I’ve been buying lots of games for my DS Lite recently, which is unusual for me. I haven’t played video games this much since I was a kid, but Nintendo truly has some fantastic titles available for the DS platform, so I can’t help myself. One game that I’ve been playing for the last couple of weeks is Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney from Capcom.
This game is what’s referred to as a “visual novel.” In other words, it plays out more or less like reading a novel and doesn’t feature any fast and furious action. Most of the time, you’re just scrolling through dialog and choosing from a preset list of actions that your character, the titular Phoenix Wright, can take. In this way, the game reminds me of the Choose Your Own Adventure book series that I read as a kid.
(Do you remember those? You’d get to a certain point in the story and would have to choose from two different courses of action, each one leading you to a different page and a different outcome. Phoenix Wright is sort of like that.)
There are five different stories in the game, and you unlock them in order by successfully completing the previous stories. They’re all murder mysteries, and you take part in the investigation and trial as Phoenix Wright.
During the investigation, you can Examine (evidence and scenes), Talk (to witnesses, detectives, and clients), Move (from one relevant location to another, and Present (evidence or clues to the person you’re speaking with in order to find out more information). During the trial, you can Press witnesses to get them to explain their statements in more detail and you can Present them with evidence from the Court Record when you catch them in lies.
Each case gets progressively harder as you move along, but they can all be solved — even if you have to resort to trial and error to do so. There are also complete walkthroughs available online if you want to see how the cases are supposed to be solved (with no errors).
Overall, I think Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is a pretty fun game. I can’t really sit there and play it for hours at a time because I find that all the reading gives me a headache after a while, but I usually pick it up everyday to do a little at a time.
I bought this game for $29.99 through Amazon.com, but felt that price was a bit high for what I got in return. I do plan on getting the next title in the series, but hope to find it one sale for under $20 somewhere.
Anyway, if you’ve never tried one of these visual novels, I suggest going for it. Phoenix Wright is a pretty good place to start!