Game Review: Phoenix Wright: Dual Destinies (3DS)
It has been 9 years since we first met young law attorney Phoenix Wright, and its great to have him back again! His original adventures started off on the Gameboy in Japan back in 2001, but it was in 2005 he made his debut in America and Europe. The series was something new and fresh to the Nintendo DS. You played a lawyer, researching evidence and clues in order to bring criminals to justice. Using the DS stylus, you had to move objects and see if there were any other pieces of valuable information to find. The thing that made it stand out from the rest of the handheld games of the time, was being able to shout “OBJECTION!” into the DS microphone! It was something you had to try, even if it was just once. And thankfully that is still present in the latest 3DS installment.
This is the first game of the series to be released onto the Nintendo 3DS. It’s the seventh title in the series, but is actually the fifth game featuring Phoenix Wright. There were 2 cross over games with Miles Edgeworth as one protagonist and Apollo Justice in the other. This is also the first Phoenix Wright game to receive a Mature rating when the previous games were given Teen. The game does have a darker attitude, even if you are a bumbling defense attorney.
You do, of course, play as Phoenix Wright but more as new sidekick Athena Cykes and Apollo ‘Chords of Steel’ Justice, who has already had his own spinoff game. You also encounter characters from the previous games, like Miles Edgeworth. He was once Phoenix Wright’s rival and has since become Chief Prosecutor. But alas, my favourite character, good old detective Gumshoe, fails to make an appearance!
The story takes place a year after the events of Apollo’s own game and we see Phoenix return after a 5 year absence from the courts. He arrives just in time for the first trial, which sees Athena trying her best to protect a school friend who is top suspect in the bombing of one of the court houses. Apollo was injured in the blast and is out of action for the start of the game. But don’t worry, he appears again soon. In a way, the game is not all about Phoenix Wright. Instead, each case uncovers more and more about legal protégé Athena and her background.
Each case plays out the same way. After seeing the introduction scene of the new case and some banter back and forth with the characters, the court process plays out like so; first you hear the Witness Testimony. Here the witness gives the player an account of the events. That follows onto a Cross Examination. You examine the witnesses testimony and compare it with the Court Record, looking carefully for any inconsistencies.
Pay close attention to the testimony and when you have found one, open the Court Record. Use it to look for facts that contradict with what the witness has said. When you find something, present the evidence to refute the witnesses statement. If you cant find any evidence, press the witness for more info. Find any inconsistencies or lies in the testimony and reveal them to the court!
If you can’t find anything or you mess up, ask Athena for help when the Consult panel appears. She’ll help you find the suspicious statement in the testimony. I listen to the witness testimony a couple of times before I present any evidence, or pinpoint where I think they are lying. You know you’re on the right track when Phoenix slams his hands on the desk, the heroic music plays and the witness is left shocked and dazed from your “attack.” The game has an Agatha Christie feel to it! You need to have a keen eye and remember important facts in order to trip up the criminals.
Athena has the ability to hear the words of a witnesses heart, it’s known as “Analytical Psychology”. This means she can sense how a person is really feeling from the tone of the hearts voice and unravel its mystery. She wears a special glove to bring up a hovering screen, like Tom Cruise in Minority Report! On this screen, emotions and images are picked up during testimonies and go into the “Mood Matrix”. This is where Widge, Athena’s little robot necklace buddy, analyses them. There are 4 mood markers, each showing a different emotion.
If the person is enjoying the memory or is happy, it lights up the green marker. Angry or frustrated lights up red. Blue is activated by sadness or being frightened. And surprise and confusion light up yellow. When listening and viewing the testimony in the Mood Matrix, you may uncover a different emotion that do not fit. When that happens, you touch the PinPoint button, select the unexpected emotion or reaction from the four mood markers and press the witness for more info. This updates their testimony, which Athena updates for you.
Along with the new ability of the Mood Matrix, ”Psyche-Lock” and the “Perceive System” also return. For those who haven’t played the previous games, Psyche-Lock is where the player must unlock secrets in the witnesses heart by showing them evidence. And Perceive System is being able to detect nervous habits some of the witnesses have during cross examination. This lets you know when they are lying to you. Dual Destinies also has a backlog function, which allows you to go back and look through previous dialogue if you want to refresh your memory.
This is a visual novel of a game, so there is plenty of dialogue. It can put people off because you do sometimes have to scroll through lots of text, some of it pointless and not necessary. For instance, the returning Judge, he drives me mad, will easily get confused by something that has been said and goes completely off topic. Phoenix eventually pulls him back onto the right track, but it does make you want to tear your hair out. There are also puns included that do make you sigh and shake your head. This has been present in all the games and it does need to be included. No matter how annoying it is.
The graphics are gorgeous and make it the best looking game in the series. You can turn the 3D off, but then you don’t see the game in its full glory. Being able to see the courtroom in 3D splendor is a sight to behold. The character models are given more life with the 3D element and seeing their comical reactions up close is fantastic. The actions are more smoother and can bee seen much more clearer then the previous games.
The game does look beautiful without using the 3D, but using it really makes the characters almost pop out from the background when the 3D is activated. The anime cut scenes tie in well with the game and the voice acting is really not that bad. The previous games used the voices of Capcom staff, but now voice actors are involved.
One of the things I love about this series is how over the top, witty and ridiculous it can be! The cases and characters are never straight forward. Demonic birds, magical panties, a shoe thief, crazed bomb expert called Ted Tonate; its brilliantly written! Even the original music has been included and has received a little musical make over. You do catch yourself humming along to some of it, I certainly did! The score has been put together perfectly and you experience tension and suspense, along with relief and calmness.
It really is wonderful to see how the series has flourished and hasn’t been forgotten about. Capcom have had this series under their belt for 9 years and it continues to grow well, adapting to the latest consoles. The fact Phoenix has a cross over adventure with Professor Layton proves the series is still loved and adored by fans worldwide. For those interested in Phoenix Wright and his unique, crazy adventures, I would suggest starting from the very beginning. There you can see how Phoenix started out on his path for justice and also find out more about the people he encounters on his journey to become the best attorney in the land!