Sunday, August 12, 2012

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attoney; Ace Game

Well, this post has been delayed due to visiting family, odd work schedules, and general busyness.  Also, a little procrastination due to my latest addiction, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, which you can find on the Apple App Store for $5.  Go buy it.  Now.  Seriously.  Stop reading this and buy the game.  This blog will be here when you get back.  BUY IT.  

You want a link, here's a goddamn link:

OK, for those who remain unconvinced, let me tell you why you should support the Ace Attorney series.  For starters, there is nothing else like it on the market.  Even this morning, I had extreme difficulty describing the game to someone.  I tried to say it is like a odd mix of point and click detective game and a little bit of critical thinking truth and dare game.  Add in clever and humorous writing and Monty Python-esque characters with  extremely clever names (half of which are puns, which I actually enjoyed), and you've sort of got the Ace Attorney series.  Confused?  Most likely, because that's how unique the Ace Attorney series is.  But let me try and clear it up.

The Man, the Myth, the Legend.
You are Phoenix Wright, a up and coming defense lawyer in Japan.  (Yeah, I know it's supposed to take place in America, but the game is so obviously influenced by Japanese culture that it actually makes more sense to just SAY it takes place in Japan.)  The game takes place in episodes, with each episode taking place over one of Wright's cases.  The game is then separated AGAIN into two different different styles of play: an "Investigation" section, where Wright interviews suspects and witnesses and looks for clues to use during the court case.  Then, when you find all potential clues, the game skips forward to Wright's time in court, where he must deconstruct the witnesses' faulty testimonies (using the evidence you found during the "Investigation" portions) in order to clear his clients' name.  Both sections are full of clever and head-scratching puzzles, clever writing, and plenty of twists and turns that keep you on the edge of your seat. 

Preview of Investigation Mode.  This woman's name is Wendy OLDBAG.  YA GET IT?
And as engaging and entertaining as the gameplay is, the real star of the show is the writing.  Since the game is pretty much an interactive book, you got to have clever writing.  And boy, does this series have it.  It doesn't just have humorous characters with clever dialogue, but it also has some of the most likable and even fleshed-out supporting characters I have seen in any form of media.  From Phoenix's assistant, Maya Fey (M. see what they did there?), whose jubilant and bright personality brings a smile to anyone's face, to the gigantic manchild that is Detective Dick Gumshoe (YOU SEE WHAT THEY DID THERE?), every new character that graces the screen is full of fascinating character traits, making you look forward to each new character and inspring progression.

There is a shitload of characters.  And you will love ALL OF THEM.
But the absolute stars of the game and the prime examples of the series's great writing is the prosecutors, particularly Miles Edgeworth and his adoptive sister, Franziska von Karma.  

Purple suit and a cravat?  MAXIMUM SWAG DETECTED.
That whip is worrying.
At the beginning of their respective games, both Miles and Franziska play the roles of the snobby rich villains you've seen in every 1980's sports movie ever (talking down to Wright, calling him a fool and such).  But after Wright eventually defeats them, tarnishing their perfect win records (the thing they based their entire life's motivations on), they begin to have changes in their personality and eventually become friends to Wright.  They grow as characters, and the player grows to like them.  For example, when I started playing the game, I couldn't stand Edgeworth for his aforementioned snootiness.  But, as time went on, and I saw his growth from snooty villain to kind, yet still socially awkward, hero, I actually began to root for him.  Now, I can even say he's one of my favorite characters in gaming.  He's got a sick cravat, he's a closet nerd, and he has no idea how to deal with women, though they seem to latch on to him to a great extent; what's not to love?

His only weakness is camaraderie. (Seriously, he's trying to flee because he felt uncomfortable with everyone being happy.)
I must admit these games aren't perfect, however.  The gameplay is a little bit too structured, making it seem like you are just going through the motions the game is giving you rather than making it seem like you are the great detective and lawyer the game makes you out to be.  And, like most adventure games, there is often one solution to problems that may not seem obvious at first, leading to some puzzles going from puzzling to aggravating very easily.  This also aggravates me because I could always think up several flaws in a witness's testimony, yet Wright has to find the most convoluted way to prove their lies.  Also, the story has some major flaws at times, such as the fact that the police almost NEVER consider things as important as motive in their investigations.  Finally, I must say I don't really like Phoenix.  He's the clumsy, sarcastic, yet easily flappable everyman they we are supposed to latch on to and identify with, but I found him to be too much of a wimp and really, a very shitty lawyer. 

Yet, despite the flaws, these games are great.  Unique, witty, and all around fun.  AND ONLY 5 DOLLARS.  FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, BUY IT.

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