You’ve gotta hand it to Capcom for being one of, if not the most prominent, publisher to continue to provide players with remasters or even just slightly updated versions of games from its vast catalog on current hardware. Owners of the Nintendo 3DS have been getting the opportunity to play various Ace Attorney titles and the latest one to get added to the eShop digital store is none other than Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney.
It’s brave of Capcom to bring back what is arguably the title that Ace Attorney fans found to be the weakest released so far. This opinion stems from the fact that original main character Phoenix Wright is not only limited to a supporting role, but has also seemingly given up on the quirky law system that Ace Attorney is famous for. Topping it off, is the fact that Phoenix Wright both dresses and behaves as some sort of lazy hipster who wouldn’t seem out of place standing in the same spot reserved to the oddballs that the defence attorneys usually have to put up with during testimony phases of each trial.
For those new to the series who somehow wish to start with the fourth outing in the series, Ace Attorney is about a lawyer type character who has to prove that his/her client is innocent. Each episode consists of a case and it usually involves the murder of someone in the most outlandish manner possible. The game plays like a text adventure with players having to find clues during an investigation phase and then using both these and inconsistencies in each testimony provided in court to eventually unravel all the insane twists and find out just who the culprit really is. Each title also makes use of special abilities and in this one it comes in the form of Apollo’s ability to notice when someone is lying.
Those that have previously played the title on the Nintendo DS will easily notice how it still holds up visuals wise after so many years. It certainly helps that it was the first Ace Attorney to be specifically developed for the Nintendo DS, but it’s also easily the one that makes the best use of colour. It helps that it is also the one that seems to be more carefree in comparison to what happens in the other titles.
Given that it was Ace Attorney’s first proper entry on Nintendo’s unique Nintendo DS handheld hardware, it also meant that there was a focus to properly demonstrate the various new ways that games could be played with such unique hardware. For example, the microphone is used to blow away fingerprint dust in a mini-game to reveal fingerprints… or even toe prints. Whilst somewhat gimmicky, it’s still interesting to make use of such features many years later on Nintendo 3DS hardware and it also serves as a nice reminder of a time when Nintendo itself and other publishers/developers made better use of such unique hardware features in games.
Whilst Ace Attorney titles are well known for making players go back and forth between locations, the amount of time that is required to do so in Apollo Justice might test the patience of some players. This is usually the result of unclear goals during the investigation phase. Despite having played the title before on the Nintendo DS, not presenting a gun during one of the cases resulted in spending a significant amount of time going back and forth between locations to see what was making it not possible to progress further. There’s also the case where it’s necessary to go to one or more locations to get to another location and this can result in spending a significant amount of time on what feels like a trivial task. It feels like having a list of previously visited locations to instantly jump to would be a more efficient way to go about making players constantly revisit the same places.
At least the court room drama is still just as insane as in the other titles. Even if the prosecutor in this title isn’t quite as intimidating as those that poor Phoenix Wright had to face in his time. Greenhorn Apollo Justice also might have his own qualities that make him an acceptable protagonist, but it’s often the case that trusty sidekick Trucy comes to the rescue with her wit and… magical panties.
It’s a shame that the title didn’t get updated with a feature found in recent Ace Attorney titles that makes it possible to read recent dialog, since it would have made it less likely to get stuck at some point. Which is quite odd given that Capcom went to the trouble of making it look rather nice by making it possible to play Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney with 3D effects on.
It’s quite a remarkable achievement when even what is perhaps one of the weakest entries in the Ace Apollo series is still an enjoyable journey. The cases presented might not feel as long or be as captivating as those presented in the original trilogy, but Apollo Justice’s standalone adventure is still worth experience for the first time or perhaps a second or fifth time for those who have played it on the Nintendo DS or on a mobile device.