Game: Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law
Genre: Cartoon Lawyer Simulator
Platform: PSP, PS2, Wii (reviewed on Wii)
With the popular Japanese lawyer series Phoenix Wright selling well in both hemispheres, it was only a matter of time before someone else tried to replicate the fun and addictive formula. Porting the awesome and wacky cartoon lawyer Harvey Birdman into video game form seemed like a natural move. However, as funny as the Birdman might be, there’s something lacking from this game.
First and foremost, the writing is good, the characters are funny, and it feels as natural as watching a few episodes of the TV show. The problem? Exactly that. It feels more like an interactive episode than an actual game. During the “investigation”, you’ll point and click your way around, with the game making it blatantly obvious what you’re supposed to be looking at.
After you somehow stumble into the courtroom, you cross-examine and contradict witnesses and suspects in the press/present method that was directly copied and pasted from the Phoenix Wright games. For someone who is familiar with the process, this is a piece of cake. The game is clearly resting on this, too, because it gives next to no explanation about what pressing and presenting actually means, and you lose a life every time you screw up and present the wrong item with the wrong piece of testimony.
In addition to there being much less actual gameplay than you would want in a game, there’s also a lot less content. Example? In making a Phoenix Wright comparison once again (because it’s impossible not to), each Phoenix case is typically several hours long. You can knock out the first Harvey Birdman case in about 20 minutes, and there are only five cases in the game.
It sounds like I’m ripping on this game a lot more than I actually am. In reality, it is fun and entertaining… for a little while. Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law is actually the perfect definition of a rental game. If you’re looking for something amusing to do on a rainy day or over the weekend once football season ends, this game will fit the bill. It’s worth a play, especially for fans of the Birdman. However, it’s not really worth a buy, especially not at its current $40 price point.