Taking much of why text adventures are no longer with us, Phoenix Wright's bright exterior raises it above what would have been a slightly strained DS experience. It's engrossing inside the courtroom as players destroy cases with found evidence and pushy dialogue. The segments leading up to the trials seems to falsely extend the game, while the complete lack of replay value makes this a tough purchase.
In the role of rookie lawyer Phoenix Wright, players are introduced to a game play system based entirely around text. It's familiar territory for those who grew up in the early PC era, while something fresh for those who started with the Playstation. The game follows a basic formula for each of its cases, broken down into two segments.
The first is the evidence phase. Here, players visit various locations pertinent to the case at hand to collect items to prove their point. The simple touch screen controls make it simple, though you could just as easily use the buttons and d-pad. The second phase is the trial itself, where you'll need to cross-examine witnesses until they break, but within reason of the court.
All of this sounds great in text. Execution wise, Phoenix Wright has problems. Most notably, it's just shy of becoming its own strategy guide. It's impossible to miss any clues when digging up evidence since the game won't let players advance until they do. It will allow for a few missed pieces that will make the trial slightly more difficult, yet well within even a child's basic logic range.
These segments take forever to get through too. Much of the dialogue is utterly wasted without a point, and since the game never even tries to throw the player off until the final chapter, you'll spend most of the game tapping the screen to get through text trying to find the right questions to ask. The game is artificially lengthened this way, and the game's quirky anime aesthetic wears thin quickly when dealing with segments like this.