Review: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies

Hey Kaushik here, very excited to bring you a review to one of my favorite franchises, the new Phoenix Wright game on the 3DS. The title is Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies. Released as digital-only on the Nintendo 3DS e-shop on October 24, 2013, I think it’s safe to say this was a highly-anticipated game in certain circles. Marking Phoenix Wright’s first foray onto the 3DS, and additionally his first western release in quite a while, a lot of fans were looking to this game to bring back some of the enjoyable memories they had playing the earlier games in the series. Did it deliver? Read on to find out~

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Starting from the beginning, the plot. This game, I think more than any of the previous Phoenix Wright games, has a clear and consistent plot from beginning to end. That doesn’t entirely spell a good thing, however. If you don’t like the ride you’re in from the outset of Dual Destinies, there’s a chance you won’t appreciate the majority of the game. The earlier games in the series managed to break this up somewhat by introducing a few unrelated cases, for a change of setting and change of pace. Some fans found these cases tedious, eager to get on with the full plot of the game, though I can imagine some who prefer these smaller cases. Dual Destinies doesn’t really have too many cases like these, just case 2 and arguably case 3.

Still, there’s much to be said for having a consistent plot from the outset. The game starts you off with some mysterious elements, and keeps you guessing to the very end of the game. That in and of itself is fairly interesting, and a somewhat novel way to present one of these games. For example, one of the main characters, the Prosecutor, in fact, is a man named Simon Blackwell. He was jailed for reasons unknown (at least at the start of the game), and one has to wonder just how a convict was allowed to sit at the prosecutor’s bench. Things like these tend to keep the player’s focus as they go through the game. And of course, in classic Phoenix Wright style, the last case brings it all home in a spectacular showdown. Dual Destinies is no exception to this!

The lawyer case, Apollo, Phoenix, and Athena.

The lawyer case, Apollo, Phoenix, and Athena.

The game play is actually mostly the same as the older Phoenix Wright titles. There was some streamlining done. There is now a “Notes” tab that tells you what you should do next. Also, you cannot examine every area in the game. This removes on a lot of clutter in the game. Conversely, you lose out on some interesting banter and dialogue from examining funny things, but I think this is okay considering how many times I’d get stuck because I didn’t investigate one tiny thing in one of many rooms. Additionally, there’s a new game play system in the form of Athena’s analytic psychology that you can use to question witnesses. Like the Psyche Locks and Apollo’s bracelet from previous game, this is just another small tool to change up game play slightly. Otherwise, if you’re familiar with the general courtroom style to the other Phoenix Wright games, this new title should be much the same. You press witnesses, you present evidence, you finger the killer.

Can't have Phoenix Wright without the Objection! pose

Can’t have Phoenix Wright without the Objection! pose

A large reason people are fans of the Phoenix Wright series are the memorable characters. Dual Destinies does a great job at mixing the old and familiar with the new and fresh, and keeping them all interesting for the player. The 3 main lawyers you play as throughout the game are, of course, Phoenix Wright. You also play as his protege introduced in the previous game, Apollo Justice, and the new attorney at the firm, Athena Cykes. You can kind of see that the three generations of lawyers present in the title, and all the familiar interactions are there, with a few new fresh ones (mostly courtesy of our friend Athena!).

Unfortunately, some of the newer characters don’t resonate as strongly. The new Prosecutor Simon Blackwell and Athena Cykes are excellent additions to the cast, but the new detective Bobby Fulbright leaves a lot to be desired. Detective Gumshoe, the detective in the first 3 games, left large shoes to fill to become a memorable detective. And while Bobby was novel in some ways, unfortunately I believe those shoes Gumshoe left will be forever unfilled, unless he makes a surprise reappearance.

Athena Cykes, invoking her power of analytic psychology.

Athena Cykes, invoking her power of analytic psychology.

Moreover, one major thing I feel this game lacks as opposed to all the others is a strong final antagonist to confront. The first and third games were particularly stellar at this, and even the second and forth games had some strong antagonists at the end to a degree. Confronting and finally defeating the final “boss”, so to speak, of Dual Destinies left me with a fairly unsatisfied feeling. A small mar on an otherwise great game.

Phoenix Wright takes a small graphical shift in the move to the 3DS. Somewhat fittingly, the 2D portraits of characters in the past are replaced by 3D models. Fortunately, this isn’t in the ugly way that many games tend to do in their first transition to a 3D world. The 3D models used in Dual Destinies are well-developed and feel like a natural transition from the 2D, which I appreciated. Besides that, the graphics aren’t anything amazing to write home about. There isn’t much graphically impressive to portray in Phoenix Wright (speaking for all of them) so it’s not all that bad that maybe this game doesn’t push the 3DS to its absolute limits.

Simon Blackquill, the prosecutor. His theme is really good!

Simon Blackquill, the prosecutor. His theme is really good!

Music, however, now that is an area that the Phoenix Wright series generally excels in. Some of the themes in the previous game could really set a mood in the player for the ensuing events in the game, and I would say Dual Destinies is no exception. From the remixed older tunes to the excellent newer tunes, Dual Destinies definitely brings it. I would rank it on par with any of the previous games for sure.

Pros:

— Good transition to the 3DS

— Some strong new characters

— Great music

— Interesting cases

Cons:

— Underwhelming main villain

— No one can ever replace Gumshoe

Rating: 4.5/5

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Miscellaneous details:
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Available on: 3DS
Genre: Adventure, Visual novel
Rating: M
Release date: July 25, 2013 (Japan), October 24, 2013 (NA and Europe)

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Kaushik

I write about anime and stuff. Giant robots are pretty cool, too.

Kaushik

I write about anime and stuff. Giant robots are pretty cool, too.

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