Let's talk about this. Let's really sit down and discuss this. Love it or hate it, Phoenix Wright is not a game to be ignored. I think it's newest installment has made that blatantly clear and to get it out of the way right now: I have nothing but the highest most fantastic praise for this game. Because I am so crazy in love with it, it's easier to talk about what I don't like, than what I do. In truth, although this is a review, I'd also like it to be a discussion. I want to know your opinions about the new game, good and bad. And if you've got comments about the other games, bring those on too! I know it's tricksy to discuss a game like this and not reveal spoilers, so I can only ask that everyone does their best as even I didn't get around to playing one or two of them.
To get the ball rolling, one of my least favorite things about Phoenix Wright games in general (which is also one of my favorites) are the powers. They always introduce these things to you as if they are going to be a mainframe staple to be used at will, at yet during the course of the game you can only use them when the game dictates you can. In a way, this also leads to the other tragedy of the PW series: because everything is so straightforward with only one solution, they have no replay value. To be honest, because the games are difficult enough puzzles as it is, I completely understand the 'one solution only' tactic, but it still makes me sad that the only part worth reliving is each and every pun and pop culture reference I can get my greasy paws on.
Jumping back to the 'powers'... there are moments in the previous games where I would say to myself: "Well damn, if only I could use so-and-so's powers right now, I could bust this case wide open!" Although not much different in that aspect, Dual Destinies gives you much more frequent use of the powers and it does this at least twice for every playable character (obviously allowing the newbie Athena Cykes to have at it most often.) That being said, they're so much fun that I'm just happy they exist at all to complain too much.
In the end, the real power of these so-called niche game lies in the storytelling. More time is spent in-game investigating than being in court (depending on the case of course, but damn did I spend a long time in Yokai-land for the second case! SHEESH!) The really impressive bit is the creators ability to tie all 5 cases together. Yes, they do this in the other games (at least, they did in the ones I got around to playing) but never have they made such an impressive effort as they did in Dual Destinies. There were so many heartfelt moments where I was actually yelling and crying on my 3DS simultaneously. The sheer intricacy of the plot and the ability to be led on by all the evidence to the lies before the truth is really a thing of beauty. And unlike in the other PW games for 3/5 cases, you do NOT know who the guilty party is. Talk about being run in circles man!
I think the only problem with this comes up in the form of the 'Third Party Crises', which gets very dull after the second time they try to claim this. The sole way of proving our client innocent is always 'FIND THE MYSTERIOUS THIRD PARTY WHO ACTUALLY COMMIT THE CRIME.' Which logically makes sense... but doesn't stop the story from feeling repetitive in terms of the puzzle objective.
Long story short (har har har): 10/10 for story.
But what about the graphics you say. The sound you say. Do you even use that blasted 3D feature on the DS you say!
The Prosecution will allow me to present evidence. I'm not sure if you've seen any of the trailers, but here's one to just to reiterate what we're talking about and make it very clear. I will only say this once: this is one of the most beautiful games I have ever had the pleasure of playing, especially for the kind of game it is. The 3D sprites have such realistic movements and gestures, little nuances that make them stand out fantastically. It was even a pleasure to play with the 3D on, to see them move about in their environment which perfectly suited them. The music, although typical and repetitive, was a dramatic highlight to the game and a huge assistance to solving the cases. You knew you were doing well with it's groovy assistance.
I warned you I had nothing but the highest praise for this game. It has been a very long time since I was so ridiculously impressed with a game. I have been waiting for this game for eons and my excitement and expectations are high, not only did they rise to meet me, but they surpassed me out into space itself! The trailers contain the perfect amount of information to wet your appetite before diving into the truth and the dark age of the law! I really truly cannot say enough good things about the graphics or gameplay.
To stick a small pet peeve in here... my Court Record was far too overrun with evidence many a time, and although it attempted to clear it out for me, it left it stuffed more oft than not, probably to keep me confused and make it difficult. You really need to go back and examine and reread each piece of evidence very carefully which is more annoying in the end than challenging.
Disclaimer: Nobody in any way is paying me to say nice things about this game. I am doing this of my own volition. Capcom, you may have problems with grammar, you may suck at localizing things, but damn can you make puzzle games. Bravo old friend, bravo.
I guess this is enough bragging from me, what about you? If you made it through my ranting and raving, what did you think? What did you love? What did you hate? What did you wish was there but wasn't? Again, please TRY to keep spoiler free, I know it's really tough but we can do our best. In addition, if you haven't beaten the game yet, read with CAUTION!
(As a side note, I was also thinking of writing a post to discuss/collect the many pop culture references, such as where they make fun of Twilight, or salute Captain Picard of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Anyone interested?)