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What's the Deal with Ace Attorney: Spirit of Justice's Three DLC Episodes?

Bob looks into the bounty of DLC cases available for Phoenix Wright's latest outing.

Analysis by Bob Mackey, .

The recently released Ace Attorney: Spirit of Justice ranks up there as perhaps the longest game in the series to date—at least, in terms of the ones released in America. From start to finish, the main five chapters will take you much longer to finish than 2013's Dual Destinies, even if you include that game's DLC chapter. Who knew Capcom's lawyer sim would eventually grow into an RPG-length experience?

If you dug the 35ish hours of Spirit of Justice and still crave more, you can currently purchase three DLC cases from an in-game menu. Two of said cases, Phoenix Wright: Asinine Attorney and Apollo Justice: Asinine Attorney each take around 30 minutes to play out their jokey premises—and include one Spirit of Justice 3DS theme per DLC to sweeten the deal—while Turnabout Time Traveler amounts to a full-length case, roughly the same size as the core game's chapter two. But what, exactly, does each DLC case entail? (And, more importantly, which ones are worth buying?)

Phoenix Wright: Asinine Attorney

The first of Spirit of Justice's "just for laughs" DLC takes place far outside of any canon—in fact, the intro for both Asinine Attorneys has the judge flat-out state they're simply "what if" scenarios. This one brings back SoJ's bratty princess Princess Rayfa, who finds her life in danger when she's taken hostage during a mock trial. Ultimately, Phoenix's goal in this short chapter tasks him with proving Pearls Fey is actually Princess Rayfa in order to buy some time—there's really no next step, seeing as Phoenix is the master of bluffing. Phoenix's Asinine Attorney chapter gives you one round of testimony to go through, but it might as well just play itself: You're given two pieces of evidence at the start of the chapter, and it's immediately clear which statements they line up with. All told, it adds up to a fluffy, one-act comedy put on by Spirit of Justice's cast, though this chapter feels pretty inessential. $3.99 seems a bit pricey for such an abbreviated experience, but it could be worthwhile if you like the attached 3DS theme.

Apollo Justice: Asinine Attorney

Like Phoenix's Asinine Attorney chapter, Apollo's also centers on Rayfa: This time, you're battling against Apollo's rival Klavier to prove that the visiting Princess has a valid reason to stay in America another day. You're given much more evidence to sort through than what Phoenix's jokey DLC offered, but again, Asinine Attorney isn't particularly interested in providing a healthy challenge. Rayfa tries to think of the one place she still needs to visit, and you basically try to figure it out by providing evidence that might be found at those particular places. Since you check in on these locations and do some minor investigations via video phone, Apollo's Asinine adventure feels a little more substantial than Phoenix's—but only by ten minutes or so. Unless you're a completionist or find the attached pixel art theme irresistible, you're probably better off buying a latte with that $3.99.

Turnabout Time Traveler

Dual Destinies' DLC episode made for one of the better cases of that particular game, and thankfully, the same is true for Spirit of Justice. While the core game found an elegant way to work in fan service without seeming pandering, Turnabout Time Traveler goes for a much more crowd-pleasing approach: Much like in the original trilogy, this DLC has Phoenix, Maya Fey, and Miles Edgeworth at its core. While the writing offers up some flimsy excuses to temporarily push other characters out of the picture, I honestly didn't mind this back-to-basics approach; Spirit of Justice is essentially Apollo Justice 2, so I can handle Phoenix taking over again for a single chapter. Plus, these characters don't revert back to their old dynamics: As with the five chapters in Spirit of Justice, returning cast members definitely show some growth. (It's especially nice to see Phoenix a lot more confident when dealing with Edgeworth in court.)

With this being a case more in tune with the earlier games, you won't be using any contradiction-pointing mechanics outside of Phoenix's main abilities—and since this episode takes place in America, the Divination Seances present in some chapters of Spirit of Justice won't be found here. But before you think Ace Attorney has jumped the shark with its use of time travel, the form this scientific concept takes manages to make sense within context of the case at hand. Without spoiling anything, "time travel" serves as an overarching theme, with it having a distinct metaphorical meaning for each person involved in the murder mystery.

Even though it's an optional DLC chapter, Turnabout Time Traveler keeps up Spirit of Justice's great production values, and the handful of new characters you meet pop with just as much personality and fantastic animations as those found in the core game. Ellen Wyatt, the housekeeper-turned-bride-turned-murder-suspect, amused me the most with her theatrics: On a dime, she morphs from a calm, graceful bride to a basketcase miming the cooking, cleaning, and scrubbing of her former profession. Speaking of characters, longtime Ace Attorney troublemaker Larry Butz finally makes his grand return in Turnabout Time Traveler, and Capcom's team of artists have done an amazing job of transforming him from a collection of 2D images to a convincing 3D model. Even if Larry comes from an era of Ace Attorney where the characters had much more exaggerated designs, he feels right at home in this new generation of Phoenix Wright—if anything, his odd features only underline his strangeness as a character.

Turnabout Time Traveler plays out over the course of five to six hours, and contains two investigation days and two trial days—again, very similar to Spirit of Justice's chapter two. Even if it's one of those Ace Attorney cases that makes its villain fairly clear from the outset, there's some unexpected—and unexpectedly emotional—twists throughout to keep you guessing. Don't let Turnabout Time Traveler's status as DLC fool you; it's definitely not an afterthought, and keeps up the high standard set by the core game. If you enjoyed Spirit of Justice, consider this $5.99 chapter a definite must-buy.

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