Sunday, January 21, 2007

Phoenix Wright Justice for All

Phoenix Wright Justice for All / Gyakuten Saiban 2
Adventure - Nintendo DS
Battery Backup - 1 save, 1 quicksave
1 player

One of the things I love about this series is the continuity of story. GS2 is a direct follow-up to the first game. Events that occured in the original will be referenced here. Characters from the past will return here as well. Every action has a consequence for this game, and games to come. In case you missed it, Gyakuten Saiban is a visual novel where you play the role of a defense attourney. You'll have to do investigations to gather evidence, and then find contradictions in court to win your case. It's a refreshing idea, and Capcom has executed it well. Once GBA games, they have been rereleased for the DS with touch-screen functionality for easier interface. Once again, GS2 DS has both Japanese and English options. Justice for All only has English.

There's not a whole lot to say about GS2. If you've played the first, you know what to expect. Slight differences exist, though. The first game had an exclusive DS-only case. This one does not. Instead, it has four total cases. But the cases are fairly long and still make this a 15-20 hour game. Also, whereas the original generally had 3 days of court proceedings, GS2 keeps them to 2. This might seem like you're getting less, but that's not the case. There are some additions that change up the style of play.

The major addition is "psych-locks". You'll receive an item that allows you to get a sense of a person's heart. If someone is harboring a secret, you're able to see that they have locked their heart away from you. The only way to break the locks are to present them evidence that you already kinda know what they're hiding from you. Then they'll confess with you the truth. What this means is that while the court sessions are shortened, investigation sequences are elongated. You'll also be penalized if you present wrong evidence in unlocking the psych-locks, however if you successfully unlock them all, you can remove penalties. This creates a feeling of tension both inside and outside of the courtroom. I welcome the change, as it makes this second outing feel slightly different from the first.

Another addition to the game is the ability to use people as "evidence". You'll have your normal list of evidence items, but there's also profiles of each character you come in contact with. So that way, you can ask people you meet about other characters. I also enjoyed this addition because it helps to flesh out the characters more. Sometimes the details are important for the case, and other times it's just background information. Either way, it helps the game to feel less rigid.

Overall, I liked the game, but for different reasons than the first. In honesty, I thought the cases themselves were less interesting/more bizarre. Maybe I thought they were less interesting -because- they were more bizarre. It just removes a layer of realism so it's harder to take seriously. Nevertheless, the additions in gameplay were interesting, and I can't wait to see what else they do. Justice for All/GS2 also furthered the running continuity of its world and I can already see that things are set in motion for future titles. GS3 DS couldn't come sooner.