Video Game Challenge Progress Report (Redux Edition Part 5): Phoenix Wright – Dual Destinies

Some of you might feel a bit confused by the number on the title if you haven’t been following my ongoing video game challenge series for the blog. The number corresponds to the last time I played Phoenix Wright: Dual Destinies when it was my spotlight game to finish in a month. Or rather, over the next few months. It was set aside to play Mass Effect: Andromeda back in March until I satisfactorily beat the game. With Andromeda done and off my backlog list, I decided to turn my attention back to Dual Destinies for the month of August. Quick warning, there will be light spoilers about Dual Destinies.

The last case I was in the middle of before temporarily putting it aside was Turnabout Academy. I really had less than half of the case completed. Picking up right where I left off wasn’t too hard for me to get back into the world of justice and high over-the-top courtroom drama. It’s a staple of every single Ace Attorney title. With Athena Cykes as the newest rookie attorney to join Phoenix Wright and Apollo Justice, I liked having one case where Athena gets to be the lead defending attorney. Not only do you learn more about Athena when she gets to spotlight a case in the game, you also have a chance to see what her special abilities are. Whenever someone on the witness stand is exhibiting emotions that seem to contradict what they are actually testifying to the court, Athena brings up what’s called a Mood Matrix when she presses a button on the necklace she wears around her neck, which she calls “Widget.” This gives her access to a screen of varying emotions to choose from (happy, sad, anger, surprise) to pinpoint the emotion that’s causing a lot of “noise” to get to the heart of the truth.

The Mood Matrix is another addition of special abilities each attorney is gifted with, like how Phoenix Wright has the Magatama he received from Maya Fey to unlock spiritual chests or Apollo Justice has his bracelet to perceive subtle changes in a person’s body movements. What all these abilities have in common is that they all seek to uncover truths someone may be hiding or reluctant to admit. I personally appreciate this kind of variety to keep each installment of Ace Attorney fresh and engaging.

After finishing Turnabout Academy, I immediately found myself really attached to Athena in the same way I warmed up to Apollo Justice in his own standalone game. While Phoenix Wright will always be the true MVP of the Ace Attorney series, adding new characters who take center stage from time to time, who isn’t Phoenix Wright, doesn’t detract from the series as a whole but really enhances it. It may seem risky to shift focus away from the main character of the original trilogy by having Apollo take the lead or even Athena in her very own case in Dual Destinies, but the risk is well worth it. I hardly ever feel like I wish I was playing the case as Phoenix Wright instead of Apollo or Athena. The overarching story of each Ace Attorney game may not always close out strong or some cases feel weaker than others, but I feel the writing for each of these characters are really solid and doesn’t disappoint. By continuing the Ace Attorney series, it gives previously newer characters, like Apollo, a chance for his growth and development to continue since Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney.

For instance, Dual Destinies has Apollo go to a dark place after his best friend Clay Terran is murdered and he’s hellbent on making sure his friend’s killer pays for the crimes the murderer committed. It’s a far cry from the upbeat and eager newbie lawyer from Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney. The upbeat and eager newbie crown has been passed along to Athena this time around. Apollo breaks off from the group at one point to investigate his friend’s murder alone. He’s withdrawn, suspicious, and angry. It was a new direction for the character of Apollo to explore and one I thought makes him even better when you add these new complexities to his personality.

The game twists and turns in unexpected places that even Athena herself gets an added layer to her character that you wouldn’t really expect, and so soon after making her first debut in Dual Destinies. The last two cases of the game The Cosmic Turnabout and Turnabout for Tomorrow starts connecting characters and story that was set up prior in Turnabout Countdown and Turnabout Academy. I would say Cosmic Turnabout and Turnabout for Tomorrow has the most compelling pieces of story in Dual Destinies than any other case because of how deeply connected everyone is, even before they end up where they are today.

I don’t want to go further into detail about the ending to avoid making this post completely spoilerific, but I did feel it was harder to pinpoint who Clay’s murderer was, especially when Clay’s killer is also tied to the murder of Athena’s mother when Athena was a little girl. I found that by the time you get to the end of each case of previous Ace Attorney games, it becomes really obvious right away who the actual murderer is. The way Dual Destinies leads up to the end of their game, the identity is much more vague and it keeps you playing to find out the answer yourself.

I really enjoyed my time playing Dual Destinies and I can finally say that this case is officially closed. Now that September is really only a few days away, I decided I’ll keep the Phoenix Wright train chugging by making my next video game challenge Spirit of Justice, the last game of the Ace Attorney series (for now at least) to be released here in North America. By the time I mark Spirit of Justice off my list, I will be completely caught up in every single Ace Attorney game to ever come out. Until the next new installment! Check back next month to see how I do with my new challenge. I have a feeling my new game will be an ongoing challenge.

2 thoughts on “Video Game Challenge Progress Report (Redux Edition Part 5): Phoenix Wright – Dual Destinies

  1. Dual Destinies is way up there at the top of my list of favorite Ace Attorney games for a lot of the reasons you’ve mentioned. Apollo’s growth is so great and Spirit of Justice maintains that trend (so much so that I was tempted to write about his character growth again), plus the intrigue and writing in DD is so top notch. I also had no idea who the murderer was and I was shocked by the game’s finale! Everyone gets a chance to shine and grow. It’s such a good game, and the level of writing is very much on par with Trials and Tribulations. Glad you finished and enjoyed it!! 😀

    1. Yeah, I have to agree with you on that. I really liked Trials and Tribulations, and by the time I finished Dual Destinies, the game ended up becoming one of my top favorites from the Ace Attorney series. Especially with that big reveal of who the real phantom killer was in DD! I couldn’t get my head around it, but I think what the writers did with this one is so clever. They created a character no one would really predictably guess that they’re capable of murder and then they slap players with that shocking bombshell! It was too good. I’m looking forward to playing Spirit of Justice next. Couldn’t very well break off from this series without jumping into the last game. Might as well, right? 😀

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