Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney started out life on the Gameboy Advance system in Japan in 2001 and since then has seen multiple sequels, re-releases, a spin-off and even a live action movie. The original game has now made its way onto iOS, complete with a graphical overhaul to make use of the high resolution screens found on the devices. The project was not without complications, as the game was originally scheduled for late last year. Fortunately, reports of another delay to the game proved to be false and Phoenix Wright has made his way into the hands of fans in this free game.
Yes, the game is free, but only the first two cases are included. The first introduces the courtroom in a tutorial involving a childhood friend of Phoenix. The second is where the game opens up and introduces the investigation segments. The remainder of the first game costs £3.99($5.99) and the second and third games cost £4.99($6.99) each. The entire collection can be bought at the reduced price of £11.99($16.99). All of the content can be bought through in-app purchases after the game has been downloaded.
As previously mentioned, the gameplay is divided into two sections; the courtroom and investigations. In the courtroom, witnesses testify about the events surrounding the crime that Phoenix’s client has been accused of committing. Whether intentional or not, these testimonies usually contain contradictions and it is the aim of the player to present evidence to bring these contradictions to light in an effort to prove his client’s innocence. Sometimes the contradictions are not obvious and the player will need to press the witness for more information.
Unsuccessful attempts to present evidence result in a hit to the players health. If the bar should ever empty, the judge will announce the the defendant is guilty, effectively a game over screen for the player. This should force a player to pay attention to the massive amount of dialogue and not randomly present evidence, but the move to iOS has brought with it the ability to save at any time, removing the risk that comes from guessing which piece of evidence should be shown and therefore removing any challenge the game had.
The investigation sections take Phoenix outside the courtroom in an effort to gather clues. In this fictional world, the police work for the prosecutors and are unlikely to find evidence that does not support the prosecutions theory of how the crime was committed. If Phoenix’s client has any hope of being declared innocent, it is down to the player to talk to witnesses and examine the crime scene for clues. While this section of the game seems more open, it is actually quite linear as the story does not progress unless he talks to the right people. Even when a player can guess what is going to happen, another event may need to be triggered before they put all the pieces together in the game.
This enhanced version of the game comes with high-res character art and backgrounds. The backgrounds look far superior to their previous iterations, and while the character models are also better, they do resemble fan art drawn in Paint and lack the charm of the pixel originals. A black border is used to frame the game on an iPad, and it is unable to make use of the iPhone 5 widescreen making older iPhones the best choice to run the app. The music has been ported from the originals as well. No improvements needed to be made here, as some of the tunes are quite iconic and it could have upset fans if Capcom had chosen to change them. A little more effort could have been spent on the translation, as there are still many issues with grammar throughout.
With an upcoming worldwide release of the Ace Attorney movie, interest could be generated for this game. Perhaps that is why Capcom attempted to delay the game further. Right now the app is unlikely to bring many new players into the fold, but anyone who enjoys point and click adventure games may want to at least check out the free version. Existing fans will not find anything worthwhile here unless they have yet to play all three of the games in the collection.