don’t tell me the ending to: Phoenix Wright – Ace Attorney
Sometimes, I’m not in front of my TV playing games. Perhaps I’m on a bus, or a car trip, or on the toilet. In these situations, I may be playing either my PSP or DS. Lately, it’s been the DS and the cult title: Phoenix Wright – Ace Attorney.
Originally a port of an old GBA title that was never released outside Japan, the DS version takes little advantage of the touch screen to improve the interface. The game does ooze personality, however, in its cast of eclectic characters. Can a crappy port still be enjoyable if the base game was initially good (but not worth exporting)?
I think so.
First and foremost, be ready to read. A lot. You may think: “But, Aaron, your blog is so long and tedious. If I can read this, I can read anything.”
And that, my friend, is wrong. Because you don’t just have to listen to a character tell you a story. You have to read every line carefully, multiple times. Then you pick out the inconsistency and present evidence to refute it and catch the witness in a lie. At this point, they generally remember something and repeat the whole story again, slightly varied. At this point you reanalyze and repeat.
This, at its core, is pretty fun. Unless you known what you want to say, but can’t figure out how to express it. Say, for example, you KNOW the camera should have taken 2 pictures, but presenting the camera to the court gets you nothing because that isn’t the topic of conversation yet, and even if it were, the camera is not the evidence to present. This then costs you a strike (and after 5 or so, you lose). Imagine a point and click adventure, where picking up items was free, but if you ever went to use one and were wrong, the game would dock you a strike and kill you after a couple of incorrect guesses.
The interface for plowing through these conversations is pretty good. Shoulder buttons let you quickly access inventory, or press for information, while the arrows direct forwards or backwards through the conversation to specific lines of dialog. Navigating the crime scenes, however, is FAR more cumbersome. It’s like playing Mist, except you have to access a menu each time you want to talk somewhere new. And once there, you have to access a menu to then look and click around the area. If they could just streamline this a bit, the game would be much more pleasant to play. As it is, you struggle with the controls to experience the ‘gameplay.’
Oh, and you can yell into your microphone instead of pressing a button. Novel when the game first came out, but I could really care less. Besides, it would probably be odd to here “Hold It!” yelled 3 times in quick succession from the bathroom. (Voice technology really doesn’t ever catch the first time).
It’s hard to tell if you are going to like the game. It is not really one where the initial experience represents the later challenge. The game never gets particularly hard, but it definitely stops holding your hand. It does this at such a slow rate, though, you may not even realize it. I am curious to see how the sequels handle this, but it could explain the cult-ish following. Phoenix Wright (first couple of cases out of 5) is like season 1 of a Star Trek: The Next Generation or Buffy. These shows have rabid followings, so you ASSUME the must be good. Then you watch the first episode and go “Good God, that was awful.” At that point, you either decide to run away, or you stick it out for potential payoff. And the game IS long. Each time I feel the current case must be the last, due to its long length and attention to detail. Then I unlock another case, even longer than the previous. I just learned there is a FIFTH case, when I was certain the 4th one I was on HAD to be the last one.
Phoenix Wright has the payoff. It is a fun story, interesting “gameplay” (old school adventuring), and has that same endearing nature. It is also a game, however, and you have to put up with it’s shitty interface (much like the opening song for Star Trek: Enterprise). If you have the patience to put up with that, then you have the patience necessary for a solid Adventure game. We’ll see how the story wraps up.
“Hold it!” “Hold it!” “Hold it!”