Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney
These days, even on the DS ‘the sky’ is no longer ‘the limit’. Almost everything is possible with Nintendo’s little portable dream machine: train dolphins, learn to cook or drive, patch up your makeup skills, celebrate your pedophile fantasies or be a lawyer and that’s exactly what Ace Attorney: Apollo Justice is al about! Objection? I don’t think so!
Where earlier parts in the series had the flamboyant Phoenix Wright put the judge to his hand, this time it’s up to a nervous newcomer called “Apollo Justice”. What a name by the way, it sounds tough and even more ridiculous. It’s not like you’d call a boxer “Zeus Knockout” or “Thor Uppercut”? Phoenix Wright wasn’t far off the edge, but this time they’ve gone straight over! Anyways, charisma is very important in the court of law and with a name like that you’ll most certainly make a “strong” impression.
The developers have created this young attorney with two pointy thingies on his brown head. Probably the most stylish and innovative hairdo in Japan, but I find it rather… dubious. That being said Mr. Justice is quite pleasant in his own, special way. Anyways, the series needed some fresh blood. Apart from that there are a lot of old characters passing by and some of them are even playing a vital part in the storyline. Capcom has played a clever game by putting up a subtle new breeze. Apollo Justice is also the first episode developed exclusively for DS (earlier parts were also available on Gameboy Advance) which is quite noticeable.
Apollo Justice is without a doubt the most beautiful Ace Attorney game until now and maybe even one of the most graphically detailed games of all. The style remains, but it still has its effect. The characters and static environments, the short but exceptionally stylish cut scenes, the evidence which can now also be viewed in 3D, … It all looks as sharp as the nose of Wacko Jacko. The touch screen-functionalities are also being put to better use. Now you can use your stylus to find fingerprints or cast a footprint. These additions are very welcome in between the ordinary pieces of text, but it wouldn’t have been a problem if they had occurred more often. Right now the stylus activities are limited to about one item per case. Too bad…
As mentioned before, the series got a graphical update, but what’s left hasn’t really changed. Each of the four chapters is still split into a research- and lawsuit part. As the lawyer of a murder suspect you first visit the scene of the crime and try to collect enough evidence. Next the action is moved to the courthouse where you’ll get to question witnesses and the accused and presenting the correct pieces of evidence at the right time in an attempt to unveil the truth.
A new tool to do your job is the new “perceive”-system which looks somewhat like the “Psyche-locks” seen in earlier episodes. You have to try and find out when a person is lying by really paying attention to their behavior. Each one of them has a (subtle) twitch which shows when the truth is being concealed. This “observing” isn’t that revolutionary, but it does make sure the player keeps his attention to the game.
Apart from a couple of new innovations, this fourth part still keeps the Ace Attorney tradition alive. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that because the concept remains quite brilliant. There’s also the plot and characters, among which a not so neutral judge, going straight over the top once again and this can be truly funny from time to time. It takes a lot of patience to point and click your client free of charge. Let’s say there’s about 10 to 15 hours of gameplay material in there, not bad for a DS game.
Sadly a part of the time is spent trying to resolve completely illogical situations. Sometimes you’ve got absolutely no clue of what you’re expected to do and then bringing random evidence to the court is the only thing you can do. This is one of the errors which was also present in earlier parts and caused a great deal of frustration. However, this doesn’t ruin all the fun. The spiky dialogues, the ample storyline and the bizarre, mysterious atmosphere make this game more than worth playing.
DS-owners who’ve never worn a digital toga really have to try it. The Ace Attorney series is fascinating and quite special in gamesville and it still is, even in this newcomer called Apollo Justice. Old fans can expect what they’re used to and more, because this part will be both recognizable and refreshing at the same time. The verdict? Buy, lend or rent that shit! If not, I’ll take you to court!