Tuesday
Sep092014

QCF: Professor Layton VS Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney

side from a heroic blue android who shoots giant jellybeans of deadly plasma and a series of tournaments famous for hosting sparring matches on public roads, the iconic yellow and blue brand of games, Capcom, is memorable for one other type of venture when it comes to their software—crossovers, they’re practically experts on the sort of thing.

One such experiment however, utilizes all these ingredients and elegantly manages to expand the respective conventions and features through the mixture two licenses, and as a result, creates an incredible engrossing experience that engaging in its own right—one that doesn’t need to be completely carried by the fan-service of the subject-matter in order to be appealing.

Professor Layton VS Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is a thoughtfully choreographed dance between two different classes of logic-driven gameplay that gracefully bounce off of each other with every step they take.

At first impression, the duality of their particular methods combining to either cooperatively work or conflictingly clash towards an agreeable answer on one of the many puzzles and trials the heroes will challenge initially sounds like a natural fit on paper, so Level 5 and Capcom’s work is seemingly already cut out for them. What makes this joint-production so impressive is that they push the coupling into consistently delivering beyond their preconceived compatibilities.

The Gameplay of Professor Layton VS Phoenix Wright is able to do this because every little niche and hallmark from the two brands is deliberately applied, resulting in a very immaculate hybrid of the mechanics in action.

The engine of the game is a modified take on the 3DS generation of the Layton games that host the criminal trials of the Ace Attorney games and a slew of smaller elements that are mixed in contrast of each other. For instance, The exploration of the numerous areas that move the story along by interacting with characters who contextualize the narrative of their interaction into the form of puzzles are also investigations for gathering evidence and pertinent information to assist the defense efforts of an approaching court trial.

Puzzles are a bit more elaborate this go around, as they change up certain brain teasers with added exposition multi-part problems, basically opting for longer, harder problems for players to solve instead of trying to plow through the usual excess of smaller conundrums the Layton series typically throw at players. The good gentleman isn’t the only one who’s gotten an upgrade to their shtick, and while the Ace Attorney formula has always lead by the trend of introducing a new gimmick, it’s one that’s more complex than mood reading or psychic lock-picking could ever hope to be.

The usual cross-examination of witnesses is now compounded by the inclusion of multiple characters that will simultaneously account their stories into a single testimony. The dynamic of a group of witnesses adds a whole layer of depth, as Phoenix will not only have to find contradictions in the statements from supported evidence, but within the testimonies of specific witnesses that don’t line up with testimony of another witness. The scenario introduces another addition to the cross-examination though that, while, potentially innovative in theory, comes off more like a bland gimmick when it’s in action.

During certain points of the cross-examination, the information of one given witness is affected by the presence or behavior of another, requiring Phoenix to call attention to whoever is acting peculiar in order to question them for any potential omission of detail that would support the defense. While the mechanic prospectively offers a new layer of depth to the twist of cross-examining a group at one time, the behaviors and tipoffs from the suspect offender are obnoxiously telegraphed, rendering the processes into a mindlessly easy task every time it happens, stunting all of the otherwise cerebral elements of the litigation gameplay in the process.

Also, it’s worth noting that because the investigative elements are combined into the puzzle mechanics, Professor Layton VS Phoenix Wright favorably implements the archeologist’s puzzle-solving gameplay more often than the Ace Attorney’s court-based style. Capcom and Level 5 try to compensate this by inflating the length and depth of the trials when they occur, but in the end, you’ll most likely solve more puzzles than you ever will find contradictions.

Aside from certain minor flaws and uneven balancing, Professor Layton VS Phoenix Wright still boasts a campaign that’s ingeniously built around effectively conjoining the distinctive styles into a mostly cohesive combination. Thankfully, the real attraction of this joint-project isn’t the fairly solid gameplay, but the narrative that pilots the whole thing, from start to finish.

The magic of the immersion into the crossover of great minds is mainly attributed to the pacing of the whole thing. Considering the fact that writing and story normally make up the backbone of both franchises in their solo incarnations, the attention to detail on how the game progresses significantly help the delivery of how the partnership came to be. In addition to the excellent direction of the story, the setting it takes place in is equally enjoyable its own right.

The Lawyer and archeologist are transported to a kingdom named Labrynthia, a land that endorses mysticism and magic over the usual logic and science that our heroes generally operate by. From the characterization to the surreal twists that gradually unfold the grand mystery of the magic land, the layout and its dictation allow the properties to play out of their comfort zones that dictate the presentation tropes the franchises individually identify with, creating an organic adventure.

Ultimately, what makes Professor Layton VS Phoenix Wright so good is that it doesn’t try to be a sequel that tries to outdo any of the prior entries of either of the series; it just tries to celebrate all of the charm of the two games and the chemistry that they bring out in each other. A must-play for any fan of Professor Layton, Ace Attorney, or good adventure games in general.

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