In what could have been just another Phoenix Wright game, but presented from an opposing perspective, Ace Attorney Investigations diverges from tradition more than any other title in the series -- which is to say that it actually diverges from tradition just a bit. The focus is still heavily on plot, characters and clever yappin', but the sterile, first-person point-and-click investigation process has now been replaced with a third-person view.
The control system is functional, but quite unnatural in one respect. You can maneuver Edgeworth through the 2D environments, displayed on the DS' top screen, by either dragging the stylus across the touch screen or simply using the d-pad (thanks for the option, Edgey!). When you've gotten him close enough to an item of interest, you tap a context-specific icon on the bottom screen to interact with it. So, it's less point-and-click and more walk-over-there-and-tap-the-button.
The touch screen is also used to access your inventory, investigate evidence up close (now that's point-and-click) and initiate conversation with your partner in crime solving, the lovably inept Detective Gumshoe. More importantly, it's the home of the game's "Logic" system, a visual representation of the facts in Edgeworth's deductive mind. After talking to other characters or discovering clues, facts will appear on the logic screen. Linking two of them leads to a deduction -- and an incredibly dramatic animation of Edgeworth's mind connecting the dots -- while incorrectly matching them up causes Edgeworth to lose concentration, along with the mental equivalent of "health."
It's a compelling mechanic, and a great way to place the impetus on you to push the story forward. Ultimately, there's only one way for the plot to arrive at its next, inevitable twist, but it's fun to think that you're the one making all the brilliant connections in Edgeworth's stead. As the refined prosecutor points out, the key is to "let the logic flow!"
Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth is due in North America on February 16th, 2010, and in Europe on February 19th, 2010.