A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Spirit of Justice is a downloadable adventure game. Players become defense lawyers, investigate criminal cases, and defend wrongly accused suspects. Crime scenes and crime scene photos can contain dead bodies and some blood. Players can use Nintendo Miiverse to save screenshots and share them online with other players. "Hell," "crap," and "damn" are used infrequently in dialogue.
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What's it about?
PHOENIX WRIGHT: ACE ATTORNEY - SPIRIT OF JUSTICE follows star defense lawyer Phoenix Wright to the exotic land of Khura'in, a lawyer-hating Eastern kingdom whose laws are dictated by religion and a spirit-channeling queen. Within days, Phoenix is caught up in a one-sided legal battle in a courtroom hostile to his Western methods. Starting with this hair-raising case, players are swept into a series of equally gripping scenarios where they take on a host of kooky witnesses and encounter many of Phoenix's old friends. Winning these tough cases won't be easy; in addition to gathering statements and evidence, players will have to tease the truth out of every witness using Phoenix's bold and unorthodox methods.
Is it any good?
Fans have waited years for a new game in this franchise, and this one comes through big-time. The series is known not only for its winning main character but for its engrossing, surprise-filled storylines and wacky humor. Though occasionally Phoenix takes a backseat to other well-known characters, the latter are here in abundance.
Of course, jokey weirdness isn't the only thing this installment has in common with others in the series; it also shares its predecessors' subtle commentary on social customs. The strengths and weaknesses of our Western legal system are clearly defined as Phoenix tries a case in an Eastern country with vastly different beliefs. Never has our favorite defense lawyer had so much on the line as his own freedom -- and perhaps even his life -- become the price of defeat. With that in mind, each unlikely win is supremely satisfying. Serious as the stakes might be, though, the mood remains light thanks to some deft writing, attractive 3D models (which are nicely enhanced when you turn on 3D), and hilarious animations. Spirit of Justice combines new problems with familiar mechanics. While it doesn't go out of its way to devise new kinds of gameplay, it expertly draws upon its existing bag of tricks to create the kind of game you just can't put down.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the importance of a balanced legal system. Why do court cases have both a prosecutor and a defense lawyer?
Think about how fingerprinting is used to convict criminals. Have you seen fingerprinting done on TV?
Discuss why America's legal system relies on science, not superstition. Can you see why using superstition can be problematic in a legal sense?
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