Was able to score the preorder keychain, too. Yay for swag indeed. ^_^
Just polished off the first case. Boy, was it lengthy; much longer and certainly more involved than any of the previous games' Case Ones. And there's some pretty deceptive twists and contradictions to point out from the get-go; you'd think nothing would surprise you at this point in the series, but...... just wait for it. Despite his position, Phoenix is definitely the one pulling the strings here. I can sort of see the Metal Gear Solid 2 comparison now, as his character and significance is strengthened even further when seen through the eyes of a different protagonist. So far, I think them going this route was a good choice..... but, we'll have to see how it'll all piece together by the end.
The localization so far has been superb, an obvious repercussion from Alex Smith's hand. Unlike the past two games, I don't think I spotted any pop cultural references whatsoever. Much as I enjoyed some of those clever citations, I did feel that they were, at times, a substituted crutch for good, original writing. Smith's approach, like in the first Phoenix Wright, will likely go towards creating a more timeless piece of work. I did, however, count just one spelling typo, and it's unfortunate that it was on the one word used most in the series: "Court." They missed the "u."
The aesthetic side demands attention, too. Preview shots obviously showcase the new changes, but it's gotta be said; the graphics have gotten a tremendously sleek overhaul. The redrawn, higher resolution backgrounds, especially with a familiar setting like the courtroom, make me draw this comparison: If playing the first three games were like watching analog TV, then the new game is like watching in high-def. The character sprites appear larger and more crisp as well.
And the audio. Those who've listened to the OST shouldn't be surprised by the clarity of the newly-composed music, but hearing the score piping out of the DS is even more remarkable. It drives the point home that the CD release wasn't enhanced - this is all in-game, and certainly the real deal. By the way, I stand corrected; it turns out that they do use the original "Suspense" theme after all. (And for you long-time fans, you'll be delighted to hear another PW1 piece making a return. ^_^) The sound effects are a mixed bag of revamped and rehashed. Only acute listeners wearing headphones will likely notice, but for instance, the new menu selection and text-scrolling sounds have been redone, while other sound effects like the 'flesh-wound hit' and desk-pounding have remained unchanged. This does create a slight inconsistency in the soundscape; nothing that hurts the game, but a bit of a disappointment, since one was thinking that Capcom was planning on building Apollo from the ground up.
Other notes in passing: Yes, you no longer get to present character profiles normally, save for choice moments. This does seem to simplify things a bit, but given the complexity of the first case, it might actually balance out that way. Getting to examine the court record's evidence via 3D models, a la PW1's Case Five is a welcomed-back feature - and is actually a necessity to progress through one part of a testimony. It's also fun when Apollo quips or comments when examining certain pieces of evidence. And, since they apparently did away with the Psyche-Locks, your life meter automatically refills after every recess.
So far, so very good. The first case doesn't disappoint in the least, and Apollo has already become just as likeable as Phoenix in the early games. If I may borrow a quote from Phoenix himself: "Ah, just looking at you reminds me of the old days. Not the good old days, per se."