Gyakuten Saiban (working title) Hands-On

Capcom issues a summons to Nintendo DS owners. We answer the call to see how its popular lawyer franchise does.

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In a stroke of near genius, or total insanity, Capcom announced that the latest entry in its courtroom battle series, tentatively titled Gyakuten Saiban, will be hitting US shores this summer. For those unfamiliar with the courtroom battle series, it began on the Game Boy Advance and met with enough popular acclaim to warrant two sequels and a DS conversion of the first game. While the DS game is based on the first entry in the GBA series, which appeared several years ago on the handheld system, Capcom's teams are working to ensure the DS game is more than just a port by adding DS-specific features and new game content, such as an all-new chapter.

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The game's premise is straightforward and could be taken straight from just about any television show that focuses on lawyers. You'll play as accomplished defense lawyer Phoenix Wright, who faces off against "the man" to defend his clients. The game will break up into two basic styles of gameplay. First up is the investigation aspect, where you'll have to survey crime scenes, interview witnesses, and gather evidence that will be used in court. The next part is the meat and potatoes of the game, the court phase, wherein you'll present findings from the investigation to support your case. You'll listen to testimonies, examine witnesses, and separate lies from the truth so you can prove your client's innocence.

The straightforward setup is spiced up considerably by an eccentric cast of characters that could only work in a Japanese-developed game. Maya Fey is an energetic young girl who helps Phoenix during his trials. She also happens to be learning to harness her psychic powers. Mia Fey is Phoenix's mentor, an ace attorney who taught Phoenix everything he knows and remains his mentor. Finally, Miles Edgeworth is Phoenix's rival (you knew there had to be one right?). Edgeworth is a slick prosecutor who's never lost a case. Of course, Miles is a touch obsessed with taking out criminals and will do anything to guarantee a guilty verdict.

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The gameplay in Gyakuten Saiban is pretty heavy on text and requires you to stay focused on what's said as the game unfolds via nicely handled anime-style cutscenes. Control for the game can be divided between the D pad and the face pad on the DS and its touch screen. As you'd expect, the bottom screen lets you scope out your inventory so you can go through the various files you'll need to reference during testimonies. Once you find a discrepancy, you can object by tapping the touch screen to challenge whoever's on the stand. The visuals consist of sharply drawn anime-influenced art that is hyperexpressive, which works perfectly in the tiny bit of the game we've seen.

Based on what we've seen, Gyakuten Saiban (working title) is a cool, quirky title that anyone looking for a change of pace should pick up. Gyakuten Saiban (working title) is currently slated to ship this summer for the Nintendo DS, so look for more on the game in the coming months.

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