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Published November 17, 2007

Only a developer like Capcom – whose published game history includes an eccentric combination of mega-men, street fighters, and zombie hunters – would think that putting players into the role of a defense attorney for a court-simulation would be a good idea. Aside from the role of a politician, one would be hard-pressed to find a more ridiculed, unexciting profession on which to base a largely text-driven game. Only a developer like Capcom would be crazy enough to step away from the gun-happy, attention-deficit shooters and fighters that it’s famous for creating, to make a trilogy revolving around investigations, interrogations and incriminations. And indeed only Capcom, with their extremely talented writers and localization teams, could pull it off with such style.

Such style in fact, that you won’t even have a hard time convincing your friends that a game which has you shouting “objection!” at your DS is probably one of the most entertaining experiences you’ve had in awhile. After all, how could that sheepish smile on your face be a lie? In Ace Attorney: Justice for All, you’ll spend hours searching for clues, interviewing witnesses, and cross-examining suspects for the sake of absolving your client, the defendant, of guilt for committing a crime he or she did not commit. And you can’t lose, because you’re Phoenix Wright, the brazen, passionate, yet still inexperienced defense lawyer who made a name for himself by winning trials against san francisco dui attorneys it was impossible odds in the prequel: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney.







Some new, but mostly old friends.

On that note, Justice for All is very much a direct, if not bare-bones, sequel; it directly follows the story of the original, shares almost all of the same characters, and has nearly identical gameplay. Although there are some painful plot devices present to ease players into the game (seriously writers, enough with the amnesiacs), the story places heavy emphasis on the assumption that you are already familiar with a majority of the characters and have some type of preexisting attachment to them. For example, the situation of Phoenix’s greatest rival, Prosecutor Miles Edgeworth, and his importance to the story are almost completely lost to anyone unfamiliar with the relationship between the two, which is hardly mentioned at all throughout the course of the game. Thankfully, Janet Tsu and the talented localization team at Capcom Japan continue to deliver the captivating story of the Ace Attorney games to western audiences with an awe-inspiring amount of detail, drama, and humor – the likes of which are practically unparalleled in eastern-developed titles, let alone portable games (save for a select few Square-Enix RPGs, or Working Designs’ release of the Lunar RPGs for the Sega CD and PSOne).

Character interactions often provide a sense of humor that can be described as nothing less than charming – so much so that you’ll often find yourself laughing out loud, or at the very least beaming with an unexpected smile at the goofy scene that just unfolded. But while the game’s writing goes a long way to keep your attention, it does little to cover up the fact that Justice for All, much like its prequel Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, and sequel Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations, is a direct port of a GBA game, which sadly was only released to Japanese audiences. As such, expect to see GBA–era graphics, (which by no means look horrible, but certainly do not push the system’s capabilities) and more noticeably, GBA–era music and midis, many of which are directly stripped from the original game. And although the game possesses the basic stylus controls and microphone functionality present in the original DS outing, Justice for All lacks any type of bonus court case or additional DS functionality (such as blowing into the mic in order to dust for finger prints), which was the entire draw for Japanese gamers to pick up the first DS remake.

Unfortunately, the main addition to the game comes by way of the new “Psyche Locke” system, which challenges players to unravel a witness’ secrets outside of court by pressuring them with pieces of evidence. This is visually represented by an interwoven grid of chain locks, which are broken at each successive correct piece of evidence shoved in front of the secret-holder’s face. Although on the surface the Psyche Locke system might seem like an interesting inclusion, it does little more than create an artificial ramp-up in difficulty by allowing the player to fail the game outside of court by presenting wrong items. Even though you do recover health for completely “unlocking” a character’s secret, you’ll soon come to find the advent of criss-crossing chain locks to be more of a burden than anything else, especially when you’re anxious to move along with the story. It’s a great example of a tacked-on gimmick, placed in a game solely to act as a bullet-point on the back of the box (take a look if you don’t believe me).






The aptly named Psyche Locke.

(see, they know who I am!)

When the jury finally weighs in, the verdict will undoubtedly show that there’s a lot to like in Ace Attorney: Justice for All. Even though those who have played the original Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney will take the most away from this sequel, the excellent story and localization will help all fans, new and old, stick to and uncover this second chapter of the surprisingly addicting Ace Attorney trilogy. And although I would suggest playing the original first, I would never object to someone starting with Justice for All; jury duty’s just never been this much fun.


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