You wake up sitting on a bench outside a courtroom with no idea of who you are or what you’re supposed to be doing. Despite a persistent policewoman’s repeated insistence that you’re her lawyer and that you promised her you’d get her a not guilty verdict, all of your memories have taken a backseat to the throbbing pain in your head. Although you have no idea what is going on with this case or what evidence you may have seen beforehand, you are indeed this woman’s lawyer and as such must do everything you can to help her win her case regardless. And this is just the setup for the first trial in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Justice for All, originally a Game Boy Advance title that was turned into a DS game and then most recently ported to WiiWare.
If that setup sounded intriguing to you, then you’ll likely be a fan of all four of Justice for All’s included cases. Each one is essentially its own murder mystery, full of nonstop twists and turns as well as interesting characters and motives that constantly push the story forward. Throughout the course of the game you’ll find yourself doing everything from trying to exonerate a popular magician from a crime involving a flying killer to attempting to prove that a client who came out of a locked room holding a pistol and covered in a dead man’s blood is innocent. Each of these cases is masterfully crafted, and although the first of the four is over fairly quickly, the last three are rather lengthy, combining for roughly a fifteen to twenty hour experience. Not bad at all for a ten dollar download, coming in around a third of the price of the DS cart.
The gameplay in Justice for All, the second game in the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney series, can best be described as that of a point-and-click adventure mixed with a text adventure. As the series’ main character, Phoenix Wright, you’re tasked with getting to the bottom of a series of seemingly impossible cases. To do so, you’ll need to take full advantage of your time both in and out of the courtroom.
When not in court, you’ll be able to wander around the current crime scene, as well as many surrounding locations, in investigation mode in order to compile evidence that can help you out in court. Wander is a bit of a misnomer, as you’ll actually only be able to move from specific backdrop to specific backdrop in search of clues rather than having a free range of movement. Whenever you reach an area you’ll have the option to talk to any witnesses who may be at the scene, present them with objects or evidence to gauge their reactions, investigate the surroundings, or move on to another location.
This is one part of this WiiWare port that feels a bit like a double-edged sword. First off, the graphics have not really been touched up, making the images that were meant for a tiny DS screen appear somewhat jagged and unpolished on a much larger screen. This isn’t a deal breaker though, as the game still doesn’t look horrible, it’s just very noticeable that this game was meant to be played on a much smaller screen. However, playing it on the significantly larger screen can make it much easier to spot smaller details that would otherwise be incredibly miniscule on the significantly smaller DS screen.
Another issue that presents itself during investigation mode that makes the game feel somewhat lazily ported is in how you scour the background for clues. Whereas you’d think the Wii Remote’s pointer would work fantastically for pointing at on-screen objects in order to find out more about them, you’re instead saddled with a tiny blue outlined box that you’ll need to move around the screen using the D-pad, pressing A whenever it is directly over what you’d like to check out. This just seems like a serious missed opportunity that that IR support wasn’t implemented due to the time it would have required to incorporate it. In fact, the only aspect of this version of the game that seems to take advantage of anything Wii-specific is that you can now present evidence by swinging your arm at the screen, although you can also still do so by simply pressing the minus button if you are feeling lethargic.
Of course, the real highlight of this game is in participating in the courtroom portions. Here is where all of your hard investigative work will hopefully pay off; giving you the ammunition you need to turn the tides of these seemingly hopeless cases. Armed only with the evidence you’ve collected, what you’ve figured out about what happened, and your logic, you’ll have to piece together the full picture for the court as well as convince the judge of the soundness of your argument. You can accomplish this by cross-examining witnesses, poking holes in their testimony with well-timed objections, and finally prove your case using the evidence you’ve collected.
Presenting evidence can be a bit risky though, as showing the wrong piece of evidence at the wrong time will grant you a penalty. However, unlike the previous Phoenix Wright title, which limited you to only five missteps per trial, Justice for All instead gives you a green life bar. Depending on the importance of the evidence or how off base you are, you’ll lose a portion of this bar when you make a misstep. I thought this worked much better than the previous five errors and you’re done format.
This same set up is also used for the new Psyche-Lock feature found when in the investigative mode, which essentially functions like a cross-examination during the out of court segments. Characters that have something to hide will have chains and locks appear around them, with the appropriate evidence being the only way to unlock their hidden thoughts. The major benefit of this, besides getting the crucial information that they’re hiding, is that successfully unlocking these secrets will also help to refill portions of your green bar, giving you some extra chances for when you return to court.
Since this game is basically just a port of the DS version of Justice for all, there is really no argument that it is still a really good game. However, the decision to purchase this game would seemingly come down to a few key factors. If you already own the DS version or are looking for something new out of this title, then don’t bother spending your cash. Besides the ability to swing your arm to present evidence and having a much larger display, there is nothing here you haven’t seen before.
If this will be your first time purchasing this game, I’d certainly suggest that you might want to get this version as opposed to the DS one, as long as portability isn’t an issue. First off, it comes in at about a third of the price. Secondly, it is nearly identical to the DS version in every way. And lastly, if you have a family member or friend who also enjoys the series, being able to play the game on the much larger screen opens up the possibility of them helping you to find evidence and exploring the mysteries of these cases. The game may not be two-player in terms of having two players controlling the on-screen action, but playing through this game with another attentive person’s input and theories can be a very rewarding experience.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.3 Graphics
The visuals definitely show their roots due to being blown up to fit a television screen, but despite being somewhat jagged they still manage to look mostly decent. 3.8 Control
Since the game is basically a point-and-click text adventure, the controls don’t really factor in too much. In short, everything works well but some Wii-specific controls such as pointer support would have been nice additions. 3.9 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
While clearly limited due to its DS roots, everything from the murmurs of an astonished courtroom to the banging of the gavel are still quite enjoyable. 4.2
This game is an entertaining experience full of mystery, well thought out cases, and clever, often comical dialogue. With around fifteen to twenty hours of gameplay to be had, the ten dollar price tag also seems quite cheap.
3.8 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.