Following the success of the Phoenix Wright series, it was no wonder that Capcom decided to take the idea and expand upon it. However, nobody really expected the company to go down the route of transforming the Harvey Birdman cartoon series into a game format. Looking back, it seems the perfect combination. Yet, considering it is not actually being handled by the same team behind the Ace Attorney franchise, can it live up to the expectations of the already strong fan base from the DS games? Let us take a closer look at this light-hearted Wii lawyer simulation...
The first thing to note is that this is definitely not developed by the same team that worked on the Ace Attorney games, and it becomes quite obvious as soon as you dive into the thick of the action. Instead, High Voltage Games has been employed to mimic the feel of Phoenix Wright and Apollo Justice as much as possible, whilst retaining the high levels of humour contained within the show. For the most part, the game definitely succeeds in being a thoroughly entertaining piece of software. The visual animation side of the show is faithfully replicated in all its 2D glory on the big screen, whilst practically everything is fully-voiced with crisp, clear quality and some rip-roaringly hilarious lines that add fantastic value to the product.
Sadly, though, the detective sequences are nowhere near as in-depth as Ace Attorney, and more often than not players will feel like they are just along for the ride, barely interacting with the surroundings before moving onto the next scenario. However, on the flip side, in certain circumstances gamers will be faced with the excruciating reality that progression can only be made by triggering a certain, sometimes completely innocuous events, leaving a sense of foreboding towards continuing kicking in at times and frustration becoming commonplace.
But then again, this negative point will be wiped completely clear as soon as you hit the next chucklesome sketch or animated cartoon sequence. Once clues have been gathered and the right people have been spoken to, the game proceeds to take players to the courtroom, where the meat of the action is. Again, though, everything feels much more light-weight than the intensity of the immensely popular DS lawyer outings and the script is limited to ensure that a potential wider crowd is able to get to grips with the gameplay and not get bogged down with pointless conversations that go off at tangents. Unfortunately, it is that depth of the script and extra attention to detail that makes Ace Attorney so enjoyable in the long-run, whilst Harvey Birdman falters due to its straightforward nature. Any probing of witness statements is quickly brushed to one side the majority of the time, with only the key sections of testimony being expanded upon.
Then there is the fact that there are only five cases in total. That number alone would not fill the average consumer with confidence about the longevity of the game, but if we look at Ace Attorney again this is not always a problem, as each case is so full of detail and is broken into separate sections in an expect manner, that one case alone can last for several hours easily. Attorney at Law just cannot compare in this respect, with the cases weighing in at perhaps an hour or sometimes less depending on how proficient you are at determining lies in testimony and uncovering the truth. With only a miniscule amount of unlockable extras that do not add any replay value, unless you find this for an extremely cheap price, it may well just be worth a rental and nothing more.
Sadly whilst amusing on the whole, the gameplay mechanic fails to live up to the lofty Ace Attorney standards.
Attorney at Law looks and feels just like the original cartoon series.
The music proves to be as quirky as expected, whilst the voice work is true to the TV series.
With just five short cases to work through, and the majority of them being purely video sequences, players will definitely feel short-changed.
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Whilst Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law proves to be a laugh-a-minute experience, sadly the gameplay itself proves to either be too basic in places or frustrating in others and just lacks the overall quality of the Ace Attorney series. Mix in the painfully short length and this certainly becomes a 'rent only' experience.
Disappointing, it looked to have good wacky humour, shame the gameplay and too much video make it suck.
The hope is a Pheonix Wright game on Wii is on the Way. I saw a interview with the female designer of the DS games at the Capcom Gamers Day last year, I got the impression one was in the works but she was not at liberty to say.
Her brief comments (in perfect english) about this game that was also shown there I suppose said much about this game, "That game has nothing to do with me, I was not involved with it in any capacity". I guess it shows.
Is this game even out in Europe yet it came out in the states a while a go and I dont remember seeing any UK release dates for it.
-Have you any idea what it's like to be a Fembot living in a Manbot's Manputer's world?
No release date's been confirmed for Europe at the moment, but those desperate for it can always import the PSP edition, since it's region-free...The Wii version is not really different at all.
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