March 4, 2011

Games for Gameless Situations: Intro and Ace Attorney Series

Oh, crap. The power’s out, and it’s Sunday night. You send some texts around, the match is canceled. There went your entire evening. You can’t even go play Mass Effect on your Xbox, because there’s more than the Internet that isn’t working. If you have a laptop, you start heavily rationing the battery usage for “emergencies.”

Oh, crap. Your uncle is getting his PhD in Mechanical Engineering, and you have to drive 11 hours to Indiana to watch his “graduation.” There’s gonna be no PS3 in the car, any 3G will be spotty at best, and unless you have a power inverter, your laptop won’t survive the trip.

Oh, crap. Your wife/girlfriend/fiance/month-long-contract prostitute/mom wants to go on a cruise, and she’s not gonna let you bring all your big electronics. You’re going to have to find something that’ll fit in your pocket to get on the airplane with.

Ever experienced these “Oh, crap” scenarios and put up with gameless situations for days, even weeks at a time? Well, stop attempting to have a life. There are plenty of good games for handheld, battery-powered consoles that aren’t hard at all to obtain. Over the next few weeks, I’ll present a few of my favorites to you, so you can finally have an excuse to stay on the toilet for thirty minutes.

As you may or may not know, I like to give things numerical scores. Since I consider all of these games to be “good”, most of the scores will be very high. However, most of them shine through in a certain few key aspects. So, I’ll give them a number out of five.

Storyline: Will this be one to linger with you? Someone once accused portable games of being incapable of comparing to console or PC games in storyline. I beg to differ. In all honesty, with their weakened capabilities for graphics and gimmicks, I find that handheld games often have BETTER storylines.

Control: How well does this game handle? If it is a port, does it live up to, or even improve upon the original? Will we look stupid playing it in a public place?

Addictiveness: Can you stomach this game in large quantities? Is it like crack? Will you ever stop playing?

Ease to Obtain: Some of these games are older. Are they easy or hard to get at?

Battery Life: Handheld consoles come with a mandatory time limit. Some games, especially for new smartphones, drain more battery than others. How long can you expect this fun to last? Is the handheld old enough to run off of replaceable batteries?

Well, let’s get started with one of my favorite series. This series has, in less than ten years, become a cult classic online, spawning parodies, fan fiction, and artwork (some of it VERY concerning). You might not know where it came from, but I guarantee that if you are reading this right now, you have probably seen a massive speech bubble with the red word “OBJECTION!”. This is from the Ace Attorney series, alternately known as Phoenix Wright.

This series, originally a GBA trilogy called Gyakuten Saiban and only released in Japan, made its way to the DS in the late 2000’s in English (as well as a multitude of other languages, but if you’re reading this, you’re reading English.). The primary trilogy consists of point-and click adventure/puzzle games in which you take control of Phoenix Wright, an attorney with a blue suit and a hairdo that only Capcom could be responsible for. These games consist of episodes, or chapters, each of which contain one court case and the investigation surrounding it. There are generally four or five per game. You play in two modes. You start each game in a trial, where you press witnesses, present evidence, and point out contradictions to raise an objection. The objective is simple: get your client found “Not Guilty”. In between days of a trial, you do investigations, which consist of moving about, talking to witnesses and people otherwise involved, and asking people about topics. The point of view is odd; you see Phoenix in court, but the rest of the game is in an odd sort of perspective that could probably technically qualify as first person. You’ll see it. It works.

There are two other Ace Attorney games currently out that don’t star Phoenix Wright. One, entitled Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, takes place seven years after the final game in the Phoenix Wright trilogy. It plays practically the same as the first three, with a few minor exceptions, and with Phoenix taking a backseat role. The other one, Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth, stars Miles Edgeworth, a prosecutor and main character from the trilogy. It’s set somewhere after the third Phoenix Wright, but definitely before Apollo Justice. I find the Miles Edgeworth game to be a tad more difficult and a bit more fun than the other four. It handles differently; you can actually move around a room with the D-Pad. Again, you have to see the perspective to understand it, but it works. There are a few more options, using “Logic” to piece facts together, and deducing contradictions on the spot during an investigation. It’s really quite fun.

The series is far from over. Due to good reception, a sequel to the Miles Edgeworth game will be released sometime this year. Although I haven’t heard anything about it, it is possible that there will also be more games starring Apollo Justice. However, the one that really has me fired up is a crossover. Professor Layton v.s. Ace Attorney, combining the gameplay from both series, will be released sometime this year, and it looks awesome. The cross into the actual animation of Professor Layton was flawless. Now we just have to hope that the voice acting will be decent.

You’ve heard me blabber. Here are some scores.

Storyline: 5/5- These games have virtually no timing or reaction challenge at all. Your grandmother could figure them out, no problem (unless she’s dead, and if she is I’m sorry to hear about that.), and it doesn’t take an Ivy Leaguer to solve the puzzles. The real enjoyment of these games come from the storylines. Everything connects, hardly any one person or topic is only mentioned once, and in the end, everything is wrapped up and tied together. The main trilogy all wraps together in one huge story, which is both epic and satisfying.

Control: 4.9/5- I took off .1 of a point for the very last case of the first Phoenix Wright game. When it was ported to the DS, they created a new case that took full advantage of the capabilities of the DS hardware. While most of these were an immense improvement, you came across a few parts in the story that required blowing into a mic (for fingerprint-dust related purposes). I despise these. If you are blowing on a video game console while on a bus, people may mistake you for a mentally challenged person. Otherwise, the controls are all pretty much flawless, seeing as there isn’t too much to control.

Addictiveness: 4.5/5- For the most part, you can play a chapter from start to finish before you decide it’s time to stop for the day. However, you will occasionally find spots in the games where you have to do something obscure (like present a specific piece of evidence to a certain person) before you can continue. They can frustrate you a tad and make you quit. However, since you can quicksave at any time, they aren’t a huge setback. Otherwise, you’re stuck playing until the chapter is over, because you just can’t put these games down.

Ease to Obtain: 4/5- They’re not at Wal-Mart anymore, and they usually don’t sell as many copies as Mario or Pokemon or random assorted shovelware. However, a quick dip into any specialty store can get you these games pretty easily. You can order them online, too. Part of the problem is that they aren’t cutting edge DS games anymore. When the new ones come out, they’ll probably be in normal stores for a few days.

Battery Life: 5/5- Anyone who owns an original DS knows what I’m talking about. These things have a battery life of practically forever, and can last trans-continental plane flights. They rock.

Feel free to give me your opinions. If you played them and liked them, comment. If you played them and didn’t like them, why not? If you didn’t play them but want to, give them a try. If you have another handheld title you’d like to get this same treatment, guess what? COMMENT!


  1. Rod - May 18, 2014 1:49 am

    Good information. Lucky me I ran across your site by chance (stumbleupon). I’ve book-marked it for later!|

  2. AiR - March 9, 2011 10:35 am

    a bought a psp. i played through resistance retribution then sold it. It lacks a second analog stick to make it fps friendly. also it just wasnt as great as i thought it was guna be. yea games on the go but it just didnt make up for crappy repetitive games.

  3. thsoundman - March 4, 2011 7:13 pm


  4. CharcoalCoyote - March 4, 2011 5:34 pm

    No, but I’ll probably convince you to get one once I’m done with this series of articles.

  5. zero_19 - March 4, 2011 4:23 pm

    TL;DR 😀

    Nice review, never played them. Actually I have never owned a handheld system….does this mean I’m not a gamer anymore?


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