Nintendo 3DS Reviews

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice Review

Defend your clients in a thrilling and entertaining addition to the Ace Attorney series.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice
Developer: Capcom
Price: $29.99
Platform: 3DS

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Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice is the sixth main game in the Ace Attorney series. Longtime protagonist Phoenix Wright travels to the distant Kingdom of Khura’in, while junior lawyers Apollo Justice and Athena Cykes handle cases at the home office. Along the way, they’ll deal with wacky characters both old and new, memorable witnesses, and some of the most ridiculous pun names the series has seen so far. Ace Attorney’s usual humor is strong in Spirit of Justice, with both absurd situations and sharper jabs at politics and the media.

Gameplay is divided into two parts: trials, where you cross-examine witnesses and point out contradictions to defend your client, and investigations, where you examine crime scenes and talk to characters. Trials in Spirit of Justice are more challenging than those in Dual Destinies, but Spirit of Justice retains its predecessor’s “consult” system, where you can get an optional hint after you’ve given enough wrong answers.

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Meanwhile, the investigations have found the ideal balance point between freedom and ease. Any area can be examined, a feature which was removed in Dual Destinies, but you’ll never need to fall back on pixel-hunting. The cursor changes to indicate whether an object can be investigated and what spots you’ve already checked, and the dialogue alerts you when you’ve found everything important in a given location.

Each of the three main characters has a specific mechanic they can use to gain new information. Phoenix can break through a character’s Psyche-Locks to reveal their lies, Apollo’s bracelet lets him pick up on nervous tics, and Athena’s Mood Matrix allows her to analyze witnesses’ emotions. A new feature used in Khura’in, the Divination Séance, displays the victim’s final moments in court.The Divination Séance adds a nice challenge and is handled well. Unfortunately, while all of the mechanics are used, the Psyche-Locks in particular feel unnecessary and underutilized.

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But gameplay isn’t the main focus of an Ace Attorney game—the story and characters are. As is typical for the series, Spirit of Justice introduces a new prosecutor, Nahyuta Sahdmadhi. It’s been a while since we’ve had a prosecutor as hostile as Nahyuta, whose calm demeanor belies his aggressive insults and holier-than-thou attitude. However, even he has his endearing aspects, and there’s more to him than meets the eye.

The overarching plot is strong, as are the individual cases. Some fans might take issue with the fourth case, as it doesn’t contribute to the larger story, but it is a lighthearted breather in a game where the stakes are otherwise quite high. Spirit of Justice builds on previous Ace Attorney games more than Dual Destinies did, which makes it a difficult entry point for newcomers, but it’s an exciting ride filled with surprising twists, good character development for its principal characters, and a satisfying narrative all around.

The Final Word
Although Spirit of Justice doesn’t utilize all of its mechanics to their full potential, it is filled with the strong storytelling and humor fans of the series expect. It is a must-play for any Ace Attorney fan.

– MonsterVine Review Score: 4.5 out of 5 – Great

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice Review
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