Games: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice (3DS)
A LIFE of ambulance chasing and compo claims can suck the glamour from a legal career, while the very idea of an interactive courtroom sim conjures up the assuredly creaky antics of Perry Mason (or his spin-off Ironside).
Not so for Phoenix Wright, whose gripping 3DS courtroom shenanigans have made him this century's greatest fictional lawyer (sorry, Lionel Hutz and, erm, Zoe Salmon).
Built with the 3DS in mind, the series has played out like a series of interactive novels with wonderfully bonkers plots as our shockingly coiffured solicitor uses logical inconsistencies to prove his clients' innocence.
The sixth in the main series sees Wright and his proteges Apollo Justice and Athena Cykes travel to the mysterious kingdom of Khura'in to catch up with an old psychic sidekick.
Wright soon finds himself at the heart of a corrupt legal system that ignores hard evidence.
Before you can shout "Birmingham Six!", Wright is in court defending a series of hapless innocents, with the time-honoured gameplay once again bouncing between investigation, interrogating witnesses and then defending clients in court.
Outside the courtroom, you'll explore crime scenes in full 3D on the hunt for clues, meticulously clicking every pixel on the screen and using the 3DS-tech, such as blowing the microphone to waft fingerprint powder across evidence.
But it's in the courtroom where Phoenix Wright really earns his retainer.
Players are forced to think outside the box as they cross-examine witnesses, searching for inconsistencies in their statements.
A welcome addition this time around is the Pool of Souls. Given the fantasy plot, Phoenix can examine visions of a victim's final moments – what they saw, heard and smelled – by flicking through the scene like Tom Cruise in Minority Report.
As with previous titles, there's a lot of reading to be done, though any objections to the text-heavy nature of the game will soon be stricken from the record when you fall for its nutbag cast and bonkers dialogue.
Like Judge Rinder without the chavs, this is pure courtroom escapism and through the course of your investigations you'll hunt for a deadly magical dummy and cross-examine a witness so traumatised she can only communicate through a toy helicopter.
And if the characters are 'out there', the plot is Law and Odder, with
some of the most surreal cases yet: a highlight deals with a magic show gone wrong while the final case is easily the series' best.
The usual Phoenix Wright bugbears return, including the need for rather odd logical leaps and evidence that must be submitted at
exactly the right moment to work.
Still, Phoenix Wright is guilty only of raising the bar for the videogame bar – and his latest is perfect for some over-the-top legal pantomime on the go.