“Am I not an intelligent human being?”
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve already asked myself that while playing Justice For All, the second Phoenix Wright game on the Nintendo DS. At only about its halfway point, I’ve had to reference a FAQ at least three times to prevent myself from receiving a dreaded Guilty verdict from the game’s ceaselessly clueless judge. I’m starting to regret not watching enough Law & Order back in the ’90s.
It’s so frustrating, because for the most part, I really like this series. It has great art, catchy music, and mostly well-written cases that are fun to investigate and peel back their various layers. It has a very strong cast of memorable and likable characters, as well as villains and prosecuting attorneys that can really get under your skin! It’s a solid visual novel design that is packaged and presented nicely.
Where the game gets a bit too rigid, however, is in its trial execution. Maybe this changes in future installments, but there only ever seems to be one solution to each problem, and that solution can sometimes make so little sense as to seem like its choice was arbitrary. The best courtroom moments are the ones where you’re left shocked, realizing something you had previously overlooked, but that which makes perfect sense once it’s explained. It’s not a reach, and it never should be. It’s great to have some slight of hand and distraction involved, but in the end, it should be smart and logical. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case here.
Do I feel ashamed for having to resort to using a guide? Yeah, but I also can’t stand having to do things over in games, so if this expedites my journey and ensures that I see the series through all of its cases, characters, and locales, then so be it. Plus, Dual Destinies on the 3DS looks fantastic! It’s my main motivator to get through the DS games, and yes, I need to play through the rest of the series — in order — before I play this one. Call it a thing.
Anyway, despite my one rather big complaint, I’m enjoying my time with Justice For All so far. The new Psyche-Lock feature adds a taste of trial crossover to the investigative portions, injecting new complexities into those sequences. I’ve become a fan of the visual novel genre after thoroughly enjoying Atlus’ excellent games 999 and Virtue’s Last Reward, so I’ll hopefully get a better hang of things here so that I don’t have to give in to the temptations of GameFAQs.
Or at least, not as often.