Reviewed on: Nintendo 3DS
Reviewed by: Brady Ruiters
Games that feature Professor Layton or Phoenix Wright are usually filled with great stories, witty dialogue and challenging gameplay. So what happens when you put these two characters together in the same game? You get a game that challenges players to complete some addictive puzzles, which have been mixed in with a few court cases and cross-examinations featuring some wacky characters. Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is a possible match made in heaven. Let’s see if it lives up to the legacy of these two characters’ games.
During the first few hours of the game, the story hops back and forth between Layton and his apprentice, Luke, and Wright and his assistant, Maya. Their paths indirectly cross by the means of a mysterious girl who has come to Professor Layton for help. A little later on, Phoenix Wright ends up defending the girl in court during his visit to London. This forms part of the prologue and serves as a rather meaty introduction. Shortly after the prologue, however, our heroes are transported to a place called Labyrinthia, where they face a mystery that only the two of them can solve, with their sidekicks in tow of course. I truly like the pacing of the story; it’s fairly slow moving, but is quite suited as it works rather nicely with Labyrinthia’s constant theme of intrigue. Additionally, Layton and Wright work well as a team, despite not always seeing eye to eye. One thing that might bug new players is the amount of dialogue throughout; there is quite a bit of reading to be done.
The prologue for both characters serves as a tutorial section to familiarise players with the controls and style of gameplay. While this is a great feature for newcomers, it means a pretty slow start for veterans of the respective series. Playing with Layton involves a substantial amount of exploring different areas to find puzzles, people to talk to and hint coins, which can be used to point the player in the right direction if they’re having trouble with a puzzle. Players slide the stylus across the screen in order to investigate area thoroughly. When sliding over something of interest, the magnifying glass will change colour. Puzzles range from putting a jigsaw puzzle together to setting two witches on the right course to their respective castles while only removing a certain number of paths.
Playing with Wright requires the player to cross-examine witnesses and subsequently present pieces of evidence to highlight contradictions in their statements. It does take quite a bit of listening as attention to detail certainly comes in handy when dissecting information. Players can also “press” a witness in order to expand on their statement, which sometimes can reveal vital information. It’s also quite entertaining as each witness that Wright cross-examines has their own unique personalities. It is especially humorous when they start feeling a little under pressure from the questioning. For example: a fairly “green” security guard starts nervously chewing on a slab of chocolate when he realises that Wright sees right through his so-called accurate account of events that have transpired.
The gameplay styles for both characters are quite enjoyable and very easy to get used to. I have noticed that the puzzling isn’t as challenging as it was before. This is most likely due to the fact that the developers didn’t want to put off the fans of Phoenix Wright with nigh-impossible puzzles in between the cross-examinations. While veterans might scoff at the reduced challenge, it creates a perfect opportunity for players to try out and enjoy the game without pulling out their hair trying to figure out a solution. That’s not to say that this title is without challenge, as presenting the correct evidence to a witness can be a little daunting at times. The same goes for Layton’s puzzles; these can be quite tricky most of the time, but thankfully don’t end up giving you a stroke when attempting to find the solution.
Visually, Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is quite a pretty game. It works rather nicely with the 3DS’ hardware. The character models of the two teams look exactly as they usually do in their respective games. Additionally, the cutscenes that show up during the story are beautiful and are presented in a Japanese animation style i.e. anime. The visuals of the game can also be further enhanced when utilising the 3D function.
Audio wise, the game is top notch. The soundtrack delivers music that adds to your pondering while trying to solve a puzzle while also delivering dramatic cues when successfully presenting the correct evidence when cross-examining a witness or other character; these little touches truly add to the experience. Additionally, the voice acting is excellent and certainly helps with the storytelling.
Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is an enjoyable game. The premise for the game is rather interesting and the characters are utilised nicely. Newcomers, however, might be taken aback by the sheer amount of dialogue throughout the game. Gameplay sticks to the respective style from each series and features a softened challenge; while this is a good way to accommodate newcomers, it’s possible that it could alienate veterans.
Visually, the game is a pleasure to look at. This is especially true where the cutscenes are concerned. The 3D functionality also adds to the visual presentation of the game. The audio is brilliant. The musical cues that appear throughout add to the experience while excellent voice acting complements the storytelling fairly well. This is definitely a game for nearly any puzzle-solving aficionado.
Lasting appeal: 7.5/10