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Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Justice for All (DS) artwork

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Justice for All (DS) review


"For starters, there is no need to bother with this one until you've played and finished Ace Attorney. The story picks up from the events of the past game, with just enough flashbacks to be able to play it separately if you must, but you'll get more out of it knowing what led up to the events here. The gameplay is also virtually identical, and there a recurring characters and locations to boot. Essentially, Justice for All feels like 4 new cases in the same game. "



For starters, there is no need to bother with this one until you've played and finished Ace Attorney. The story picks up from the events of the past game, with just enough flashbacks to be able to play it separately if you must, but you'll get more out of it knowing what led up to the events here. The gameplay is also virtually identical, and there a recurring characters and locations to boot. Essentially, Justice for All feels like 4 new cases in the same game.

As before, your role is that of the defense attorney Phoenix Wright, in a world where the courtroom very much believes in guilty until proven innocent, prosecutors are more concerned with their win record than with justice, and innocent people have a nasty habit of getting swiped up for somebody else's murder, then needing you to bail them out. This is done through alternating investigation in courtroom scenes. While investigating, you move from place to place, question witnesses, tap objects on each still screen to collect evidence, and try to find out just what really happened. After each of those scenes, you need to make your discoveries count in court; as the prosecution calls witnesses, you carefully investigate their testimonies line by line, press them for more details where necessary, and reveal their lies and inconsistencies by showing the right evidence at the right time. It's all sweet and simple and grows on you before you know it.

Like Ace Attorney, Justice for All was originally a Japanese GBA game, and this time there isn't a fifth DS-specific case added on. This also means that the 5th case of the last game is essentially non-canonical or at least a retrofit, with the story picking up after its 4th case instead. The four cases presented also feel just a little bit shorter, with none of them spanning more than 2 game days.

One new gameplay construct comes in the form of psyche-locks. Early on in the game, Phoenix dabbles into psychic abilities (which play a greater part in this game than they did in the first, on the whole) and becomes capable of finding out when somebody is deliberately withholding information. When this happens, he'll see - in his mind's eye, I guess - chains and locks appear over the character in question, and to get the information he wants, he must present the right evidence to break through their mental barriers, so to speak. This never happens in court, only during investigations, and it's a good addition because it adds some spice and suspense where it was needed the most. This also factors into a slightly overhauled "penalty" system during the actual court cases: Phoenix now has a hit point bar and he loses hit points as he presents the wrong evidence either in court or while trying to break through a psyche-lock. Zero hit points during court mean a guilty verdict and a game over. No such risk during investigations, but obviously if you mess up a lot here, that means less of a margin for error during the upcoming court session.

The quality of the storyline is consistent with the first game, with the same number of nicely up to date pop references, humorous characters old and new, a healthy helping of drama, and an especially powerful final case which finally breaks some of the traditions of the cases you've played so far and contains some unexpected and powerful twists (and the potential for a particularly depressing "bad ending" if you mess up the endgame).

Value for money is, all in all, a little less than the original, owing largely to not having a huge 5th DS-only case to tackle and the fact that only little has been done to update the formula (though I did like the new addition). So the 7/10 I'm giving this is partially based on this being a more of the same deal. But chances are, if you're like me, more of the same is precisely what you were after when you finished the first game, in which case you'll want this one too.

Rating: 7/10

sashanan's avatar
Community review by sashanan (September 10, 2007)

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