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Few objections here: crazy courtroom has charm

By EMILY AUTEN/ VN GAMES REVIEWER
On March 24, 2015

BY EMILY AUTEN

VN STAFF WRITER

 

“Objection! Take that! Hold it!”

These words, along with some others, flow across the screen in stylized letters as evidence is presented in order to attempt to discredit the suspect’s testimony.

Not only does the “Objection!” result in exaggerated finger pointing and table slams, sometimes coffee is thrown from the prosecutor’s table, or a parrot is called as a witness.

It’s nothing but a simple trial, if you are playing as a rookie lawyer in the classic video game series, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney.

The Ace Attorney series is a well-known franchise created by game company Capcom, originally releasing in 2001 for the Game Boy Advance system.

Since then, Ace Attorney has created several remakes and spin-offs, including the recent re-release of the first three games for the Nintendo 3DS, as well as iOS and Android.

The first three games of the Ace Attorney series follow Phoenix Wright, a spiky-haired, rookie defense attorney who works under his mentor, Mia Fey, at Fey and Co. Law Offices.

Throughout his journey, Phoenix must investigate and solve cases in order to prove his client not guilty. He goes to ridiculous measures to ensure a victory, which never goes smoothly.

Below are the important aspects of the Phoenix Wright trilogy:

 

Gameplay

Gameplay consists of a fun balance between investigating crimes and gathering evidence, talking to witnesses and spending time in the courtroom.

Investigative parts involve moving from different locations while interacting with the environment or characters in a given location. Although the investigative parts are quite fun, the courtroom aspect is even better, and gives the player the feeling of being an actual lawyer.

Listening to testimony, players are given the option to present evidence that may contradict what the person is saying. If players present something that is completely wrong, they will lose “health” or a try.

When health goes to zero or the player runs out of tries, it’s game over.

In short, the gameplay does not involve complicated controls, and is very easy to navigate. It relies on the player’s intuition to think logically and find the truth to progress the story.

With this in mind, the player will spend much time reading, since AA is very text-based and is like an interactive novel.

 

Story

The stories of the Ace Attorney Trilogy vary by the games but are downright bizarre.

Each installment features four to five cases in total, each lasting various lengths of total game time.

The first case in each game serves as a tutorial, while the other cases serve as the larger portion of the title.

Each case has a unique story and characters. However, the formula is the same.

Phoenix stumbles upon an event, almost always a murder, taking on a client who is accused of it.

Although constant false accusations and arrests may seem strange, the game attempts to explain the causes of the constant issues. The judicial system in PW reflects a future society in which juries are eliminated, and it is up to the prosecutor to present the case, as the defendants are considered guilty until proven innocent. 

Prosecutors are seen in a negative way, and defense attorneys are given the hardest job in the courtroom. Although it can be guessed that this game is serious due to the dark themes, Ace Attorney really shines with its comedic moments.

Interrogations of the witnesses are humorous, as are interactions between the defense and prosecutor. Some of the best moments of the game come in Phoenix’s reactions to the trial, and the scatterbrained judge failing to bring “order to the court.”

Although this allows room for comedic relief, perhaps it is too crazy.

Some cases have plot holes, which can become frustrating at times, especially when the judge insists that the evidence is incorrect and the player is left at a loss. Luckily, there are plenty of game guides online if players do not figure out the puzzle by themselves.

Some installments are stronger than others.

The first game is solid and serves as a great introduction to the series.

The second game, Justice for All, although fun, falls short with a lackluster final case.

Trials and Tribulations, my personal favorite, is strong in many aspects and ties up the loose ends of the first two games. There is also an interesting supernatural twist to the storyline along with several other plot-twists that keeps the player guessing and satisfied.


Characters

The Ace Attorney Trilogy has one of the weirdest cast of characters I’ve seen.

Most of the character names contain puns such as Phoenix’s “I’m a ladies man” friend, Larry Butz, or Wendy Oldbag, an aging security guard. Both play reoccurring roles in the series.

Phoenix Wright, as a main character, has a great amount of personality. He often has hilarious thoughts and reactions to the situations. Wright also has many encounters with the Fey family, from his strong mentor Mia to his spirit-medium assistant and sister to Mia, Maya Fey.

Maya is an interesting character and adds much value to the story.

The prosecutors in the games are also fantastic, such as Wright’s major rival and childhood friend, Miles Edgeworth, the sassy prodigy Franziska von Karma and Godot, the white-haired, coffee enthusiast.

The Phoenix Wright games take the time and effort to create interesting characters as no one really feels generic or boring. Many of the characters appear more than once.


Overall

Ace Attorney is a must-play for fans of crime stories, casual gameplay, well-written narratives and pre-law and criminal justice students.

Although it is not a realistic courtroom simulation by any means, the series still remains a legacy, and is releasing several new games in the future for those who want even more courtroom drama.

 

Grade: 9/10

Pros: Great story, well-written characters, enjoyable gameplay, great humor.

Cons: Some plot holes, unrealistic, some cases are too unbelievable.

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