Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Review
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney box art
System: Wii (WiiWare) Review Rating Legend
Dev: Capcom 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Capcom 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Jan. 11, 2010 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Teen 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

In gaming, there are often those titles that some people either love or hate. With the Phoenix Wright series it's more a matter of some people "getting it" while others simply can't see what all the hubbub is about. Personally, I fall into the former category, so I was excited when I heard news of the ace attorney coming to WiiWare. Does this bumbling gumshoe make the grade with his first foray onto consoles, or will fans of the franchise be left wondering how Wright ever passed the bar exam?

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney screenshot

First of all, let's clarify one very important point: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney for WiiWare is not a new game in the series; it's not an offshoot, side story, or reimagining of the original game. No, this is simply a direct port of the first game in the series originally for Nintendo DS (which was a direct port of the first game in the series for Gameboy Advance, released only in Japan). Yup, what we have here is a port of a port of a quirky, little point-and-click adventure from nine years ago. On DS, it was a welcome addition to the hardware's library of games, since it was the first real opportunity for Western audiences to experience Phoenix Wright. But I have to tell you, on WiiWare, Phoenix looks like a fish out of water.

Let me elaborate further by saying that almost nothing of the original game has been changed, and though you can make a jerking motion with the Wii Remote in order to present evidence during court sessions (and some minor text changes have been added to explain the mechanic), Wii owners are getting a fairly archaic-looking and -feeling adventure here. For those who've already played through Ace Attorney, you would at least hope the novelty of using motion controls would add some enjoyment to the experience, but the fact of the matter is it doesn't. Yes, you'll hear the obligatory (and now culturally relevant amongst gamers) "Objection!" blaring from the controller each time you present evidence, but after the first waggle, the honeymoon's over.

Which leaves us with a nine-year-old game to evaluate...

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If you haven't already played Ace Attorney, I can say with confidence this is still a very compelling adventure with loads of great, over-the-top characters and situations. The dialogue is occasionally out of vogue, but the double entendres and witty humor still hit their mark. Even with its sadly outdated production values, the game continues to be sexy, thrilling, and above all else, rewarding and fun.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney screenshot

You play as the spikey-haired, noob attorney, Phoenix Wright, whose first case sees him thrust into a lion's den of corruption. You'll have to investigate crime scenes and collect evidence, question witnesses, pressing them for pertinent information, as well as getting down and dirty in the courtroom. As a defense attorney, it's your job to find the flaws in witness testimony and use the evidence at your disposal to reveal lies and, ultimately, exonerate your clients. The story and pacing are weaved together wonderfully, but it's going to require gobs of patience on the player's part in order to get over the shabby trimmings with which the game is presented.

With Wii Remote in hand, you can peruse your inventory of items by pressing the plus button, but the pointer functionality is never put to good use. Selecting items is handled with the D-pad and A button, as is moving the onscreen cursor around when examining various areas of the game. None of the gameplay mechanics are hindered by the controls, but there's nothing about Ace Attorney that's enhanced by being on Wii, either. The opposite is true, actually, since using the stylus on the DS is far more intuitive, and having the two elements - inventory and character interactions - broken up between the two screens of the DS also allowed for more practical investigation.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney screenshot

Screenshots / Images
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