Written by  :  Pirou Julien (2985)
Written on  :  Jan 18, 2006
Platform  :  Nintendo DS
Rating  :  4.33 Stars4.33 Stars4.33 Stars4.33 Stars4.33 Stars

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Hilarious, clever and really fun to play... Order in the court !

The Good

"Phoenix Wright" is quite hard to explain to someone who never played the game. So let's put it simply : you assume the role of a young attorney with great potential (and spiky hair). The game is a succession of cases in which you must prove your client is not guilty. Each case divides between investigation and trials, in which you confront and cross-examine witnesses. So, basically, Phoenix Wright (PW) looks a lot like japanese investigation games like Snatcher. But in terms of game mechanics it is totally different, most notably because of the trial scenes (we'll talk more about it later)

Beside its original concept, PW is also filled with a wacky, witty sense of humor. The witnesses' names are all pun-intended ("Mr. Sawhit", "April May", and so on), they all have their own, distinctive way of talking (for instance the over-arrogant Redd White uses words like "fantabulistic" on a daily basis) and the dialogues are full of jokes and punchlines. The humor is also on the graphical side : the faces of the witnesses change as you cross-examine their testimony, your character sweats when it is not going as good as planned, with a clever use of the graphical codes of the anime/manga Super-Deformed style....

But the greatest part of the game still are the trials. Using the evidence you found in the investigation scenes, you'll try to prove the contradictions in the witness' testimony. But rather that a dull procedure, it is filled with hysteria, humor and excitement. "Objection !", "Stop It !", "Take This !" blows the upper screen as you - or the prosecutor, who you will soon learn to hate - try to change the course of the judgment. Those scenes are incredibly funny. And if the first trials are quite easy, it becomes quickly very complicated, as your opponent is better and better able to break your defense and put your client in danger.

Finally, one last word on the great quality of writing. Even if the game is mainly a comedy, it does have its tragic moments (those are murder cases, after all) and they are handled very well.

The Bad

"Nothing !" I would answer, but actually there are one or two things that are a bit annoying.

First, the introduction sequence of each case shows you who is the murderer, and if it makes your job easier it kills a bit the mystery. But like a good old Lieutenant Columbo episode, the important part is less "who" did it, but rather "why", and of course, "how can I catch him/her" ?

Second, the stories are sometimes a bit far-fetched, but don't forget it is COMEDY, after all.

The Bottom Line

Probably the best game so far on the DS, and an instant classic. DS proved it was a great machine for adventure games (with titles as "Trace memory" or "Lost in Blue") and "Phoenix Wright" is only the confirmation of this statement.