Ace Attorney: A video game where you play as the defense attorney, Phoenix Wright, to a number of amusing characters, face off against legendary and prideful German prosecutors, cross-examine testimonies, and present evidence to point out contradictions as you try to get your client off the hook and point the judge's gavel to the real suspect.
Ace Attorney: A series where the player gets to act as detective to a number of elaborate murder mysteries- investigating crime scenes, examining evidence, trying to get information out of the colorful and generally unhelpful witnesses, and having comical conversations with your unique sidekicks (Maya and Pearl) to lighten the mood.
Ace Attorney: A confusing yet epic story about Phoenix's life when he finds himself connected to a family of spirit mediums called the Feys. Among them are Phoenix's mentor, Mia Fey, and his assistants, Maya and Pearl Fey, as well as many other Feys introduced later into the franchise.
Ahh, no, I've got it this time.
Ace Attorney is a game of logic and investigation. As Phoenix Wright, DA, you travel around to a number of different places where you "borrow" evidence from crime scenes and badger witnesses to get some solid information on the prosecution's case. Finally, when the time for the trial comes (although sometimes the trial spans over multiple days with investigation periods in between), you must use all the evidence you've gathered to make a case for your client and to make clear the contradictions between the evidence and the witnesses' testimony. But even that is not enough in the world of Phoenix Wright! Even after clearing your client of suspicion, the player is made responsible for finding the real killer and proving his/her guilt in court. Only a certain number of screw-ups will be tolerated, though, because the Judge can give you penalties. You receive them for unnecessary badgering or presenting the wrong evidence. The Judge penalizes you by giving a blow to what looks like a health bar (it's a row of exclamation points in the first game). Running out of "health" makes you lose the case and start over from the latest save.
Just a few of your many "unique" defendants.
The odds seem to be entirely against you. This is put best by your Prosecutor "friend," Miles Edgeworth, who suspects there is a "Kick Me" sign on the defense stand. The Judge is rather naive, and is usually willing to accept anything the prosecution says. The Judge sometimes decides on a Guilty Verdict before the trial starts, although giving a quick, "Hold it!" gives you a chance to present your argument. Your Honor is also rather partial to cute females like April May and Dahlia Hawthorne. It's up to you to set this wishy-washy deliverer of Justice on the right path to justice and truth!
Playable Defense Attorneys, Phoenix, Mia (for 2 flashback cases), and ???
Sound corny enough? In some instances, you do have to cringe at the cheesiness (I mean, come on. You slam your desk, point your finger, and shout, "Objection!" to every contradiction), but for the most part, you're too busy enjoying yourself. And while your main method of deduction appears to be mass bluffing, you always finds the truth in the end with facts and evidence to back it up.
There is way more to the game than just looking for evidence, talking to witnesses, cross-examinations, and presenting evidence. In court, you also get to pinpoint the significance in photos and show locations of the victim and murderer on handy diagrams of the crime scene. Case 1-5 introduces another out-of-court element, although this feature disappears until Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney brings it back. A young scientist named Ema Skye employs your help, and with her funky gadgets, you get to check for fingerprints and match them with the right person. There is also luminol testing (finding out where there's blood), scientifically!
What's wrong with this photo?
Is this where the killer was standing?
A bloody handprint.
But by far the coolest (although sometimes annoying) investigative feature is Psyche-Locks. "Psycho-locks," as called by Mr. Edgeworth, are big red locks. Well, they aren't real, but with Maya's Magatama, you can see red locks and chains over anyone who's hiding the truth. You can end up seeing Psyche-Locks on witnesses, police detectives, or even your own client. Either way, this secret won't unlock itself. By using the Magatama, you can utilize the evidence in new ways to find out what the character is hiding. Once you've guessed their secret, the Psyche-Locks will break and the person will confess everything. A person can have anywhere from 1 to 5 Psyche Locks, and the more there are, the more it takes to unlock. Some Psyche-Locks are annoying or self-explanatory, but a lot of the time, you'll be happy to see the Magatama react and to see those red locks come in place. You'll be even more satisfied to see your "health bar" replenish (from any hits it may have taken) when you uncover the truth.
The characters are many and varied. There are haughty prosecutors (Edgeworth, Franziska von Karma, Godot), goofy spirit mediums (Maya and Pearl Fey), incompetent police (Detective Dick Gumshoe and poor Mike Meekins), and two-faced men and women who will leave you shocked with sudden changes in personality. I won't name names there, because the fun comes in the surprise. You get swept up by the intricate story lines (involving loan sharks, clowns, thieves, college sweethearts, and waitresses, but I won't say too much here). The sprites are detailed and have many funny animations to express any emotion on the entire spectrum.
This game is chock full of music. I have to say, while some of the tunes are excellent, a lot come off as just plain okay. I love that there is a theme for every single character that plays as you talk to them. I adore how the music changes from slow and calming to fast and suspenseful. For instance, the music in court may stop when you present the right evidence, and fast-paced music plays when the witness (or you) gets cornered, or when a case-breaking fact comes to light. There were some songs that I was madly in love with! But aside from character entrances and court music, the music is mostly in the background and easily ignored.
One of the most awesome tunes in the entire game
The controls are very simple. I have to admit, Phoenix Wright is what made me accept the DS. Before Ace Attorney, I refused to play with that tiny-screened console. Yet Phoenix Wright well uses the double screen and maintains awesome graphics in the small space. You even get to use the mic to shout, "Objection!" along with Phoenix when you find contradictions.
The theme of the game, despite being about murders, is overall very light, with slapstick humor and Phoenix's sarcastic wit. However, the drama kicks in when it needs to, and when it does, keep tissues nearby. Be prepared to feel like you've been slapped across the face, then feel like it's Christmas morning in a span of a few minutes. I can hardly complain about this wonderful game. My expectations were totally exceeded. The game is a good length and is chock full of content. The game actually requires thinking and the player is responsible for large leaps in logic.
No, you didn't... and we'll prove it!!
This review is for "the Phoenix arc" in the game. There are three different arcs. Phoenix's era, Apollo Justice's era seven years later, and the spin-off Miles Edgeworth: Ace Attorney Investigations, where you act as a sort of Prosecutor/Detective back in the time of the Phoenix arc.
The game, Ace Attorney, is incredibly fun. It's my favorite game, hands down, and that's a pretty amazing feat considering it had to beat out Super Smash Brothers Brawl. I recommend it to absolutely anyone. Though the premise sounds boring, you will not be bored for a second with this positively amazing game.
Overall enjoyability: 100/100 (unless I could make it higher! Say 200/100?)
(And for all the Suzumiya Haruhi fans, here is a parody the animators did of Phoenix Wright. Warning: Spoilers for the Island episodes!)