Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney
|Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney|
The main characters in Apollo Justice, from left, Apollo, Klavier, Trucy, and Kristoph
|Genre(s)||Adventure, visual novel|
Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, released in Japan as Gyakuten Saiban 4 (Japanese: 逆転裁判4?, lit. "Turnabout Trial 4"), is a visual novel adventure video game developed by Capcom for the Nintendo DS handheld game console. It is the fourth video game in the Ace Attorney series and was released in Japan on April 12, 2007; in North America on February 19, 2008; in Europe on May 9, 2008; and in Australia on May 22, 2008. The game is preceded by Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Justice for All, and is succeeded by Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth. Apollo Justice is the first Ace Attorney title to be on the DS that was not a port of a Game Boy Advance title.
Apollo Justice is the first game in the series that does not feature Phoenix Wright as the main protagonist, though it is not the first time a different attorney has been playable. The game is set in the year 2026, which is seven years after Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations. Phoenix Wright has been stripped of his attorney's badge, and Apollo Justice, an up-and-coming attorney, becomes his apprentice.
Apollo Justice was extremely successful in Japan, selling around 250,000 copies during the first retail week and 515,417 by the end of 2007. It has an aggregate review scores of 78/100 and 79% from Metacritic and Game Rankings respectively.
The gameplay of Apollo Justice can be separated into two types of situations: Investigation Mode and Courtroom Mode. Both are presented in the style of a visual novel and therefore, storyline is heavily linear, though there are often interactive interludes to the dialogue. The player is given a health bar. If the player ever presents the incorrect evidence, health is lost. If the health bar reaches zero, the player loses. Apollo Justice is the first game in the series to be developed specifically for the DS as opposed to being a port of a game originally for the Game Boy Advance. As such, the DS' touch screen and microphone features are a fundamental part of Apollo Justice. Additionally, this game is the first in the series where Phoenix Wright is not the main protagonist, though it is not the first time a different attorney has been playable.
During the Investigation phase of each case, the player explores the game world by either using the stylus or the D-pad to select the actions they wish to engage in: Examine, Move, Talk, or Present. The player converses with non-player characters by selecting dialogue and can move around the game world by selecting the locations they wish to travel to. Information gained during Investigation Mode can be used during the Trial phase of the game and items picked up can be used as evidence. The player, however, cannot progress without completing certain actions. Ema Skye, a character from the DS remake of the original Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney game, often provides the player with opportunities to use DS features such as the microphone to perform actions such as dusting for fingerprints.
The Trial portion of the game is similar to that of previous Ace Attorney games and consists of listening to and cross-examining witness testimonies. The player is given the option to either Press or Present evidence in response to statements made by witnesses. The player can either select their choice or yell into the microphone. Pressing will force the witness to expand on a previous testimony and may unlock new segments of the testimony, while Present is used to present information—either in the form of evidence or profiles—that contradicts the witness's testimony. "Psyche locks," first introduced in Justice for All, are used only during the final case. However, while presenting evidence, the player is no longer able to determine between presenting evidence or a character profile, simplifying the game. A new system, known as the "Perceive System," can be used to look for motions or actions made by witnesses that show nervousness, similar to a tell in poker. The move even comes with the catchphrase, "Gotcha!" ("There!" (そこだ! Soko da!?) in Japanese). The game also includes a "Crime Recreation Mode" that models evidence or the crime scene in a 3-D rendition and allow the player to explore the recreation to look for clues. Additionally, the game often recreates the crime in cutscene sequences, allowing the player to observe the action and find contradictions.
Apollo Justice, like the other games in the Ace Attorney series, consists of several cases and trials, called Turnabouts. In four separate Turnabouts, the main character, Apollo Justice, must defend his clients against the charge of murder. After the first Turnabout, Apollo works for retired attorney Phoenix Wright, who lost his attorney's badge due to unknowingly falsifying evidence and now runs the "Wright Talent Agency" to support his adopted daughter, Trucy Wright, a magician from the disbanded Troupe Gramarye and who helps Apollo out during investigations and in court.
In the first case, Turnabout Trump (逆転の切札 Gyakuten no Kirifuda?), Phoenix, now a pianist, is accused of murder. Apollo, under the tutelage of Phoenix's friend, Kristoph Gavin, is called to defend Phoenix and find the true murderer. Unbeknownst to Apollo, he uses falsified evidence to find the real murderer, Kristoph, and proves Phoenix's innocence.
The second case, Turnabout Corner (逆転連鎖の街角 Gyakuten Rensa no Machikado?, lit. "Turnabout Connected Corners"), begins with Apollo joining the "Wright Anything Agency." He receives the task of solving three separate, but simultaneous incidents. Seemingly unrelated at first, it is soon proven that the cases, a hit-and-run, a panty-theft, and a missing noodle stand are all connected to a murder that occurred on the same night. Apollo is summoned to defend Wocky Kitaki, the hot-headed son of the local Kitaki family gang, who is accused of the crime and connects the cases to convict the true murderer, Wocky's fiancee, Alita Tiala.
In Turnabout Serenade (逆転のセレナード Gyakuten no Serenādo?), the third case, Klavier Gavin, Kristoph's brother and the prosecutor in Turnabout Corner, invites Apollo and Trucy to a concert for his band, the Gavinners. However, a murder occurs during the show in front of Apollo's eyes and they receive the task of defending the main suspect, pianist Machi Tobaye, one of the concert's guest stars. Apollo proves Tobaye's innocence by unraveling a complicated plot to smuggle cocoons and uncovers the real murderer, Detective Daryan Crescend.
In the fourth and final case, Turnabout Succession (逆転を継ぐ者 Gyakuten o Tsugu Mono?, lit. "Successor to Turnabout"), Apollo defends Vera Misham, who has been accused of poisoning her father, Drew. As the finale of Apollo Justice, Turnabout Succession reveals the mysteries surrounding Phoenix's last case as an attorney, as well as the history of Troupe Gramarye and how Trucy came to be his adopted daughter. This is the sole session of the game where the player can interact as Phoenix. In the end, it is discovered that Kristoph Gavin was responsible for the deaths of Drew Misham and Zak Gramarye, the attempted murder of Vera Misham, and the fake evidence that forced Phoenix to retire. At this point, the player can determine Vera Misham's verdict through the Jurist System. Choosing "Not Guilty" results to Vera being declared not guilty, while Phoenix considers trying to regain his position as an attorney. Choosing "Guilty" will lead to the non-canon alternate ending. The court agrees on a "hung jury," leaving the actual verdict to be decided the next day. Vera's condition worsens and she dies of poisoning before her verdict is decided.
The game was produced by Minae Matsukawa and directed by Mitsuru Endo, with series creator Shu Takumi stepping back into a supervisory role, though remaining closely involved with the storyline and game development. In an early press release, they told Famitsu that they planned "on doing a few things with the series that they weren't able to put into Ace Attorney" and that Capcom staffers would provide the voices for the series. A demo version of the game was first made available at the Tokyo Game Show.
The second story of the game, "Turnabout Corner," was a story that Shu Takumi had come up with ten years ago when he initially joined Capcom. The third story, "Turnabout Serenade," marked the first time motion-capture data had been used to create a video in the game. Like the voice-acting, the "actor" for Lamiroir was a member of the R&D team.
The new game no longer features Phoenix Wright as the protagonist, as the previous three games did. Capcom's previous naming for the translated games has included the localized name of "Phoenix Wright" as the protagonist in the title for these games. A photo taken from a Nintendo Europe event which included a banner for the game confirmed that the protagonist, Housuke Odoroki, is localized as "Apollo Justice", with the game title being Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney. This was confirmed when the English trailer for the game was presented at the 2007 Tokyo Game Show. The localization team had taken twenty-two meetings to decide on the name "Apollo," a reference to both the Greek god and the spacecraft.
Shu Takumi was against the idea of having Phoenix Wright appear in the game, stating that: "Years later, when it was decided within Capcom that Ace Attorney 4 would go ahead, my position was that we should change the main character and tell a new story. I didn't plan to have Phoenix in the game, but my colleagues said they wanted him to appear in some form, which is why he ended up being the accused in the first case in Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney."
A limited edition of the game was made available for the Japanese release on April 12, 2007. It includes branded headphones, a Gyakuten Saiban Dictionary on a DS card, and a series highlights DVD. Also, a keychain of Apollo Justice was included as a preorder gift from GameStop and the online Capcom store.
A soundtrack, entitled Gyakuten Saiban 4 Original Soundtrack, was released on June 27, 2007. It featured background music from the game, composed and arranged by Toshihiko Horiyama. A concert, based on the music from Ace Attorney and entitled Gyakuten Meets Orchestra, took place in Tokyo in April 2008. A CD of the concert was published on July 16, 2008.
Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney has received generally positive reception, holding an aggregate score of 78/100 and 78.39% from Metacritic and GameRankings respectively. It received four nines out of ten, totaled to thirty-six out of forty, from video game magazine Famitsu. However, 1UP.com commented that, "the Phoenix Wright games are by far the best-written titles you'll find on the DS, and Justice is no different." 1UP.com also commented that the added features made especially for the DS were "super engaging even though the actual actions aren't that difficult to do." On 21 November 2013, RPGFan placed the game 5th on their top 20 Nintendo DS games list.
IGN largely agreed with 1UP but commented that "the first Apollo Justice title plays identically to the Phoenix Wright trilogy". IGN Australia noted out that complaints about the previous games, such as that "finding the right path through the game feels like a process of trial and error" and that players could beat the game by "routinely pressing at every available opportunity and then using a minimum of logic," were not fixed in Apollo Justice. " Additionally, "the game's rather obtuse, long-way-around approach to problem solving" caused what IGN viewed to be unnecessary delays to the game. IGN also felt that new features were "a little gimmicky" but did not "detract from the experience in the slightest." However, IGN Australia thought the game was "great" overall. The game was nominated for "Best Story" in IGN's 2008 Video Game Awards, though it did not win.
These views were echoed by many reviews. GameSpot felt that the story, while strong, "moves along at a snail's pace" and that "many of the series' flaws are still present." A "lack of innovation and change" was the main sticking point for GamePro, who thought of Apollo Justice as "a solid distillation of the franchise formula." The Nintendo World Report felt that the game "builds upon the Phoenix Wright trilogy" even though "[g]ameplay remains mostly unchanged." GameSpy pointed out that the game's use of the DS's touch features, "vastly improves the experience" though the crime scene reenactment is "all too brief."
Apollo Justice was highly successful, selling around 250,000 copies during the first retail week according to Mainichi Interactive, and had more than 500,000 copies shipped by the end of its second week in Japan. By the end of 2007, it had sold 515,417 units. While not nearly as successful in terms of sales in North America, the game still placed fifth in games sold for the Nintendo DS during its release week.
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