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Article Eclipse Expounds - Phoenix Wright, Ace Attorney: Spirit of Justice

Discussion in 'Video Games' started by Eclipse, Sep 14, 2016.

  1. Eclipse

    Level 82
    Apr 3, 2015
    Marshadium Z ★★★★★Dragon Fang ★★★★Luxury Ball ★★★Comet Shard ★★★★Mewnium Z  ★★★★★
    Greetings, Valourians! My name is Eclipse, and on this fine day I have interesting news to share, as you've no doubt gathered by the title.

    As you've no doubt noticed, there's now three articles in a row here pertaining to video games in some way - reviews, news, or something else altogether. These are intended to become regular occurrences, as we keep you informed of not only upcoming events but also share our past gaming experiences, and invite you all to share in the same.

    There isn't a set time schedule for when these will be published - it will depend largely on current events and how much need or want there will be to post something new. Rest assured that, whatever we show to you all, we show for you to enjoy it.

    For my first foray, I will also be reviewing a video game I've played as of late. As I'm still trying to decide on a good writing style, how I write my next may differ than how I write this one. Eventually I might want to make some bits formulaic, but for now my reviews will tend to be a bit more free-form. My first review here will be of a recent game that many of you are probably familiar with:


    It's been 11 years since Phoenix Wright started his lawyer days in the very first Ace Attorney game (both in-universe and in real life, if you're going off the outside-Japan release dates), and since then he's come a very long way, having journeyed to many places, met many people, and picked up a few recruits on the way.
    Now in the latest title, Spirit of Justice, we see Phoenix Wright go to visit the Kingdom of Khura'in, a small country where the culture is strong and spiritual power is rampant - but is teetering on the edge of a revolution, which threatens to destroy it. Throughout the game, you will tackle on various trials as a defense attorney, and get to the heart of what fuels the flames of revolt.

    Now that you have an idea for the scene of the game, let's begin this review by discussing how to play.

    Please note in this review that there will be some SPOILERS. I will not speak of any major plot details of any kind in this review, but I may say something that may surprise the reader. When that happens I will make the offending text invisible; you'll see a large gap, but you can highlight the invisible text with your mouse to see it.

    Gameplay in the Ace Attorney series is fairly straightforward - it's a visual novel, after all, so it's not particularly taxing or confusing. The game progresses and plays in a chronological order, where completion of one part of the story lets you move on to the next one. These are broken up into ample-sized segments, to signify progression. This is the same across all titles, though for this review I will word it according to how this game performs it.

    The story in all Ace Attorney games is broken up into "episodes", each of which has a single case for you to tackle. Spirit of Justice isn't much different, but with a slight twist - although there are only 5 episodes, the game has 6 cases (the episode
    #5, which is the last episode
    contains two cases back-to-back), with at least 1 more to be available via DLC. Not counting any potential DLC cases, it is the longest game in the Ace Attorney series to date, only slightly beating out Trials & Tribulations.

    Here are some basic controls. You can use the buttons or the Touch Screen for most of these (in the case of the Touch Screen it's mostly the matter of tapping the correct button):
    + Control Pad - Move between menu options/evidence pieces, or rotate between different viewing angles of a crime scene.
    Circle Pad - Move your cursor around when examining an area, picture, or similar.
    A Button - Confirm a selection or advance to the next piece of dialogue. Tapping the appropriate button on the Touch Screen also works.
    B Button - Go back/deny a selection, finish looking at a piece of evidence, or speed through dialogue (hold down B to do this). Speeding through dialogue can also be done by pressing and holding the centre box on the Touch Screen.
    Start Button - Save your game. You can do this at any time, and the bottom-right button on the Touch Screen does this too. When in this menu, press R to return to the title screen, or press X to open the Options menu (which controls sounds mainly).
    Y Button - Gives you a backlog of all the text spoken so far. The bottom-left button on the Touch Screen does this too.
    R Button - Opens the Court Record. When cross-examining, this opens the menu to object to a witness's statement. In a crime scene, this can rotate your viewing angle to the right (just like Right on the +-pad).
    X Button - Presents evidence, or whatever the centre-top button on the Touch Screen is displaying at the time.
    L Button - When cross-examining, lets you press a witness's statement. In a crime scene, this can rotate your viewing angle to the left (just like Left on the +-pad).

    You play the part of a criminal defense attorney whose end goal is to gather evidence for your case, attempt to prove your client innocent, but most importantly discover the truth behind every case to its fullest. Story segments will be 1 of 2 types: Investigation, or Trial.

    The Investigation segments are where the bulk of your evidence-gathering work takes place. You will move between locations, talk with people to gather information, and examine areas you visit. When in a location, you'll be presented with 4 options: Examine, Move, Talk, and Present - and at some times not all of those options will be available (for example, Talk and Present aren't there if there's no one to talk to).
    Examine lets you examine the area - move your Circle Pad around the area, and once you find an area of interest, your cursor (a gloved hand) will glow red. You can then tap the Touch Screen or press A to learn more information about that object. Areas you've already examined will give the cursor a tick mark when highlighted. In some locations you can also press Left or Right to examine the area from different angles (though this is generally relegated to crime scenes).
    Move lets you move to another area you can visit. You'll be traveling around a lot, so it's important to note all the locations. You can move to any area from any other area.
    Talk lets you talk or question the person (or people) who is currently in your area. This will be your primary method of information gathering, and you'll need to talk with people as much as you can to progress the story. Do pay attention to what they say, though - your case will literally depend on it.
    Present lets you present a piece of evidence you have on hand to the person. Sometimes this will unlock new dialogue trees, other times this may result in laughter or contempt, and still other times the person will have no idea what that piece of evidence means. When in doubt, just present your attorney's badge - something is bound to happen, at least.

    As you progress through the investigation, you will definitely be accumulating new evidence - which can be physical objects, photos, documents, information...the list goes on. You can look at any evidence you have on-hand via the Court Record, which you can access by pressing R (or tapping the Court Record button on the Touch Screen). Each piece of evidence has a description, and some pieces have further details you can view by pressing A when that piece is selected. The Court Record also stores profiles of all people you've met in the case, as well as notes that detail the various tasks you need to perform during the Investigation. The Court Record is accessible at all times, though the Notes tab is only present in the Investigation.

    That covers it for the Investigation controls - now we move on to the Trial.

    In the Trial segments, you must use the evidence you've amassed on-hand to plead your case, defend your client, and find the true culprit. Be warned that the prosecution will do everything in its power to defeat your case, so stay on your toes. There are three main parts to trials: cross-examinations, what I'm going to call 'decision points', and either Insights or the Mood Matrix.

    For cross-examination, the witness on the stand will make a number of statements for you to analyze. You can scroll around to read them, backwards and forwards, as desired. You're given two main commands: Press, and Present.
    With Press ("
    Hold it!
    "), you ask for more detailed information from the witness on that statement, to try and draw more out. This is usually done for statements that are more vague and you need more data for. This can have a number of outcomes, but the most common is that a new statement is added, or an existing one is revised.
    With Present ("
    "), you attempt to point out a contradiction or other inaccuracy in the witness's statement. To do this, you must select the correct statement, but also select the correct piece of evidence that stands opposed to the statement. If you present the wrong piece of evidence, you will be presented with a penalty, which will reduce your life-

    -oh, I haven't mentioned that, have I? You start the day's trial proceedings with a 'life bar' of 5. If you Present but give the wrong piece of evidence, you lose 1 life. At certain decision points, you will also be given a few choices to pick, and choosing the wrong answer also makes you lose 1 life. Steeper, more vital decisions may cause you to lose more than 1 life if answered incorrectly. When your life reaches 0, you get a Game Over: you automatically lose the trial and your client is declared Guilty. When that happens, you can restart from the last place you saved, OR from the start of that story segment. Once you finish a segment, your life returns to 5.

    Decision points can come up pretty much anywhere in the trial - in between cross-examinations, in the middle of pressing, or just any time you've hit a roadblock. Progressing the trial involves you objecting to the right statements in cross-examinations, yes, but much of the progression is determined by the decision points. Most (but not all) decision points will cause a penalty to your life, so choose wisely. Decision points can simply be choosing from a list of possible answers, but it can also be presenting a piece of evidence to support or disprove a claim, or even point out something in a photograph.

    The Insights and Mood Matrix are two rather unique pieces that show up in trials. Each functions a little differently, but in essence they are like derivatives of cross-examination. I'll explain Insights first, since you run into one of those first.

    Insights are the debut trial gimmick for Spirit of Justice, much like the
    multiple-witness cross-examination
    was for Layton vs. Wright, and the
    Mood Matrix
    for Dual Destinies. In an Insight, you are given a vision of
    a murder victim's last moments before his or her death
    , accompanied by the person's senses (sight, sound, smell, taste, touch) appearing as words, except for sight, which is seen directly. Each Insight comes with a number of statements (like a cross-examination), and your job is to point out which statement in the Insight conflicts with a sense viewed in the Insight. This will usually happen several times, so that you can glean all the information out of the Insight in the trial.

    The Mood Matrix is more precisely an alternate form of cross-examination, and is used primarily by
    Athena Cykes
    . As its name suggests, it's meant to analyse a witness's mood, and comes about when the witness is undergoing emotional distress. Your job here is to analyse the witness's statements, much like the cross-examination, but instead you are pointing out which of the witness's emotions contradicts which of his or her statements. Much like Insights, you'll have to do this a few times to get all the information. At some points when you're using the Mood Matrix, you will have to Present a piece of evidence just like with a cross-examination, and in those cases it works the exact same way.


    Characters in the Ace Attorney series are standardly varied and amusing, and this game's cast is no different. You will meet a lot of new characters, but also meet and see a lot of old familiar ones as well. Because of that, I highly recommend you to have played the 5 previous Ace Attorney titles. You don't need to in order to fully enjoy this game, but it will help you better understand some of the events that are referred to (the episode
    #2, Magical Turnabout
    in particular has many of these).

    Below I'm going to inform you of some of the characters that will be in the game, if you want something to look forward to if you don't have the game. For those who don't want to know, that's fine - I'm going to put everyone in spoiler tags. There are also a few minor spoilers beyond that too, but those will be in invisible text, like the rest.

    "Major Characters" are those that play a strong role in the story and appear often. "Minor Characters" are those who appear less often but are still important. I am only going to put a handful of characters here, not all of them - I want to spoil as little as possible!

    Major Characters:

    Phoenix Wright is the main protagonist of the game and of the series, having appeared in every Ace Attorney game to date (which makes sense, as it is effectively his series). Having begun his career 11 years ago as a lawyer, he is the head of the Wright Anything Agency (formerly
    Wright & Co. Law Offices
    ) and the guardian of its three residents: Apollo, Athena, and Trucy (all of whom I'll explain later). He has a reputation of turning trials around at the most crucial moments, and smiling even at the toughest of times when the chips are down, qualities which he has instilled in his followers. He is 36 years old as of the events of Spirit of Justice.

    Apollo Justice is the second lawyer of the Wright Anything Agency, and like Phoenix is a powerful attorney in his own right. He first joined the agency during the events of his titular game Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney and has since become a mainstay, now having been a lawyer for 2 years. His most prominent features are his "Chords of Steel", his catchphrase "I'm fine!", and his distinctive hairstyle, a pair of upward-pointing horns (well, it's what everyone calls them, anyway). I myself remember him most for being a skillful snarker and a powerful determinator, something he even surpasses Wright at. He is 24 years old as of this game.

    Athena Cykes is the youngest member of the Wright Anything Agency's lawyer repertoire, as she joined up only 1 year before, during the events of Dual Destinies, her debut game. While she is a lawyer by trade, her most prominent skill is her knowledge of analytical psychology, used to discern a person's emotions, combined with her highly sensitive hearing, able to detect emotional fluctuations in a person's voice. She's young and easily excitable, and comes off as very inexperienced (even more than Apollo did in his early days), but like the rest can bounce back easily and never fails to keep a smile on her face. She is 19 years old in this game.

    Nahyuta Sahdmadhi is this game's resident prosecutor, and an entirely new character to the series, making his debut here in Spirit of Justice - he's the one on the far right of the box art. He hails from the Kingdom of Khura'in, and is not only a prosecutor of international repute but also a Khura'inist monk. His trademark articles of clothing are a sash that is constantly undulating, as well as a set of prayer beads about his neck. Like most everyone from Khura'in, he holds a great disdain for defense attorneys, often using the word "putrid" to describe them, and believes that the courtroom is the place where both victim and culprit alike are to receive their last rites before passing on, hence his moniker "Last Rites Prosecutor". He also has his own objection, "
    Satora! (a Khura'inese word)
    ", akin to
    Simon Blackquill's "Silence!"
    from Dual Destinies. He is 25 years old.

    Minor Characters:

    Alhbi Ur'gaid (no, I'm serious) is a young enterprising tour guide from Khura'in, and is the first to meet Phoenix Wright once he arrives in the country. While still a boy, he has a fanatical expression with his country and its history, and in addition to being a tour guide is undergoing monastic training to become a monk one day. He serves as an excellent source of information to Phoenix Wright. He is indirectly
    the reason why Phoenix Wright has started taking trials in Khura'in, as he is the accused in the first trial
    . He carries a bag around with him everywhere that he stores all kinds of stuff in. He is 9 years old.

    Maya Fey is Phoenix Wright's old friend from early in his lawyer career, and functioned as his assistant over the course of the first 3 games. As revealed during Trials & Tribulations, she has been undergoing training to become the new master of the Kurain Channeling Technique, an ability passed down through an ancestry of spirit mediums, and in the course of her training (which is nearly over) has come to the Kingdom of Khura'in 2 years before the game's events (around the time of Apollo Justice), due to its strong association with spirit mediums. Despite being much older now, she's still the same old childish whimsical yet responsible Maya that older fans of the series know and love. She is 28 years old as of Spirit of Justice.

    Trucy Wright is the adoptive daughter of Phoenix Wright, and a famous stage magician in her own right, having performed in one show or another since the age of 8 years old. She first debuted in Apollo Justice as Apollo's co-counsel, and even though she has since been supplanted of that role by Athena, she still remains an important and vital character, due to her relationship with Phoenix Wright, as well as Apollo, who she considers her best friend - despite using him as a guinea pig for magic tricks most of the time. As initially stated in Apollo Justice, and re-affirmed in this game, she is the
    successor to Troupe Gramarye, a legendary band of stage magicians who once took the world by storm
    . She is 17 years old as of this game.

    Ema Skye is a detective and a forensic scientist, and is standardly the person in charge of investigating crime scenes. She debuted in the DS remake of the first Ace Attorney game and came back in Apollo Justice as the crime scene investigator; she disappeared from the next game before reclaiming that role back again in this game. She's very peppy and easy to get along with, and has a strong love and obsession with forensic tests, particularly fingerprinting and luminol, to the point where her fingerprinting tools have become a running gag. Despite technically being on the side of the police, she has always been an aid to Phoenix and his gang with gathering evidence at the crime scene. She is 27 years old in this game.

    Dhurke is mentioned a few times over the course of the story (as early as the first case, actually) as the leader of a revolutionary group, planning to bring change to Khura'in and its legal system. For most of the game he serves as an invisible antagonist, only mentioned and not heard, but becomes more visible (and important) the more the game progresses, coming to a head near the end of the game. I can't say any more about Dhurke without majorly spoiling things, even with invisible text, so you'll have to go play the game for yourself.


    Graphics, music, and other miscellany can really aid in a game's experience, so it's worth noting briefly before I close the review. In terms of visuals, interface, and even trial progression, it functions very similarly to its immediate predecessor Dual Destinies - which uses 3D sprites instead of 2D, has panning cameras and interactive backgrounds, and...is basically what you'd expect a 3DS game to be. Spirit of Justice retains much of that and refines it even further - the sprites are crisper, the backgrounds are neater, the music is just as good if not better, and the progression is very stable. In fact, the only thing I actually have a complaint about is some of the sequences where you
    have to test some evidence with fingerprints, as the controls have odd sensitivity and it's hard to tell exactly where to search
    , though if you look past that you won't have any problems.

    In essence, it took everything good about Dual Destinies and made it better, and it took everything bad about Dual Destinies and either got rid of it or made it good. In that sense it feels and functions very much like one of the older AA games - but beyond that it has a lot of callbacks and other references to all 5 of the past AA games, all with about equal intensity. In fact, many past important characters return in some fashion or another; only a handful of older characters do not. As I said before, you don't have to play the past games to enjoy Spirit of Justice, but it definitely will help you enjoy it more, as the AA games are very much a single continuous story.

    Speaking of callbacks, the game has some DLC that comes along with it. Right now there is only a costume DLC set that is free as of the time of this writing, but there is 1 DLC case planned, which features the return of
    Larry Butz
    , who has not been seen since Trials & Tribulations. It has been released in Japanese, but not yet outside of that. The exact release date is as of yet unknown.
    The costume DLC set contains 3 costumes, 1 each for Phoenix, Apollo, and Athena:
    Phoenix's alternate costume is "The Tiger", based on
    the attire of Furio Tigre, who once impersonated Phoenix
    , originally from Trials & Tribulations.
    Apollo's alternate costume is "School Days", based on
    his school uniform from high school, as seen in his flashbacks with Clay Terran
    , originally from Dual Destinies.
    Athena's alternate costume is "Très Bien", based on
    the attire of the waitresses at Très Bien, the French restaurant
    , originally from Trials & Tribulations.

    There are also 2 "theatre" DLCs available, which describe what-if situations in alternate universes to Ace Attorney, with hilarious results (yes, more hilarious than even the usual). Each of the "theatre" DLCs also comes with a theme for your 3DS main menu (downloaded separately, but part of the purchase).

    Spirit of Justice, just like Dual Destinies, is accessible only by 3DS E-Shop download; only Japan had it released with a physical copy option (same with DD). It's the same price as Dual Destinies, and takes about 6800 blocks or so to download. If you want to find copies of the other Ace Attorney games to play through before Spirit of Justice, here's where you can find them:

    The first 3 games (Ace Attorney, Justice for All, and Trials & Tribulations) were all for the Nintendo DS, though they have also been re-released as a package together called Ace Attorney Trilogy, which is available for 3DS (download only) and iOS.
    Apollo Justice is for the Nintendo DS, but is not available otherwise, so is probably the hardest one to find.
    Dual Destinies is for the 3DS and download-only (as said above), but is also available on iOS.
    Layton vs Wright is for the 3DS and exists as both download and physical, but it's a spinoff title and isn't alluded to at all in other games. I still recommend it, though, if only because the graphics and design look and feel even smoother than Spirit of Justice (even though it was released before Dual Destinies).


    And there you have it - I spent this past week playing through Spirit of Justice and I loved pretty much every minute of it. There wasn't any moment where I wasn't bored, there wasn't any point where I was frustrated (but I was stuck a few times, as is to be expected), and the plot and cases had me hanging on and listening to the bitter end. This may be the hype just off release speaking, but I honestly think this game is superb, even by Ace Attorney standards - and it definitely makes up for the markedly hit-and-miss feelings I have towards Dual Destinies (which I like, but I have problems with how they handled a few things).

    Hopefully I have enticed you to acquire this game - or if you have it already, to work your way through it quicker - and if that's the case, then I've done my job! Just be aware, since Ace Attorney is a plot-heavy game, be careful about what you say or how you say it - if you have any comments that you want to say here but could be taken as a spoiler by someone else, treat them as such.

    Thanks for reading, and I'll see you all very soon!

    ◈◈ From the desk of Eclipse, the Pure-Black Dragon ◈◈
    Megarai111 likes this.

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