CASE ONE complete! First, a few words about the game's 3DS-specific upgrades.
The new 3D cel-shaded modeling work really is stellar. Color and contrast simply pop off the screen; the blues on Phoenix's suit, the yellows on Athena's jacket, the reds on Apollo's vest.... As Jay says, the charm of the 2D art is retained completely, shining particularly strong through the animation. Athena really is a fun character to watch. Her shocked gaping expression, the profusive sweat wipe, activating the Mood Matrix, subconsciously tinkering with her earring, stroking her ponytail, not one but TWO variations of the desk slam..... I know she's one of the main characters, but I'm hoping the rest of the supporting cast boasts such varied sets of animation.
About the only strike I would level against the graphics are the "snap back" animations. There are instances where animation frames aren't utilized to transition back into a character's stationary stance -- instead, it merely "resets" to the intended pose. This was fine in the older titles, but given how glitzy the new engine looks, it does stand out a bit.
Two slots for saves now, nice. And getting to play individual sections of a specific case (much like how they offer in the HD Trilogy on iOS) should be handy for replays. Also, I love how when the camera pulls back to show the jurors murmuring after some revelation was dropped, the defense and prosecution are standing in the same poses as when they showed them from the bench. Cool touch.
In the demo, they gave the player the option to speed-skip through the text right off the bat. I'm happy that in the retail version, they've made it like the old games where the dialogue will only skip to the next text box after the initial one finishes; most of us want the default text speed to accommodate the game's intended pacing and character reaction cues. (And twice I found myself accidentally pressing the "A" button too quickly in the demo just to have a piece of dialogue pop up straight away and disappear without my intent.) Even so, Capcom did see it fit to give players the option to speed-skip even before completing the game -- the button is specifically designated to the "B" button now. Catering to all folks.
Right, let's get to some story spoilers:
Athena starting off the game was a nice turn, considering how so front and center they've been marketing Phoenix's return. Which only made it that much more glorious when the "Turnabout Terror" makes his entrance. (I am a bit disappointed they didn't keep that moniker from the demo -- though they make plenty of amusing references to Phoenix's bluffing and nitpicking tactics. Much to his chagrin.)
Heh, loved the JFA reference of Phoenix being assaulted in a court of law, and losing his memory.
I find it hilarious (and awesome) how they've been able to keep up the running gag of using "Payne" as the opening prosecutor for every game. Gaspen sounds younger and more aggressive than I would have imagined a sibling of the "Rookie Killer" to be -- not to mention FAAAAR more arrogant. (Widget: "JERK!") Also, the name pun continuity is brilliant.
I suppose either the new spoiler tag or the color=white can be used. Though I have found that using color=white does still show the text ever so slightly against the beige color of the new quote boxes. Not enough for me, personally, to make out in any distinguishable way -- but I'll use the spoiler tags to be absolutely safe.
And Part 1 is done, largely without much trouble. Two mistakes total isn't a bad beginning. The case itself was pretty nice, but I'm curious about something near the end (spoiler-vision, ho!): Couldn't the villain just have claimed to have beaned the victim with the fake? It seemed a bit too far of a leap to say with certainty that the one in the photo was absolutely real while the one in the room was absolutely fake. Or maybe there's a mentioned detail that I missed. It was quite late in the morning when I finished.
I guess it all hinges on the idea that.... the bomb in the Phony Phanty photo was established as being the real deal from the start. I'm a little hazy as to the circumstance in which the photo was submitted to the Court Record - and when the photo itself was taken. Obviously, it had to be taken before it was detonated, but after he used it against Arme -- hence the cracked screen.
No points for guessing a key part of the plot will be the story behind her blotted trauma, but I hope it's more than just a familial-tragedy card, the franchise has been to that well too many times.
I'm almost certain that's the sort of angle they're going for, but who knows. My personal speculation? Maybe..... Blackquill will end up being a potential perpetrator. His persona being that of a ronin, the sword on the ground seemed to be a dead giveaway. In any case, that was one disturbing flashback. The creepy music box melody, the blood, the ink splotches etched on the faces of the court.... Chills.
As far as the animated intro to Part 2 is concerned, what the heck am I looking at, and did they just spoil who the killer is in the opening moments for the second time in a row?
Those were my exact same reactions, especially that second point. Case One fell a bit short for me just because they.... revealed who the killer was right from the start. What made Case Ones like AA3's, AA4's, and GK2's so good was that they withheld that revelation until you're well into the plot. Here's hoping there's going to be some amazing twist we won't see coming for this Case 2.
Musically, I think the entirety of the courtroom suite is solid, though weaker by comparison to some of my personal favorite selections from series past. Certainly a more orchestral quality to the proceedings, with strong brass and strings work in particular. It's nice to see Iwadare finally upping the sound quality; if some of these instruments aren't live, they're very convincing samples. While Cross Examination 2013 doesn't reach the melodic highs of AA3's, the Allegro version quickly grew on me with that driving AA1 Allegro-style backing and groovy slap bass plunks. Tell the Truth 2013 is as dramatically weighty as Kenji 2's, but the elegance of the strings makes it far more menacing. Where AA5 really stands out is the aforementioned Pursuit ~ Cornered, which stands toe to toe with AA1, AA3 and Kenji 2 as one of my all-time favorite Pursuits. And here's something that's cool: there's an actual Variation with enough variations to actually consider it a variation! (That is, more than just a new intro -- some killer new orchestral hits and more accentuation on the bell gongs.) And hey, after six consecutive DS games in the span of eight years (if we're counting the Investigation titles), we're finally getting a newly arranged version of Suspense!
And here's something else that's neat. The OST release appears to have actual outros to the tracks, instead of simply looping and fading -- an Iwadare trademark, but an Ace Attorney first. Nice.