Pyramid Head Reviews Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

One of my major complaints about the Ace Attorney series as a whole is that they are way too easy, but sometimes I forget you need a break. I found myself musing on this while washing the santorum out of my ass after being royally fucked by the difficulty curve of Disgaea DS when I went into a boss fight mission having forgotten to buy status cure items or train a healer and wound up losing all of my heavy hitters to status ailments. Yes they're stupidly easy and the writing is atrocious, but sometimes you need a little stupid fun. That's why Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is worth buying. The second and third games still blow goats and are too stupid to warrant purchase, but the first game? You know what, it's not too stupid and does have a moderately challenging fifth chapter, so yes, it was nice therapy while I was waiting for the throbbing in my ass to die down.

Before I get into the review, I feel I should mention some news. The Ace Attorney franchise is due for two new chapters, and Capcom has hinted at Ace Attorney Investigations 2 being released in America. The new chapters are an Ace Attorney 5, presumably either a sequel to Apollo Justice Ace Attorney or a new Phoenix Wright game since the end of Apollo Justice implied Phoenix would try the bar exam again. The other one is a spin-off Ace Attorney vs. Professor Layton, but that one has no official American release date. But still, Capcom is starting to remember not all Americans are stupid morons and can handle their games, so we may get some fresh Ace Attorney into our miserable lives! So with that in mind, let's take a look at where it all began.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney stars Phoenix Wright, a pointy haired dumbass who somehow became a defense attorney, possibly by virtue of everyone else on the planet being an even bigger fucking dumbass. Well, with one exception. At the start of the game you are given a tutorial chapter and are walked through things by Mia Fey, a veteran defense attorney with an enormous rack. And then she's killed off in chapter two, presumably as an excuse to shoehorn a shrine maiden into the story who opens up her kimono whenever she's channeling Mia.
...actually on that subject, how come Maya never wears a bra? Moving on from that random musing, the big focus of Phoenix Wright is the relationship between Phoenix Wright and rival prosecutor Miles Edgeworth, some ponce with ugly neckwear who aims to put away criminals by always getting guilty verdicts, never realizing getting a guilty verdict and closing the case after the defendant is put to death potentially leaves the guilty party free to kill again.

Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney is divided into four chapters, but the DS version contains a fifth bonus chapter that throws a plot hole into the events of Justice for All. The first case involves bailing some worthless idiot out of a murder charge and sets it up as a cartoonish courtroom drama, an effort undermined by the fact that you always seem to represent people accused of murder and absolutely fuck all else. Oh, something I confirmed is that the game is indeed set in Japan and it was the American localization team that tried to change the setting, so the legal system, at least the parts that aren't stupid beyond all human reasoning, are based on that legal system.
Which is stupid beyond all human reasoning. Hanging people? Statute of limitations on murder? For fucks sake Japan! I know you don't have even a fraction of America's crime rate because you have a better education system and gun control, but still, you should improve the system even if it's used sparingly.

Sorry, the second case introduces Miles Edgeworth and revolves around Mia Fey's murder and a corrupt businessman that wanted to give Ronald Reagan a run for his money in just how fucked up and full of himself he was, and in the third case you represent a TV star accused of murdering a co-star. The fourth case is a little more interesting and visits Phoenix and Miles's backstory, explaining how Edgeworth became such a psychotic prick ruthless prosecutor, and you go up against a prosecutor named Manfred von Karma, father of Franciscka von Karma, the worlds worst prosecuting attorney ever who almost destroys her own case by offering to let you plead self defense which would let your client walk. However unlike his daughter, he is genuinely psychotic and later on you have to get evidence on him to extend the statute of limitations on a murder you think he committed. The fourth chapter was the climax of the original Japan exclusive GBA version of this game, though the DS exclusive fifth chapter introduces 3D analysis of evidence, something that was curiously absent from Justice for All and Trials and Tribulations but was a major factor of Apollo Justice and Ace Attorney Investigations. In the fifth chapter you stealthily work alongside Miles Edgeworth to investigate a murder pinned on a district attorney when evidence points to corruption in the police force. The fifth case throws you through a descent loop when you have to exploit a few loopholes that allow you to withhold evidence that you discover has been forged, and is one of the high points of the series as a whole. It also introduces Ema Skye who replaces Dick-For-Brains Gumshoe in Apollo Justice. As annoying as she can be, she's a preferable assistant to Maya who thankfully leaves after chapter four.

The gameplay is mostly solid, but what killed the games two direct sequels was writing. While again a major case involves post mortem damage that an autopsy should have shown and the second chapter has a piece of evidence Phoenix should have played much earlier but that he never studied closely for some reason, plus the fourth chapter involves bringing a witness who had previously received a not guilty plea that never should have flew, plus it also has a plot reveal that becomes a continuity issue in Trials and Tribulations when it's revealed WHY a certain psychic reading failed, the writing is decent enough to avoid my too stupid to be forgiven mark. The whole "The guilty party is the most ridiculous looking idiot" problem isn't as prevalent here, and the end result of some cases aren't always clear until the very end, so the mysteries mostly work. When you play Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney you understand how it became a franchise in the first place, and it's an item that can be found in almost every used game shop for a very reasonable price. Check it out since the only CSI game I found on the DS has a fatal programming error that makes it impossible to complete a certain case and is horribly optimized. And because it's fairly amusing, I shouldn't leave that detail out. Now with the Ace Attorney franchise out of the way, I think it's time for one brief recap of all of the games currently available:

Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Worth checking out.
Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Justice for All: Very badly written for the most part, but the final chapter is decent and is worth checking out if you're a fan of the series
Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations: While Godot is interesting, it delves way too deep into the supernatural elements and completely falls apart in what should be the climax
Apollo Justice Ace Attorney: A nice revitalization of the franchise and worth checking out
Miles Edgeworth Ace Attorney: Investigations: Interesting mysteries and while it is restrictively linear, it has some interesting gameplay and is probably my favorite out of the series.

The series will be continuing soon, so now would be a good time to check out the only Capcom franchise that isn't totally fucked over.

The judge, jury, executioner, and guilty party
--Pyramid Head

Next Game Review: Disgaea DS


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