Apollo Justice impressions

Yesterday, Apollo Justice was released and is probably my most anticipated game of 2008. Apollo Justice is the fourth game in the Phoenix Wright / Ace Attorney / Gyakuten Saiban series by Capcom and takes the series in a new direction for a couple different angles.

First off, It's the first game in the series to be specifically developed for the DS from the ground up. All the other PW games were simply ports from the Gameboy Advance. The first game did have a DS only chapter at the end, which is really just a taste of what the could do with the series. In Apollo Justice, the sprites are higher resolution, more detailed, and better colored, cut-scenes are now pre-compiled, rather than using sprite manipulation, and everything else you saw in Chapter 5 of Phoenix Wright 1.

The other huge change for the series is Apollo Justice as the main character. Apollo Justice, the game, takes place at least 7 years after the end of Phoenix Wright 3, and you begin by defending Phoenix Wright whose been accused of murder. Through defending him you become aware of your own power as an attorney, much like Phoenix did back in the day. You overcome people's lies through 'perceiving the truth' by a tell or nervous twitch, rather than 'unlocking it' by seeing their Psyche-Locks.

Apollo Justice as the main lead is as huge a risk for the series as it is a change and is the largest criticism about the game. I mean, the previous were named Phoenix Wright (in the US). He is the game. Games like Metal Gear Solid 2 and Halo 2 suffered greatly because of this criticism when you played as Raiden or the Arbiter.

Being a huge fan of Phoenix Wright, I wasn't really bothered by this. One of my favorite moments in past Phoenix Wright games was playing as a different character and learning about Phoenix Wright from a different angle. I cared about the Phoenix Wright universe and cast of characters as a whole that seeing it through the eyes of someone was a refreshing change of pace and offered a slew of new jokes and memes.

After playing for 2 hours, my only complaint about playing as Apollo Justice is that he's almost too much like Phoenix Wright in the beginning. Though truly, if Phoenix Wright or any other previous character wasn't in this first case, it would have turned me off from the concept. Phoenix Wright is the crucial immediate tie-in back to the series as a whole and is crucial in shaping Apollo Justice, the character, in becoming the next big thing.

In Apollo Justice, what I'm most interested in are the tie-ins back to the series as a whole and the future of the series. When does this take place? Why should I care about Apollo Justice? Has this series jumped the shark? Thankfully that first question was somewhat answered in the first 2 hours of the game. Something has happened to Phoenix Wright 7 years ago that screwed up his lawyerin' career, and I'm sure that through the course of the game it will be revealed.

As for jumping the shark, there were several moments in Phoenix Wright 2 and 3 I felt that the series was stale. The first couple cases felt like more of the same. Phoenix Wright 2 is the biggest offender. But, each game ended in a very satisfying way, and Phoenix Wright 3's ending pulled everything together. It pulled together all the cases in the game, and all the characters and events from previous games. I would probably not be as excited for Apollo Justice had Phoenix Wright 3 not ended so greatly.

And here I am now. Apollo Justice continues with the same enthusiasm and hilariousness the makes the series great. The first case is a great example of what makes these game fun to play. ^_^ I think this 'restart' of Phoenix Wright will keep fans of the first 3 games happy, as well as, present a good starting point for new people to join the series without playing the previous games (though I haven't played it enough to 100% stand by that assumption).

I'll let you know as time goes on ^_^. If you haven't played any Phoenix Wright games, definitely pick up the first one and check it out.

Also, you can check out a mocked-up demo version of Apollo Justice on Flash here: http://www.shacknews.com/docs/press/20080116_ajaa_flash_demo.x

In other news...

Now that I'm playing Apollo Justice on the bus, I've stopped playing Brain Age 2 Sudoku for the time being. I made it pretty far though with 91% completion. Only 12 or 13 puzzles left to complete. This is pretty close to make completion of Brain Age 1 Sudoku of 87%. The Sudoku puzzles in the second game I found to be more challenging and interesting, rather than the first game where the difficult puzzles were just annoying. The pacing of difficultly as the puzzles went on in Brain Age 2 was very subtle and really pushed you to use different techniques of counting from 1 to 9. In Brain Age 1, it felt all over the place..

Though, maybe I've just grown as a Sudoku puzzler.