Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice (3DS) Review

Jae Lee

No objections here.

It was the very first Ace Attorney title on the DS that really kickstarted my love for Visual Novels as a genre. Since then, I’ve branched out to other series like 999, Danganronpa, Steins;Gate and many more, but if I had never played that first Ace Attorney game, it’s very possible that I could’ve ignored this fantastic genre altogether.

So, whenever a new Ace Attorney game is announced, my interest is piqued instantly.

Unfortunately, some titles are never localized for the West, and the most recent release in the series was a spin-off collaboration with Professor Layton that felt lacking in every sense of the word.

With the 6th numbered entry to the franchise, I hoped that Capcom would bring their ‘A’ game, and after reuniting once more with the lovable goofballs of the Wright Anything Agency, I can confidently state that they have.

The visuals have been upgraded with higher animation quality that looks better than ever

The visuals have been upgraded with higher animation quality that looks better than ever

For those who have ever played an Ace Attorney game, the story in this game is exactly what you would expect.

As for those who have never touched an Ace Attorney game- welcome!

To put it simply, this is a series that thrives on its outlandish characters with unique personalities and a story with more twists and turns than a soap opera during sweeps week.

As is the case with visual novels in general, there’s a ton of reading through text and bit of gameplay here and there involving investigating crime scenes and picking the right evidence to show a contradiction in the courtroom.

While it certainly sounds simple enough, as the cases become more and more complex, it can be absolutely enthralling to find out what will happen next, and feeling that momentum when you have the true killer cornered and dishing out the perfect evidence one after another, it’s quite satisfying to say the least.

In Spirit of Justice, most of the plot takes place in a country steeped in tradition where lawyers are thought to be the worst of the worst (insert joke about how that’s normal and true to life here).

Things have gotten so bad for defense lawyers that there was new law that states that the defense would also be forced to serve the same sentence as the accused if they are found guilty.

It’s a simple but effective way to add a bit more tension to the drama that unfolds in the courtroom, and it’s implemented into the overarching storyline well.

As the various seemingly unrelated cases converge to form one big conspiracy, it was quite gratifying to connect the dots and make sense of it all.

Familiar gameplay elements return with a brand new mechanic in tow.

Familiar gameplay elements return with a brand new mechanic in tow.

As for the gameplay, it includes the standard forensic activities like dusting for fingerprints and spraying for traces of blood along with character specific gimmicks like Phoenix’s psyche-locks or Apollo’s bracelet, and there is one new entirely new mechanic in the form of “Divination Seances”.

The ritual is performed by a high priestess and shows the last few moments before the victim’s death from their perspective.

While it might seem simple enough, it’s used in very creative ways to show events that could be interpreted in different ways.

The investigation sections where the player is tasked with clicking on areas of interest has also been improved by showing exactly what has or has not been searched with the hand cursor showing a little checkmark to indicate that it’s already been looked at.

It’s a simple thing but in the long run, it saves hours of clicking on the same places over and over again and makes pixel hunting all but obsolete.

The only complaint I have about Spirit of Justice is that sometimes the solutions that the developers are looking for are very specific in one train of thought, where it could have easily been solved in a different way.

It’s not nearly frequent enough of an occurrence to be game breaking, but there were a few times during my playthrough where I finally figure out the solution and thought to myself, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?”

Luckily, to mitigate much of that frustrating is a consultation that pops up after multiple incorrect answers that serves as a strong hint towards what the player should be thinking about which I found quite handy.

Also, saving and loading has never been quicker or easier in an Ace Attorney game as the player is no longer required to quit the game to save like in most of the previous entries.

With improved visuals, new mechanics, and a more intuitive design- Ace Attorney: Spirit of Justice already has a lot going for it. Factor in a story filled with intrigue that’s as exciting to watch unfold as the best of what the series has to offer thus far and you’re left with an exceptional visual novel and a return to form for the series as a whole.

Fun Tidbit – I once almost got thrown out of a courtroom for playing an Ace Attorney game on my DS while waiting for my friend’s hearing. I did play a bit though before they caught on so I can confidently say that I played an Ace Attorney game inside a real courtroom!

Review copy of game provided by publisher.

Good

  • Thoroughly engaging storyline, full of twists and turns
  • Great 3D character models that animated well
  • Multiple intuitive design choices

Bad

  • Infrequent obtuse puzzle solutions
9

Excellent

Jae Lee

Jae has been a gamer ever since he got a Nintendo when he was just a child. He has a passion for games and enjoys writing. While he worries about the direction gaming as a medium might be headed, he’s too busy playing games to do anything about it.

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