Operation Backlog Completion 2024
Nov 242013

Ace Attorney is one of my favorite video game series in the world. When I first heard about it, I thought it sounded dull–why in the world would I want to play a game about a lawyer? Then I gave the first game a try and immediately fell in love.

It wasn’t boring…or very realistic. It tossed me into a world filled with wacky characters, spirit mediums, and trials in which the defense attorney and prosecutor slam their desks and shout, “Objection!” at one another as they try to prove their case, although the trial is always biased in the prosecution’s favor. (“Innocent until proven guilty”? In the world of Ace Attorney, it’s closer to “Guilty unless the defense attorney can shoot down all of the prosecution’s arguments and probably prove who the real killer is, as long as it can be accomplished within 3 trials, because after 3 trials the defense loses.”)

The first game puts you in the shoes of rookie lawyer Phoenix Wright and takes you through the twists and turns of his cases.

The series is very heavy on reading, so keep that in mind. It is very story-driven and has many visual novel elements. Gameplay centers around investigating crime scenes (in a style similar to point-and-click games), questioning people to gather information, and finding contradictions in testimonies and theories. In fact, the unofficial fan musical project explains courtroom gameplay quite well in “The Objection Song.” (Note, the song spoils parts of first game’s first case.) It is a very funny series that nevertheless has its share of dark moments and tragedy.

At the time that I’m writing this, the Ace Attorney games available are:

and the main topic of my post today:

Though this newest Ace Attorney game is a download-only title on the Nintendo e-shop, I consider it to be one of the best. (Update: it is now available to download on iTunes, as well.) Phoenix Wright and Apollo Justice both return with their gameplay elements from previous games (Phoenix’s ability to break Psyche-Locks and Apollo’s ability to Perceive lies), along with Athena Cykes, who introduces a new gameplay element called the Mood Matrix. The Mood Matrix is a program that tracks a person’s emotions, so you can look for contradictions between what the person says and what emotions they feel. Oh, and the new prosecutor is a convict who uses psychological manipulation and sics a hawk on people in the courtroom.

Now, if you’ve never played an Ace Attorney game before, there’s a good chance that most of what I said in that last paragraph sounds silly, crazy, or nonsensical. If you’re a fan of the series, it might still sound that way, but at the same time, it all makes perfect sense.

Because I love Dual Destinies so much, let me get the few things I object to out of the way first. It was much easier than previous entries in the series. While in a way, this is a good thing (sometimes the old games could leave you desperately tapping everything on the screen in the hopes that you’d find something), it went a little too far. It was a little too easy, and the investigation sections lost some of the freedom they used to have and locked you onto the correct course. This was most apparent to me when I encountered a set of Psyche-Locks and could immediately unlock them all. In the past, I’d have had to leave the character and hunt around for more information and evidence first. My hope is that future games in the series will find a middle ground.

That’s it for the complaints. I pretty much loved everything else. There are more typos then usual, but not enough to disrupt the brilliant humor and top-notch story. By Case 3, I was enjoying the game quite a bit, and after that, the story really got interesting. The story and characters are really what pushed this game so close to the top for me. Each game has a great plot, but some stand out more than others. In fact, since the very first game, there’s been no question of who my favorite Ace Attorney character is, but Dual Destinies gave me a competitor.

It’s very hard to talk about the story without giving any spoilers. There are many excellent moments that will hit you hard and touch your heart. I could ramble for hours, but I would give everything away in the process. All I’ll say is that, as is typical for the series, there is darkness and tragedy and deep character moments amidst all the zany courtroom antics. In fact, there might be a little more darkness than usual–this is the first game in the series to receive an M-rating, either due to the fact that it now has 3D graphics, or because of a very specific scene that has a lot of blood and is very creepy. Nevertheless, at its core, Dual Destinies is about hope, trust, friendship, and the importance of the truth.

The music is as great as ever, with the return of a lot of old favorites as well as some new songs that are really catchy. (I even bought the soundtrack.)

Since this is the first game on the 3DS, it is also the first to receive downloadable content. I know some people get anxious at the very mention of DLC, but in this case, it’s worth it. It’s a full-length additional case with a wacky story and its own share of great moments and unexpected twists.

If you’ve finished the game already and want to chat about it with me, feel free, just be sure to mark your spoilers for the sake of others. If you’re an Ace Attorney fan who hasn’t gotten this game yet, it’s well worth your time!

And if you haven’t played a single Ace Attorney game before, what are you waiting for? The first game is waiting!

Buy Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies from the Nintendo eShop

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  One Response to “Dual Destinies Blew Me Away: My (spoiler-free) Thoughts on the new Ace Attorney Game”

  1. […] price, especially since Dual Destinies and Spirit of Justice are digital-only (and I loved both […]

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