Home » Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney Dual Destinies Review

Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney Dual Destinies Review

Phoenix Wright, Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies, or Gyakuten Saiban 5 is a game made by Capcom and is the 5th game to prominently feature the team of “Wright & Co. Law Offices” in the series. It is the 8th game released in the Phoenix Wright universe, of which two others are a spinoff series named “Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth”, and one of which is a cross-over game called “Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney”. Dual Destinies was a game released in Japan on a physical cartridge format in July 25th, 2013, and a game released internationally in a digital format on Nintendo eShop earlier this week on October 24th, 2013. Dual Destinies is the first game to have a Mature (17) rating, on account of violent and disturbing content.


Wright on the Phone


The game begins where it left off, a year after the events of the previous game in the Gyakuten Saiban narrative, Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney. Phoenix Wright, donning his Attorney Badge after a long period of absence, retakes the stage as the protagonist of the game and first case. The game, like all previous games in the series, involve defending clients, but more importantly, uncovering the truth of some really bizarre cases. This is accomplished by employing logical theories and evidence, as well as wildcard abilities that pull confessions out of thin air. I’ll explain more on these later, but for now, let’s hop back to story time.


Apollo Justice in Courtroom


So the game begins with an anime cutscene, and Apollo Justice stating his thoughts on current events and how the protagonists (and implicitly the player) are responsible for fixing the inevitable problematic scenarios that are set to come later on (otherwise we wouldn’t have a game). Cut to a clean-shaven Phoenix Wright, who is talking on the phone with someone who isn’t revealed in the introduction, about an apprentice lawyer and analytic psychologist Athena Cykes, who reveals her inexperience by humorously tripping backwards down a flight of stairs, back to Phoenix Wright, who now sports a stubborn fringe not unlike a tally mark signifying the legacy of his return. Before the scene concludes, it flips back to Apollo, standing in a desolate and destroyed courtroom, tensing his arm up, both in anger and to display his conviction to solving a future case. The scene ends with Apollo staring up at the moon (from a sunlit courtroom?), reflecting on a memory that haunts him to the point of bitterness.


This is Juniper Woods


The first case in the game has you defending a close-friend of Athena Cykes, and though Apollo is supposed to help out, he suddenly succumbs to his injuries from the recent blast that destroyed the aforementioned courtroom, leaving you all alone playing the part of the inexperienced Athena Cykes. Not to worry though, as the game conforms to its’ successive trend of informing you who the bad guy is before you’ve even started for the first case in the game. The prosecution presents, what I think is a rather weak argument, as a crucial point to identifying who destroyed an entire courtroom, their motive being revenge for falsified charges against them. Athena Cykes flips into a panic attack as soon as she’s about to rebute this, the transition to anime explaining her traumatic child incident where she observes a person’s death, and is subsequently ignored giving testimony post-event. As this is all going on in her head, she continues to remain silent, giving the Judge the impression that she has no evidence to overturn the argument, just as all hope looks lost, in comes Phoenix to save the day. They overturn the testimony through evidence, cross-examination, and Athena’s special ability to get the end result we expected at the start. Crowd cheer stock sound effects for everybody.


The Final Cross-Examination


For all subsequent cases, they get progressively more vague in detail in the introduction, tricking the player into following red-herring logic or leaving them to decipher what really occurred in each incident and why. Though I won’t reveal any spoilers here, I do want to bring up the point of the prosecution’s basis for accusation again. The arguments can be weak, transparent, and can solely rely on “your word against theirs but if you don’t prove their theory wrong with evidence you don’t have at hand they win”. Though it’s still kind of interesting to see cases turned on their head with mastermind villains at the helm, the cases can drag on (but not necessarily in a bad way) only for you to tie up one point and be forced to solve the next. That kind of constant, intellectual challenge seems feasible in a videogame, but seems inconceivable in a practical legal situation, because vague and often unrelated details shouldn’t be enough to form a case. I guess that’s how it is in the Phoenix Wright world. Though I won’t spoil anything, the over-arching narrative focuses on resolving one, of two cases which spurred doubt into the hearts of ordinary citizens, bringing the courts into a future of darkness where real justice, is no longer displayed.


Day 1 The Fox Chamber


Now I would like to move onto writing, graphics and sound. The script for the game is as good, if not better than the prequels, and feels a lot more consistent in detail. I feel that the localization teams have done an excellent job of changing a lot of cultural references over, and preserving some original artistic content for the player, like when it talks about “Yokai”, a wide subject by itself (but demons I guess, if you really want to know), and open to a lot of interpretation. Since this game’s market appeal appears to be young adults however, it’s no surprise that they would respect the intelligence of their player-base and not commit to making a lot of Japanese references more simplified for our benefit. The game still utilizes comedy like it’s predecessors, in a sense of “good humour laughing at bad humour”, but also still has an equally thrilling side of seriousness to it.


Apollo Justice in Courtroom 6


The graphics have been taken up a notch, not only for the benefit of making full use of better hardware but to integrate better with the 3DS’s 3D feature. Characters, as well as many of the game’s assets, are now drawn in full 3D, giving way to more realistic ways of investigation such as “viewing a crime-scene from all sides”. Simply put, the game looks amazing, and references a lot of 2D art that we are traditionally familiar with from the Nintendo DS games. Sound also gets a big improvement, and appears to feature full, theatrical pieces of music, (which Nintendo’s 1st Party Developers seem to be amazing at, by the way), which also reference past Ace Attorney games. It still seems to utilize previous assets and stock sound effects, but they aren’t bad by any means and still continue to serve their purpose.




Moving onto mechanics however, the game introduces some new and some old mechanics from the prequels that are either integral, or just convenient. There’s the three abilities of the Lawyers in the Wright & Co. Law Offices, Phoenix Wright with his gifted Magatama, that reveals when people are concealing the truth inside their hearts behind lies, then there’s Apollo Justice, with his Bracelet that tightens up whenever people display a nervous habit as they are lying, and finally, there’s Athena Cykes, who can pair her advanced sense of hearing with a unique interface to sense and eliminate “discord” or emotional interference in people’s statements. Pheonix Wright’s Magatama is rarely seen in the game, and only seems to appear in the last two cases, but what the game does address in this sequel, is how Black Psyche Locks function and the intricacies involved in removing them, which was a huge barrier in the previous game when trying to get information out of certain witnesses.




Athena Cykes’s Mood Matrix is the new “special ability” introduced to this game. The concept revolves around finding emotional inconsistencies in a person’s testimony, either because they are confused in a traumatic scenario or if they are attempting to hide the truth behind a lie. An example of this system in use is figuring out why Juniper Woods is happy when rubble is falling down on her (she’s not a masochist, don’t worry), pointing out this abnormal “happy” emotion, questioning her about it and getting her to amend her testimony to “The rubble was falling on me, but Apollo saved me!”. Sometimes a complete absence of emotions in a statement is abnormal in itself. From case 2 and onwards, the player may encounter an emotional “overload” from a witness while using this system, effectively rendering all other emotions invisible while it’s in effect. The player can solve this by pointing out specific elements in the testimony causing the overflow of emotion. The Motion Matrix system is a new and fun element to use, but no penalty is received for pointing out the wrong emotion. Apollo Justice returns in a few cases to lend his “Perceive” ability, and like I mentioned earlier, this involves watching for a nervous habit displayed during a specific part of a statement a witness gives. Interestingly, the player is only given the opportunity to use Apollo’s perceive ability at relevant statements during a cross-examination, unlike the previous game which gave the player the option of trying multiple statements with perceive, serving as a trade-off penalty in the absence of not really being able to go wrong with this ability. While this serves to make the game more convenient, it does make the game easier. This is not a problem as an individual factor, but i’ll explain more about why this game is easier in my next paragraph.


Case Brief


First I’ll talk about convenience features. This game now adds what I can only describe as a “recent transcript” feature. It displays previous information which the player may have missed either by accident or by a form of scripted dialogue interruption. I am grateful for this new feature, and while it does make the game easier, this is not a feature at fault for the game’s declension in difficulty from the traditional game. Next, is an objectives feature which details exactly what you are supposed to do at certain parts of the game, in great detail, so you don’t get confused. I am equally grateful for this feature, as it was not present prior to this game, and would have solved the problem of unclear objective progression in the previous games. And, while not a feature in itself, my next point is about a feature by design. The game’s investigative process is a lot smoother and irrelevant details are removed from scenes (You can’t investigate an item which isn’t relative to the case, and by that same token, everything you can investigate within a scene is completely relevant). In addition, the game automatically ticks off things you’ve already checked, so you always know what you’ve failed to investigate. Next on the list is a new feature called “consult”, which is an option that automatically kicks in after three strikes are used in a single cross-examination. When consult is activated, the assisting lawyer on the defense bench will highlight a certain statement which needs to be counter-acted with evidence.


Cross-Examining Tonate


This brings me onto my next point; the game’s health bar, which is now non-existent in the investigation portion of the game (again, unlike the prequels), has five points, and can jump up in degrees of threat to two points (takes away two instead of one for each mistake). Just two, unlike the prequels which make a threat of contempt of court a lot more realistic with failure sometimes consuming the whole bar in one go. And if you should happen to make five fatal mistakes in judgement, what should happen to you as a result? Here’s a spoiler, absolutely nothing happens to you! You get a menu screen with retry or give up, and retrying instantly takes you back to the statement you failed on with a full health bar. As you can probably imagine, this lack of consequence change is not reflected in the gameplay of the previous games, and this, is my main fault with how I think the game has been made easier. If there was a legitimate penalty to the game, and it made you go all the way back to the beginning of the trial section or force you to reload a save with a partial health bar, then that would present a challenge to the player and encourage them not to deliberately cheat through all the intellectual challenges they are hit with. And as a game with a Mature ESRB rating, it seems inconceivable that they would be trying to make the game easier for a non-existent younger player-base, so why is this game so much easier than all the others? And inexperience with the game for other demographics shouldn’t be a reason, as the game revolves around logical and intellectual reasoning.



Now, this isn’t the prettiest part of the review, but I felt obligated to add it in, on the simple premise that Nintendo don’t update their games enough, or ship them after a heavy amount of playtesting (I’m looking at you Pokemon X and Y). I want to talk about glitches, just because some of them can’t really be overlooked so easily.


  • This first point isn’t really a glitch, but a small amount of typography errors exist in the game, I only really counted three in total, so it looks like the translation and localization team did a good job (they did a spellcheck). This probably only applies for the PAL version, and you most likely won’t notice them if you are just playing the game.
  • Text from the aforementioned transcript feature can accidentally be omitted, effectively defeating the purpose of the new mechanic existing in the first place. I first noticed this when the Judge gave the opening statement in Blackquill’s place, but there are other incidents of this occurring.
  • Characters can disappear from sequences where they are supposed to be scripted in (an example when I’m using the consult feature in case 5, but I suspect this is due to more than one assisting lawyer being on the defense team’s table).
  • Finally, I noticed a small rendering bug in case five when Blackquill has his handcuffs taken off, but it’s really no biggie.


Understand all of these points are just minor technical flaws I discovered with the game, as it’s still playable at it’s core which is what matters most. It shouldn’t stop you from being able to play the game.


Overall the game is still great, despite any flaws I may have discussed, they are all still relatively menial and didn’t get in the way of my experience with this game. The story, art, and sound are amazing, and the user interfaces are also awesome. Though this game needs some polish to be perfect, it is still really good, and well worth the price. I will now hand down my verdict:


(oops I meant)

Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney Dual Destinies: 9/10


Special Thanks to ZSlyzer for providing screenshots!

One Response to “Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney Dual Destinies Review”

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