Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (Nintendo DS) Preview

By Adam Riley 18.06.2005

The Nintendo DS was brought to life in order to bring innovation into a stale Industry and for the most part this has worked out just fine, with games such as Electroplankton and Nintendogs proving that the DS really can stand out from the crowd. Now, though, Capcom is getting in on the act by bringing its lawyer franchise to the dual screen portable. But with this being the first outing to reach the West, should people stand up and pay attention?

I never would have imagined that a lawyer game could be fun, if truth be told. Again this was one of those games that I opted for, as nobody else seemed overly keen on taking it under their wing. Really, thinking about it now, being such a big fan of John Grisham novels, maybe this should have been a little higher up my 'Most Wanted' list. However, it was not and I approached the DS pod in the corner with great hesitation. In fact, it was placed next to another weird (yet wonderful, more on that in another preview) DS game, Trauma Centre: Under the Knife from Atlus. Nice how the people planning the layout had put the two crazy games together!

Thing is, though, that that corner was where I spent most of my time later in the afternoon. Unfortunately I never got to sample Capcom's other DS title, Viewtiful Joe Scratch, but after touching on the surreal Killer 7 it was intriguing to find what I was in store for with the amusingly titled Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. Stepping up to the DS pod, I was greeted by some crazy characters, stacks of text and some very impressive anime-style graphics. Sure it took far more concentration that I would have appreciated at the time, but it turned out to be more than worth it. After a sufficient amount of time with the Western version of Gyakuten Saiban, reading text and clicking a screen has never been such fun!

Screenshot for Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney on Nintendo DS

For each trial you are faced with the main details of the case at hand, such as who the victim is, who the supposed perpetrator is, what witnesses are available to quiz, which pieces of evidence are most relevant for the gruelling hearing and what apparently happened at the scene of the crime are provided to you so that you can analyse anything you think might be necessary. Once done, you will practically be ready to head into the main trial and try to pick holes in the opposing side's testimony. You are in charge, you are Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney! The problem is that you are simply a rookie, a small fish in the wide ocean of mass litigation and you have definitely been dropped in at the deep end. Thankfully, Mia Fei, your boss, is there by your side to make sure you do not make too many major cock-ups.

Screenshot for Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney on Nintendo DS

In the demonstration version presented to us, which was exactly the same as the one shown at E3 in May, the whole shebang starts with details of a murder that took place recently, with a woman being killed by an uncouth man by the name of Mr Sahwit. However, this man has not been named as the guilty party, with your friend Larry Buttz being fingered for the dastardly deed instead. Therefore, knowing that he is completely innocent Phoenix feels it his duty to prove Larry's innocence. Time to get cracking on that defence strategy then! All of the action tends to take place on the top half of the screen, with conversations and stylised character reactions appearing there. The bottom screen is basically used as your file, where you can sift through evidence and check various reports that may contradict the testimonies of witnesses on the stand. Using the touch-screen you can easily navigate through what you have on file and offer it up as proof something fishy is going on.

To start with, as the Judge realises you are in your first major trial, Mr Wright is tested with some pretty easy questions to calm his nerves. For fun, though, when asked who the murder victim was I chose Mia Fei as the answer, which invoked a hilarious reaction from her, standing across the room with her arms firmly crossed against her chest. There is a great sense of humour strung throughout the game, but also a large amount of intrigue, most of which was not really available in this very short demo. For instance, here all the evidence was provided, you knew who the killer was and you had all the time you wanted to examine Mr Sahwit's 'story'. Therefore, when he began to recount the events from his point of view, stating that he saw the dead body at 1:00pm, I was able to jump into my file and spot that the autopsy report said otherwise, with the time of death being between 4:00pm and 5:00pm. Once found, this can be presented to the court in order to expose Sahwit for the liar and scumbag he really is.

Screenshot for Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney on Nintendo DS

But he quickly tries to cover his tracks after that, changing his story to say the victim must have been watching a video recording of something that announced the time as being 1:00pm...Possible, but highly unlikely. So once again you delve into your piles of data and lo-and-behold your instincts prove to be right once again; there was no power in the apartment block between the hours of 1:00pm and 6:00pm! Bingo, time to fry this fish...Yet as this was indeed a short demo, that was all that could be done. A great little taster of what will surely be one of the finest DS games on the market to date.

Screenshot for Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney on Nintendo DS

Final Thoughts

With so much more to be included in the game before release, such as five full cases that all interlink and lead to a much larger story, as well as possible voice support, the inclusion of a multiplayer court battle, new characters, stacks of evidence to sift through (not always relevant and handed to you on a plate) and lies to uncover, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney should be high on the list of anyone who loves to get the cogs of their brains grinding!









C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (9 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


Some people are saying that this is more of a remake of the original GBA game (of which there are three), rather than a fresh new title (GS4 in Japan). But whatever the case, it's the first in the series to hit the West, so who cares!

Brilliant game - just wish it was coming out earlier in the year...

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses
Guest 18.06.2005#2

Brilliant game you say? Hmm, I'm watching this then...
Speaking about brilliant games: I bought Electroplankton yesterday! (set me back 70 euro though, luckily I got a 5 euro discount because they forgot to phone me up when it arrived...I ordered it a month ago)

This game sounds really good ^_^
And the multiplayer...that could really be a lot of fun, imo.

TAG: That American Guy

"If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." Romans 12:18

Sounds...unique, but if you say it's gonna be good then I'll have to go with that. :Smilie

I really wished there was more available in the demo - as I love reading John Grisham's lawyer-based books and get deep into the story, trying to imagine what I would do in the situations of the main characters. So when I stepped up to this and found that I was playing as an actual lawyer, trying to sort through evidence, cross-examining witnesses, etc I was elated to say the least!

But, as I say in the preview, at the moment as there's no time limit you can freely sift through all your information under no pressure at all...Could spoil the game a little, making it too easy. Hopefully Capcom will rectify this before release, though.

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

great just what the DS needs even more original games as far as lawyer games go this is the first one ive ever heard of outside of japan. Hope you preveiw that docter game too.

-Have you any idea what it's like to be a Fembot living in a Manbot's Manputer's world?

Ding ding - you are today's winner! I'll be doing just that...Expect Chibi Robo for the GC first, then I'll do Trauma Centre: Under The Knife :-D

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

Heard alot of good things about this game, definitely looking out for it.

That's what Capcom needs to do - make sure that enough people have heard of this before it comes out. Crank up that hype machine and make this a best seller!

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

I can't wait for this game. I only hope that it wont be too easy or too short.

Revolution is the solution.

Way better than I imagined!

I'm thinking the same thing - it better not be too easy, or else we'll all be extremely disappointed!

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

Damn,theres no doubt im getting this looks so kool :-D


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