Like many an avid gamer, I too have a hideously large backlog and plenty of blind spots for certain games or even full genres. At the same time, there are also experiences I’ve had which are fogged with nostalgia to such an extent that I remember having a good time playing but have no recollection on what made the game good. As such (and as one of the most lazy new year’s resolutions you can imagine), I’m planning to do the old ’52 weeks’ challenge and play at least 52 games this year with documentation of my thoughts here.
This isn’t to say that I plan to complete 52 games this year though – I fear this would completely burn me out (especially considering the amount of open-world and JRPGs on my list). Instead I’ll give these games enough time leave an impression on me (say around 5 hours). If they do, I may continue on with the game and possibly overall series and if not, then at least they’re off my horrific backlog. To keep things as varied as possible as well as keeping up to date, games released in 2016 are allowed.
Game: Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney
Platform: Originally GBA, played on 3DS
I’d hate to be accused of murder in the world of Phoenix Wright. Whatever country’s legal system the game is set in believes very strongly in guilty until proven innocent and that trials have to take place and be completed within 3 days of arrest. Add to that the widespread falsification of evidence by the prosecution and I’d certainly be down and do porridge, unless of course I had a good defense lawyer… or a still wet behind the ears rookie one at least.
Obviously Phoenix Wright’s legal system is this way so that it can be gamified and in this case it does a successful job. Going through the evidence, questioning the witness then hitting them with some decisive evidence to contradict them makes for some thrilling courtroom scenes, all of which are further improved upon by the wacky menagerie of characters and some brilliant one-liners. The game’s over-arching story, while basic, is also engaging as you start to understand the motivations of the people around you which is aided and abetted by a zestful script with a ton of humour (who thought murder trials would be the perfect time for a laugh).
While the court scenes and stories from each trial are exciting and interesting, there are aspects that can drag on way too much. This isn’t as much of an issue when you’re actually being lawyer but the second the trial is adjournment for the day and you go out to some investigations (who knew Phoenix Wright was also a qualified detective?), the pace of the game hits the rocks. There is too much to-ing and fro-ing between locations (not helped by an awful travel system) all because some people won’t talk to you about things without discussing certain topics or being shown specific items and evidence, even if you as the player know what to ask, the option may not become available until you’ve solved some adventure game logic item puzzle.
Artistically, the game follows a visual-novel style with some basic animations but the characters are well realised and fit their descriptions and characters very well. Further, the soundtrack is a winner with an absolutely fantastic score to accompany the high stakes court drama mixed with some more light-hearted character themes but all of which are catchy, memorable and fit the scene they’re being used in, either aesthetically or thematically.
My plan for 52 for 52 was to give each game around 5 hours to see if I liked it. Despite the elongated investigation segments, I decided to go ahead and finish the game – as it turns out, the story makes up for the drop in pace and I really wanted to get back in court and pretend I’m one of the best lawyers around…
Ok, you’re right. The best lawyer around.