Much like fine wine, the Ace Attorney series has only gotten better with time. With the latest installment on the Nintendo 3DS, Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies successfully implements all of the features and quirks that have made the series great and adds even more depth and gameplay.
Dual Destinies puts you in the place of a defense attorney, or rather, a defense team. Throughout the game you defend your clients as Ace Attorney veterans Apollo Justice, Phoenix Wright, and newbie Athena Cykes. Your task is essentially to investigate crime scenes and make a case to prove the defendants innocence. Throughout the course of the game, you meet a cast of what can only really be described as eccentric characters who are vital to your pursuit of the truth (sounds corny, but it’s true). The characters and their interactions are definitely what make this game worth playing. Like most of the Ace Attorney series, Dual Destinies is very dialogue-based. The greatest moments in the game consist of witty lines and unexpected conversational turns.
The actual relationship between the investigations and what goes on in the courtroom is what makes Ace Attorney games so fun to play. After collecting your evidence and having spoken to people involved in whatever case you’re tasked with, you enter the courtroom and begin to make your argument for your defendant. The case takes many twists and turns before you can reach a solid conclusion, and often you’ll find yourself unsure about whether or not your defendant is actually guilty (they’re probably not, or the game would be a lot more difficult to play). Eventually, witnesses offer their testimony and as the defense attorney, your goal is to find contradictions within what they’re saying. This is where you’ve got to put on your thinking cap since there are often small details about individual pieces of evidence that can be easily overlooked. The judge will also penalize you for too many incorrect assumptions or for whatever he considers to be wasting the court’s time. That being said, it’s not too difficult to work within the boundaries and the game is rather forgiving if you do mess up a couple of times. Eventually, after days of investigation and courtroom arguments the verdict is handed down and you move on to the next chapter in the game.
Graphically, Dual Destinies has definitely leaped forward in terms of the Ace Attorney series as a whole. The 3D graphics are implemented beautifully, and though the game does look different from its predecessors, it’s a positive change overall. The crime scenes can all be analyzed from different angles, which does allow for more possibilities than the previous 2D crime scenes of the DS Ace Attorney games. Capcom also added fully animated cutscenes, which do wonders to emphasize important moments in the story and make you feel closer to the characters. The sound has also improved, but retains elements of the series itself. The suspenseful music is essentially the same as before (many people might be disappointed if it wasn’t, it’s a staple of the series) but the different characters and locations have their own soundtracks that play in the background as they’re speaking. Oftentimes, it adds more to the ambiance or conversation and the music is never intrusive, so it does strike a good balance.
As far as actual gameplay goes, Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies sticks to the age-old Ace Attorney formula. This basically consists of a cutscene about the case you’re about to investigate, the investigation, day one of the trial, another investigation, and finally the end of the trial. This isn’t to say that the game suffers for this, but it does feel familiar if you’ve played the games in the past. The addition of psychological evaluations with Athena Cykes does add a different element to the cases, though. During court proceedings you may find yourself thinking “this person is clearly hiding something,” so through the psychological evaluations that become available to you, you can find out a lot about the witness or defendant at hand. The trials are not always easy to navigate, though they’re not impossible to figure out. There’s a fine line between making players think and making them entirely frustrated, but Capcom seems to have had that figured out ever since the first Ace Attorney.
Though it was difficult to find many faults with Dual Destinies, the only real flaw the game had was a couple of misspellings in the dialogue. This isn’t exactly intrusive and doesn’t take away from the actual game (unless you’re really stingy about that kind of thing), but it may have stemmed from the fact that Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies was released only digitally in the West. As a whole though, Dual Destinies is an excellent game with a rich narrative and interesting cast of characters. The improvements made in Dual Destinies over its predecessors are sure to impress longtime fans of the series, while the games quirky charm and amazing qualities are sure to attract even more fans. At a price of $30 on the Nintendo 3DS eShop, it’s safe to say Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies is worth every penny.
[+Intriguing cast of characters] [+Rich narrative] [+Great transition to 3D] [+Awesome new gameplay features] [-A few spelling mistakes]