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Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Justice For All Review

Joe_Dodson By:
GENRE Adventure 
T Contains Blood, Mild Violence, Suggestive Themes

What do these ratings mean?

Trial and error.

Lawyers: blood sucking parasites or heroes of truth and justice? It seems like an open and closed case thanks to Jack Thompson, a human tick who sucks more than just blood. But consider this: Thompson isn’t just a parasite, he’s a parasite posing as a champion of truth and justice. The Tick, on the other hand, is a hero posing as a parasite. Now, the Tick isn’t a lawyer, but he and Jack both prove a man can be a parasite and a hero, at the same time.

Phoenix Wright takes up the same argument in his latest DS game, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Justice For All. Like the Tick, Phoenix is a hero dressed in a parasite’s uniform, but the conflict goes deeper than that. You see, within the game, Phoenix represents truth, justice and innocence, but at the same time he stars in a game that sucks like a mosquito.
click to enlargeIf you’re new to the series, Justice For All is an adventure game where you, as the ace defense attorney, gather evidence, talk to witnesses, and inspect crime scenes before going to court and using what you’ve learned to cross examine eccentric witnesses including circus clowns, ventriloquists and spirit mediums. The dialog is hilarious and bursting with sexual innuendo.
And then, of course, there’s your assistant Maya, the awkward teenage girl who routinely channels your dead girlfriend, Mia. When this happens, Maya actually assumes Mia’s physical appearance, including Mia’s completely out of control, porn-star breasts. These puppies are like Gulliver, and Maya’s clothes are about a hundred little men short of keeping them in check.
It’s a confusing situation fraught with questions any prison fearing man would gladly leave unanswered. But Justice For All doesn’t let you off the hook that easy, instead introducing Pearly, an eight year old girl who is convinced that you and Maya (the teenage Maya) are in love, and constantly says things like “I’ll just leave you two alone, so you can…tee hee.” But compared to what I’m about to tell you next, that’s positively wholesome.
Because Pearly also channels spirits, and Mia also takes over her body. One second she’s eight, the next she’s a hugely-jugged, dead thirty year old dressed in little girl’s clothes. Try telling that to the judge.
click to enlargeOr don’t, because it’s in the courtroom where things go wildly wrong. As the defense attorney, your whole job is to poke holes in each witness’s testimony. When they tell a lie, you present the contradictory evidence. It seems simple, but you actually have a life bar that depletes when you present the wrong piece of evidence.
There are times, though, when you have no idea what piece of evidence to present, because the witness’ contradiction is either illogical or physically impossible. Your only hope is to present every piece of evidence you have at random. Of course, if you present too many faulty pieces of evidence, it’s Game Over.
This is crushing if you’re an hour or two into a courtroom battle and haven’t saved, because you have to start over, and the whole game is text-based dialog that cannot be skipped or accelerated. Obviously, you should save regularly, except that every time you save, you’re also forced to quit. Objection!
On top of the contemptible saving and loading scheme, not to mention the horrible, inexorable text-based hell you’ll tap through if you don’t save, Justice For All is just as linear and frustrating as the last game. Yet again, you are forced to talk to everyone about everything to trigger the one conversation that can move the plot along.
click to enlargeEven the one new feature, the Psyche-Lock, is just more cross examination. The difference is that psyche locks only appear at crime scenes. So the developers took the worst, least reliable element from the last game and expanded on it. Nice.  
The graphics are also unchanged, but mostly fine. In fact, you’d forget this was originally a GBA title if it weren’t for a couple really ugly cut scenes. The music is low tech, but well used. Each character has a theme, and the tone and tempo of the music always match what’s going on in the game. This is a moot point, though, due to the fact that a “tic-tic-tic-tic-tic-tic-tic” noise accompanies all speech, and people are always talking. You’ll turn the volume off and leave it off.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Justice For All is a defendant you can neither condemn nor acquit. You can’t forgive the absurd health meter, the retarded save system, the completely rehashed gameplay, or the misleading “clues”, but you’ll never forget the charming characters, witty dialog, and bizarre sexual conundrums. If you can get him pro bono, or close to it, Phoenix Wright is a decent guy to have on your side, but otherwise he’s just a regular lawyer only too willing to suck your wallet dry.
C Revolution report card
  • Funny
  • Weird
  • Great localization
  • Lawyers have life bars?
  • Linear
  • The same as the original

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