‘Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies’ Review

Normally when I pay full price for a game I get paranoid that it will be on sale in a week.  When this does happen, I normally kick myself but when ‘Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies’ got a sale announced for it starting this Friday (21st of February, 2014) I didn’t feel bitter in the least. Instead I was overcome with joy that more people would be able to dip their toe into the amazing world of Ace Attorney.

The Ace Attorney series came to the west on the Nintendo DS system and really popularised the Visual Novel genre of gaming. Since 2005 the series has seen five games in the series, also releasing across mobile platforms and Wii. The quirks of the characters in the game have spawned much Internet love, from spiky-haired Phoenix Wright’s “OBJECTION!”s to the raw sexiness that is Miles Edgeworth. Finding the original three Phoenix Wright games is a pretty daunting task, with some asking prices of up to $150 for a single game. However in a digital marketplace, the tides are turning and you can pick up the first three games for $20 off the iOS App Store.

When they announced that Dual Destinies was heading to the west, many were in disbelief, especially when they announced it would be mere months after the Japanese release of the game. A quick blast in the high-intensity ‘Cacpom’ localisation chamber and you get a game in English, though with a few typos along the way. It doesn’t take away from the experience, causing more laughs than headaches.

But Ace Attorney is a series full of hilarity and quirks, what about when you should be laughing? The game is jammed packed with humour. I haven’t busted out laughing while playing a game in years but some of the writing in Dual Destinies, particularly from the somewhat oblivious judge, made me laugh out loud. Character design is once again important in creating the mood of each case, though I found some of the designs to scream who the culprit would be. The characters are as quirky as you’d expect if you’ve played the series before.

As for newcomers to the series, you’re probably thinking that a game about lawyers using the powers of bluffing won’t be a very exciting game to play; you’ll be quickly proven wrong. The characters are interesting and you’ll want to keep going to find more back-story. Plot twists and amazing writing will keep you entertained for hours  as the game is by no means short (it took me 27 hours to finish the 5 main chapters according to the Activity Log). The music also sets the mood, instantly changing the feeling in the courtroom and giving a sense that you’re a complete and utter boss.

In fact, it’s probably the most important aspect for a visual novel to me, the music needs to sound great and it needs to create an atmosphere. Dual Destinies does it amazingly and, in my opinion, does it better than any Ace Attorney game since the first in the series. The music is also a step up from the DS games, moving away from what could be considered as angry beeps and getting an orchestral composition. Both work in their own way, but the orchestra just works better with the newly implemented 3D models.

These 3D models look amazing to boot, smooth and with a light outline. The models are fully textured, with high numbers of polygons which look amazing in animated poses. They did keep in the quick, unanimated movements of the characters from previous games which work well in most situations. Being on the 3DS, they’ve taken advantage of the 3D capabilities of the screen, allowing depth in rooms and areas. These areas are often filled with knick-knacks comprised of very polished 2D sprite work. However, I must admit to noticing a few framerate drops in particular parts, depending on what was going on the screen, though it never seemed like something that was too intense for the 3DS to process.

In any case, I loved the game. With it being on sale for 30% off on the EU eShop for the next week, I recommend that any fans of the series buy it. Anyone who is on the fence about the series should also pick it up; I think that while there are a few jokes for older fans this is probably the most accessible title in the series. I loved the journey the game took me on, with great joy and stifling confusion, it even made me a little teary. The game is a roller-coaster and you should have no ‘Objections’ to trying it out (hell, even try the demo if you’re still not sure).

9 thumbs out of 10.

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