Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney review

We begin a new career with some cross examination

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Monday 27 March 2006
Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney (or Finger of the North Star as we're inclined to call it) remains as simultaneously charming, incomparable and inconsistently engaging on DS as it was on its previous format.

With the exception of a new and technically adventurous fifth case, this is GBA's Gyakuten Saiban remade, localised for the west and given a touch-screen interface. But the setup/payoff pattern of investigation and courtroom cross-examination remains fresh: characters appear at different one- and two-screen locations, shuffling to and fro in a strict timeline of events and conversations that the player's interaction keeps in motion.

With nothing more than a handful of simple animations, catchy tunes and a few hundred lines of text, Wright exhibits genuinely adept comic timing - something that vastly better-equipped games cannot. Its ability to bridge and embellish primary storylines with secondary ones is also admirable, while its hilariously barmy characters serve as an endlessly effective foil to the dry logic of Wright himself.

Even before you consider the abundant text, this is already a fantastic example of localisation. The regional alterations are subtle, with the dialogue translated, not only retain its meaning but to also make its humour appreciable by a wider audience.

Despite Wright successfully simulating the jocular one-upmanship of matinee legal drama, it rarely placates concerns that it simulates rather than replicates the underlying deductive processes. It's bound by its lengthy cases and lack of replay value to keep the player moving forward, seldom posing a challenge that can't be overcome by basic common sense or, at worst, a process of elimination.

It too often asks for a mere nod in the right direction rather than a decisively considered gambit, filling in the incriminating details itself and leaving the player yearning for more active involvement. It certainly isn't the first case of a game holding its player's hand too tightly, but thankfully it's a difficult one to dismiss or, indeed, to adjourn.

More info

DescriptionAn excellent, very unusual legal adventure game that will test your mind, if not your reflexes.
Franchise nameAce Attorney
UK franchise nameAce Attorney
US censor rating"Teen","Teen"
UK censor rating"12+","12+"
Release date1 January 1970 (US), 1 January 1970 (UK)