Monday, March 12, 2007

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Finished Turnabout Samurai

Yet another game that I'm way late on the bandwagon for, but if it helps I actually bought this game before I owned a DS. This is back when it was incredibly scarce, so I paid full retail for a copy I managed to find. It has since had two more printings and is being clearanced at Circuit City.

Anyway, I'm really glad that the DS is bringing back more honest to goodness adventure games. While I know this game original appeared on the Game Boy Advance in Japan, I feel like it never would have made it over here if not for the DS. It works on the DS too, despite being a retooled GBA game. Though I never use the touchscreen controls, being able to yell "Objection!" into the DS microphone is all kinds of awesome.

The premise is pretty awesome because how many games let you play as a defense lawyer? That is a definite advantage of adventure games - they can pretty much adapt themselves to any setting. In this game, you get to question witnesses, gather evidence, badger people on the witness stand, and confront them with their filthy lies! It is all very endearing and it works very well. The reason it works is because the story is good. There is a reason text adventures are nowadays referred to as interactive fiction. The story drives games like this which is why when discussing Indigo Prophecy, I waffled on whether that game was actually an adventure game or more of an interactive movie - I think I eneded up sticking with adventure because it had puzzles to solve.

The gameplay is divided into two modes - evidence gathering and trials. If I weren't a defense lawyer (and weren't always playing as the same character), I'd swear I was playing a video game adaptation of the popular television series Law and Order. I know there are CSI games, but the courtroom drama is really what makes this game. In the evidence gathering portion, you can't lose - you just can't progress unless you have done everything required of you. This is fine - all the good latter day adventure games don't let you screw yourself over at the beginning but only find out later on. The problem is that there are only limited things that you can do while gathering evidence and so it feels more like you are just exhausting all possibilites here instead of cleverly solving puzzles.

The courtroom scenes totally make the game. The witness is up on the stand giving testimony. Do you press them on their statements hoping they will crack under pressure? Or will that make you look bad and them clam up? Can you figure out which piece of evidence contradicts their testimony? Get it right and their testimony and credibility will start to unravel. Get it wrong and your credibility will be called into question. Get it wrong too many times and the judge will decide you have no case. Plus, did I mention yelling "Objection!" into the microphone?

I was going to comment that the game seemed short, but then I realized that I have put about nine hours in so far and am only 60% done. So if the game does end up taking 15 hours to complete, I will have still paid $2/hour for good entertainment. That is far better than most movies I see in the theater.

Also, I really hope the Japanese justice system doesn't work the way it does in the game or there are a lot of innocent people in jail there.

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