Phoenix Wright makes me feel dumb

20140605_phoenix_wright_logo“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.


What I’m playing right now: Swords, Courts, and Karts

My father-in-law’s now recuperating in the comfort of his own home and bed, which is great, but my wife came down with a pretty bad case of food poisoning last night. Long story short, we were up until dawn, and didn’t get to sleep until about 6 this morning. As they say, when it rains, it pours. Yin and yang, or something like that.

Anyway, after such a stressful week, I’m looking forward to some quality game time this weekend. Here’s what I’ll be playing:



A couple weeks ago, I started Fire Emblem: Awakening on the 3DS, even though I’m not a big fan of strategy games. I just finished The Exalt and the King (Chapter 5), so I have a long, long way to go, but I’m enjoying it so far. I’m playing it on Casual, even though I’m sure this irks Fire Emblem purists to no end. The game is still pretty tough, however, and vital units can get wiped out in a single turn if you’re not careful.

The amount of content in Awakening is impressive. In addition to the main quest, there are a number of sidequests to complete as well, so this game will be keeping me busy for quite some time. I’m extremely impressed by the game’s production value. The animated cutscenes by Madhouse are gorgeous, and put a lot of regular console games to shame. The soundtrack is equally impressive, providing great drama and tension to story and battle scenes alike.

About the only thing I don’t care for is the sporadic voice-over. It’s distracting, and tarnishes the shine of what is an otherwise superlative game. I’m also feeling slightly overwhelmed by the already high number of units I have at my disposal, but I’d rather have more to deal with than too little.



I played and finished the first Phoenix Wright game back in 2012. While I really liked it initially, it became tediously long and definitely wore out its welcome by the time it was over. This could be due to the DS version’s extra content, but whatever the case, I was relieved when it ended, only giving it a C+.

Now that a couple years have passed, I felt ready to jump back into the series. It’s very familiar so far, and I’m liking that. The mildly remixed music is nostalgic, and it’s great to see old friends and colleagues return. I’m enjoying the story so far, and the new cast has been quite eccentric. I wouldn’t expect anything less after the crew from first game.

I’ve only completed the first case, and that trial had a good flow with testimony and cross-examination that made sense. Some of them were so vaguely indeterminate to me in the first game that I had to resort to using a guide on more than one occasion. I’m hopeful that I won’t have to do the same here. So far, though, I’m digging this.



Finally, my copy of Mario Kart 8 should be arriving at some point today, and I’m very excited to start playing it! I’m not really the target Mario Kart player, though, since I like to play solo most of the time. I suppose that’s why most games in the series haven’t really done much for me. I’d rather have a goal/adventure-based format like Diddy Kong Racing instead of straight classes and groups of tracks. Seriously, why haven’t they made more games like that Rare classic?

In any case, I’m hopeful that MK8 rekindles my love for the series. I was addicted to Super Mario Kart on the SNES, and I haven’t liked any of the subsequent entries nearly as much. Maybe this will be the one that breaks that cycle. By all accounts and reviews, it looks like an undeniable gem of a racer. As a Wii U owner, that’s very, very good news.

Have a great weekend, and thanks for your continued support and readership here at GHG.