Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney

Phoenix Wright, attorney at law, starred in three games of his own. But seven years ago in game time, he hit a case that ruined his career, and now a new attorney with scary hair and a knack for last-minute revelations has taken his place. Yet the older, boho Wright is still hanging around, which gives Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney a strong overarching plot: While Apollo Justice has four separate cases to tackle, he also has to figure out how he's connected to Wright and his dapper magician daughter, Trucy—and what they're going to need from him.

Like its predecessors in the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney series, Apollo Justice is a point-and-click adventure with writing that's cartoonish enough for kids, but sharp enough for adults who like kids' games. Each case after the first one is split between detective-like investigations and fast-paced court battles. The investigations tend to be a drag: They're mired in repetitive dialogue and tedious screen-searching, and they often feel like padding. Fans of this style of game may be happy to spend hours wandering between the same few rooms to find clues, but others will wish they could skip right to the trials, where the evidentiary brain-teasers and combative objections distract from the goofy plot points. Never mind what a 15-year-old girl's panties stuffed in an exhaust pipe have to do with cracking a murder: You'll just be happy you figured it out.


Beyond the game: As a way to work in the DS' special features, you're asked to perform tasks like filling a footprint with plaster using the stylus, or blowing dust off a fingerprint with the microphone. This is often a waste of time.

Worth playing for: While some of the characters are silly to the point of aggravation, the reaction shots when they're busted are consistently priceless.

Frustration sets in when: Sometimes it's unclear exactly when the court is ready for a piece of evidence, and since the game only lets you get away with a few mistakes at a time, the trial and error can be nerve-racking.

Final judgment: The latest chapter in the Ace Attorney series comes with fresh characters and an absorbing plot—as well as all the same old objections.