Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney

Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney
Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Cover
Platform Nintendo DS
Genre Refreshing Attorney Text Adventure
Score 7  Clock score of 7Gameplay: 5
Fun Factor: 6
Gfx/Sound: 8
Story: 8
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Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney is the latest Ace Attorney game for the Nintendo DS. It's the fourth game in the series and the first to star our new hero, Apollo Justice. This has been a sensitive point for fans as the series has focused on Phoenix Wright for three games, and all of a sudden Capcom decides to go in a different direction. Well, if you've skipped Apollo Justice because of this, you will soon find out you have a game you must play.

I previously reviewed the third Ace Attorney game, Trials and Tribulations, here last year. Check it out if you want to see where the series left off and a basic introduction to the gameplay featured in the games. I'm actually really excited for the next game in the series... well, a new series technically. Miles Edgeworth: Perfect Prosecutor is getting released in Japan in a few months. Courtroom drama and comedy from the other side of the room!

Let's get on with my review of Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, all scores are out of 10.

Scores

Gameplay: 5
Apollo Justice adds a few new features to the series, nothing extremely notable though. This is the first game in the Ace Attorney series that was specifically made for the DS, the previous three were all ported from the Game Boy Advance. So now we can view the items in our inventory in 3D and rotate them around with the stylus. This was actually available in the last case of the very first game (due to that case being made especially for the DS port), but it's nice having it throughout the entire game. It adds a bit of depth to the items, but it's not even utilized as well as it originally was if you ask me. The other major change is a new way for Apollo to determine if someone is lying. The game zooms in on the person as they give their testimony, and you look for their nervous tick that reveals they're not telling the truth. Witnesses will scratch their arm or subtly wrinkle their nose. It's a cool effect when you're trying to spot it and is rewarding when you do.

I still give the gameplay an average score though because it's really just a graphical text adventure and trying to present the right piece of evidence at exactly the right time is still an exercise in tedium. Evidence that makes perfect sense to us will just give you a "what are you trying to present?" response from the judge. You'll be doing plenty of resetting of your DS during this game.

Fun Factor: 6
When this game gets rolling, it's a lot of fun. The animations get crazy, the music starts boiling over, and the story reveals blow your mind. Unfortunately, these moment don't happen enough, or they're knocked down as fast as they're built up. We see the return of some great characters, and the writing is so superb, you'll be laughing pretty hard at times. What happened to the final presentation of evidence at the end of the game though? I miss that moment where you make someone's day by giving them that one item that will change their life.

Graphics and Sound: 8
Maybe it's just an illusion, but the graphics in Apollo Justice look much better than its predecessors. It might be because the game was made specifically for the DS, but the characters just look sharper and the animations smoother. Apollo Justice also adds a few cutscenes, something unseen before in Ace Attorney. They don't look particularly great, but it's nice to get a different look at some of the characters. One of the major problems with these is that there is no way to skip them, and they like to replay them over and over again. The graphical effects when doing the lie detecting is also really cool. The sprites were just zoomed in and blown up, they were totally redone so you can see all their little movements and twitches. Great job there.

Apollo Justice pretty much features the same music as all the other games, but it's still excellent. The theme that plays when something intense is going on always gives me goosebumps. There's a few new tracks but nothing that really jumped out at me.

Story: 8
All right, here's the meat of Apollo Justice, and the series as a whole. I was excited to play the game, but never expected it to be a true sequel to Trials and Tribulations. If you don't know already, this game is still 100% about Phoenix Wright, the star of the previous three games. Apollo Justice may be the new featured defense attorney, but the plot, characters, and events all revolve around our pointy haired hero.

I'll try not to spoil much, but the game takes place seven years after the last game, and Phoenix Wright has been disbarred from being a defense attorney. The game explores the reasons behind his disbarment, and what happened over the next few years. We meet Phoenix's 15(?!) year old daughter, Trucy, and a troupe of extravagant magicians. We learn about Apollo's mystery past, and how it connects to Phoenix. It's really amazing how the writers are able to continue building upon this story.

My biggest complaint is that even though we see the return of a few characters, there are so many former regulars that aren't mentioned even once. An adult Ema Skye shows up as the new detective, but Gumshoe is left with only a cameo. Maya and Pearl do not appear at all, not to mention Miles Edgeworth, Phoenix's prosecutor rival. I really thought there was a lot of lost potential with bringing these characters back, and kept waiting for them to show up. I know that the game was trying to properly introduce Apollo and Trucy, but it would have been great just to get a glimpse of their now older characters. I think that if we ever see another Ace Attorney, which I'm sure we will, we'll see some of the oroginal characters again. Well, I can only hope.

Overall: 7
Like I said in Trials and Tribulation's review, the series desperately needed a reboot. Now we didn't quite get that, but I think we were rewarded with something even better. Seeing a matured Phoenix Wright mentor the novice Apollo Justice was very refreshing. Sometimes you just have to shove a stale story ahead a few years to make it new again. I think moving away from the defense to the prosecution is the next logical step, and can't wait for Perfect Prosecutor. This series is starting to become great again, keep it up Capcom.

Apollo Justice Art Phoenix Wright Trucy Gavin Ema Skye