Visual Novel Spotlight: Ace Attorney Trilogyon June 24, 2014 by Shadocchi
After the recent announcement of an Ace Attorney remaster making its way to the 3DS late this year, it’s time for all three people in the world who haven’t jumped into the series to start getting prepared. And what a better way than to look back at the three Phoenix Wright games in their Nintendo DS years.
The Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney series – covering Ace Attorney, Justice For All, and Trials and Tribulations – follows the early career of Phoenix Wright, a talented lawyer fresh out of law school. When certain circumstances force him to become the head of Fey & Co. Law Offices, Phoenix must do his mentor proud as he investigates crime scenes, gathers testimony and proves clients innocent. To do this he must travel around with his psychic assistant Maya, dealing with comedic detective Gumshoe while trying to scramble together evidence to compete against some of the most fearsome and respected prosecutors in the country. Each game features five cases that build in complexity and drama which slowly intertwine to create a larger story for the main cast of characters.
While a look at the first game will give you a good feel for the series in general, it’s hard not to consider the three games as part of a whole. Each game can be self-contained and easy to take a break from after each trial, but when you work your way through the series, a larger story emerges, stringing together information from seemingly unrelated cases. Stories that were only simple trials in one game lay the foundation for more detailed trials later that fill in Phoenix’s relationship with his main rival, draw out the happenings surrounding the Fey family line, and even continue minor stories with side characters.
Of course, the major draw for the series is its large cast of characters who aren’t too shallow but can still be easily summarised. As new people with funny quirks are introduced, old characters pop up now and again to remind you that the series is still happening in a larger context. There’s a favourite character for everyone, really, and it’s easy to want to play the game in one sitting when everyone’s interesting in different ways.
All three games in the Ace Attorney series are fairly consistent, offering a similar pattern where quick cases move on to longer, more involved trials. New elements are added in the second game onwards which open up new challenges as you navigate through lies to find the truth. The many twists and turns of longer cases keep you guessing as to the real story and, I’d say, present a consistently challenging puzzle. Of course, the series never forgets its general atmosphere, always throwing in a joke, a more over-the-top character than usual, or a turn for the quirky.
For someone new to Phoenix Wright in general, the jump into the first Nintendo DS game is not huge, with the game being very easy to get into even after a decade. Some elements can be frustrating at times (all games have some point where you’re stuck trying to find evidence to further the story) but are easily accepted due to an involving story and loveable characters. You can play each game chapter-by-chapter to start to get into it, and from then there are many more games to fall in love with.
The Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney series is a solid trilogy that you can play chapter-by-chapter but which also builds a larger story from smaller cases. It’s not hard to fall in love with at least one of the many quirky characters. Puzzles have enough twists and secrets that it’s fairly challenging, but of course, the draw in the end is very much the characters and the world of Phoenix Wright himself. Being able to see the series remastered for the 3DS is definitely something to look forward to.
The Ace Attorney 3DS remastered series is set to be released in Winter 2014 for $29.99 on the Nintendo eShop. In the meantime, you can source these games for the Nintendo DS or try them out on iOS or WiiWare