Game Reviews

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies

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Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies

Phoenix Wright games have about as much to do with the real practice of law as Mario games do with the daily routine of a plumber.

These crazy interactive novels are fairly light on gameplay, they play fast and loose with actual matters of law, and the stories are inherently ridiculous. But that's all part of the appeal.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies is the second iOS entry for the series, and it's arguably an even better fit for the platform than the first.

Criminal record

Of course, the first Phoenix Wright game to hit iOS was the stupendous-value Ace Attorney: Phoenix Wright Trilogy HD, a compilation of the first three made-for-Nintendo-handheld games.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies can't hope to match that first effort for sheer content, and as our review of the 3DS original mentioned, it doesn't quite have the spark or the freshness of the earlier games.

What it does bring, however - particularly to an iOS crowd that's probably largely ignorant of the series - is a far more polished conversion.

Passing of a new law

That's largely thanks to the fact that the original game is far newer than any of the original trilogy. It was made for more powerful Nintendo hardware, and it shows.

In fact, it shines even more on Apple's Retina displays, particularly with its sharper HD artwork. Meanwhile the game introduces fluid 3D models in place of the static 2D sprites of earlier games, whilst still maintaining that unmistakable Phoenix Wright style.

It works a treat on iPhone and iPad alike. Gone, too, are the thick black borders of old - though you do get a slightly awkward single portrait-aligned information part to the left.

You also now get brief but high quality fully animated and voiced snippets.


Otherwise, this is pretty much Phoenix Wright as you know it - or at least should know it. In most cases you start by scoping out a number of key locations - the murder scene and several related areas - for clues.

This involves grilling witnesses and collecting evidence for the subsequent court case. These sections are pretty much all story.

The court cases, as ever, are where the heart of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies lies. Here you listen to witness testimonies, matching them against what you know and what you observe in the evidence file, then interject when you spot an inconsistency.

While you get to play both Phoenix Wright and Apollo Justice, the main new addition here is sidekick Athena Cykes. She brings a predictably ditzy charm, and the ability to read a witness/suspect's emotional state.

It's essentially a minor twist on existing Phoenix Wright mechanics, dressed up as a fancy new gizmo.

Hole in the testimony

The problems here are not new. In fact, they've plagued the series since the launch of the very first game in 2001.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies still follows its own rigid path, subscribing to its own limited logic, and occasionally offering up insufficient information to lead you to the correct conclusion.

The game also rejects any alternative - but seemingly valid - paths to resolution, and chides you for such 'incorrect' attempts.

In fact, sometimes you get the impression that you are simply getting in the way of a (admittedly entertaining) story being told, rather than exploring a game.

But then, the tone of the music will shift to something suitably urgent, you'll figure out the answer to a conundrum that's as bizarre as it is inspired, and your larger-than-life attorney will slap his rival down in melodramatic fashion.

Body of evidence

Those who didn't play Ace Attorney: Phoenix Wright Trilogy HD (or the games in their original Nintendo form) should probably grab that before Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies.

It's not that they're markedly better games though. It's just that Dual Destinies often riffs on its lengthy back catalogue, dropping in references and characters from the past that anyone new to the series will miss.

Dual Destinies, though, is notably slicker and better looking than the first effort, and it feels more at home on Apple hardware. As such, we'd put it to the court that both games should be in your collection.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies

A classy conversion of the latest Phoenix Wright game that makes up for a certain lack of freshness with a high degree of polish
Jon Mundy
Jon Mundy
Jon is a consummate expert in adventure, action, and sports games. Which is just as well, as in real life he's timid, lazy, and unfit. It's amazing how these things even themselves out.