Courtroom dramas are always nail-biting, edge-of-the-seat affairs — so wouldn’t it be awesome if someone were to turn one into a game? Well that someone is Capcom and they created the excellent Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney series, way back in 2001.
Shooting the titular rookie lawyer Phoenix Wright to niche fame, and his game making it to several top ten lists for years. While the first few games did make it to mobile devices, it’s the new remastered trilogy which brings these games into a new light.
What is it about?
New to the legal game, Phoenix Wright has just started his new job at law firm Fey & Co, when his boss Mia Fey is murdered and the blame is pinned on her sister Maya Fey. Sending Phoenix down a path of justice as he faces off against his nemesis Miles Edgeworth, an organised and ruthless prosecutor — and one of the best characters in the series.
The Phoenix Wright games narrate their stories through little case files. These visual novels contain several books worth of content presented in colourful illustrations of its characters, brought to life by distinct animations, resulting in some excellent banter, incredible character-building that has withstood decades, as these characters keep recurring in future games — from Larry Butz, to the bumbling Detective Gumshoe, and the bald Judge who’s almost always easily swayed by a penchant for giving Team Phoenix strikes against his court record.The stars of the show, however, are the freak show line-up of colourful suspects.
The mindful pacing throughout the trilogy is across 14 case files. It does seem disjointed at first, but expertly comes together like a well-made jigsaw puzzle with an overarching narrative. The feeling of pushing the suspect to breaking point with evidence you’ve uncovered last-minute is intoxicating. There is a lot of reading in Ace Attorney Trilogy, but it’s presented so well, it’ll keep you up all night finishing ‘just one more case’.
How does it play?
There are two parts to Ace Attorney’s core gameplay; one is the investigation, where you have to interview witnesses and suspects to fish out evidence or any little titbits of helpful information.
Between interviews, you have to examine crime scenes in a ‘hidden item’ gameplay. Sometimes involving sub-games which let you use actual forensics to determine clues.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy
- Developer: Capcom
- Publisher: Capcom
- Price: ₹2499 for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, Nintendo 3DS
Later, as the games progress, the processes blur the line between the metaphysical too.The second part of the gameplay comprises the court battles, where things get interesting.
Witnesses are put up on a stand and you have to cross-examine them. Preparation is key, and studying all the evidence in your case files is paramount to winning. The elation is palpable as you present the right piece of evidence with Phoenix Wright’s trademark “Objection!” delivered with that one accusatory finger.
As the game progresses, it revolves around way more than just case files. Each case is so well-crafted that sometimes you have to use every creative bit of grey matter to change the case dynamics, forcing you to look at the crime scene from different angles.
Maybe the killer left fake evidence to cover up his or her tracks, maybe what you thought was wrong. Until that final “Objection” brings the suspect into a dramatic meltdown, confirming your suspicions.
With the original games dating back to the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS era, Capcom has done justice — pun intended — to Ace Attorney Trilogy, by completely redrawing all the characters and capturing their vibe, so that they pop even on 4K televisions of today, without any loss of the heart and vibe for which the series is known.
Should you get it?
The evidence has it, guys. A lot of case files, each functioning as devious murder mysteries in their own ‘Wright’. A cast of colourful characters with deep motivations. Easy gameplay which still challenge you.
All of the above have me concluding Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy is a must buy!
The writer is a tech and gaming enthusiast who hopes to one day finish his sci-fi novel