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Friday, January 06, 2006

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Review

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attourney: Review : Nintendo DS : PickyPants

Phoenix Wright is unique. It’s literally what the title states, a game where you play an attorney. This is no platformer where you look for “clues” or “evidence” on the map in the form of "evidence coins" or “clue bottles”, this is an honest to God, turn based, graphic adventure of law. For a company to try something new in this day in age is balsy, for that company to be Capcom, is surprising.

Harkening back to the days of Lucas Arts’ wonderful graphic adventures such as Monkey Island, Fate of Atlantis, and the excellent, The Dig, Phoenix Wright doesn’t as much innovate as it brings us back in contact with something we used to game with. A brain.

Recently, problem solving in videogames has become as rare as a good movie licensed game. The closest we have come in a while is the occasional brainless puzzle in the Resident Evil series (blue gem, round hole). So it came with glee to me that the Capcom and others are using the DS to stick it to the f’ing zeitgeist.

Phoenix Wright is a game that utilizes three primary play modes and puts them together in chapters to tell a story. The three modes are as follows: gathering evidence by investigating crime scenes, asking suspects and witnesses questions, and (the best part) an all out court battle. Any time you receive a useful piece of information, or notice something odd (like a downed tree near the crime scene) that little piece of info is saved in your inventory. You use these little pieces of information to prove your points in court, or to prove the lying, evil prosecutor’s witnesses wrong.

Thank God Capcom made this game. It is so over the top with fighting game style bravado and posing you would think you were playing Street Fighter 2. For example, when you bring up a piece of evidence that directly contradicts one of the prosecutor’s witnesses’ testimony, Phoenix will slam his hand on the table, (cueing the fighting music) deliver his coup de grace, and the prosecutor will clutch his chest in pain and topple over like he just got a dragon punch in the gut. It never gets old.

Outside of the court battles, the intel gathering parts of the game range from interesting to incredibly tedious. In typical adventure game faire, you will find yourself trying to combine every item with every person in order to get some elusive “clue” before you go to court. I suppose this is a curse of the adventure genre, but it would have been nice to have these sections move as cleanly and as fun as the court battles.

The characterization of the game is excellent. Some of the most memorable characters I have seen in a game since Baldur’s Gate. Phoenix Wright, for example, is equal parts bumbling idiot and total badass. He really makes you root for him through the game by being so awkward, and so awesome at the same time. The evil prosecuting attorney is also a total badass, but in a roguish rebel kind of way. He actually has the line, “I can’t tell who is guilty or innocent, so I make sure all charged citizens go to jail.” Rad. What is NOT rad, however, is the (seemingly obligatory) 12 year old girl who follows you everywhere and annoys the shit out of you. I thought when I first met her, she would grow on me, but I can say now after many hours with this title, that she does not. She is the weak link in this cast, and she is unfortunately in the game most of the time. Ugh.. she sucks.

Another problem I had with the game is its relative ease. While its great to follow the (often very long and detailed) cases with as little interruption as possible, the game essentially holds your hand for every part of the game except the court hearing. You literally cannot go on until you have uncovered everything you will need in court. Other adventure games combated this monotony by allowing the character to die (I must’ve died 1,000 times in Kings Quest 4). Not so in Phoenix Wright. You keep playing until you find what you need. It gets aggravating to say the least.

That’s a pretty small problem though, for a game with some of the best dialogue, story telling, and brain teasing problem solving goodness you will find in stores. If you have a road trip, or are about to take a fruitless winter Holliday, pick this game up, you’ll be glad you did.

11/10/2005 - Pickypants

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Review - DS - Harshly_Von_Smokenstein

I think I must have really pissed off Pickypants. Heseems to be taking a ghoulish delight in forcing me toplay shitty DS games lately. That being said, here is my review for Crapnix Crap: Crappy Craptourney.

Who came up with this idea? With the internet at my fingertips, I'm sure I could find out.

Tempting as that is, I think I'll stick with my imagination: A crazy Japanese guy who wears a lot of turtlenecks.

How can I enjoy a game when the concept makes me want to choke myself with horse semen? Seriously. The idea of playing a lawyer and gathering clues only taps into one part of my person.

Its not the inner child. Not even the inner-cynic. No, its the inner Hulk. I want to smash my DS into dozens of unrecognizable pieces, then carefully hide them beneath Picky's sheets.

"Lets make a game where you pretend to be an attorney! Yeah! We can give him a snappy name and for "action", we can let the player gather clues and search scenes of crime!".

I'm not going to go into control, sound, graphics, or anything else with this review. That would suggest I actually participated in the exploration of this game beyond dry heaving at the opening scenes and violently scrambling for a bottle of Jack to make me forget whatI was doing.

If you want to play this game, punch yourself in the neck. Really hard. If you liked this game, let me punch you in the neck. Really hard. If you buy this game for a loved one for a birthday or holiday, let them slap you. I'm serious.

Maybe I'm not getting my point across: I hate this game. I'd rather play Nintendogs for 12 hours straight. That is how much I hate this game.

Goddamn, I really hate this game.

To end this review on a positive note, I must say that playing this game will make you appreciate every other title you own for any console. If you must, absolutely must, have a reason to play Craptourney...there it is.

5 Comments:

  • When I read Pickypants's review, I couldn't resist running to Bestbuy to buy a DS & Phoenix Wright! But after reading Harshly_Von_Smokenstein's words which convinced me to destroy my new DS, I am seriously fucked in the Ass! Thanks for nothing, bitches!

    -Droopy

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:28 PM  

  • Hang on, WHY did von smokenstein not like the game? I can't see any justification for hating it, entertaining though the bashing was. :-)

    By Anonymous Conrad Quilty-Harper, at 11:04 AM  

  • It was the basis of the game itself. I don't -like- the idea of playing a lawyer. If a gamer can't swallow the concept of a game, they will have an even more difficult time playing the game. Lets say I make a game called "Laser Wilks: Ace Cement Mixer"...would you really be squeezing your nuts in anticipation? No. Perhaps there is some level of gamer who enjoys collecting and participating in unusual games. I'm not.

    By Anonymous Harsh, at 8:47 PM  

  • That's kinda' harsh on the game Harsh. (Heh, Harsh being harsh, what a concept :P) I mean, I could say I don't like shooting games and then have an unjustifiable reason for bashing Halo 2 and Resident Evil 4. I mean, you even say,

    "I'm not going to go into control, sound, graphics, or anything else with this review."

    Isn't that what a review is supposed to be? I'm not saying you don't have a right to hate this game, but at least give reasons why you hate it.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:03 PM  

  • Let me put it this way.

    I refuse to actually play a game enough to provide an in depth analysis if I absolutely detest the concept enough.

    Most of the time I'll put several hours into a game I've never played, even if I don't think I'll like it.

    This game concept was a catalyst for nearly every negative chemical reaction known to mankind in my brain. How can I put it more clearly.

    I would rather swallow a live rat with rabies than actually play this game enough to provide any information a "review" necessitates.

    I guess I should have subtitled my review with "This is not an Actual Review but a Rant".

    By Anonymous Harshly, at 10:25 PM  

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