The Ace Attorney games take place in a world where parrots are called to the stand, eight-year-old psychics help you see through dodgy testimonies and jury trials are an unnecessary burden on the efficient running of the courts. Perhaps it's a biting satire on Japan's famously effective legal system. Or, more likely, it's simply that such outlandish situations, coupled with some of the best writing around, make for one of the funniest games on the market.
Thankfully, after a couple of missteps, the Ace Attorney series is back on track. Dual Destinies sticks to what it knows while fixing a few rough edges, resulting in a worthy entry that will leave fans very satisfied.
The presentation translates well to 3D, showing off the same charming tics and quirks in its characters as the 2D artwork of previous games. The cast look remarkably similar when still, coming to life superbly when they burst into motion. Naturally, most of the new characters have brilliantly terrible puns for names, as it wouldn't be an Ace Attorney game without them.
Sadly, the all-important 'Cornered' theme isn't quite the equal of the first game's equivalent, not as liable to get you pumped up when you hit the inevitable back-and-forth of objections and interjections that signal the impending climax of a case, but, then again, what is?
One signature flaw is still present - those times when you spot 'whodunit' long before the characters but haven't quite hit the point in the story when the game will let you show it - but a number have been smoothed over. Most notably how there's no more pixel hunting in the investigation sequences, as all the interactive elements are flagged up when your cursor passes over them, streamlining the occasionally long-winded process of setting up the next day's courtroom action.
Dual Destinies won't convince sceptics, as it's still more visual novel than game and about as linear as it gets. But after a couple of disappointing spin-offs, it's the closest the series has come to the greatness of the original trilogy.
Played for 8 hours.