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Ace Attorney: Where Lawyers Defy Reality and Unleash Hilarity

For over two decades, Capcom's Ace Attorney series has taken players on a wild ride through the zany world of lawyers who break all the rules and deli...

M. Moon

Feb 06, 2024

Ace Attorney: Where Lawyers Defy Reality and Unleash Hilarity

For over two decades, Capcom's Ace Attorney series has taken players on a wild ride through the zany world of lawyers who break all the rules and deliver justice with flair. While it may not bear much resemblance to the real-life legal profession, who cares when the stories are this good?

Step into the polished shoes of Phoenix Wright, Apollo Justice, or Athena Cykes – just a few of the vibrant characters you'll control in this iconic franchise. But with so many games to choose from, where should you start? Fear not, as we present a ranking of these games (though legal accuracy is not a factor).

Ace Attorney Investigations: The Case of the Fan-Favorite Lawyer

In this game, fan-favorite Miles Edgeworth takes the center stage as the protagonist. Shu Takumi tested the waters with Edgeworth's playable appearance in Trials & Tribulations, and it was only a matter of time before he received his own series of games. Ace Attorney Investigations attempts to connect an essential backstory to present-day cases, but be warned, some confrontations can feel more technical than exciting. Spending hours arguing about diplomatic immunity isn't exactly a thrill ride. And let's not forget the Logic mechanic, which can be as confusing as trying to find your keys in a dark room.

Dual Destinies: A Tale of Phoenix's Resurgence

Despite fans expecting a direct sequel to Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, Capcom took a different approach with this fifth installment. Apollo is present, with an edgy backstory to uncover, but Phoenix reclaims the spotlight. Dual Destinies makes good use of the 3DS hardware, but sadly, the game suffers from uncomfortable 3D models. Some characters end up looking as expressionless and stiff as a mannequin in a courtroom.

The introduction of Athena Cykes, the first playable female lawyer (excluding your brief stint as Mia in a flashback), had great potential. However, her storyline treads familiar ground, rehashing the "defense attorney with a troubled past with the prosecution" shtick from the original Ace Attorney. Athena's application of psychology adds excitement but sometimes lacks substance.

Justice For All: So Close, Yet So Far

Justice For All is a sequel worthy of the original on the surface. The disappearance of Edgeworth and the introduction of a new Von Karma create intrigue that can only be satisfied by devouring every word of the dialogue. Unfortunately, the game suffers from an atrocious bad-case-to-good-case ratio. The tutorial chapter is laughable, especially the "villain" involved. And let's not even mention Turnabout Big Top, where the most intolerable secondary characters ever conceived run rampant. The less we say about that, the better.

Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: A Match Made in Puzzle Heaven

This game beautifully merges two distinct series into something greater than the sum of its parts. Both protagonists rely on puzzles and strategic thinking, but in different ways. Layton is a logical deducer, while Phoenix possesses the gift of the gab. Their skills complement each other perfectly.

The game is set in Labyrinthia, a medieval fantasy town where witches are as common as a cup of tea. Layton unravels the truth behind the town's mysteries, while Phoenix defends would-be executors in court. Imagine Layton solving puzzles while wearing a powdered wig and Phoenix objecting in a robe and wig. It's a sight to behold!

Apollo Justice: A Strange Middle Ground

Apollo was meant to be the torchbearer of Phoenix's legacy, signaling that Phoenix's saga had come to an end (or so it seemed). We witness beloved characters growing and evolving during the seven in-universe years that have passed since the last game. However, Apollo's debut occupies a peculiar middle ground. It's technically his game, but Phoenix keeps popping up and plays a crucial role in the main case's resolution. It's a shame since Apollo's character is engaging and lovable. We're also introduced to Trucy Wright, Phoenix's bubbly adoptive daughter, and Apollo's new gameplay ability to "Perceive."

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: The Birth of an Icon

Made in a mere ten months by a team of only seven people, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney introduced us to iconic faces like Phoenix, Maya, and Edgeworth. The game's unforgettable music, profound ideals, and messages resonate throughout its being. Whether you're exploring a shoddy knockoff TV studio, assisting Larry Butz in photographing the mythical "Lake Gourd Monster," or exposing a liar named "Frank Sahwit," it's all top-class entertainment. With the bonus case "Rise From The Ashes" added in the re-release, this game quickly became a hit with Western audiences and paved the way for the rest of the series.

Spirit of Justice: A Journey to Khura'in

In Spirit of Justice, the story takes us to thekingdom of Khura'in, where the legal system works a bit differently than what we're used to. Here, defense attorneys are seen as criminals, and trials are more like religious ceremonies. Phoenix Wright finds himself in this foreign land, defending clients while unraveling the truth behind the mysterious Divination Séances.

The game introduces new gameplay mechanics, such as the Divination Séances, where you must scrutinize the final moments of a victim's life to find contradictions. It adds a fresh layer to the investigation and courtroom gameplay, keeping players on their toes.

Spirit of Justice also delves deeper into the personal lives of the characters, with Apollo Justice facing his past and learning more about his family. The game is filled with emotional moments and surprising twists that keep players engaged throughout the journey.

The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles: Victorian Intrigue

Transporting players back to the late 19th century, The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles is a two-game compilation set in Japan and England. You step into the shoes of Ryunosuke Naruhodo, an ancestor of Phoenix Wright, and work alongside the brilliant detective Herlock Sholmes (yes, with an 's' instead of an 'l').

The game captures the essence of the time period, with detailed settings, historical references, and a unique cast of characters. You'll find yourself solving intriguing cases and uncovering secrets in both countries, with courtroom battles that feel fresh and exciting.

The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles introduces new gameplay mechanics, such as the Dance of Deduction, where you observe and make deductions based on Sholmes' wild theories. It adds an extra layer of puzzle-solving and deduction to the traditional gameplay formula.

Conclusion: The Courtroom is Now in Session

With a diverse range of cases, unforgettable characters, and a mix of comedy and drama, the Ace Attorney series has become a beloved franchise for fans of visual novels and puzzle-solving adventures. While some games may have their flaws, the overall experience of playing an Ace Attorney game is an absolute delight.

Whether you're defending innocent clients, exposing the truth behind elaborate conspiracies, or simply shouting "Objection!" at the top of your lungs, the Ace Attorney series never fails to deliver entertaining and memorable moments. So, grab your attorney's badge, put on your thinking cap, and get ready to defy reality in the courtroom!

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