Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Retrospective | A Unique Gameplay Experience

Initially released in 2001, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is one of the most unique games that one could play. As a visual novel courtroom simulator, it doesn't sound all that interesting. However, this Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney retrospective will show that the concept works better than you think.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Retrospective | A Unique Gameplay Experience

Under normal circumstances, being a defense attorney on murder cases isn’t all that fun of a job. However, the Ace Attorney series turns the high pressure job of defense attorney into an interesting police procedural like Law and Order. In that way, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney and its sequels are some of the most unique games out there. With its visual novel style and interesting characters, this Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney retrospective will show that it’s the kind of game you can’t get anywhere else. 

Turnabout Beginnings

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney was created by Capcom’s Shu Takumi and was conceived in 2000. Originally released in 2001 for the Game Boy Advance in Japan only, Ace Attorney re-released for many more platforms since then. The inspiration for this gameplay style was that Takumi wanted to make a game that is easy enough for his non-gamer mother to play. Originally known as Turnabout Trial in Japan, its name was changed to Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney in the West. Localization was an issue for later releases, since the international version is supposed to be set in the United States. Starting with Ace Attorney: Justice For All, there are a lot of Japanese cultural elements such as the spirit channeling of Phoenix’s assistant Maya. Localizer Janet Hsu adjusted the game world to be an alternate version of America where Japanese culture was able to flourish.

Ace Attorney Talking to Witnesses April May

Talking to eccentric witnesses is a major part of the Ace Attorney series

Ace Attorney Investigations

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney puts you into the blue suit of young defense attorney Phoenix Wright. Ace Attorney almost always involves murder cases and is set up like a visual novel divided into two parts. Each case begins with the investigation section, where you examine the crime scene and gather information from other people. These people range from suspects to witnesses or recurring characters like Detective Dick Gumshoe. Wright can also gain more information by presenting people evidence that they’ll elaborate on. Everything in this section goes into building up your case for the courtroom portions of the game. 

Ace Attorney Contradictions Evidence - Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Retrospective

Finding contradictions with evidence is very satisfying in the courtroom.

Recipe For Turnabout

This brings us to the courtroom portions of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. In the courtroom, Phoenix Wright cross-examines witness testimony, looking for contradictions. Wright can also press the witnesses for more details, making it easier for them to slip up. Then, with the trademark “OBJECTION!” Wright presents evidence that shows the contradiction. In addition, Wright goes up against some of the most dangerous prosecutors in the legal system; these lawyers tamper with witnesses, withhold evidence and sometimes won’t let Phoenix get a word in before objecting. These are the parts that feel the most like a police procedural. Witnesses frequently lose their mind as their testimony is ripped to shreds, and even the attorneys have over-the-top reactions. Regardless, it’s very satisfying to catch the real killer and their accomplices at the end of each case.

April May Evil Reaction - Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Retrospective

Witnesses can get a little crazy if their carefully laid plans go awry.

Turnabout Goodbyes

Overall, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is a game unlike any I’ve played before. It’s the kind of game for someone who enjoys the courtroom drama of Law and Order and the sense of humor of My Cousin Vinny. Speaking of, the sense of humor that the series has is pretty refreshing. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney knows that it’s a video game with crazy witnesses and legal representatives, so it doesn’t take itself so seriously. For those looking to get into the series, an HD compilation of the first three games are available on Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch and PC


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>