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Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

Aug 27, 2011

Platform: Nintendo DS, iOS Devices

Publisher: Capcom

Genre: Adventure

Release Date: 2005

Purchase:Phoenix Wright - CAPCOM, Nintendo DS

Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney Capcom 1It was October, 2005, and Hurricane Wilma had just torn its way across south Florida. We were without power, and would continue to be for quite some time. Thank goodness that the Nintendo DS had decent battery life; I brought my DS to work and charged it during the day, and at night, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney was the game that kept me occupied. I played it to completion before Florida Power & Light finally got the power infrastructure repaired.

I was excited for this one; I hadn’t seen a courtroom simulation since Telarium’s Perry Mason from 1985, and I do love a good mystery. I bought Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney as soon as I had an opportunity. In the early days after Nintendo released the DS, it looked like the system was going to bring about a resurgence of the old point and click adventure game genre. Trace Memory was another traditional adventure game that was released for the Nintendo DS around this time.

Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney Capcom 2The game is divided into multiple episodes. In each, your goal is to successfully defend a client accused of a murder. In the courtroom, you question witnesses, using objects in your inventory to point out inconsistencies in their testimonies. Outside of the courtroom, you investigate areas and question characters to determine the true culprit. To fit within the confines of a game, the trial process is nothing like you would find in real life; you have just a few days to solve the case, and if you make enough mistakes, the judge will lose patience and declare your client guilty. The core game mechanic consists of examining the evidence in the court record, finding something that contradicts a witness’s testimony, and pointing the two out to the judge. Imposing a limit on the number of times that you can do this prevents you from guessing.

Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney Mia FeyPhoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is extremely well-executed, with memorable characters, great pixel art and music that will remain stuck in your head for days. The soundtrack is actually popular enough that CDs of the music have been released. Some of the humor is a bit childish, but funny nonetheless. For example, in the first mission, Phoenix defends his friend Larry Butz in a murder trial. Mia Fey, the head of the law firm, mistakenly refers to him as “Harry.” Phoenix also mentions that when he was in school, his friends had a saying: “when something smells rotten, it’s usually the Butz.” These jokes may not have you rolling in the aisle, but since every case that you’ll investigate is a murder, the humor does a good job of lightening the mood and reminding you that it’s just a game.

The Ace Attorney series is quite a major franchise in Japan; this game is actually a remake of the first title in the series — Gyakuten Saiban — which Capcom originally released for the Game Boy Advance in 2001. Most of the games in the series have since been translated and localized for release in the United States, so if you play Ace Attorney and still want to see more of Phoenix Wright, rest assured that there are many more cases for you to solve.