Game Review

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Justice For All Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Spencer McIlvaine


This second game in the Phoenix Wright series brings more of the same intriguing puzzle solving game play mixed with addictive storytelling that made the first game a runaway success when it was released. And like the first game, Phoenix’s second outing is one of the best experiences to be had on a handheld. But as we pointed out in our review of the WiiWare port of the first game, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, even great games require some minimal amount of effort to successfully port them to a new platform. And once again, Capcom has shown no interest in doing anything to spruce up this old gem for its new audience. Quite the contrary, they appear to be focusing their minimal efforts on stripping content away.

As with the first game, Justice for All began its life on the Gameboy Advance in Japan only. It wasn’t until years later that it was ported to the DS for its initial release in the west. With DS touch screen controls and dual screen support, Capcom pulled out all the stops to take advantage of the unique features of the DS to make the game even more fun on that platform than it was on the original.

One would think that the Wii Remote would be a perfect stand-in for the DS stylus and that “touchscreen” controls could be left alone for this release. But someone at Capcom must have taken objection to that logic and chose to release these games with their original GBA style interface instead. It’s not unplayable, it’s just a bizarre regression without any apparent reason, especially considering the GBA version was never released outside of Japan and so everyone in North America and Europe expects pointer-style controls by now.

Regardless, the problems such as the downgraded controls and the extremely low-resolution display have already been addressed in our review of the first game. And everything that was lazy and sloppy about that first port is true of this one as well. But before buying this game, you’ll be familiar with these shortcomings already as we advise that you play the first game in the series before this one.

For one thing, the story of Phoenix Wright, although told in a series of self-contained episodes, is also a continuous soap opera. By skipping the first game, you will skip out on five episodes worth of plot twists and character interactions. Even though a thorough understanding of the story of the first game is not really necessary to understand what’s going on, given that both games are available on the Wiiware service for the same price there is no real reason not to start at the beginning either. And not doing so may lessen your enjoyment of the story.

Secondly, when you add in the downloadable fifth episode in the first game, that release has more content for very little extra cost. At only four episodes with no DLC available, this second game is shorter than the first as further evidenced by its significantly smaller block size.

Lastly, although the game looks and plays almost identically to the first, it feels a bit more challenging and players who did not learn along with the first game may struggle to catch up with the steeper learning curve here.

It’s not all just more of the same though. This second game in the series did introduce the “psyche-lock” game mechanic. Like questioning a witness on the stand in court, this puzzle challenges you to interrogate someone during the Investigation phase of the game and convince the witness to reveal his or her secrets. It doesn’t add much, and the game still plays almost identically to the first Phoenix Wright, but it’s a logical next-step in a game play format that was pretty much done right the first time around.

Another minor change is the addition of a health bar to replace the wrong move count from the first game. This health bar can drop in varying degrees depending on how far off course you are, and can be replenished when you do things right. But otherwise, the goal is the same: study your evidence and submit it at the appropriate time when examining a witness to expose a lie, and thus prove your client innocent.

With the sheer amount of perjury committed by the average witness in these games, it seems harsh that Phoenix gets punished by taking a hit to his health meter for merely submitting truthful and relevant evidence at the wrong time, but by this time players should be experienced enough to recognize the subtle hints as to what the game is looking for you to present and what specific moment it should be presented.


Although not originally intended to be thought of as an episodic Wiiware series, when viewed as such, Justice for All can be seen as a fitting successor to Ace Attorney as it succeeds in doing the one thing an episodic Wiiware game should do: provide more of the same kind of content to fans of the first "episode" without rocking the boat by screwing with the formula too much. Although a few tweaks were made here and there, the game is almost identical to the first release in the series and even reuses many of the same character animations from the first game, most notably Phoenix Wright himself. As a result, players who fell in love with Ace Attorney will no doubt view Justice for All as a must-have expansion to the first release. But those who were unconvinced that Phoenix Wright was the second coming of Atticus Finch are unlikely to be swayed by this new evidence.

From the web

User Comments (73)



Bass_X0 said:

Even if the Phoenix Wright games had full motion controls, I would not use them. I didn't even use it to present evidence in the first game. Pressing buttons was so much more convenient. The DS version may be better but its also much more expensive. The low resolution was noticeable but not off putting. Why pay more when the lower priced version suits me just fine? The Phoenix Wright games are basically Virtual Console versions off a system that is not supported by the Virtual Console. Thats okay with me. I shall be downloading Justice For All as soon as it comes out here later today. And it shall be glorious (as long as the story being told is as gripping as the first game's).



warioswoods said:

Put it on DSiWare, fools. WiiWare is a terrible place to release this without graphical updates. I don't want a GBA XXXXL with pixels the size of refrigerator magnets.



SKTTR said:

You can give 5/10 for graphics
You can give 5/10 for being a handheld port without Wii enhancements

You can give 8/10 for the involving story
You can give 8/10 for the great music
You can give 8/10 for the likeable characters
You can give 8/10 for the good continuation of the first game
You can give 8/10 for the much lower price (10 instead of 40 bucks.)

Well, it's your choice.

If you like adventures and the excitement of hilarious but smart courtroom dialogue, I recommend you trying the first game, and if you like it, the other two games JUSTICE FOR ALL and TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS (coming soon) are on the Wii shop, too.



Yasume said:

"The Phoenix Wright games are basically Virtual Console versions of a system that is not supported by the Virtual Console."

Lol yeah, you are right. I bet the games would all score an 8/10 if it they were released as VC games.



Chunky_Droid said:

@Yasume That could be possible it would score higher if it were VC, as VC games are intended to be released untouched.

WiiWare however, this can be viewed as a lazy port.



Starwolf_UK said:

Wait, we're now judging game length on how many blocks they are? Still Justice for All isn't significantly shorter than the released content of the first game (I remember the rant about case 5 being an unlock key while Square-Enix are almost praised for charging 3 times as much several times over for event metadata) but whatever, anything to troll at Capcom; the evil company putting no effort (because we rate games on effort and nothing more) into this game and charging $10, in fact we recommend our readers get ripped off on eBay for the same thing.

So much for it getting a retrial. Might as well not bother reading the Trials and Tribulations review in a months time as you could write it today. It ends with 5/10.

(as long as the story being told is as gripping as the first game's)
This game does a few lot points (and noticeably worse writing) which is why it is generally viewed as the worst of the trilogy but I felt the last case made up for it.

@KnucklesSonic8. Japanese cellphone releases of Ace Attorney games had the tendency to split each case into multiple bits...

@Ricardo91. If you have the DS versions then you don't need these versions. This version is a very cheap reprint (both to Capcom and the consumer) and should be favoured over spending at least $20 on eBay etc. Sure Capcom could have spent 6 months re-doing everything but the budget that would take (as well as WiiWare space limitations to consider) isn't going to be worth a few thousand extra sales of fans salivating over Phoenix Wright in Standard Definition.



MrPinguy said:

As I said, buy this version if you want to try the game and don't have any other choice to play it.

Well done, I really liked to read this review.
It's nothing compared with the last Ace Attorney review. Here the points are well made and well justified.



BulbasaurusRex said:

I don't care for this franchise, but nice tagline and nice "To Kill a Mockingbird" reference in the conclusion.



Sean_Aaron said:

Thanks Spencer. Capcom definitely deserves a slap for pumping out these unenhanced ports, so yeah if the whole series is like this then I would certainly expect every one to get a much-deserved 5/10.

I seriously doubt adding pointer controls would take months and cost any significant amount of money - it's not like Capcom has no experience working with Wii controls - and I would expect that at the very least if you're going to charge 1000 for a game no matter how much it goes for on Ebay (since when did that become the arbiter - guess Blaster Master should be 1500 then?).




Objection! This review is saying that this is a bad port, when really the only bad part is the resolution. The game itself looks ok, and plays great, ergo the lower score of the game seems due near entirely to the graphics resolution. And when a game is so good, is it worth passing up for it's not so food graphics? Especially when cheaper and much easier to find?



LztheQuack said:

I dunno. I bet DSiware would have worked better for these games, but I still enjoy these versions



JayArr said:

Stupid port is giving one the greatest series ever a horrible image. These games are brilliant...please review the remaing DS versions. So Ace Attorney quits getting dragged threw the mud......



Porky said:

This very well deserves a 5/10 like the first. There was some spelling mistakes I encountered while playing the game and it was laughable that capcom had not corrected them.

@gabe: Are your references of the Ace Attorney series suppose to be funny?



Sean_Aaron said:

@gabe: just to clarify it's not only the visuals it's the interface - there is nothing about this game to indicate it's been adapted for the Wii in any way. I expect if you had a Gameboy player hooked up to a Gamecube and played the Japanese release you'd be experiencing much the same thing and that's just not right!



NotEnoughGolds said:

I can't being to imagine how bad a 256x192 game would look on a 46" screen.
Is that really what this is?



oldkid said:

Ok, we all got it! You don't want this game to be a wiiware, you would prefer a VC release. But, you know what? Some people are happy with things just the way they are. I don't have a DS. I do not plan to buy one. I never had a chance to play this series before the wiiware release of the first episode. Anyone who would have to review this game for just its intrinsic value would give it an 8. I'm an amateur videogames reviewer too, and I know how difficult it is to sum up your feelings about a game but I have to say this review is biased by non-game considerations such as "wiiware instead of VC" and things like that.
These contextual matters have nothing to do with the game itself.



Pastry said:

There are only 2 screenshots?

This seems more like a VC game than a WiiWare.




@Sean, correct me if wrong, but isnt that what a port is? An exact replica to how the game would have been played (on a GBP in this case) in the original replica?



Bass_X0 said:

Well some ports add enhancements to take advantage of the different system the game is on. So no Phoenix Wright doesn't really do this but then it didn't need to. The controls already work fine as they are. Full motion controls may have made the game better for some but without them, it doesn't make the game unplayable; they would have been a nice optional feature but the game shouldn't have dropped three points for not having them in.

As for the claim that every WiiWare game must take advantage of the Wii's capabilities... I disagree. If the game is fun to play and is value for money then that is the most important thing. If a good game is still good after ten years then its still a good game. Yes, its just like playing a GBA game on your TV but does that make a good GBA game worse than it is? Sure the resolution is slightly poorer but it does not make the game poor because of it. Now I've never played a Phoenix Wright game on a handheld so I would notice just how different the graphics look if I had. But this WiiWare release is not for the people who have played the original versions but for those who had yet to do so. So I am quite grateful to Capcom for giving me this oppurtunity to finally play them.



Sean_Aaron said:

WiiWare should be for new games, not used like a Virtual Console service - that's the main beef here.

If Capcom released the GBA version of SF Alpha 3 for 1000pts would you buy that too?



Bass_X0 said:

No. But then GBA Alpha 3 was already a bad port of the arcade game and I didn't really think it all that fun when I had it even if I weren't comparing it to the arcade game. A better example would be a WiiWare port of GBA Golden Sun; widely acknowledge as one of the best GBA games. Do you think that would be a popular addition with many users here? Because I think it would.



Gizmo said:

You can't compare Golden Sun to Phoenix Wright. The latter was already like a port, while GS was in view of the presentation a AAA-title.



Noire said:

Golden Sun on WiiWare would be awesome. Show people who missed out on the first two what it's about just in time for them to roll out the new one. I'd shell out another ten or more bucks on both of 'em in true fangirl support mode.

Just sayin'.



Popyman said:

Still not a fair review, IMO. Oh well, I'm buying them all anyway and no review would change that.



SKTTR said:

It doesn't matter if this is a port of a port of a port.
It's a good game and it's unique on the Wii and it's for cheap on WiiWare, that's all that matters.

NintendoLife, your rating system fails.

@Gizmo: They're not comparing games, they compare GBA ports.
With that in mind, every good GBA game with an 8/10 ported to WiiWare is a 5/10 here on NL.
If Golden Sun on GBA has a 9/10 and it's ported in the same lazy way as Phoenix Wright, it gets a 6/10 regardless of how amazing the game is. I think that's what they're trying to say.



Sean_Aaron said:

No, we're saying it's a factor, not that there's some magic formula in place. An adventure game with substandard visuals sounds like a five to me, that's for sure.



oldkid said:

"WiiWare should be for new games, not used like a Virtual Console service"
Megaman 9, Castlevania Rebirth, Adventure Island: The Beginning, Bubble Bobble Plus!, Rainbow Islands Towering Adventure ! So many brand new games! Never heard of them before.

Plus, as I said before this is totally off topic. A review is about a game and certainly not about what an online service should or should not be.



Gabbo said:

To the people arguing that we should rate games higher for having a low price tag, sorry, but that's just not a factor worth reviewing. People can decide for themselves whether the price point is right. But expensive games can still be good, and cheap games can still be bad. Furthermore, when considering price, one should compare apples to apples. On wiiware, 1000 points is about as expensive as games get and is by no means a bargain. If you compare wiiware games to retail games you will always find a bargain.

To those who feel that the comments section of a review is a place to tell people that their opinion is "wrong" until everyone submits to your will, please try to at least support your arguments with explanations of what it is you like about the game. Ultimately, no one cares if you like the game or not. But they do care to learn why you feel that way so they can decide if this is a game worth buying.

Lastly, those who have comments directed at the original DS game might be better served commenting there rather than here. That might help reduce a layer of confusion I'm witnessing, as well as motivate us to finally review the originals if we notice interest.



oldkid said:

@Gabbo: Nobody said that your opinion is wrong but your judgement is unfair. You more or less admit that if the exactly same game had been released on an hypothetic GBA section of the Virtual Console, you would have give it a few points more. That's unfair.
Plus, you should have more consideration for the main target of this wiiware version: people like us who discover and enjoy the series for the first time.
For anyone who fits in this category, these games clearly deserve more than just 5.



Sean_Aaron said:

Guess you missed the suggestion that people play the first game. I think it's pretty clear that the target audience are people who will be familiar with the first game; if not they should read the review of the first game.



Gizmo said:

@ oldkid: The difference is: There was a lot of work in the games you numerated, which you cannot say about Phonix Wright...

@ SKTTR: 1000 points for a lazy port of a port isn't cheap...



BulbasaurusRex said:

The point with the interface is that the genre screams for something more than pure button control. The original GBA game from which this game is ported would also get criticized and points deducted for this issue if reviewed here. The DS version provides a much better control scheme due to its advanced control capabilities, and the Wii equivalent is IR control, especially when placed on WiiWare to compete with Strong Bad and Monkey Island.



oldkid said:

@Gizmo: So we can say there is no work at all in porting a game to VC. Surprisingly some of them are given more than 5 when they get reviewed.



theblackdragon said:

@oldkid: yeah, but when games are ported to VC, they don't bluster and attempt to build them up the way they did Phoenix Wright. On VC, we expect straight ports from old consoles, and the truer to the original games we knew and loved, the better. On WiiWare, we expect new, innovative things, like what Dr. Mario Rx and Mega Man 9 had to offer. Had they bothered to come up with new cases that took advantage of the IR pointer and stuff as you investigated instead of just releasing ports of existing games, i bet the PW WiiWare releases would have seen better reviews.



oldkid said:

@theblackdragon: What you forget is the fact that many people who have a wii and play wiiware games don't own a DS. So, when Capcom decide to port a series like Ace Attorney to wiiware, they kind of forced to begin with the beginning. I enjoy these wiiware ports so much that I hope they will port Miles Edgeworth as well.

Let me sum up your point of view: When you port a game to VC, it's a good thing that you don't alter the game in any way. But when you do exactly the same thing and upload it in the "wiiware" folder instead, you become a lazy greedy thief? Am I correct?

Well, what Capcom should have done? Wait for Nintendo to add a GBA category to VC? It's more likely that they create a VC on DSi with GB/GBA games so wiiware players would have never get a chance to play that game.

And for those arguing it should have been a port from the DS version, you have to be aware that Nintendo would have never let people play DS games on Wii. It would be a major commercial mistake to let people access to the same game at a cheaper price than the retail DS version.

And don't forget, the games do have wii exclusive functions: motion controls to object and submit evidence and the wiimote speaker support. So you can't say it's a 100% direct port from GBA.



theblackdragon said:

@oldkid: the games are all playable individually without having played any of the others. it's totally conceivable that they could've come up with little one-shot cases and released them by themselves instead of being lazy and porting the DS games as WiiWare.

Also, what we've got is an odd hybrid port of the DS and GBA games -- there's a lot of one-screen action instead of stuff happening up top and options down at the bottom, but the motion controls to object and submit take the place of the microphone controls. i wouldn't call the wiimote speaker use anything special, though; in fact, i wish there was an option for me to just have Phoenix's voice come from the tv :/

edit: the point is that they're trying to pass this off as new and awesome, when it's totally not. it's just a lazy port of the retail games at an expensive price-point as far as WiiWare goes, and Spencer has the right to call it like he sees it, as it is his personal opinion on the game presented as one review. If you don't like his review, write your own and post it someplace on the internet. :3



oldkid said:

@theblackdragon: For someone who hasn't played them yet on GBA or DS, (a few millions people amho) these games are both new and awesome.
The review is not bad but the lazy port does not justify the 3 points drop.



Gizmo said:

@ oldkid: "Well, what Capcom should have done?"

Are you serious about that?
For example they could have give the game at least a graphical overhaul. The actual game is just pure laziness, deserve the 3 points drop, and is for a port and WiiWare game relativ expensive, too.
(Remember, a SNES game, which you can compare to a GBA game, costs 800 points.)



oldkid said:

@Gizmo: So, what you're saying is if Capcom had managed to port this to the SNES emulator on VC the result would have been acceptable.
But since it's on wiiware, it's not acceptable anymore? Let's being honest, it's barely the same game than DS or GBA version. And if they had released it on VC, they couldn't have add the fifth case in the first game since VC doesn't support DLC in any way.



Gizmo said:

@ "So if Capcom had managed to port this to the SNES emulator on VC the result would have been acceptable. But since it's on wiiware, it's not acceptable anymore?"

Right =). A VC game stands for originality, and you want a VC game to be the original one. For a WiiWare game you simple can and have to expect more.

@ "And if they had released it on VC, they couldn't have add the fifth case in the first game since VC doesn't support DLC in any way."

But it would be cheaper . (If there would be an english version, of course^^.)



theblackdragon said:

lol Gizmo, i think you switched up your VCs and your WiiWares there :3

@oldkid: so? a few games were new and exciting to me when i first played them on the VC. If they'd been ported to WiiWare instead with a silly animated border around it and no other major changes, yeah, i'd expect that to get an average score considering they'd'a been lazy ports in that case -- save the score for the actual DS game for the review of the actual DS game.



oldkid said:

"A VC game stands for originality, and you want a VC game to be the original one. For a WiiWare game you simple can and have to expect more."

Is that a kind of universal law?
Because I don't agree at all. Wiiware is the perfect place to release ports of games whom original platform is not present on VC. Since GBA is not present on VC (and DS will never ever be) Ace Attorney had to be on wiiware, even if the games are straight ports. It doesn't alter their quality in any way.

For those who complaint about poor graphics and no pointer support, I guess the DLC case will be enhanced at least in the DS style.



theblackdragon said:

@oldkid: 'WiiWare' by its very name implies games that have been made specifically as wares to be sold for and played on the Wii; we're talking original content if not original IPs. in contrast, 'Virtual Console' implies the Wii is acting as an emulator of sorts for the actual console required to play the games sold for the VC, meaning VC games had been released years (if not decades) ago already. If they wanted to release a PW game for WiiWare, they should've given us original content, not VC games disguised as WiiWare ones.



oldkid said:

@theblackdragon: "Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney" Where do you see a disguise in this title?
I known what I am about to play given this title.
I recognise this is an hybrid form between VC and wiiware but how does it interfere in the games inner quality?



theblackdragon said:

@oldkid: as i said before, it's the fact that this is being marketed as WiiWare, when they took little to no advantage of what the Wii has to offer to make these ports awesome. therein lies the disguise, as this is not a game made for the Wii at all other than the fact that you must have a Wii to play this particular version of it. and, as stated in the review itself, the plot isn't the problem.



oldkid said:

I agree that wiiware is not the place where you expect to find ports of handheld games. But, as I said GBA nor DS are not gonna be on VC. So, why on earth anyone who still have to play Ace Attorney should not welcome this series for the gem it is? There is absolutely nothing approching on wiiware.
And, once again, is there a law to force developers to use "what the wii has to offer" in every wiiware game?

If such a law exist, I wish it would apply to retail games too, and the producers of Resident Evil: Archives would be in jail.



Gabbo said:

I know you didn't say I was wrong. The exact word you used was "biased", which is quite a bit worse. I wasn't singling you out, though. I addressed my comments to everyone.

Also, I see that you have for the second time said that we deducted three points from the score solely due to the release being a lazy port. I assure you that there is no complicated algorithm for calculating these scores and there is no math involved.

A score simply represents at a glance how this game stacks up against other Wiiware games. We felt that the good aspects averaged out with the glaring flaws to meet somewhere in the middle of our scale. And that's all the number means.

Games in the 5 range are not bad, they just have some problems that will disappoint some players if they aren't warned. But if after reading the review you decide that the flaws are not a problem for you, then of course you will still like it.



oldkid said:

@Gabbo: Ok, so it's pure coincidence if the 2 wiiware games end up with the same score with reviews that are heavily focused on the fact that they are lazy GBA ports.

We all know that the 3rd episode will be ported the same way. So, if it also end up with a 5 or below, you have to admit there is a problem.



Porky said:

Trials and Tribulations is the third episode of Phoenix Wright and it plays almost exactly like the other two so it has to be a 5 rating; the Monkey Tale Island episodes had the same score except episode 2 which lost a point because it still had the flaws episode 1 had yet, 3, 4, 5 had the problems too and didn't lose a point.



Gizmo said:

@ oldkid: "So, why on earth anyone who still have to play Ace Attorney should not welcome this series for the gem it is?"

It is not so that the game isn't welcome, it is just how the game was released. Was it really so hard (for this high price) not to make the game better?

It is simply incomprehensible, and this is what the score implies.



oldkid said:

The only flaw that this review and the previous one present to justify the 5 points score is the lazy port accusation. The algorithm isn't complicated at all. It's crystal clear. The 2 reviews are focused on one thing: these wiiware versions are lazy ports. They both end up with a 3points down score compared to the DS versions. So, we can say that lazy port = 3 points down.
If things turn like Ezekiel says, the 3rd game will receive the same score.

But there a problem with that affirmation:
"A score simply represents at a glance how this game stacks up against other Wiiware games."
Honestly, tell me which wiiware game can be compare to Ace Attorney? "Aha, I got it"? Does waggling and pointer support and a higher native resolution make it a better game than Ace Attorney? seriously?

@Gizmo: "Was it really so hard (for this high price) not to make the game better?"
You're mistaken here. Only the presentation could have been far better. A higher screen resolution cannot make a game better. ( I wasn't expecting to have to explain that to a wii owner ).



theblackdragon said:

@oldkid: In terms of WiiWare? Yes, it does. At least the people who made that game went out of their way to attempt to harness what the Wii had to offer in terms of higher resolution and controls. Capcom has done nothing of the sort.

You've had more than enough chances to make your point, dude. We get that you liked this version of the game, but this discussion is going nowhere, and it's time to end it. :3



BulbasaurusRex said:

First of all, when porting something from a handheld, the resolution needs to be fixed due to the difference in screen size, or it looks worse that the handheld versions.

Second, this version's interface is much worse than the DS version, because it uses almost all button control in a genre where you need controls that only a PC mouse, the DS's touch screen, or the Wii's IR functionality provide for a good interface.

These reasons combined are why I feel a 3 point drop is justified even without considering the superior standards of WiiWare..



SherlockHolmes said:

I really don't know why people are arguing about the game review. Surely they can look at the ds review of this game to see that the game itself is actually good.



JeanLuc_Vaycard said:

Good review. I still have been buying these and loving these games. You bring up good points, but still I am loving these games and anyone who wants to play these games cheap these are still good alternatives. If you really want the best quality track down the originals, but I am content.



JoseGAlvarado said:

I Don't get why so many people complain. I mean, I bought the first game and I loved it. From begging to end. I just was shocked at how long the dlc would take. At the graphics and unenhanced things, It reminisced me of when I was talking walks with the lemon scent, or something like that. What the guys keeps on saying in the first one. I Grew up with the nes and snes, so that might explain it. I really saw nothing bad with this game. So what if it is a lazy port? You should not review a game with its background, but instead, as if you never played the game. I would give seriously the first one a 10/10, but maybe that's just me . So After playing the first one, if this one is exactly like it, you bet I'm going to buy it. Lazy or not lazy.

Leave A Comment

Hold on there, you need to login to post a comment...