Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Series
Ace Attorney is one of the more unique video game series that Capcom has ever introduced to the industry, basically combining courtroom drama with weird and wacky characters and storytelling. The first game was released on the Nintendo DS in 2001 as “Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney,” and since then we’ve seen multiple sequels, spin-offs, a manga series, anime series, and even a live-action movie in Japan.
Phoenix Wright focuses on a young defense attorney of the same name in the year 2016, as he’s just been hired on at the firm of Fey and Co., where he takes his first case defending his childhood friend Larry Butz. Through careful examination of the crime scene, and then defending his client in the courtroom, Phoenix proves his client innocent of murder charges. The real draw of the Ace Attorney games has always been its absolutely crazy characters and stories. Each game has five cases that are all self-contained within each entry, while simultaneously building upon the previous titles to create even more backstories for the series’ characters and world. The murders and crimes committed are never what they appear to be at first, and Phoenix has to use all of his skills both in and out of the courtroom to exonerate his client.
The games weave in some supernatural themes of channeling spirits, using techniques to do away with locks on people’s psyches, using therapy sessions to read witnesses’ emotions and more. The sprite art of the original games really stood out, as each character was dynamic with their own animations and quirks. As the series has progressed, it’s started using 3D models for characters, but the same eccentricities and ridiculous animations in court remain.
The first three Ace Attorney games focus completely on Phoenix Wright, along with his assistant Maya Fey, who coincidentally has the power to channel dead spirits. Along the way, they battle multiple prosecutors in court, and you learn more about Phoenix’s past in relation to some of them. The fourth game of the series, titled Apollo Justice, focuses on a new young defense attorney of the same name who arrives on the scene, after Phoenix has been accused of falsifying evidence. Then Phoenix Wright returned along with Apollo Justice in the fifth game, Dual Destinies, which introduced a new assistant named Athena Cykes.
There’s also a spin-off focusing on the most famous prosecutor of the Ace Attorney series, called Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth. On top of all that, there’s another spin-off that sets Phoenix and Maya up in a crossover with the famous Professor Layton, combining both of the series’ gameplay styles.
There’s far too much story to cover for the Ace Attorney series, but it’s generally easy to hop in at any point in the series and not feel totally lost. Each game does have self-contained stories and cases that are resolved. However, character reappear in many of the games and there’s an overall timeline to Phoenix’s career that is much easier to see the full picture of if you play the games in chronological order.