Phoenix Wright, Ace Attorney: Justice for All Review for the Nintendo DS (NDS)

Phoenix, a lawyer without precedent but with lots of objections

Phoenix Wright is successful and that’s why he’s back on the DS. For those of you who don’t know it, Phoenix Wright is based on “Gyakuten Saiban,” a thriving series of games published in Japan for the Game Boy Advance. This is what brought Phoenix to America and it looks like he’s here to stay!

Phoenix Wright, Ace Attorney: Justice for All screenshot

This second episode presents a new Phoenix. He’s more tenacious and diligent. You will need to help him find clues and evidence and uncover those filthy lies! Witnesses lie, prosecutors lie, everybody lies! Or at least they hide the truth, which presents him with the challenge of demonstrating the innocence of his clients without sticking his foot in his mouth!

Phoenix, or Mr. Nicks, as he’s called by some, is more than just a defense attorney. He frequently gets involved in situations where he needs to investigate. Getting to the truth and protecting certain helpless defendants is not that easy, especially when the prosecutors are so challenging and defiant. The bungling detective, Mr. Gumshoe, is not much help either, as he often messes things up.

Phoenix Wright, Ace Attorney: Justice for All screenshot

At the same time, we can’t give Phoenix Wright all the credit because if it wasn’t for some invaluable friends, he wouldn’t always come out on top. Some of the characters in this game we already met in the first installment, such as Maya Fey, her sister Mia, Lotta Hart, Will Powers, Ms. Oldbag, and the old judge. A few new characters will make the story more interesting, and some will also brighten up the game like cute-as-a-button Mystic Pearl, who is Maya’s little cousin. She will give you the power to see through people’s minds and find out when they’re lying. Then it will be up to you to unlock the secrets that they hide by presenting the appropriate evidence to draw them out. This is an innovation introduced into the second game, which otherwise is very similar to the first one in both style and gameplay. There are some new undesirable characters as well, like Ms. Von Karma and Richard Wellington, who are very irritating and frustrating.

Phoenix Wright, Ace Attorney: Justice for All screenshot

Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Justice for All presents four new stories with their corresponding trials. All the cases are rather lengthy. Each story is comprised of two parts: an investigation phase and the subsequent trial. The trial itself will be split in at least two segments, sometimes mixed with more investigation. When a new case starts, you usually get placed in the crime scene and need to examine the place for clues and evidence of what happened. What seems so obvious at the beginning will turn out to be more complicated so you have to be careful and try not to miss anything. Asking people questions is also very important and could be crucial later, when it’s time to figure out which evidence will prove your defendant’s innocence.

The game follows a very linear storyline. You’re only allowed to go back and forth between places for investigation purposes. Once you’re in the court room, you should have your thoughts straight and try to follow the witnesses’ declarations and use them to your benefit. You need to present the right evidence at the right time and if this doesn’t happen you will be penalized by the judge. It’s a smart idea to create a save point before you make a statement. That way, if you get penalized, you can always shut off your DS and then start from the save point with your integrity unharmed. You could consider this cheating, but it’s a way to avoid repeating the trial and questioning the witnesses all over again.

Phoenix Wright, Ace Attorney: Justice for All screenshot

The gameplay is simple and self-explanatory. It’s presented in the same fashion as the first game. When you’re investigating, you will be able to travel between different locations by just tapping the word “Move” with your stylus. If you want to talk to somebody, tap the word “Talk”; if you want to examine the scene, just tap “Examine”; and if you want to present evidence or somebody’s profile to a character, just tap “Present”. This last option will be a good way to obtain extra information that could be very useful later. During trials, read the witnesses’ testimonials and try to find inconsistencies in their stories, press them for extra information, and present clues and evidence when it’s necessary. You can access the Court Record at any time to see your inventory. One original feature of this game is the fact that you can scream “Hold it!” or “Objection!” to the DS microphone and obtain the same response as if you were hitting the “Press” or “Present” buttons on-screen. It’s not particularly useful since you have to do this while pressing the Y button on the DS and it doesn’t always recognize what you say.

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