Review: Capcom returns to the courtroom with their latest game in the Ace Attorney series.
After spending the last three Ace Attorney games with Phoenix Wright and his pals, I grew to be a little attached to them. Then Capcom announced the next game in the series was titled Apollo Justice. I couldn't believe it, that is until I actually thought about what this meant. While Phoenix Wright came out stateside as DS titles, they were actually remakes of the Japanese GBA games. Since Apollo Justice is the first entry that was made officially for the DS, it was understandable that Capcom changed characters. Now the only question is can Apollo Justice really fill that empty spot in the courtroom or is he doomed to spend his days in the shadow of our unbeaten attorney, Phoenix Wright?
Apollo Justice starts out just like any of the other Ace Attorney games with the case that lays the ground work for the rest of the game. Having a tutorial is optional which is great for the people who have already played an Ace Attorney game before and still gives rookie lawyers the opportunity to learn the ropes. While the previous games averaged about five cases each, Apollo Justice has only four cases and no bonus cases making it the shortest of the series.
The story of Apollo Justice kicks off seven years after the previous game, Trials and Tribulations, with Phoenix Wright (who is no longer an attorney following the events of a mysterious case) being accused of murder. Apollo Justice, who is a rookie much like Phoenix was in his first game, has been picked as his defense lawyer to face off against prosecutor and courtroom cannon fodder, Winston Payne. It is up to Apollo to get our beloved ex-Ace Attorney acquitted.
Joining our new devil-haired attorney Apollo Justice on his twisted journey, are a merry band of equally wacky characters that keep the game feeling like it belongs in the Ace Attorney canon. There is Trucy Wright who happens to be Phoenix Wright's adopted daughter and Apollo's sidekick, Ema Skye who is a forensics detective with the police department, and Klavier Gavin, a euro-rock god who also plays Apollo's rival in the courtroom.
Apollo Justice makes full use of the DS's touch screen features unlike its predecessors and why not, we now have access to a forensics expert with all sorts of neat tools. While Phoenix Wright did get to use powder to find fingerprints, Apollo goes beyond that with techniques such as pouring mold to capture footprints and using machines to uncover rough printings.
In addition to the use of forensics, courtroom actions have also received their own changes. Instead of cracking psyche-locks to discover people's secrets, Apollo will have to spot when they are lying via the mysterious ?perceive system?. Perceiving a liar is much easier then psyche-unlocking and is performed on the spot. It also allows us to shout out the newest catchphrase ?Gotcha!? and who doesn't like shouting out things to their DS?
There is also the new ?Crime Recreation Mode? which has us reconstructing the actual crime scene to fit our view of how the crime unfolded. While not entirely new per-se, Phoenix Wright did have to frequently point out locations of criminals on a map, it let's players fiddle with the scene by moving objects and uncovering clues.
However, gameplay was never what the Phoenix Wright games were about, it was always about the story and the ability to keep it well-written throughout the series, and now we can add one more to that total. The story of each case, the process it unfolds, and especially the twists that keep our eyes glued to the screen until the very end stay as awesome as ever. In fact, it is my personal opinion that this is the best story of the series. It is just such a shame that the game is as short as it is and once it is over, it's over. That is the one thing that I believe both makes and hurts the Phoenix Wright series, the stories are so good that they stay with me and I have a hard time replaying them because I can always remember what happens.