Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

released on Oct 11, 2001

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Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

released on Oct 11, 2001

Meet Phoenix Wright, the rookie defense lawyer new to the scene with the wildest cross-examination skills in town! Take on five intriguing cases to reveal dramatic, stunning, and even comical court proceedings. Use both the touch screen to investigate the crime scenes, question witnesses and present shocking evidence. “Objection!”...It’s outrageous fun! You won’t be able to put down this laugh-out-loud, riveting adventure!

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Definitely a fun introduction to the series. If this was the sole piece of media in the Ace Attorney franchise I wouldn't really say it's worth going out of your way to play it, but as an entry point to the larger IP I think you won't regret spending time on this - I didn't.

Most of my gripes with this one are largely personal taste issues:

- I think it could stand to be a little shorter. The story could easily conclude after 1-4 with no issues, and I so strongly believed this to be the case that I groaned when I saw there was one more trial. This isn't to say that 1-5 lacks any kind of quality (I do think it's one of the more captivating cases on offer here) but it feels largely separate from the rest of the game.

- 1-5's real crime is the puzzles. Fingerprint dusting is fine if a little tedious, but there's a chunk in the trial where you have to rotate an object to match a description given by a witness to an absurdly precise degree. When I was playing this part I called it "the worst thing ever put into a video game" which isn't exactly true, but I don't regret saying it one bit.

- Not really too keen on investigations! From what I've been told they get better as you move through the series, but as presented here I have the same issues I do with most "investigation" scenes in games - they do a poor job of instilling a sense of discovery. I suppose this is a necessity of the format - you either make the players find everything they need, or you do a Paradise Killer situation and just let them run straight to the trial empty-handed if they so choose. There are a few circumstances where I catch an out-of-place detail early, but for the most part the investigations usually leave me wishing I was in court hanging out with the finger-wagging prosecutors.

- It's rough around the edges in a lot of little ways, actually. I could nitpick a lot but I don't want to give off the wrong impression - they don't magically make this into a bad game, but with some improvements it could've been great: I feel like I spend so much time figuring out how to get to a place through the menus, lots of the character arcs (esp. early on!) feel shallow and overplayed, a lot of redundant information gets reiterated a LOT, etc.

Other notes, not necessarily complaints:

- The decision to make Phoenix a bit of a well-meaning idiot is actually pretty nice. It's pretty easy to fuck this character archetype up for me, but I think it's done well here - it makes Phoenix endearing, yes, but it also works well for the game. It's always slightly frustrating in these games when the player character goes "OH! IT'S OBVIOUS! THE ANSWER IS:" and you're not sure what they're getting at. By making Phoenix go "guhh I think I've seen this before... but where?" the player feels a little less like an idiot for not connecting the dots themselves. (It also makes it a lot funnier when you completely botch the answer)

- While a lot of the serious plot beats come across as too schmaltzy to really land, I think the running jokes present in each case are genuinely funny a lot of the time, especially if Edgeworth gets involved. It results in a lot of the most memorable lines and it's what makes the trials so fun, getting to a really dire situation in the trial and ha-- OBJECTION!

- The anime bullshit works so well too - the high-energy music over close zooms of people yelling, the way OBJECTION! fills the entire screen, the way witnesses looks like you've physically punched the soul out of them when you catch them in a lie. It's all turned up to 11 and it rocks.

- It is literally always funny to present your attorney badge to someone and they just look at you like "???? good job?"

I got sucked into watching way too many “real lawyers analyze PW cases” on YouTube. Turns out these games have next to nothing to do with any even passing semblance to a court of law. I get that it’s a game and liberties have to be taken but… nothing at all. In the very first case PW gives “opening statements” for a case he knows nothing about, allows the prosecutor to call his client to the stand to testify against himself, just being like whatever man, hope he doesn’t say anything incriminating! 🤷‍♂️ and lets the burden of proof fall on himself to acquit his client rather than disprove the prosecutor’s case. And all he had to do was get the police to testify that Larry’s prints weren’t on the murder weapon!

It’s kids dressing up in their dads’ suits twelve sizes too big to play lawyers and judges, but anime. And because it’s anime there’s anime-ass humor, where the tone veers from one extreme to the other within the same scene. There are only two characters in any given PW case: PW himself, and someone QUIRKY! Everyone besides the main character is either annoying or incompetent or both.

All this could be forgiven if the game wasn’t so loooooooooooooooooooooong. I gave up around the middle of the third case after feeling like I’ve plunked down twenty hours or so, and that’s with a walkthrough. I can’t imagine playing this and losing a case and having to do any of those over again. There but for the grace of God

Played this during business school

Figured I would review this after having just beaten JFA. I love this game, I dont think any of the trials are bad. Even the weaker ones, I think are pretty good. 1-5 is great albeit a bit long and 1-4 is just amazing, especially the DL 6 incident stuff. That shit was so good. The OST is also one of my favorites ever, so many awesome songs and the courtroom themes are all good, every single one of them. Had a blast beating this in 2019.