So with my time away from home, I’ve been able to work on my game backlog for my DS. It’s been a great experience so far, and I’ve gotten the two games done I’ve had on my list the longest.
Here are my thoughts.
Phoenix Wright: Dual Destinies
If you’re unfamiliar with the Phoenix Wright games, then there’s going to be a lot of information to absorb before playing this game. Building on the (ludicrous) story from the previous games, Dual Destinies really pushes the crazy envelope. Between one case involving japanese demons, and another where your courtroom explodes, you run the full gamut. As per usual the characters offer most of the craziness available in the game. Honestly, going into any details about the many characters would be futile: after playing, I couldn’t tell the gonzo apart.
But, if you’re a fan of anime, which I’m normally not, then this will be pretty normal for you. The protagonists are still relatable and hilarious, though playing as Phoenix Wright again after so long felt really odd.
When I think about it, playing might be the wrong word though. Fans of the series, myself included, will more likely describe it as an interactive manga. Unlike TellTale Games and their games which feature choices (or the illusion thereof), the game’s story is linear. It’s your job to make the right choices to advance. However, figuring out some of the choices can be difficult. It’s resolving those issues in the court cases that make the game so satisfying, and the music does an excellent job of reinforcing a correct choice. I did feel like the game made it a bit more obvious this time around, but maybe I’m just catching on to how the Phoenix Wright stories work out.
The new look, revamped music, new cases, and bananas characters all pale in comparison to the best change compared to earlier games: the streamlined investigation. The most stale parts of the earlier games involved running around like a headless chicken trying to figure out what in the world you are trying to click on, then showing the right evidence to the right people. Not a single person I know likes those parts, and it was a relief to see them smoothed out the way they did in Dual Destinies. A sticking point for some old fashioned folks might be that the game holds your hand too much during the investigations, but I have two words for that.
Screw investigations. Seriously, the court sections were the best parts, and being able to get the story and evidence you want out of the investigations without all the pointless and frustrating running around is awesome!
As a final bonus, the game brings back some references and older characters from early in the series… and hints at even more of the same in a sequel. For instance (SPOILER?), Pearl makes a return, and there are heavy hints that Maya might come back. In addition, the mechanics unique to each character you play, such as Phoenix’s Magatama, Apollo’s Bracelet, and now Athena’s Widget combine together to make an interesting game dynamic. I wish there were more off all three of the mechanics, and that they weren’t AS scripted.
Which brings me to my biggest downside: the courtroom was really not difficult. I would really have appreciated more complex and interesting evidence: but it was rare that I had to really look thoroughly through the court record to find what I was looking for.
Overall, anyone that liked the previous games would still love it, as I did. If you wanted to get started playing Phoenix Wright games though, do NOT start with this one. Seriously, go back to the first one. It’s still my favourite, and you really do need to know the story so far before you pick up the latest one.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
I love this game.
There are no ifs, ands, or buts. I haven’t loved adventuring this much in ever. Let’s go over why.
1. Renting items. In the beginning, you have no items as per the usual. So to get items, you go through dungeons in a listed order and get the items you need to advance… yeah, never mind that crap, just rent them.
Seriously, this was off-putting at first, but in hindsight was one of the best decisions I’ve seen Nintendo make. Instead of having to do Dungeon A first and Dungeon B second, I could rent the gear I wanted to and just… go out. Explore. I had access to EVERYTHING from the start, meaning I could choose to go places and have a blast. So long as I didn’t die (and I only died 2 times throughout the whole game), those items were as good as mine. Eventually you can get to a point where you buy them for good, and it’s not hard to do. Just adventuring around, you get a LOT of rupees in this game, so renting and buying isn’t too hard to do. Heck, I had FUN doing it. That’s the point right?
2. MUSIC SO GOOD IT MAKES MY FACE GO SLACK You think I am kidding. I am not. Everything that you know and love has been re-orchestrated beautifully. I love tLoZ music a TONNE, and this game didn’t disappoint at all.
For reference, try some of these on for size.
It was an eargasm for me. It was the first thing I noticed. It was beautiful.
3. Top Down Zelda at its Finest I am a sucker for Top Down Zelda games. This has smooth gameplay, open world, fun exploration, fun characters, no dead uncles, huge amounts of stuff to do and explore, and even collecting 100 annoying squid babies was fun, not frustrating. I cannot stress enough how fucking solid this game is thanks to the wall mechanic (which forces you to think differently about the world) and renting your equipment early on. Exploration was a JOY. And normally, I HATE IT.
Most games I play that feature “exploration” feature one thing in order to make worlds seem big: waiting. Lots of it. That, or barriers that purposefully hinder your progress unless you get an item from a different dungeon… it’s jumpin’ through hoops. You know what? Watch Egoraptor’s Sequelitis on Ocarina of time, and his thoughts on Link between worlds while you’re at it. He explains everything pretty damn well about an adventuring games that have non-sensical wait times.
Link Between Worlds has none. Because of the “rent-an-item” system and a bunch of extra little things to make the whole process more fun and less tedious (stuff as little as sound hints when getting closer to a certain kind of collectible, for instance), it’s great to just wander around Hyrule and Lorule, slaying monsters, finding loot, and doing hero stuff. Not because you have to, not because “COME SAVE ME” but because it’s legit good times.
Well, there’s one thing… The game’s maps are ripped right out of Link to the Past. Though Beautifully restored and redone for the 3DS, this might be a sticking point for some. If those same people bought the remake for Ocarina of Time for the 3DS, but are unwilling to buy this because “Maps”, then they are stupid. I want to be clear: this game is a NEW game. It is different from Link to the Past in feel and play, while being familiar enough that it feels like putting on your most comfortable boxers. Yes, the ones with all the holes in it.
I loved Link Between Worlds. Seriously, if you like adventure games and have a 3DS, this game is amazing in every way I wanted it to be.
That’s all for now. I still have a backlog (Luigi’s Mansion, you’re next!), but these two titles are now finished. Phoenix Wright is gonna hit the shelf, and will have to wait until I play through the rest of the series before I pick it back up again.
Link Between World’s still has a lot of stuff for me to discover. I have 8 pieces of heart left to collect, another piece of ore for my sword, and a hard mode left to play. I have a feeling I’m going to die a lot more than twice before I’m done with that game.
So long for now. You’re all wonderful.