Spiky-haired Phoenix Wright is the model of a hotshot defense attorney. He's so quick on his feet that he can bluff his way through a trial with literally no memory of what the case is about, and walk out the same morning with a victory. The first sequel to Phoenix Wright, Ace Attorney definitely isn't for everyone: Linear and text-heavy, it relies on puzzles and tricks that are sometimes too finicky and at other times, totally obvious. (That "Wait… the victim's left-handed!" gag is older than Encyclopedia Brown.)
But for over-the-top courtroom antics, Phoenix Wright, Ace Attorney: Justice For All is hard to beat. Every character jerks between panicked and doofy, the screen shakes for emphasis, and a parade of caricatures—mediums, dominatrices, and scandal-rag photogs with giant Afros—replace the bailiffs, briefs, and paralegals that make our real legal system so dull. After all, sometimes a case can swing on startling testimony, shocking contradictions, and the balls-out arrogance of a big-shot lawyer. So what's wrong with skipping the drudgery and giving us the good stuff?
Beyond the game: Justice For All introduces the "psyche-lock" device, where you literally pick open a lock and chains to reach a character's hidden secrets. But since you unlock it with regular physical evidence, it isn't clear what this adds. (Maybe some of the characters just look good in chains.)
Worth playing for: Though the pace can slow down during investigations, the trials are relentless. Every cross-examination feels like it could be your last.
Frustration sets in when: The interface is just good enough to get by, especially when you need to navigate from room to room. And you can go an hour or more without a chance to save, which doesn't encourage you to take risks.
Final judgment: A solid first sequel. As long as the stories stay cheesy and Wright's head stays spiky, there's no end in sight for this franchise.