One of the best series returns with another entry in a the franchise.

User Rating: 9.6 | Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Justice for All DS
Back in 2001 Capcom made a game for the Gameboy Advance with a novel idea. You play a rookie attorney in a future court system and find contradictions in arguments. In Japan at first the game didn’t sell that well, word of mouth due to its extremely addictive nature eventually moved around 223,000 copies. In 2002, one year after the release they created the sequel to it, the game improved on it with stuff like Psyche Locks and a Health Bar that added intensity to the game. It also paid off being the highest selling game in the franchise getting close to 320,000 copies. The third game was released in 2004 and was known as the grand finale of the series, it was noted for its amazing soundtrack by Noriyuki Iwadare and for the amazing and dark storyline that outdoes the first two games. People who imported it clamored for a USA release. Capcom paid attention to the American importers and ported the game to the DS with an extra case that tied together the first and second game. It was release with little fanfare, only selling 20,000 copies from its release date in October 2005 to January 2006. The game sold terribly and the future of the franchise was pretty much dead, it was confirmed even more so because of the exclusive cell phone release of the second and third game for the Western Markets. Like Japan, word started spreading around and the game started selling like wildfire going through multiple prints. The franchise now has a very healthy and fervent fanbase in the American Market. Thanks to that we know get Ace Attorney: Justice for All, the sequel to Phoenix Wright.

First off most of you should be asking, why is it Ace Attorney instead of Phoenix Wright? I would point to the obvious answer which is the new logo for the franchise. Phoenix Wright is now a much smaller text and Ace Attorney is more prominent. It seems that it also gives leeway for the franchise because we know that the fourth game is confirmed for the USA release with the English trailer for TGS, and it has a new lead character. It also gives us the very likely possibility that we may get the fourth game before the third game in the USA.

Ace Attorney: Justice for All is a port of Gyakuten Saiban 2 from the GBA. It has a very similar treatment as Case 1-4 from the original game. That means it has a enhanced soundtrack, maybe some redrawn sprites, and added voice and touch screen to move the game forward. Let’s examine the game in full detail, first we will focus on the game’s sole weak point Sound, specifically the games sound effects and soundtrack.

The game’s sound effects are unusually bad. It is like they took the DS samples and screwed them up. They have a strange distortion when they reach the higher notes of the sound sample. For example, when the shocked *ting* sound is made, it seems of a much poorer quality than the original DS release. The soundtrack is well known to be the weakest one in the series. I already noted that the greatest one is easily the third game’s amazing soundtrack with the first gaming pretty far behind. The one that was the weakest and is the weakest is the second game. The cross examination music is boring, but the game’s soundtrack has some bright spots. The Objection music is very well done but lacks the intensity of the first game and the Cornered music is very well done also. The problem is that it is a couple of steps down from the original GBA soundtrack when moved to the DS. There are also a couple of amazing pieces of Music that really stick out. Both of them are in the fourth case while one is introduced in the second case. The first one that is amazing in my mind is the Psyche Lock theme. It has a dash of intrigue and it adds a lot to the atmosphere in the game. The second amazing piece of music is called “in the Midst 2002” and it is the theme for the Nickel Samurai, Mr. Engarde and Ms. Andrews. I said it before, it is absolutely my favorite theme in the game it is brilliant melodically and it one of the few absolutely genius pieces of music that is brand new in the game. The last is called “The Great Revival” for those of you know played Phoenix Wright you can pretty much assume just who this theme is for. It is grand and amazingly well done and fits the revival theme extremely well. Let’s move on to the gameplay.

The gameplay of the game is much stronger than the last game due to Psyche Locks. On the adventure portions when you interview people, sometime they may have secrets. What you do is present evidence that shows proof that you may know about the circumstances of the secret they are hiding. Sometimes you may have 1 psyche lock, sometimes you may have 5 psyche locks and the more psyche locks means the more secrets that you have to uncover before you confront them. With psyche locks, presenting the wrong evidence will get portion of the bar down. A bigger portion will be taken off if you screw up near the end of unlocking the psyche locks (for example, if you unlocked 4 of them and have one more to go, you will literally have half your life bar on the line). After successfully unlocking it you get your health back. I stressed in my preview that the game is much harder than the previous one. That is because your health bar gets punished much more frequently. In cross examinations it still takes 5 pieces of wrong evidence to get a game over. Yet, you can get punished in many ways. If you made a wrong accusation you may get 1/10th of the bar taken away while another wrong accusation may take half of your bar. On top of that you may get your bar down even more because you are “badgering the witness” What makes it worse is that the court system has multiple parts, which means that you as the player will have to deal with your life bar no matter the state because it doesn’t get recharged until you unlock a Psyche Lock. I would stress this importance because the final day of the 4th case has 3 parts and it is insanely hard to go through it unscathed until the grand finale. If you screw up on the first part the second part will just be much harder. Now let’s look at the meat of the game, the actual gaming experience.

The game is about as long as the first game with all 5 cases. That is because it has multiple parts for investigation. As expected, many of our favorites make cameos for the entire game. What is even funnier is that Phoenix himself pokes fun of it. For example, throughout the game you meet Detective Gumshoe as the investigator. Phoenix makes the observation, “Why is it we meet the same detective in each case, it is like there is only one detective on the police force.” The script and localization are absolutely brilliant. The script is filled with sarcasm and wit the entire court case. Each character has personality up the wazoo. For example, Franziska likes using the word fool redundantly. She will say many times, “sometimes a foolish fool with foolish ideas will fool around with foolish evidence” or something to that effect. Pearl is adorable and incredibly cute, as an 8 year old she exhibits lots of intelligence but she is also naïve to the world around her. She would ask stuff like “what is a Tra-in?” There are LOTS of spelling and grammar errors but the average joe wont know nor will they care. The script is extremely strong like the previous game, you can’t help but know what will happen but because of the amazing writing you still continually get shocked and surprised at each turn. It even throws a curveball in case 4 that changes the entire dynamic of Phoenix Wright. Let’s just say that Case 4 really is the greatest case ever made in Phoenix Wright. It literally stomps all over all the cases I have played from the first two games. It was absolutely intense and you just can’t help but play it until the end. Which leads me to another interesting addition to Phoenix Wright, there are multiple endings for case 4. There is a good ending where there are all smiles and good times, and there is a bad ending. The ending happens depending on the two pieces of evidence you present at the most crucial time. That also leads to another point I have to make. The story is much darker in this game then the first game. The settings, themes, and everything makes the game much darker. Personally I like it because I felt that Phoenix Wright 1 sometimes never took itself that seriously even in the most dramatic cases. With Phoenix Wright 2 (or should I say Ace Attorney 2) the game is funny when it needs to and dramatic when it needs to.

The game is incredibly addicting and as I predicted the best experience I have played this year. The first game is one of my favorite games of all times, guess what this game is now also one of my favorites games of all time. I had very high expectations for the sequel and every single expectation I had has beem smashed throughly and completely. I don't know how they did it but even with all the hype I had for the game they managed to surpass it in every single possible way. Hopefully the game sells incredibly well so that we will get the third and the fourth game of the “Ace Attorney” franchise. I know that the USA version will likely sport minor improvements (hopefully spelling and grammar) but I maybe will do a second review to see how it aged when looking back. As far as I can tell this game is as fresh and as rewarding as ever while ramping up the difficulty quite a bit. I still highly recommend this for all DS owners and especially those who loved the first game. I will warn you, many of you will have to consult FAQ’s for help because sometimes the game may get really hard really fast.