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CONSOLE: PlayStation 2 DEVELOPER: High Voltage Software PUBLISHER: Capcom
RELEASE DATE (NA): January 8, 2008 GENRE: Visual Novel
// review by FlagrantWeeaboo

Who is the man in the suit?

Harvey Birdman: Attorney At Law is one of the many animated shows created by and aired on Adult Swim. It is a re-imagining of the Birdman character from a very old and obscure Hanna Barbera cartoon. Now given the first name Harvey, Birdman is a struggling defense lawyer, stuck having to stand up for washed-up Hanna Barbera cartoon characters. But that doesn't mean his superhero days are over, just that his battles are now fought in the courtroom.

The game plays out like a cartoon, with so much autoplay that those who quickly glance over will likely believe you are just watching an episode of the cartoon. So on that side of things, the game absolutely nails the look and feel of the show. It also results, however, in a game that feels like a PowerPoint presentation with a few video clips thrown in to grab your attention.

This suits the game fine because this is what it goes for, but one can't help but argue a "game" should have a bit more substance to it.

Attorney At Law is split into five cases; each dealing with a different scenario. In the first case, Harvey must successfully defend his co-worker Peter Potamus on arson charges, meanwhile proving his ex-wife to be guilty. This first case takes place entirely in the courtroom area and is the tutorial that explains how to press statements and present evidence.

Pressing statements and presenting evidence, are you sure this isn't Phoenix Wright? Wait... Phoenix... Birdman... Published by Capcom? And the not-so-subtle and obvious connection is made, Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law is (from a gameplay and events angle) a direct sendup of Ace Attorney, and a glorious one. It even goes as far as to include the alternate endings to cases, should you present the right piece of evidence, just like in Ace Attorney.

At least there isn't any dumb Magatama or Psyche-Lock stuff!

The second case is when the game opens up to include exploring and item examination, allowing you to pander around a few environments finding clues and talking to potential suspects. This is when the game becomes far more interesting to play. Also, there are extra hidden pieces of evidence that you can find, which serve no purpose other than to fill out an extensive list of unlockables that do diddly-squat.

The voice acting is on point. The cast returns to voice each of their characters (barring one exception), including Gary Cole in the role of Harvey, once again doing an excellent job of making such a dumb and vapid character seem instantly likeable. However, the short (ha!) appearance of Myron Reducto is absurd, given—BACK OFF! DON'T YOU SEE THIS SHRINK RAY?—the character's large amount of air-time in the show. Crispin Freeman takes over the role, and does an adequate job, but that role was always meant to be played by Stephen Colbert. He was likely busy working on The Colbert Report, which is the same reason he was written out of the show.

I don't think the game is necessarily better on any particular system, but the portability doesn't really add anything valuable to Attorney At Law. The game is best played on a big TV, where the colours and the art can be best appreciated. That said, all three versions of the game are the same. If you find yourself playing a lot of portable games, then it's worth grabbing the game on PSP. If not, then I think you're better getting this for a console.

This is one of those games that, once you've seen it played there isn't much of a reason to play it yourself. If you're simply curious about Harvey Birdman, plenty of gameplay videos exist on the Internet. My livestream of the first three cases is a good suggestion, if you're interested.

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