Retrospective: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney was produced for the Nintendo DS in 2005, or rather an enhanced remake was. The game was actually first conceived for the Gameboy Advance in Japan way back in 2001. The latest port of the game was for Nintendo’s WiiWare service in 2010.
The first game was all about Phoenix Wright, a budding new attorney finding the ropes in court. What struck many instantly was that the story was actually good, really good. This was essentially a lawyer simulator turned into a game but, arguably, the game features some of the best writing in one to date.
A DS Screenshot using both screens.
You were tasked with finding contradictions within a witnesses testimony. This started off simple, but quickly became very complex, with players running the scenes through their head and asking questions like: “Just how did he get there if he was also somewhere else at the same time?” Then once you were sure enough of your own conviction you’d shout “Objection!” at your DS, or TV, depending on which version you played the game on.
It was this spark of genius that made the game so compelling. If you were right you saw your witness squirm in front of you, trying anything to convince you that they didn’t kill him/her. What made it even better was when the opposing prosecutor, Miles Edgeworth, came into the fray with a ‘get out’ for the witness. What then ensued was a battle of wits until the very end, all in the name of justice.
The visuals were blown up on WiiWare instead.
Tie all this in with the aforementioned brilliant writing, sometimes funny, sometimes silly, sometimes thought provoking, all effortlessly litigious, and what you got was some expertly implemented cases that would seriously test you cognitive ability. But it wasn’t just the cases which were superbly put together, it was the surprising depth of the characters as well: each had hours of intriguing back-story.
Phoenix himself, for instance, was a really likeable protagonist. His quirky, yet always determined to succeed and find the truth type of character made the journey a thrilling ride. Then you had Miles Edgeworth, a fan favourite of the series, and rightfully so. Edgeworth would help Phoenix at times, but nevertheless would remain an opponent who Phoenix had to prove himself to. And there were so many more excellent characters as well, the hilarious judge, the loveable Gumshoe, the endearing Maya, the evil genius Manfred von Karma.
Ace Prosecutor Miles Edgeworth.
I remember getting to the last story of the game for the first time, (not knowing that the series always ended on a epic dénouement), and being shocked at the scale of it all. The final case of the first game is truly brilliant, and I mean that in every sense. The characters, the writing, the investigation, the music, all so tense and absorbing. It’s easily comparable to the taut final court scene in A Few Good Men. I won’t spoil anything though for those that have never played the game, but trust me, it’s worth every second.
Admittedly, I never played Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney on the DS. It was a series I had always wanted to try, but never got round to it. For me then, it was on WiiWare when the natural love began, (the only problem was that the once awesome visuals were now blown up on a widescreen TV). But, the rest is history.
‘Rise from the Ashes’ was a bonus case for DS.
Never played it? Copies for the DS are few and far between now days, so the best bet is on WiiWare, or iPhone even. You owe it to yourself to do so, and there’s certainly nothing objectionable about that.
Next time we’ll be taking a look at the second game in the series: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Justice for All. Did it reach the same giddy heights the first did? Or was one lawyer game enough? Coming soon.
Loved the game and have memories to share? Speak below!