March 4, 2011

Games for Gameless Situations: Intro and Ace Attorney Series

Oh, crap. The pow­er’s out, and it’s Sun­day night. You send some texts around, the match is can­celed. There went your entire evening. You can’t even go play Mass Effect on your Xbox, because there’s more than the Inter­net that isn’t work­ing. If you have a lap­top, you start heav­i­ly rationing the bat­tery usage for “emer­gen­cies.”
Oh, crap. Your uncle is get­ting his PhD in Mechan­i­cal Engi­neer­ing, and you have to dri­ve 11 hours to Indi­ana to watch his “grad­u­a­tion.” There’s gonna be no PS3 in the car, any 3G will be spot­ty at best, and unless you have a pow­er invert­er, your lap­top won’t sur­vive the trip.
Oh, crap. Your wife/­girl­friend/­fi­ance/­month-long-con­tract prostitute/mom wants to go on a cruise, and she’s not gonna let you bring all your big elec­tron­ics. You’re going to have to find some­thing that’ll fit in your pock­et to get on the air­plane with.
Ever expe­ri­enced these “Oh, crap” sce­nar­ios and put up with game­less sit­u­a­tions for days, even weeks at a time? Well, stop attempt­ing to have a life. There are plen­ty of good games for hand­held, bat­tery-pow­ered con­soles that aren’t hard at all to obtain. Over the next few weeks, I’ll present a few of my favorites to you, so you can final­ly have an excuse to stay on the toi­let for thir­ty min­utes.
As you may or may not know, I like to give things numer­i­cal scores. Since I con­sid­er all of these games to be “good”, most of the scores will be very high. How­ev­er, most of them shine through in a cer­tain few key aspects. So, I’ll give them a num­ber out of five.
Sto­ry­line: Will this be one to linger with you? Some­one once accused portable games of being inca­pable of com­par­ing to con­sole or PC games in sto­ry­line. I beg to dif­fer. In all hon­esty, with their weak­ened capa­bil­i­ties for graph­ics and gim­micks, I find that hand­held games often have BETTER sto­ry­lines.
Con­trol: How well does this game han­dle? If it is a port, does it live up to, or even improve upon the orig­i­nal? Will we look stu­pid play­ing it in a pub­lic place?
Addic­tive­ness: Can you stom­ach this game in large quan­ti­ties? Is it like crack? Will you ever stop play­ing?
Ease to Obtain: Some of these games are old­er. Are they easy or hard to get at?
Bat­tery Life: Hand­held con­soles come with a manda­to­ry time lim­it. Some games, espe­cial­ly for new smart­phones, drain more bat­tery than oth­ers. How long can you expect this fun to last? Is the hand­held old enough to run off of replace­able bat­ter­ies?
Well, let’s get start­ed with one of my favorite series. This series has, in less than ten years, become a cult clas­sic online, spawn­ing par­o­dies, fan fic­tion, and art­work (some of it VERY con­cern­ing). You might not know where it came from, but I guar­an­tee that if you are read­ing this right now, you have prob­a­bly seen a mas­sive speech bub­ble with the red word “OBJECTION!”. This is from the Ace Attor­ney series, alter­nate­ly known as Phoenix Wright.

This series, orig­i­nal­ly a GBA tril­o­gy called Gyakuten Saiban and only released in Japan, made its way to the DS in the late 2000’s in Eng­lish (as well as a mul­ti­tude of oth­er lan­guages, but if you’re read­ing this, you’re read­ing Eng­lish.). The pri­ma­ry tril­o­gy con­sists of point-and click adventure/puzzle games in which you take con­trol of Phoenix Wright, an attor­ney with a blue suit and a hair­do that only Cap­com could be respon­si­ble for. These games con­sist of episodes, or chap­ters, each of which con­tain one court case and the inves­ti­ga­tion sur­round­ing it. There are gen­er­al­ly four or five per game. You play in two modes. You start each game in a tri­al, where you press wit­ness­es, present evi­dence, and point out con­tra­dic­tions to raise an objec­tion. The objec­tive is sim­ple: get your client found “Not Guilty”. In between days of a tri­al, you do inves­ti­ga­tions, which con­sist of mov­ing about, talk­ing to wit­ness­es and peo­ple oth­er­wise involved, and ask­ing peo­ple about top­ics. The point of view is odd; you see Phoenix in court, but the rest of the game is in an odd sort of per­spec­tive that could prob­a­bly tech­ni­cal­ly qual­i­fy as first per­son. You’ll see it. It works.
There are two oth­er Ace Attor­ney games cur­rent­ly out that don’t star Phoenix Wright. One, enti­tled Apol­lo Jus­tice: Ace Attor­ney, takes place sev­en years after the final game in the Phoenix Wright tril­o­gy. It plays prac­ti­cal­ly the same as the first three, with a few minor excep­tions, and with Phoenix tak­ing a back­seat role. The oth­er one, Ace Attor­ney Inves­ti­ga­tions: Miles Edge­worth, stars Miles Edge­worth, a pros­e­cu­tor and main char­ac­ter from the tril­o­gy. It’s set some­where after the third Phoenix Wright, but def­i­nite­ly before Apol­lo Jus­tice. I find the Miles Edge­worth game to be a tad more dif­fi­cult and a bit more fun than the oth­er four. It han­dles dif­fer­ent­ly; you can actu­al­ly move around a room with the D‑Pad. Again, you have to see the per­spec­tive to under­stand it, but it works. There are a few more options, using “Log­ic” to piece facts togeth­er, and deduc­ing con­tra­dic­tions on the spot dur­ing an inves­ti­ga­tion. It’s real­ly quite fun.
The series is far from over. Due to good recep­tion, a sequel to the Miles Edge­worth game will be released some­time this year. Although I haven’t heard any­thing about it, it is pos­si­ble that there will also be more games star­ring Apol­lo Jus­tice. How­ev­er, the one that real­ly has me fired up is a crossover. Pro­fes­sor Lay­ton v.s. Ace Attor­ney, com­bin­ing the game­play from both series, will be released some­time this year, and it looks awe­some. The cross into the actu­al ani­ma­tion of Pro­fes­sor Lay­ton was flaw­less. Now we just have to hope that the voice act­ing will be decent.
You’ve heard me blab­ber. Here are some scores.
Sto­ry­line: 5/5- These games have vir­tu­al­ly no tim­ing or reac­tion chal­lenge at all. Your grand­moth­er could fig­ure them out, no prob­lem (unless she’s dead, and if she is I’m sor­ry to hear about that.), and it does­n’t take an Ivy Lea­guer to solve the puz­zles. The real enjoy­ment of these games come from the sto­ry­lines. Every­thing con­nects, hard­ly any one per­son or top­ic is only men­tioned once, and in the end, every­thing is wrapped up and tied togeth­er. The main tril­o­gy all wraps togeth­er in one huge sto­ry, which is both epic and sat­is­fy­ing.
Con­trol: 4.9/5- I took off .1 of a point for the very last case of the first Phoenix Wright game. When it was port­ed to the DS, they cre­at­ed a new case that took full advan­tage of the capa­bil­i­ties of the DS hard­ware. While most of these were an immense improve­ment, you came across a few parts in the sto­ry that required blow­ing into a mic (for fin­ger­print-dust relat­ed pur­pos­es). I despise these. If you are blow­ing on a video game con­sole while on a bus, peo­ple may mis­take you for a men­tal­ly chal­lenged per­son. Oth­er­wise, the con­trols are all pret­ty much flaw­less, see­ing as there isn’t too much to con­trol.
Addic­tive­ness: 4.5/5- For the most part, you can play a chap­ter from start to fin­ish before you decide it’s time to stop for the day. How­ev­er, you will occa­sion­al­ly find spots in the games where you have to do some­thing obscure (like present a spe­cif­ic piece of evi­dence to a cer­tain per­son) before you can con­tin­ue. They can frus­trate you a tad and make you quit. How­ev­er, since you can quick­save at any time, they aren’t a huge set­back. Oth­er­wise, you’re stuck play­ing until the chap­ter is over, because you just can’t put these games down.
Ease to Obtain: 4/5- They’re not at Wal-Mart any­more, and they usu­al­ly don’t sell as many copies as Mario or Poke­mon or ran­dom assort­ed shov­el­ware. How­ev­er, a quick dip into any spe­cial­ty store can get you these games pret­ty eas­i­ly. You can order them online, too. Part of the prob­lem is that they aren’t cut­ting edge DS games any­more. When the new ones come out, they’ll prob­a­bly be in nor­mal stores for a few days.
Bat­tery Life: 5/5- Any­one who owns an orig­i­nal DS knows what I’m talk­ing about. These things have a bat­tery life of prac­ti­cal­ly for­ev­er, and can last trans-con­ti­nen­tal plane flights. They rock.
Feel free to give me your opin­ions. If you played them and liked them, com­ment. If you played them and did­n’t like them, why not? If you did­n’t play them but want to, give them a try. If you have anoth­er hand­held title you’d like to get this same treat­ment, guess what? COMMENT!


  1. zero_19 - March 4, 2011 4:23 pm

    TL;DR 😀
    Nice review, nev­er played them. Actu­al­ly I have nev­er owned a hand­held system.…does this mean I’m not a gamer any­more?

  2. CharcoalCoyote - March 4, 2011 5:34 pm

    No, but I’ll prob­a­bly con­vince you to get one once I’m done with this series of arti­cles.

  3. thsoundman - March 4, 2011 7:13 pm


  4. AiR - March 9, 2011 10:35 am

    a bought a psp. i played through resis­tance ret­ri­bu­tion then sold it. It lacks a sec­ond ana­log stick to make it fps friend­ly. also it just was­nt as great as i thought it was guna be. yea games on the go but it just did­nt make up for crap­py repet­i­tive games.


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