game and makes it a more enjoyable experience.


Grade: A
Wacky, ridiculous, and all the reasons why I loved this series.






Gameplay
I have basically the same things to say about this installment's gameplay as I did about the last one. Not much has changed about the courtroom, other than instead of the standard five point penalty, they changed it to a health bar, so you will have various amounts subtracted instead of ONLY five shots. This however means you can be a victim of a double penalty in certain cases (such as accusing the judge of holding evidence if you so stupidly wish... although tbh it was sort of amusing how angry he got).


There is one new feature, however: the magatama and Psyche-lock functions. When investigating a crime and questioning a witness, if they lie, your little magatama reacts and a number of imaginary locks appear around the witness. Simply present the magatama and you will be guided through the way to unlocking the truth. The only frustrating part is that it cannot be used in the middle of court-- but that would make it too easy, wouldn't it?


Grade: A
While the picky-ness of the original version remains, they at least changed the penalty system to prevent it from being a game breaker.






Graphics
Again, not much can be said about this game that hasn't been said before. The character designs continue to amuse me; the CG continues to be a major story teller, and they animate along with the text. There aren't that many new poses to go with the older characters (I believe only Edgeworth and Phoenix got one new pose each), but they still do their job.


Grade: B
Lack of updated sprites suggests laziness on their part. Still, everything looks nice for their time.






Music
Now, this is the real reason why I did not initially play this new game. The first game's music was just.. well, it sends chills down my spine. However, this one... it was quite shocking to hear how they changed it. The cross examination music doesn't seem to fit at all, and I didn't get the same rush as I did before with this game's Cornered theme. I even know a few people who won't play the next installments specifically because the music is so drastically different.


One thing I should point out though is that once I got through the first case, the music eventually grew on me. The themes for the new characters and new areas were also nicely done; the music for the Kurain village was simply beautiful. It put me to sleep. The music in the final episode also finally gave the emotional delivery I was looking for.


Grade: B
Nice on its own, but poor in comparison to the original.






Overall
Even now, it's hard to exactly pinpoint my feelings on Justice For All. On the one hand, it certainly isn't what the original was; on the other hand, it was a decent game in its own right. If they had been willing to stick closer to the original's music (not exactly the same, but at least trying to evoke the same emotional response) and tried a bit harder to develop a theme, it would be perfect.


As an Ace Attorney game, Justice For All doesn't really live up to its name. But as murder mysteries go, Justice For All is still really good.


Now leave me alone and let me get back to my Ghost Trick!


Grade: B

32 comments:

  1. lol you play those Nancy Drew games too? :P

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  2. Might have to check those out. Anymore games you can suggest?

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  3. I love, love, love this series. As an added bit of weirdness, shock-rocker Marilyn Manson loves Phoenix Wright as well.

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  4. awesome review might check it out

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  5. i think ill check this out, grrat review! following ;)

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  6. I love DS Games, going to look into these. Nice blog!

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  7. played the first one, it was amazing. following!

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  8. I just bought pokemon black and white for my ds .
    Yes I bought both of them . They are different games , at least this time .

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  9. Ghost trick is a nice game, played it on my cousin's DS

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  10. Sweet blog, I'm proud to be your 250th follower!

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  11. Well, I think I've found a new blog to follow...

    I should really get a DS sometime soon. I keep passing on buying it, but it's getting hard to deny the amount of good games on it.

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  12. long as the gameplay is in the b's. i mean its there it has potential. its mainly targeted to a specific group of people

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  13. good reviews played first one.

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  14. Yeah me too i think i should buy a nintindo ds they are good

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  15. Great review, I'm considering emulating Ace attourney now.

    I love seeing DS reviews, especially when it's a franchise I enjoy playing so much. The DS is a little underplayed nowadays =(

    Followed.

    Check me out sometime at:
    http://riotoflegends.blogspot.com/

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  16. Man I remember the days I used to play on the nintendo gameboys, pokemon, zelda, what not. this post makes me want to play them again xD

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  17. Hmmm a B huh? Well, then I'll probably get zelda instead. I'll wait till the price drops.

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  18. I remember the music of the last case was amazing. Oh, and time hollow is a great game too, I love time traveling in my games.

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  19. @Niko It's $10 on WiiWare.

    Really, as a stand-alone game, it's an A. But as a sequel it's a B.

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  20. my ds is lonely and dusty.

    I need to pick up some new games.

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  21. I like reading murder mystery books, never played one in a game format. Might recommend this game to my friend whos got a Wii

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  22. Honestly, i didn't mind Ace attorney it was decent. Great review!

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  23. Thank you for the thorough review and your personal insight!

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  24. Now that's how you write a review! Well done, but this game sounds a little too feminine for me!

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  25. Haven't heard of this one yet, I might pick it up though because it sounds interesting.

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  26. i have a girlfriend i neglect for my blog. i have always been interested in playing this game but never actually had the ambition to go outside buy it and play it. however i might give it more of a look now.

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