Another enjoyable Ace Attorney game.
Apollo Justice is the fourth game of the semi-popular 'Phoenix Wright' or 'Gyakuten Saiban' as they are known in Japan.
While the original 3 games with the limited exception of the final case in Ace Attorney were ported from the GBA, Apollo Justice is entirely built ground up for the DS system making it a first for Capcoms franchise.
Incase you are unaware of the concept of Ace Attorney games, you play as a defense attorney named Phoenix Wright (or in this game) the new rookie Apollo Justice. The main crux of the gameplay is a somewhat updated version of what a point and click adventure would have been 12 years or so ago. Proceedings always start with being introduced to an accused client through your mutual friends who bring with them a complicated back story and an always bizarre unwillingness to tell you what actually happened. You then after a bit of back story proceed to investigate the alleged crime and start piecing together what happened, why it happened and most importantly why your client is innocent.
You achieve this goal through pointing out prosecution contradictions and mistruths in a court room setting by pressing witnesses and presenting evidence. This is all done on the DS via the touch screen and using the microphone to yell 'Objection' or 'Hold It' which adds an extra layer of fun to the proceedings.
Although the game sounds serious and does indeed deal with various grizzly murders, it's anime style presentation and goofy comedy makes it come across as more of a fun amateur detective romp than any serious CSI style crime drama. That being said though the cases can really grip you and some of the twists can really catch you off guard.
Following the conclusion of the 3rd game. Main protagonist Phoenix Wright is no longer an attorney due to losing his license for Perjury. So for this game you play his protege as it were, the oddly named Apollo Justice. This isn't to say Phoenix isn't in the game, infact he's a central character throughout the entire plot, some other characters from previous games make cameo's but for the most part it is an entirely all new cast. This is probably a smart move as a 4th appearance from some of the more annoying cast members (notably Lotta Hart & Larry Butz) would have been borderline tedious at this point in the series.
Maya & Pearl are replaced as comic relief tag along partners by Phoenix's adopted step-daughter Trucy Wright. Not that she's any more normal, you're pretty much exchanging some bizarre druid style sisters for a wannabe trainee magician. Still she converses with you and the people you meet, offers advice and proves to be an important part of the overall story.
There's 4 cases in the game (the usual amount for the series) and they all end up tying together. Some interesting use of the DS technology is involved during events, some that's been seen before in the additional 5th case for the Ace Attorney with some completely new tools such as an X-Ray machine and a sound mixing board.
The games puzzles for the most part are very logical and there's only a few instances of frustration. Notably having to investigate a fairly generic and seemingly unimportant door in a BG to move the game forward and also having to present a specific item of evidence when two pieces in your possession would prove the same point.
There is also some rather daft story twists which are a bit /too/ silly for their own good. Such as a panty thief and a noodle stand vendor who talks endlessly about his uhum 'salty broth'. That being said, some of the low-key ingame humour is actually quite amusing. There's a gangster boss who looks the splitting image of Marlon Brando, a prosecutor named Klavier who spouts lines from classic rock tunes at every opportunity and Mr Hat, who really defies all explanation.
The game is a good length and will take you at least 15-20 hours to finish. There isn't any replay value with this sort of game however so you should take that into consideration when deciding how much you're willing to pay.
For a long time Phoenix Wright fan. This game still has everything you loved about the series since game one. Apollo is an equally endearing protagonist as Phoenix ever was and his own special skill of 'Observation' brings something new just as Psyche-locks did with the second. While some fan-favourite characters such as Miles Edgeworth are MIA references to past ingame material such as the Steel Samurai are still included and worthy of a chuckle when they crop up.
For new-comers although the game makes an attempt at putting the previous games into the past, it still really isn't a recommended starting point. The main theme that runs through Apollo Justice is the events of Phoenix Wright in the past and without experiencing his back story it'd be hard to care exactly why he was wronged the way he was.
As a DS game the presentation is handled fantastically with clean, well animated characters and snappy expertly penned dialogue. The music isn't quite on par with previous games but as it proves quite vital in a murder at a rock concert during the story it still manages to perform its function. The save at anytime function is still present which makes the game easy to play on the move (albeit a little easy if you want to use it to cheat via trial and error).
Overall it's a fantastic game and it'll be interesting to see what direction the Ace Attorney series goes off into next now it's new leading character has been fully established.
Bad: Lack of replay, adult themes 'kiddified' on occasion, save system lowers overall difficulty.