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Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

I remember my maths teacher saying that she always believed that I was going to become a lawyer. Yikes, no. Even so, a close section of my family is directly linked to law. Therefore, I have been raised surrounded by penal codes, legal encyclopaedias and heavy folders with real cases about troubled people. Most of them are usually dramatic, but from time to time you can find something funny. Phoenix Wright would be a deviant mixture of both things.

When you think about the trials at Phoenix Wright you should think about Ally McBeal rather than Judgement at Nuremberg. I mean, yeah, it’s a lawyers game. But what the hell is a lawyers game? What Capcom guessed is an absurd comedy dressed as an adventure game. And it rocks. Brilliant dialogues, wonderful character designs and a ridiculously cool use of the DS features do the rest of it. You can shout “objection!” to the micro, for god’s sake. You can yell and overact as much as your throat lasts to feel like Tom Cruise in A Few Good Men. Darned if this is not the best fucking idea ever.

But don’t worry if you’d feel embarrassed to play Atticus Finch in front of a dozen other bus passengers. The DS allows you to play the game just using the stylus or the buttons. However, Phoenix Wright requires a high level of attention from the player, who should read carefully each witness’ account in order to uncover his lies. When in trials, the game consists on continuous questionings to different people, whose versions of the story will normally try to prove our client guilty. Our duty as Phoenix Wright, the defence attorney, will be to present evidence that contradicts prosecution’s arguments. Every time we notice something odd in some testimony, we can object by presenting some item that proves the latest statements were lies. These items are usually obtained during previous stages of the game, intermediate levels between trials where the young Wright explores locations and talks with people to work on his case. A bit like House M.D., but this time with a lawyer playing detective.

Professionals from real life definitely don’t go around there stealing things, breaking into houses or pressing police officers to get confidential documents, but it works fine in a game like this. You know, a game where most female characters are as sweet as strawberries and your sidekick has paranormal powers.

I honestly love the Ace Attorney series. Some might say that they are too lineal. It could be argued that in certain aspects they are more an interactive manga than a game. But it’s so easy to get haunted by their charm. Common sense-defying plots, hilarious character reactions and an unquestionable expressivity make you get hooked from the beginning to the end. Anime fanboys and many members of the otaku subculture would certainly like this game dangerously.

It’s also interesting to point out that Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney started as a GBA franchise in Japan. The first two Ace Attorney games that have been released for Nintendo DS are, in fact, remakes of the GBA originals that didn’t come out in Western countries. So their Japanese versions can be found at lower prices than the American or European ones. Always including English as a second language. Import lovers have no excuse.

The main difference between the older games and these renewed versions is that the first Phoenix Wright game includes an extra never-before-seen chapter exclusively programmed for the DS, allowing player to use classic tricks like blowing into the micro, the touch features to interact in the scenario, 3D items as evidence to check them out or even some fully animated video. It’s also a really long chapter and presents new memorable characters that would be just great to see coming back again in future sequels.

At the time this article was written, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is still the best outcome of the series and its DS adaptation the best version available to get in touch with the saga for the first time. Nevertheless, an Ace Attorney fan has nothing but compliments for any released episode up to this day. So do some of us on this site. This won’t be the last Ace Attorney review published for your consideration. The second game’s comment will arrive sooner or later.

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