Wednesday, January 31, 2007

VG review: "Phoenix Wright: Justice for All"

Capcom, for the Nintendo DS
rated T for Teen (blood, mild vio­lence, suggestive themes), $29.99.

Japan’s answer to “Matlock” has returned once again to protect the innocent and help send the guilty to jail.

This time, idealistic, spiky-haired lawyer Phoenix Wright is assigned a number of seemingly hopeless cases: an egotistical magician accused of killing the circus ringmaster; a TV star accused of offing his rival; and, most disconcertingly, your young assistant, who’s accused of murdering a doctor during a seance. Can Wright get these folks out of jail and find the true culprit? Well, that all depends on you.

As with 2005’s “Phoenix Wright, Ace Attorney,” your job is to investigate the crime scenes and interview suspects, all the while collecting evidence. Then, during the trial, you must use said evidence to point out inconsistencies in the witnesses’ testimony, thereby obtaining a “not guilty” verdict.

As you may have guessed, “Justice” is a pretty linear game, with few divergent paths to explore. As with the previous title, you’ll find you have to talk to person X before you can explore crime scene Y and so on. In this manner the game resembles many of the story-driven adventure games of yore (“Myst,” “The Last Express”).

Also like its predecessor, the game takes little advantage of the DS’s touch-screen capabilities. The only real new feature of note is the “psyche-lock,” where you have to confront suspects with evidence in order to get them to confess their dirty little secrets.

But if the game’s narrative is stuck on a one-way street, it’s anything but dull. What ultimately makes “Justice” swing is its involving puzzles, twisty plots and goofy sense of humor. There’s little actual resemblance to either American or Japanese courts of law, but that’s part of the fun.
“Justice for All” feels more like a second helping that an actual, bona fide sequel, but that’s not a bad thing.

I hope that the next time around the developers incorporate more interactivity into the game. For now though, I’m content with the simple pleasures Wright provides. Hearing him shout “objection” never gets old.

Copyright The Patriot-News, 2007



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