I played video games long before I knew anything about personal jurisdiction or Mens Rea. It's always been my thing, as they say. We didn't have much in the trailer I grew up in, but the Sega Genesis that was in our entertainment center on the day I was brought home from the hospital made sure I at least got the world of games was exposed.
Fast forward fifteen years and you'd find me in my acne-saturated, uncomfortable phase, complete with thin-rimmed Wal-Mart reading glasses and more than your average dose of teenage anxiety. To complete my nerdy stereotype, I spent practically every free waking moment looking for and thinking about new games, and at one point I stumbled upon the Ace Attorney franchise. The first game put me in the role of Phoenix Wright, a criminal defense attorney, and made me argue in court to prove my clients' innocence in a series of mind-boggling cases. This franchise and I go way back, and while this review is mostly about the 2017 remake of the Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney game, it's impossible for me to talk about this game without explaining the implications that the series came up with their publication had on my life.
When it comes to dreaming big, I've always been a victim of self-doubt. There are a number of reasons for this: Neither of my parents graduated from high school, I shared a one-room apartment with my mom as a teenager, I always thought I was gay, disliked me, and so on. We can save the rest for my therapist. The point is, when I came across Ace Attorney, my idea of what was possible for my life was very different than it is today. I wanted to be a high school teacher, a thoroughly respectable profession, for a not-so-respectable reason - it was one of the few professions I thought possible. That might sound weird, but by God something changed in me after playing Ace Attorney. It was a strange thought after playing a video game, but I envisioned my life as a defender. The protagonist in the games, Phoenix Wright, was fearful and neurotic like me - he sweated profusely when a trial went south, for example when the prosecution called a surprising witness to the stand (I now know that real trials aren't like that work), but he always seemed to end up turning things around and winning the case. The game made me curious about the law. More importantly, it was made possible to learn about it. Because of this, Ace Attorney will always have a special place in my heart.
So what kind of game is it and how does the latest game differ from its predecessors? All of the games, including Apollo Justice, belong to a video game genre known as digital novels. Each will hone numerous skills that are required in law school, but perhaps the most obvious one is long reading. Although characters and backgrounds appear on the screen, the meat of the games is contained in their twenty-hour scripts, none of which include the voice acting of other games. These facts alone serve to isolate some players who prefer the flashiness of a Mario title or the constant action in Call of Duty. The fact that the Ace Attorney franchise has spawned a total of ten games (some of which are exclusive to Japan) says something about the quality of the writing.
The first three games tell the story of Phoenix Wright's career path, from his first case after graduating from law school to his days as a prominent lawyer whose name is internationally recognized. Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney is the fourth game in the franchise and follows the new title protagonist, who defends Phoenix Wright in a criminal case after the series' original mascot was ruled out, but in terms of game mechanics and structure, the new game is almost exactly the same.
The gameplay of each title, including that of Apollo Justice, is divided into two phases: investigations and trials. Unlike real lawyers, the main characters in these games play not only the role of trial lawyers, but also pseudo detectives who investigate crimes before going to court. While it doesn't imitate real life in this regard, there are reasons behind the plot why it makes sense to meet the characters who will later testify in the courtroom and gather evidence to make up the main arguments. However, in the testing phase, the games really shine as it gives players the ability to use whatever information so far uncovered to make logical claims and cross-examine witnesses. Perhaps the most famous moment from the games comes when one of the protagonists dramatically screams: Objection! indicate a contradiction in the testimony. This happens often and is always satisfactory as long as you choose to provide the right evidence.
Each of the four trials makes for a tense and theatrical battle between the anime-inspired characters, and the stakes feel higher as the defense always has its back to the wall. The standard of reasoned doubt does not seem to apply at all: the comically aloof judge is always looking for an excuse to convict (this may have to do with the fact that it is a Japanese game and the conviction rate in Japan above Also, any trial has a maximum duration of three days, and if by then not proven innocence is usually found guilty, which would certainly be against the Fifth Amendment in the United States Tests much, much longer, but the three-day limit in the game adds to the tension.
The 2017 version of Apollo Justice is technically a remake of a game that came out ten years ago, and not much has changed between the old and new versions, other than the developers given it a coat of paint. The graphics have been updated to match the higher resolution of the Nintendo 3DS screen, with the previously jagged backgrounds and character models smoothed out to resemble a modern cartoon. As mentioned, it's the fourth game in the series, and with its re-release, all six of Ace Attorney's mainline games are now available on the 3DS. The games have all been well received by critics and I can definitely recommend them to anyone with even an occasional interest. If you're like me, they could change your life ...