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NWR Staff's Favorite 10 Games of 2013

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies

by Alex Culafi - January 2, 2014, 9:48 am PST

There had to be some surprises!

For the fifth entry in a series like Ace Attorney, one would think that the game would be mired in the plot of past games, filled with gameplay mechanics too obtuse for newcomers, and unapologetically unchanged from the original GBA entry. As it turns out, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies laughs in the face of those expectations, and manages to deliver a thoughtful experience that anyone can dig into.

The stories of Dual Destinies, though filled with plenty of references to past games, very much stands alone. You're still solving murders and you're still taking people to court using characters fans have (mostly) seen before, but the story is self-contained in the sense that every single case works towards the final, surprising conclusion. This is the first time the series has properly done that since Trials & Tribulations, and it's incredibly refreshing to see such a cohesive story in this long-running franchise.

Much like Grand Theft Auto V, Dual Destinies introduces three lawyers to play as for the first time: Phoenix Wright as the matured mentor, Apollo Justice as the lawyer with a bit of experience under his belt, and Athena Cykes as the rookie fresh out of law school. While Ace Attorney games have allowed you to play as multiple characters before, the brilliance of Dual Destinies is that each character, as you might expect, has an extremely different personality and perspective to bring to the table. Like the other big sequel introducing three characters for the first time this year, adding multiple playable perspectives allows the experience to stay fresh without ever dipping into monotony.

As for the gameplay, both investigation and trial situations have been made more accessible for a wider audience. Investigations no longer send you on a wild goose chase to find one minuscule piece of evidence; instead, you investigate a few very specific areas and maintain a log that details exactly who you need to talk to and what you need to do next. For the first time, investigations act as something fun to push the story forward instead of something obtuse to fear. Trial sections have changed by adding quick continues when you get a game over, regardless of when you last saved. The continues are very generous and make it so you never have to repeat more than a few minutes of gameplay when you fail. Although these new features certainly make the game much easier, they also turn Ace Attorney into a tighter game for a wider audience.

One of my favorite aspects of this game is its presentation. Visually, the game drops the 2D art from the past and brings in 3D models, a dynamic camera, and animated cutscenes. The soundtrack likewise manages to bring the audio of Ace Attorney into the modern era. If you want to know what I mean, listen to this killer Phoenix theme that I think stands as one of the best songs this year.

Not only is Dual Destinies generally up to the series' excellent standards, but it also manages to make a lot of smart decisions to bring this game to the modern era and a modern audience. The low difficulty may turn some fans off, but I think the innovation Capcom brings to the table makes Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies, undoubtedly, one of the ten best games of the year on Nintendo platforms.

Talkback

Leo13December 26, 2013

Want to play Pikmin 3, but lack a Wii U? $219 on newegg.com http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=0PW-003J-00002
This sale has been going on since last week I just got mine the other day.

sisibakbakDecember 29, 2013

I bought it a few days ago and just finished the main set of levels. Absolutely adoring it, fantastic use of the GamePad and there's a crap ton to do. Has to be my GOTY (though, I haven't played a great deal of new games this year including 3D World so it's a bit of an easy choice really).

Vrgin XJanuary 01, 2014

Team Plasma is so 2011, Team Flare is where it's at, son.  8)

Pixelated PixiesJanuary 02, 2014

I'm going to post my top games of the year here, lest I forget. It's been a slow year in terms of gaming for me, so I can only muster excitement for the following 5 games.

1-The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
2-Fire Emblem: Awakening
3- Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon
4-Steamworld: Dig
5-Harmoknight

I also had some fun with the following notable mentions, but couldn't quite bring myself to put them on my 'top' list.

-Animal Crossing: New Leaf
-Pokémon Y
-Mario and Donkey Kong - Minis on the Move

I have also played a few hours of Pikmin 3, Rayman Legends and Super Mario 3D World, which all seem awesome, but not being a Wii U owner has meant I haven't spent as much time with those games as they probably deserve.

KhushrenadaJanuary 02, 2014

Oh ho! Nice. I thought the last spot might end up going to the Wonderful 101. Not sure what kind of support the game might have with staff. However, I can't argue with the choice of the 3DS's 6th jewel this year. Often not as appreciated as the main 5 of the year LM, FA, AC, PY/PX and ALBW, I'm glad it was not forgotten and regarded so highly.

Leo13January 02, 2014

I agree AND disagree with Khushrenada. I agree that I expected Wonderful 101 on here somewhere, but I disagree on justification. I'm honestly shocked that it's not on here. I'd say there's no argument that it should be above Shin Megami Tensi and Ace Attorney.

Pixelated PixiesJanuary 02, 2014

"Much like Grand Theft Auto V..." is not a statement I ever thought I'd see used in reference to an Ace Attorney game.

KhushrenadaJanuary 02, 2014

Quote from: Leo13

I agree AND disagree with Khushrenada.

How dare you! You had it right in the first bit. Never second guess your first instinct.

Leo13January 03, 2014

You really think BOTH of those deserve to be over Wonderful 101?
I was listening to the Official Nintendo Magazine Podcast this morning and they did their Nintendo 2013 top ten and W101 was #1
http://www.officialnintendomagazine.co.uk/56522/onm-podcast-matthew-and-joes-top-10-games-of-the-year/

Pixelated PixiesJanuary 03, 2014

Quote from: Leo13

I was listening to the Official Nintendo Magazine Podcast this morning and they did their Nintendo 2013 top ten and W101 was #1
http://www.officialnintendomagazine.co.uk/56522/onm-podcast-matthew-and-joes-top-10-games-of-the-year/

...Good for them?

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