Review: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney — Dual Destinies: Turnabout Reclaimed DLC

The Ace Attorney games tend to walk a tight line between anime melodrama and balls-out insanity. Sure, Phoenix Wright may find himself exposing a lake monster or interviewing a parrot, but it’s all for the sake of saving his lifelong friend from a dastardly murder conspiracy. And that’s just one case. Still, with the new DLC case Turnabout Reclaimed, Phoenix Wright may finally have gone off the deep end.  That deep end has a whale in it, and the whale is his client.

Phoenix has come a long way since the opening of Wright and Co. Law Offices back in the day. Where once he could go months without a client, a case finds him within a day of reinstating his law license. The case in question? The Director of a local aquarium has been found dead next to the Orca tank, and the Orca, Ora Shipley, is the prime suspect. Her trainer, Sasha Buckler, wants you to prove Orla’s innocence and save her from being put down.

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As murder cases go, this is pretty light, even for the Ace Attorney universe. There’s more of a trend toward humor than drama and intrigue in the dialogue (they even take a dig at Sharknado), but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. There was a lot of character and narrative development woven throughout Dual Destinies, which made for a stronger overall story (arguably the strongest since Trials and Tribulations), but gave the individual cases less room to breathe and be their own thing. Turnabout Reclaimed is a solid standalone “filler” case, which is something that recent games have kind of been missing.

The story here has a lot going for it. From the gangsta-rapping fish feeder to the punk rockin’ trainer, the original characters are charming and well-developed, with some great visual designs all around. The writing is generally clever and entertaining, even if it doesn’t pack much in the way of an emotional punch. There are quite a few animated cutscenes in the case as well – all-told almost half as many as there are in the full game – although most of them are fairly insubstantial. A few musical interludes see Phoenix and Athena dressed up in delightful pirate garb.

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Unfortunately, the core mystery just isn’t quite strong enough. Though it has a few interesting wrinkles, it’s fairly easy to figure out what’s going on. The cast of new characters is also fairly small, limiting the pool of potential suspects substantially. I can understand that this is the limitation of a downloadable release, and the writers have still managed to pack a couple of surprises, but I feel as though they could have dropped a custcene or two and expanded the character roster a bit, for the sake of the mystery.

The DLC does bring back some of the forensic investigation mechanics from the first Phoenix Wright and Apollo Justice, but they’re a little oversimplified; you really only get to spray around a little bit of luminol. There are also psyche-locks to crack and more “analytical psychology” bits to Simon-Says your way through, which do a fair bit to shake up the pacing if nothing else.  It also brings back a classic Phoenix Wright fashion – his adorable pink sweater from college – which is unlocked as a costume once you complete the case.

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Closing Comments:

If you’re looking to spend some more time with the Wright Anything Agency, and maybe feeling a little nostalgic for some of the series wackier moments, Turnabout Reclaimed is well worth a look. It has some great characters and bright, funny writing. It may not be the best mystery, but it’s thoroughly entertaining. It’s also, you know, a case where you defend an orca in court. That should tell you all you need to make an informed decision.
score4
Platform: 3DS