on January 16, 2007
Phoenix Wright returns to the DS after a year's absence. This time round, he's no longer a rookie defense attorney. Instead, having achieved some seemingly impossible victories in the courtroom last time round, he's now quite a celebrity. Which is why, when a policewoman is charged with murdering his fiancé, she turns to Wright for help. Unfortunately, just before the trial, he was attacked by an unknown assailant. He wakes up with amnesia, and is then pushed straight into court to fight the case. An impossible case again, perhaps? Not exactly, because by examining every piece of evidence, pressing every statement from the witnesses, and pinpointing every contradiction that are present, the ace attorney has return to yet another famous victory.
The above basically sums up Phoenix Wright's premise. Justice for All, which begins soon after the end of last season's sleeper hit, employs primarily the same gameplay features from its predecessor. The game is still divided into two parts - investigation and trial. During investigation, you will still go from place to place, talk to NPCs, and gather clues. During trial, you will still press witnesses, present evidence and, more often than not, bluff your way through. Nothing really changes here when it comes to the basic nature of the gameplay.
Capcom does attempt to make things a little more varied though with the new, but rather tedious "Psyche-Lock" system. This time round, secrets that are guarded by NPCs (even your allies) are typified by on-screen locks. These prevent important conversations from happening. You will need to gather enough information before you can unlock these Psyche-Locks. A wrong deduction will expectedly lead to loss in health, even during the investigation stages. This is a change from the previous game, in which you could only get "hurt" in court. The system is not exactly bad, since it does make the game more challenging. But it also slows the game down, and adds more backtracking efforts to a game that is already filled with various backtracking requirements.
To complement the Psyche-Lock system, your health in Justice for All is also changed from the "Five-Exclamation Marks" bar to a more conventional health bar - something that you usually see in most action adventure games. Now, this is definitely a good move, even though the exclamation marks present more uniqueness. The good thing with this new health bar is that damage taken is varied. Some mistakes will hit you minimally; while others may totally wipe out your health (beware!). On top of that, you can also recover loss health by successfully unlocking a Psyche-Lock. Ah, now you know why I said that it complements the Psyche-Lock.
The fun in Phoenix Wright is not restricted to the gameplay, of course. Interactions with quirky characters are part and parcel of the investigation and court proceedings. In this instalment, you will take on clowns, magicians, and even a radio transceiver. Many of these encounters provide great comic relief. Especially the one with the clown, but I will leave that to you to find out. The game also features returning casts from the previous game - those interested in the Prosecutor Miles Edgeworth sub-plot will be happy to know that he has a major role to play in the intense finale of the game.
On the topic of intensity, you may also want to know that Justice for All has a much more compelling story than its predecessor. Even though it doesn't have a bonus case like the last game, the cases are generally longer here, which more or less compensate for the absence. Murderers are also smarter, more ruthless, and will continue to frustrate you through well-constructed lies. These generate a great sense of competitive tension - if you're the emotional type, you may find yourself totally immersed into the game's universe. The final case, in particular, will test your resilience as well as your conscience. The only gripe is that some parts of the game are a little too draggy. It's almost as if these moments are lengthened just for the sake of lengthening the game.
Justice for All doesn't provide any breakthrough when it comes to presentation. The graphics remain typical anime fare, and some sprites are reused from the previous game. Nevertheless, you will still find them charming, simply because of the various expressions on the characters. Each character has a fixed set of expressions, and many of them are simply hilarious if you spend time observing them. We particularly like the one with a flying puppet's head, so be sure to check that out when you play the game. Sound wise, some scores from the last game are used again, especially the ones played during court. As usual, they provide a sense of excitement, and sound really sweet when you're on the verge of victory. Some of the new scores are a little disappointing though, as they sound bland and uninteresting.
In conclusion, Justice for All is another great entry in the Phoenix Wright series. It doesn't rock too much of a steady boat, and prefers to focus on its strength of delivering a deep and compelling murder mystery. Fans of the adventure genre would better gear themselves up for another round of sleepless nights as they engage to solve these murders. As for those who haven't played the previous game, I'd suggest picking that up first to fully appreciate the story in this one.
on February 26, 2007
It took my having to read a half dozen gaming reviews before I decided to buy this game. I'm not in any way disappointed.
The entire plot device for each of the four cases is text based, but the humor and anime inspired graphics support a style of gampeplay that can grab your attention and keep it.
There is some mental adjustment you might need to make. The first case is meant to help you understand the gameplay, and the difficulty doesn't truly get to full steam until about 1/4 of the way through the second case.
Once you've adjusted, you're in for a treat. Every clue you come across, every name mentioned, and every minute detail presented will make you want to store it in your long-term memory in case it turns into a vital clue during the court proceedings.
There were times where I would get frustrated with how the "legal process" played out, with the overly submissive judge and backhanded actions of the prosecution, but this just speaks to how impressive the script writing is. I never felt they were just being lazy, it was just a part of the Phoenix Wright world.
You are able to quick save, with only a few points where you are not allowed. I would find myself randomly saving, since you are unable to speed through dialogue the first time you are presented it. Therefore, if you lose your case near the end of the proceedings and are forced to go back to the beginning, you're looking at a lot of time being forced to sit and wait for dialogue to finish scrolling. While this can indeed be cumbersome, it makes you learn to take your time and think through everything instead of just randomly guessing at what the key piece of evidence is.
While the four cases will take up plenty of your time, the re-playability is definitely limited. I would love to see future installments have some way of actually downloading new cases, either through Wii24Connect or even going to a local download point.
Phoenix Wright shows just how amazing a game can be without having to worry about high octane graphics or seeing how many enemies the developers can fling at you. I fully plan on going out and buying the first Phoenix Wright game after I complete this one. As far as I'm concerned, this is a DS must have.
If you enjoy thought-involving puzzle games, Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney - Justice for All might be perfect for you. You have to pay attention to the clues and know when to trip up the witnesses to get to the truth.
First off, understand that this isn't about fast clicking or bright colors. This is a game of patience. There is a LOT of dialogue to page through and read. You have to keep track of the situation that's going on, just like in a case of Law & Order. When did the murder take place? What was located at the crime scene? You get penalized for presenting wrong evidence, and you only get so many failures before the judge gives up on you. You have to pay attention and know what stands out as being wrong.
There are only four cases here, but each one is fairly long - even the first one that helps to train you on how the system works. You start out with amnesia which gives your team excuses to help you out. Of course, it's *really* unbelievable that when you try to tell the judge why you're having problems, he won't even listen! Surely no judge would say "Oh you have amnesia? Too bad, present your case."
There are also situations where it's clear what you *want* to say, but because you're stuck clicking on little icons, you get told that you put in the wrong piece. I don't want to give away game clues of course, but in one early situation you are trying to present evidence that someone was afraid of police. There are two different items that can do this, but only one of them "counts".
It seems unlikely that a real judge would say "Well you didn't wave the right thing at me the first time, so I'm setting a killer free". Other games like Law & Order or CSI handle this quite differently so it's still a puzzle, but not quite as "gamey". I guess what bugs me a bit is that it's *great* that so many people are learning about how the legal system works, it's important that we all understand our rights and our legal protections. But where games like Law & Order help us learn the system and test our intellect, the Ace game is much more random and makes it seem like the court system is incredibly fickle. It seems a real shame that it is missing out on a valuable opportunity. Even young gamers - or maybe most especially young gamers - could really benefit if they did these games well.
I enjoyed this, and I look forward to more sequels. But I really hope they start crafting these to be more realistic - not in a gory way, but in a logical thought process way.
on January 16, 2007
The second Phoenix Wright game is a wonderful followup to the the original. The new Psyche-Lock system makes the investigation portions more interesting, since breaking the locks is almost a mini-trial of its own. The health bar is an improvement over the generic 'strike' system from before. And, if it's possible, the cases and overall story may actually be better in this one than in the original. Despite the fact that the new game only has four cases instead of the five from the original, this new game feels longer, and each individual case has more witnesses and more of an evolution to the story. Recommended for anyone who liked the first one, or who enjoys a good thinking game instead of a twitchy action game every once in a while.
on February 28, 2009
Phoenix Wright is back in the second installment of this court room drama series. Reviewing this is fairly simple - if you have played the first one, you know exactly what you are getting. If you haven't played the first one - why are you reading this, go buy Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney and play that first :). This sequel follows a virtually identical format to the original - you are a defense attorney that must gather evidence and defend your client in a murder trial. The fact that this game is so close to the original is good and bad. If you liked the first, you are almost certain to like the sequel - again, they are virtually identical. The bad - none of the drawbacks to the first game have been addressed which makes them even more of a headache this time around.
The game itself has its pluses. The characters are truly charming, fun to interact with, and have well developed personalities. There were several times I found myself being sucked into the conversations and trying to psycho-analyze the characters. The game play is unique and addictive, especially for fans of court room and/or police dramas. Finally, Capcom did add the Psyche-Lock feature for this game to help spice things up. The Psyche-Lock basically works a "mini-trial" during the investigation phase. You will need to present evidence to get a character to spill the beans on a secret they are keeping. This feature is probably going to be hit-or-miss for gamers - I found it to be fun, but I can see how some would find it repetitious and tedious after a while.
There are several flaws in this game. First, suspending your disbelief in the courtroom portion of this game is near impossible at certain points. The prosecution will present 2 or 3 witnesses and various pieces of evidence that you will shred to pieces only to have the prosecutor say something like, "yeah, but can you explain [insert some random point]," and the judge will respond with, "that's true, if you can't explain that, then I have no choice but to find your client guilty."¨ Despite the fact that the prosecutor no longer has any evidence or witnesses to support its case, your client will be toast if you can't argue that one minor detail. It would not be so annoying if didn't happen like 3 or 4 times every case. In addition, the game is really unforgiving when it comes to presenting evidence. You will be given several pieces of evidence in each case. In some instances different pieces of evidence will be related to each other. If you don't happen to present the exact right piece (at the exact right moment) you will be zapped. Making matters even worse is that there are times that you will really have no clue what the game wants you to present (a much more pronounced problem than it was in the original).
There are only four cases in this installment of the game. I won't spoil the cases, but I truly loved one and found one to be so convoluted that it was torture to continue (the other 2 were both decent). My only gripe on the cases would be that part of the charm of the Ace Attorney was figuring out which of the half dozen characters introduced in each story was the "true" murderer. In this Justice for All, several characters are brought back and since you know them from the first time around, you can scratch them off the suspect list right away leaving only 1 or 2 possibilities as the true culprit.
I do not want to give the impression that this is a horrible game. It's a fun DS game that I would recommend to anybody, but be prepared for some very frustrating moments. One final point, this game is not for younger children - there are several mature subject matter moments.
on August 2, 2007
You'll notice, however, that I didn't say "better." (In fact, unlike its predecessor, this game only has four chapters; there's no DS-specific chapter at the end, which disappointed me.)
Don't get me wrong, this game is still a lot of fun. All of the things that made the original as great as it was are still around: Plenty of humor, silly pun-filled character names, engrossing plotlines. Many of the characters from the original game are back, along with some new faces; and while I can't say I was thrilled to see Wendy Oldbag again--I know she's supposed to be itrritating, but jeez, does she have to be THAT irritating?--Maya's cousin, Pearl, is a charming if somewhat cloying addition to the cast.
Unfortunately, most of the previous game's biggest drawbacks are not only still present in the sequel, they're actually even worse this time around, which is where the "bigger" part comes in. Spelling and grammar mistakes abound, for instance; and while this probably won't be a deal-breaker for most gamers, for someone like me who majored in English, it's fairly annoying. The puzzles are quite a bit more obtuse than in the last game, leading to even more aimless scattershot attempts at solving them. ("Okay, let's try this. Dang, that didn't work. Okay, let's try this. Cripes, that didn't work either. Okay, what about... ah to heck with it, I'll just check GameFAQS.") Even the locale is less believable, the attempts to cover up the game's Japanese roots more transparent, particularly in chapter 2. The big innovation in this game is something called a Psych-Lock; the way it works is, occasionally you'll meet a character who knows something but, for one reason or another, doesn't want to tell you, and you have to present evidence to get them to spill it. The first couple of times, it's entertaining; as the game wears on, though, the novelty wears off REAL fast as the Psych-Locks become increasingly more difficult to unlock. Somehow, with one chapter fewer than before, this game manages to feel just as long, and that's not necessarily a compliment.
You'll notice, however, that I still gave Phoenix Wright II a 4-star rating. For all of its flaws, it's still a fun and diverting game; it's not for everyone, obviously, but as I said in my review of the original Phoenix Wright, anyone who's still smarting at the sudden and inexplicable murder of the graphic adventure game genre in the late 90's will find a much-needed breath of fresh air in the Phoenix Wright series.
on January 31, 2008
I havent played this game in a year, but I just bought the new one 'Trials and Tribulations' and decided to give it a quick review.
The game itself is a mix of being a detective and a lawyer. You get your crime scenes and your supsects, and you basically ask every question it lets you ask. Then you can search different areas for clues. When it comes to trial time, you listen to your witnesses, press them for better answers, and submit evidence to the court.
Sounds pretty straight forward, but it's a lot of fun. The antics and personality's of everyone makes the game sorta funny....and sometimes frustrating..lol.
As the stories progress (I think there are 5), they get a little harder and harder. I aint gonna lie, I actually had to check the internet on one of the cases. All of the stories are interesting also. Everytime you figure out one more clue or figure out a correct answer during a testimony, you keep getting hooked and want to know what's next so you cna solve the crime.
The game took me about 2 months to beat since I played it off and on when I had time off from work in Iraq (which is why I got part 4, cause I'm back in Iraq..heh). I really enjoyed and was very surprised it was as fun as it was, especially since it was a blind buy when I just purchased my DS.
Cant wait to start part 4 (and probably buy part 1 and 2 since I never played those either).
on January 29, 2007
If you didn't like the original Phoenix Wright, look no further as this game is not for you. JFA is basically just four more cases using the same interface, same concept, and largely the same characters.
Well worth its purchase price if you loved the original as much as I did, my only complaint would be that there are a lot of ways to expand on this concept and the developers seemed content to just rest on their laurels. Also, the game feels fairly short, with only four cases (And the first is a short tutorial case that's a real snoozer if you played the original).
A lot of the same complaints are still there, the game is very linear and the objection system is sometimes a little quirky (perfectly reasonable objections can cost you life points if the game can't figure out what you mean).
The criminal justice system in the Turnabout universe is still an absolute travesty with corrupt prosecutors doctoring evidence, coaxing fake testimony, and judges acknowledging your client's innocence and still convicting them moments later when you make a procedural error. Somehow they've managed to take this absurd situation and make one of the best franchises on the DS out of it... but it doesn't feel nearly so fresh this time around. Still, the developing character relationships are interesting, and the introduction of Franziska Von Karma (daughter of the main villain in the original game) as the new up-and-coming prosecutor was a nice touch.
Sometimes, though, I think that another game set in what is ultimately such a dystopian universe might benefit from being a little less light-hearted and a little more grim about the situation. Phoenix and his kawaii psychic sidekicks against whip-wielding teenage prosecutors and bishonen prosecutors who wear all pink are all well and good, but a more stark interpretation of a system that is doubtlessly railroading countless citizens might make for a nice change of pace "sidestory" game.
Who knows, with the Ace Attorney games becoming an established franchise in both hemispheres, perhaps such a game will appear someday. In the meantime though, Justice For All proves if nothing else that the original was no fluke and that even a somewhat half-baked sequel that offered no significant improvements on the original can stand on its own two feet and be one of the best DS titles out there.
on April 22, 2008
I bought this game after playing, and loving the first phoenix wright game, and I'm a little dissapointed. Where the first game was clever and required some thinking, this game is mostly just frusterating. I often find myself having no idea what to do, and just randomly presenting evidence until I find the right item. When I do find the right piece of evidence, it sometimes doesn't make any sense, and there's no way to have known the right thing to do without guessing. That issue aside, it's still a pretty fun game. The new psyche-lock feature adds a new challenge and is very entertaining. The stories are just as ridiculous as before, and I've had a good time playing it. I wouldn't reccomend this game for someone who hasn't played the original phoenix wright, but if you love the series then you'll have a good time.
on August 8, 2007
Game play is almost identical to the first game, with the exception of the new "psyche-lock" feature that requires you to present evidence when questioning people to find secrets they hide. The game has some great new cases that are both funny and suspenseful, and the psyche-lock adds an interesting new challenge to the game.
The only disappointing part about the game is that unlike the first game, there is no "bonus case" designed specifically for the DS. Instead it's just a straight GBA port, which is unfortunate because the bonus stage was definitely the most innovative and fun to play in the original. Still, if you enjoyed the first game, you'll enjoy this one.