Phoenix Wright Justice for All Review

Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney Justice for All [Available on WiiWare, Nintendo DS, and Game Boy Advance]
ESRB Rating: T
Players: 1
Genre: Adventure/Visual Novel
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Release Date: Feb 15th, 2010

Parent Talk: Justice for All is the sequel to Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney, released on WiiWare earlier this year.  JFA can be played alone, but finishing its predecessor largely enhances the experience.  Either way, Justice for All is also a text adventure game that focuses on conversation and tests of logic.  There are violent scenarios and situations, but nothing explicit, so the T rating is appropriate.  Younger children would probably be lost due to the heavy reading, but it’s an entertaining and harmless game.

Justice for All chronicles the next chapter of the Phoenix Wright saga.  Some fans consider it the “weak link” of the franchise, but it yet manages to be a solid entry with excellent dialogue.  It maintains the charms of Ace Attorney and is as funny and witty.  If you read COE’s review of the first game, you’d notice a laundry list of similarities—which is great.

The Great: Wonderful writing and localization.  Phoenix Wright’s plot isn’t Oscar-worthy, but it presents an enjoyable story with great characters.  Pop-culture references and an excellent cast are in full force.  The canon transitions well from the first game and numerous ties keep it together, thus each game is important for the legacy.

The Good:

+ Awesome music.  JFA continues the series’ tradition of catchy tunes.  Its version of “Cornered ~ Pursuit” is one of the best tracks in the OST, because it makes pressing witnesses all the more satisfying.  Once that begins to play, you’re in for a ride.

+ Wii controls.  These details could be copied from our first review with no effort…so here they are!  Though negligible, the WiiWare version interestingly supports the Wii remote.  You can thrust it forward (emulating Phoenix Wright’s iconic finger point) to shout “OBJECTION!”  This is the Wii’s way of “shouting into the DS microphone.”  This feature can be turned off though.

+ Length.  While JFA features only four cases (in comparison to five for the first and third games), each case is substantial on its own.  Many WiiWare games border on the short side, lasting only a few hours.  Each case in JFA requires several hours to complete, especially the hefty final one.

The Bad:

– Linear.  Justice for All’s plot is rich, but follows a strict path.  Your job is to explore character dialogue and text, yet there’s no way to influence the proceedings.  There are no multiple endings or alternate routes, meaning that you either find the correct line of questioning or suffer a penalty.

– Deja vu.  The presentation/gameplay are identical to Ace Attorney.  The sole difference comes with the “Magatama”, Phoenix’s lie detector test of sorts.  This adds the series’ trademark supernatural content, tying in with the background and lineage of some core characters.  When faced with a dishonest tongue, “Psyche-Locks” pop up, and presenting evidence can dispel them.

The Lowdown:

If you enjoyed Ace Attorney and want to continue the story, Justice for All is an essential download.  Also unlike AA, JFA is WiiWare-exclusive, so only Nintendo fans have easy access to download this game, and the third.  All three Phoenix Wright games must be experienced.

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