I’m a HUGE fan of the Ace Attorney video game series on the DS. So in honor of the recently released Miles Edgeworth: Ace Attorney Investigations, here’s a blog all about the games in the series and my favorite characters in them!
Basically, the Ace Attorney games are point and click adventures. You play as a lawyer, usually Phoenix Wright, and must solve cases and prove your client innocent. You do this first by examining crime scenes with the stylus and touch screen, and gathering clues and information. When it’s time to go to court, you listen to witness testimonies and must present the items and clues you’ve collected to catch the witness in a lie or mistake. By doing this, you’ll unravel the mystery and solve the case.
Now, by no means are these games realistic. The characters have an anime cartoony look about them, and some of the things you do and people you talk to in these cases are a little silly. So don’t expect this to be like Law and Order or CSI or anything. Plus, don’t expect to pass the bar exam after playing these games either. The court system in this series is made up, tailored for the rules of the game. It’s nothing like the judicial system in the US anyway!
A lot of people ask me what DS games they should get. I could give them a whole list of titles, since the DS has so many good games. But usually I don’t have much time for that, and the person asking usually doesn’t want a huge list anyway. So a lot of times, I’ll recommend a game in the Ace Attorney series, because it’s one of my favorites on the DS!
As much as I can gush about the Ace Attorney games, they do have some glaring problems that can’t be ignored. It’s easy to gloss over and forgive these problems if you’re a huge fan like me, but I can’t deny that these games are far from perfect. One of the main problems with these games is they’ve very text heavy. You probably do more reading than playing, making these titles feel more like interactive manga comic books rather than video games. So if you don’t like reading, stay away from these.
The other huge problem is that while you have to think logically to solve the cases, a lot of the time you have to think by the game’s logic. There is always only one solution, even if there are clearly other ways to do things. And sometimes, that one solution doesn’t make much sense. I guarantee you’ll have to go on the Internet and visit GameFAQs if you play through all of these titles. And that’s never good. Other more minor quibbles are that these games only have one save file, and there’s not much replay value after you beat them (unless you want to play them again like how people re-read favorite books).
The Ace Attorney Series
But enough of the problems. Now let’s look at each of the games in the Ace Attorney series!
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
The first three games in the series were originally on the GBA in Japan. They reworked them onto the DS and brought them out over here in the US later. When I first read about the Ace Attorney game on the DS, I originally thought, “Who would want to play a video game about a lawyer? How boring is THAT?” But then I read about how rare and hard to find the game was getting, and soon after I found a brand new copy of it at a game store. Then I thought, “Well, it may be my only chance to try this game. Plus it’s made by Capcom, and I do like a lot of their games.” So I picked it up to try something new.
It’s a good idea to try out new kinds of games every once in a while. You never know when you’ll find a new type of game you might like! I never really liked card battle games before, but I tried Card Fighters Clash on the Neo Geo Pocket Color and I ended up enjoying that game more than Pokemon! So I’m glad I picked up Phoenix Wright when I did, too, because it ended up being one of my favorite series on the DS.
I was so surprised by the original gameplay, fun characters, and clever writing, that the very first game is still my favorite in the series, because it impacted me so much. The characters are some of the best since Tron Bonne and the Servebots. And the writing is very clever and funny, which is amazing considering Capcom usually can’t write their way out of a paper bag (seriously, look at the storylines for Street Fighter and Mega Man X). Granted, the writing isn’t as good as say, a classic detective novel, but for a video game, it’s very well done.
Originally I was going to talk more about the storylines in each title, and not worry about spoilers since these games have been out for so long. But recently, Capcom has made the first three games available on WiiWare for newcomers to try, so because of that, I decided not to spoil too much for them. Aside from some minor character details, I tried to make this blog spoiler free.
The first two games are already available on WiiWare, and unfortunately, they’re direct ports. So you’ll be playing the DS version, bad resolution and all, on your big TV if you play the WiiWare ones. But the games are so good anyway that if you can’t play it on DS, I’d still recommend trying one on Wii.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Justice for All
The second game in the series is my least favorite of all the Ace Attorney titles. Mainly because the characters and cases aren’t as interesting this time, and the music isn’t as good. Plus I didn’t like the new additions as much. In the first game, you got five chances to present the right evidence (shown by exclamation marks). But in the sequel and all subsequent games, you get an energy bar like a fighting game. But this makes the game harder because some mistakes can cause you to lose more energy!
The other new feature that I did not like is the Psy-Lock system. In the first game, you really couldn’t ‘lose’ in the investigation phase. I guess Capcom thought that phase needed more challenge, so in the sequel and third game, you get a special item that lets you see if someone is hiding information from you in the form of locks. You have to present items and information to them to unlock those locks and get them to talk. But if you make too many mistakes, your energy goes down like when you’re in court. A lot of times, this was more frustrating than fun.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations
Even though it’s more of the same, the reason why I like the third game more than the second is I thought it was neat and clever how they tied all the loose ends from the first and second games and had a wrapped up ending to the series. All questions were answered and I was impressed that Capcom was able to write such a cohesive story spanning three games! But I was a little sad that it was all over. Would we see more games in the series even though the first three were on GBA?
Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney
Thankfully, the answer to that was YES! Aside from a bonus case in the original game, this was the first Ace Attorney game tailor made for the DS and its capabilities. It takes place several years after the events of the first three games, and you play as a new defense attorney, young Apollo Justice. While Phoenix is your mentor and some references to past games and characters appear, most of the cast in this one is totally new. That’s part of the reason why I didn’t like this game as much, because I really enjoyed the original cast.
One new thing they added was that Apollo Justice has the power to tell when people are lying by looking at someone’s actions and nervous ticks. While on the stand, you could closely examine a person and if they have an eye twitch or sweaty armpit, you could call them out for lying about their testimony. But other than that, gameplay is still the same.
Miles Edgeworth: Ace Attorney Investigations
The new game that just came out stars Phoenix Wright’s main rival and fan favorite. I’m not done with the game yet, but so far, I like it better than Apollo Justice. Mainly because most of the cast from the original games is back, and they’re a lot more fun. I’m not really a big fan of Edgeworth myself, as I think he’s a snot turd and I don’t care too much for the pretty boy anime types. But his sidekick, Detective Gumshoe, is one of my favorite characters in the series and you get to see a lot of him.
Since you’re a prosecutor instead of a defending lawyer this time around, the gameplay is a tiny bit different, but not much. You spend all the time at the crime scene, not in the courtroom. But the flow is still the same. Search around the crime scene for clues and present them as evidence to catch the culprit in a lie when you talk to them. So yeah, it’s the same, but different.
There are a couple of new additions to Miles Edgeworth’s adventure. In the past, you just clicked on still screens, but now you actually get to walk around areas manually. I like this style because it makes the game feel more game-y. There’s also a new ‘logic’ system that lets you piece together two sets of clues or ideas to draw conclusions or open up new revelations to the case. Another great game in the series as far as I’m concerned.
Ace Attorney Merchandise
Well, that’s all the games in the series. I’ve picked up a few bits of merchandise based on the games along the way. After I pre-ordered the second game, I got a bonus item: a stylus with the “Objection” pointy finger on it. And the pre-order bonus I got with the third game was a little plush Phoenix keychain! Very cute. I also have a couple of English Phoenix Wright manga comic books. They’re not especially good or anything, but a fun read if you’re a crazy fan like I am. I’ve seen a Phoenix Wright game art book, but it’s a bit expensive. I’m a big fan, but not THAT big. Speaking of which, in Japan I heard the pre-order bonus for the Miles Edgeworth game was a tea cup or something. Yeah I don’t need that either!
Cary’s Top Five Ace Attorney Characters
I’ll conclude this blog with a list of my top five favorite characters from the Ace Attorney games!
1. Blue Badger
Some people wouldn’t consider this a character, but I do! He’s the cartoon mascot of the local police force in the series, and in each title his popularity grows and he’s in every game! He’s cute, but also kind of creepy at the same time. And the mascot somehow gets involved in a murder case in every game! I wish I had a Blue Badger T-shirt!
2. Detective Gumshoe
OK, this is my favorite HUMAN character. He’s the trench coat wearing doofus who you usually meet when first entering the crime scene. But he always messes things up so you have to find things out for yourself. He’s a comic hero, a lovable idiot. And one of the coolest characters in the series. His would-be girlfriend in the later games is funny, too. Awesome video game characters like Gumshoe deserve to have a girlfriend!
3. Phoenix Wright
Normally I don’t like the main characters in video games. Sonic or Mario? Nah, Tails and Luigi and Toad are cooler. But Phoenix is one of the few main characters that I actually like. He’s vanilla enough so you can fit into his shoes in the game, but likable enough that you want to play to help him win. I like how oblivious he is to everything, and how he nearly always gets by with sheer luck. You have to wonder how he passed the bar exam!
4. Mia Fey
She’s Phoenix’s boss and mentor. I was really surprised to find out what happened to her so early in the first game, but I can’t tell you what happens because I don’t want to spoil anything. But rest assured that she still helps Phoenix throughout the trilogy.
5. Maya Fey
She’s Mia’s little sister and ends up becoming Phoenix’s over-enthusiastic assistant. Actually all the attorneys have had spunky young lady assistants, and they’re all the same. Apollo has a young lady magician helper and Edgeworth has a ninja thief girl. But considering that I like ghosts and stuff, and Maya is a spirit medium in training, she ends up being my favorite of the three helpers. She reminds me of Scrappy Doo, that’s what I ended up calling her in the game.
Honorable mention: Franziska von Karma
Of all the prosecuting attorneys, she was the scariest to face in court. Well, her father was the scariest, but she was pretty mean and had a whip! Yikes! Plus, I liked her blue hair.
And that’s all I’m going to say about the Ace Attorney games! Hey, the only reason why I wrote this blog was because I needed something to do while waiting for my DS battery to charge. Now that it’s all replenished, I’m back to solving more crimes! In the comments section, let me know what YOUR favorite Ace Attorney games and characters are! –Cary