Ace Attorney is a series visual-novel type adventure games that were originally a Japan exclusive Game Boy Advance series created by Capcom that started off in 2001 with the game Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. In 2004, after the third game in the series had been released, the DS had been released and Capcom decided to port the games to the DS both in and outside of Japan. The first rereleased game in the series was the original and was released in Japan on September 15th 2005, in North America on October 11th the same year while Europe had to wait until March 31st 2006, and Australia until March 8th 2007. In these versions of the original Phoenix Wright, Capcom added in a fifth chapter that used the 3D potentials of the Nintendo DS that would later serve as the base for the fourth game in the series, Apollo Justice: Ace Attorneys, gameplay mechanics.
What makes it a classic:
Phoenix Wright is a completely new attorney, and you, the player, have to play through his first five cases. They all revolve around someone being murdered, but each case is completely unique within that limit. Some of them get insanely deep, and it is easy to lose track of why things turned out like they did, but if you pay attention you’ll understand completely what’s going on. The characters you meet are all filled with personality and Wright will often make witty remarks about them in his head that are chuckle worthy.
Be warned, though; the game has text. A lot of text. If you were to reduce the Phoenix Wright games to their bare minimum you would get a book. However, because of story being the central parts of these games Capcom have been able to have almost complete focus on that element, making one of the most entertaining stories I’ve been told in a videogame.
The game is split into two parts: in the morning you are in court asking questions to witnesses and in the afternoon you search the place of crime for clues and talk to colleagues to the victim etc. The former tasks you with listening to a testimony, presenting evidence to prove contradictions in said testimony followed by a conversation between the people in the courtroom and then the process repeats. You can choose between pressing a button on the touch screen to present the evidence, or you can hold down a shoulder button and yell “Take that!” or “Objection!” depending on the situation, which is surprisingly fun. Some of the evidence you have to present are really weird things that can be very hard to get right, especially when you factor in the fact that there are five to eight parts of a testimony that could be contradicting one of your over ten pieces of evidence.
In your search for clues in the afternoon, the game turns into a stripped-down point-and-click adventure where you talk to people, present certain pieces of evidence to them or look at suspicious objects in order to trigger something new appearing/happening. I wish I could say that this part is fun, but it’s plagued by seemingly random things that you have to do to trigger, say, a guard leaving her post so that you can sneak around some more. If it wasn’t for the fact that this part of the game is just filled with ridiculous characters and jokes about your environment, this would be a very hard blow to the game. Now it is at least okay.
If you want a game that will blow you out of your chair or give you a fast thrill, this definitely isn’t it. Does that make the game bad? Hell no. This game is essentially a book that you can only progress in by thinking like Phoenix Wright, which is a really clever way of making you truly feel for the character and the world he’s in. Much like a book, the game has barely any replayability, but you don’t read a book just to read it again and think back upon how great it was the first time. You read a book to get a good story and to be able to say “Damn… That was a good book,” and that is exactly what this game does for you.