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Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies

Score: 92%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

I’m a major fan of Capcom’s Phoenix Wright series, though even I didn’t think it would have the legs it does. The original was a niche title at best, but since then has received numerous sequels and spin-offs, including a musical stage adaptation. Not bad for a small release.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies is the series latest, this time as a digital download on Nintendo’s eShop. Though some would see the lack of a physical copy as a downgrade, Dual Destinies is, at least in my opinion, one of the series’ best releases thus far.

Presentation is as good as ever. Static sprites are replaced with animated 3D models. These small additions add a lot to the game, offering some sense of kinetics to what is otherwise a screen with scrolling text. Though past games were able to convey some emotion through dynamic posing of sprites, seeing the reactions in motion adds something to the performance.

Courtroom drama is further enhanced by the jazzy score, which hits at just the right time, every time. Throughout most of the game, the soundtrack is just for ambiance. "Big" soundtrack moments instead accompany dramatic shifts in the case, such as a big breakthrough with evidence or during important testimonies. This works hand-in-hand with animation to really make you take notice about certain aspects of the case.


The story picks up roughly eight years after the last game. Phoenix has returned to his life as a lawyer and life in general. One of his first cases back involves a courtroom bombing, a case Phoenix must take over after Apollo Justice, Phoenix’s young legal partner, is injured in the blast. From here, the game breaks out into a series of cases, each offering its own small narrative.

Without going into too much detail, much of the game deals with the dirty underbelly of the law. Rival lawyers will do anything to win a case, even if it involves presenting fake evidence or other unsavory practices. Phoenix gets some help from Apollo and Athena Cykes, Phoenix’s young protégé who has the ability to read people’s emotions. These two characters end up taking on a larger role in some cases, culminating with a massive legal battle involving all three.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies is by no means a fast-paced game. You can sometimes spend as long as 45 minutes reading through story sequences with no interaction other than tapping the "next" arrow on the bottom screen. Thankfully, the game is well written and plots are interesting. The only downside I could find was the dialogue speed. Dialogue scrolls in letter-by-letter, rather than appearing in one big chuck. The scroll speed is fast enough, but I would have preferred either an option to change the scroll speed or have it appear as a whole line.


Expect a good deal of handholding during your first case in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies. This is great for newcomers, though veterans may feel that it bogs things down a little too much, at least in the early game. You are given the option to skip through some of the more basic tutorials, though you’ll still spend a lot of time reading through expository dialogue.

Failure is tied to a strikes system. Each time you present the wrong evidence (or the right evidence in the wrong way), you are issued a strike. The key to avoiding penalties comes down to paying attention to testimony and making sure there this a clear link between what is being said and what is being presented. As tedious as some early dialogue is, it does do good job of placing you in the appropriate mindset.

Game Mechanics:

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies is, at its core, an interactive novel mixed with an adventure game. A majority of playtime is spent reading through trial proceedings and making mental notes of each testimony. Some testimonies are linear narratives, while others let you flip through individual parts. Here you can present evidence contrary to what is being said or use other techniques to analyze what is being said.

During some trials, you’ll need to investigate the crime scene to search for evidence or interview witnesses. Compared to past games, investigations are streamlined and only allow you to visit areas relevant to the case. Since you know you’ll find some sort of evidence at the location, there’s no tedious guesswork involved or wasted travel time.

Athena’s psychological analysis ability is Dual Destinies’s newest addition. During testimony, you can have Athena scan the witness, adding an overlay showing their emotional state (represented by four faces in the corners) and emotional static, which you must clear to have a breakthrough. Clearing static involves looking for inconsistencies between what the witness is saying and how they feel.

For instance, in an early case a witness describes falling debris while registering as "happy." After discovering the inconsistency, you can press the witness, and ask about the feeling, unlocking a new branch of the testimony and yielding new clues. The new mechanic is interesting, if a bit underused during cases.

Even if you still want to look at its "download only" status as a downgrade, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies is a fantastic entry in the series and a worthwhile download for series fans or anyone into courtroom drama.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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