Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Gaming on the Go - Phoenix Wright: Dual Destinies

There's something satisfactory in solving a mystery by yourself. It's a challenge that, once you complete it, makes you feel much better at your observation skills. It's something that not many games really offer as the primary component in their games, but for the Phoenix Wright series (with Phoenix Wright: Dual Destinies being the latest release), it's right smack in the middle of it. And it feels great.

However you want to call them - "Choose Your Own Adventure," "Video Game Novel," "Perform task A to reach point B" - Phoenix Wright games have always been about solving the mystery at hand, and defending the near-undefendable. It gives you the opportunity to observe and solve for yourself what the contradictions are and move the story forward at your own pace. Almost like you're reading a book at your leisure, but you're part of the story as you read along.

An Interactive "Law and Order"...Somewhat

I don't know why I'm even making the television reference, seeing that I've never watched a full episode in my life. But from the snippets I've seen, I presume it's all about the investigation and courtroom drama that takes place each episode. Which makes me wonder why I DON'T watch it if I enjoy Phoenix Wright games so much. But it's that whole immersion factor that grips me; being right there to present the evidence that will turn the case upside down, making the logical decisions that would bend the case in my favor. When you're watching it on TV as it unfolds, you're imposing a timer on your own thinking skills, to hopefully see the solution before the episode ends. It's not consciously done, but you want to know you know who the killer is before the characters in the show do.

Certainly, however, many can argue that you're not really playing Phoenix Wright if there's really one path towards progression. But then again, you're playing a novel the way it was scripted, the way it was meant to be presented. Any deviation from that, and you're not living the story as intended.

You Know You Make Me Wanna...

The one thing I've enjoyed from ALL the Phoenix Wright games (including Dual Destinies) is the completely optional vocal response EVERY TIME you're making a choice. Because of the 3DS's mic, you have the opportunity to shout "Objection," "take that," or "hold it," and the game will fully acknowledge it! Playing this game on the commute certainly nullifies this opportunity if you don't want to look like a shouting fool on public transit, but normally uttering it in a coffee shop is perfectly reasonable.

And for something so minor and completely optional, you have to respect Capcom for never removing the feature time and time again. A good personal gamer life goal is to go through an entire Turnabout (each case episode is prefixed with the word "Turnabout" in the US version) using only vocal commands.

If you own one of these games, you owe it to yourself to shout at least once to experience what winning an argument in court feels like.

Reading on the Go

As a game on transit, this is a digital novel, plain and simple. You're like all the other people who read books on the public commute...except you have to figure out the story as it comes along. Really, all the investigation, evidence, courtroom dramas...they're all lengthy scripts that need careful attention. So much so, that there's a specific button to help scroll back through previous dialogue should you be too trigger-happy and keep pressing the button like a mindless slump.

But it's the story that really sells the game. Bottom line is, if you enjoy a good mystery novel while contributing to the solving of said mystery, you can't go wrong with Phoenix Wright: Dual Destinies, or any game from this series.
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