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Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney DS Review

Author: Darryn King
Tuesday, 3 June 2008


Only the Japanese could turn the legal process into something so colourful and quirky: like Law & Order crossed with Dragonball-Z. The Phoenix Wright trilogy of accuracy-be-damned courtroom adventure DS games were huge in Japan and have since become something of a surprise hit everywhere else too. Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney continues in the same vein and spirit of the series, even if it's not technically part of it, and retains everything that was great about the first three games while throwing in much else besides. You don't have to be familiar with the other games to pick up and enjoy the game, however.
Justice is the name of the game, and incidentally the name of the title character: you are Apollo Justice, a rookie defense attorney with an outrageous anime hairstyle and equally outrageous anime mannerisms. It's the cartoonish character writing that makes the game such a joy - the slightly dimwitted judge, the spiteful prosecutor, the vaguely Russian witness in the fur hat who relates everything to borscht. When a witness contradicts herself, Apollo is wont to say things like, 'Now, time to take advantage of her. I mean her mistake.' It's a lot of fun.
The game is very much a descendant of the classic point-and-click PC adventure titles - you can play the entire game with just the stylus, in fact. Rather than lightning-fast reflexes, you're rewarded for your attention to detail: a witness contradicting something in the autopsy report, a lack of continuity in crime scene photographs, an inconsistency in the case of the prosecutor.
The cases are truly engrossing too. Some of the twists and turns are so ingenious and sophisticated that you first think, 'No, it can't be that - that's too clever for a videogame'. It's just like great crime fiction, only in interactive form, and where you set the pace yourself. Fans of the original Phoenix Wright are also treated to an unusual cameo appearance from the man himself-
With so many DS titles devoted to enhancing your brainpower with memory and concentration exercises and that sort of nonsense, it's great to see something like Phoenix Wright and Apollo Justice which offer the same sort of stimulation in the form of - wow! - an actual game. Intelligent fun, with some silliness thrown in for good measure.