Back in 2006 when Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (possibly the most unlikely success story we've ever seen) arrived on DS, it had something over and above what the original GBA version offered: a fifth case to solve - a bonus to celebrate the series moving onto Nintendo's new handheld and, more importantly, outside Japan.
Supposedly, this new case gave would-be defenders of justice a taste of what we could expect from the courtroom drama series in the future, offering as it did new features never seen in the game before. Fingerprint testing! Three-dimensional evidence examination! Full motion video! If that's what Capcom could add to a mere GBA port, imagine what the possibilities for a proper DS version!
Stuck In A Rut
Over two years on then, Apollo Justice:
Ace Attorney (the first game in the series developed specifically for DS) has all these things... but the thing is, that's about it
on the new material front. Surprised? Disappointed? We know we were, even
if only a little.
Having waited ages and worked our way through the various GBA-to-DS remakes, the third of which still isn't even out in Europe yet, we'd have hoped for something more than just a few admittedly-great ideas pumped into the original formula. But, no; the judge is still bald and dumb, the courtroom still several tones of brown and everything from the court record graphics to the green font used for the on-screen text is exactly the same as it ever was. Damn it.
Is all this a tad too negative perhaps, considering the positive score below then? Most likely, yes, which makes this the perfect point to insert the phrase 'rant over' into the review. Yes, so we're a little sad that Apollo Justice barely tweaks the formula but for all its lack of progress, this is still undoubtedly the best example of what the Ace Attorney series has to offer.
Order In Court
The writing (of which there's absolutely loads) is just as tight and funny as it's ever been, the various cases (of which there are only four, sadly) offer more unexpected twists than riding a rollercoaster blindfolded and the characters are all nicely fleshed out with plenty of depth. There's also improvements on the technical front with some polished animations.
As you might expect, it's the new elements that increase the amount of thought needed to solve each case. Okay, so maybe they're not used to the extent we'd hoped for but combined with the
new method of picking up on when the witnesses are lying (detailed in the panel above), they make Apollo Justice more than just your average text-based adventure.
Of course, there are still hurdles that would-be players will have to overcome, such as a few instances of awkward logic which can leave you slightly clueless as to what to try next and the linear plot advancement means there's only ever one answer to any one problem, regardless of whatever wild theories you come up with.
Regardless though, Apollo Justice is definitely one DS game for the cerebral crowd, perfect for those who enjoyed the likes of Another Code and Hotel Dusk. It may sound weird considering the negative tone of this review, but Apollo Justice is still well worth your time... providing you've got enough time to invest