Do you know where I was when Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney was first released in 2001? I sure don’t recall. Even if I could remember, it probably wouldn’t matter much anyway because I never had the system it was on, the Gameboy Advance. And if that wasn’t on my radar then, then Phoenix Wright and his ace attorney-ing wasn’t either. Over the next several years, the name “Phoenix Wright” would flit in and out of my ears. Once I got a Nintendo DS, I do remember someone asking me if I was going to get “that new Phoenix Wright game.” Well, my man of the hour was, if not Mario, then Professor Layton. His puzzle-y stylings were enough for me. I didn’t need some “law and order” game gumming up the works. Truth be told, it would be a good decade before I’d informally meet Mr. Wright. And it wasn’t in the context of a graphical courtroom but in a fighting game: Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Yep, here was this odd playable character named “Phoenix Wright” with the strangest fighting style imaginable. Who the heck was he? Who was that girl assisting him? And what was with all the “OBJECTION!” madness?? These were questions that bothered me only for a moment as I sought to crush my next opponents with Morrigan and Zangief. Phoenix Wright was just…there.
2012’s Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is probably the first time I really took notice of Wright. I never played the game, but having had a strong past with Layton, I was extremely curious about why the two gentlemen were put together in a game. This led to learning all about Phoenix Wright’s story and his games. His many games, in fact, as a number had then been released, and most of them had received significant praise. Even with this new information in my head, I didn’t catch the must-play fever. I no longer had my DS then, and I wasn’t really looking to get back into mobile gaming. Wright would have two more outings: Dual Destines (2013) and Spirit of Justice (2016) before I’d finally decided it was time to jump on the law-abiding bandwagon. And I’m starting at the beginning with Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney.
In the game, I’ve only just completed the first two cases, The First Turnabout and Turnabout Sisters, and my oh my, what a splendid time I’m having! Granted, I’m already seeing that I’m terrible at making inferences and deductions (I’m no lawyer…or Sherlock), but I’m rather taken by the stories, the writing, and the characters. Especially the characters, as they range from charming to eccentric to blazing mad. (And this is just in the first two cases; imagine what else is in store!) Taking on the persona of fresh-faced defense attorney Phoenix Wright is perhaps akin to settling in to the shoes of Toby MacGuire’s Spiderman – green, goofy, and gung-ho. He’s certainly not like any other character I’ve played in a game before.
I’m also enjoying the gameplay itself. Surprisingly so, I must admit. Not knowing anything about its mechanics outside of hearsay, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’ve not attempted any visual stories before, but the way the stories play out, from gathering evidence to the courtroom dramas, makes it seem like a more active experience than not. Sure, you’re really just clicking through options most of the time, but the storytelling is done in a way that makes it feel like you’re controlling to action. And there are even moments where you get to make important choices. I’m not far enough into the game to know if those choices really matter, but they seem like they do for the moment, and that’s enough to keep me invested.
So…why Phoenix Wright, and why now? It’s not like any of the games were in my backlog or that I was intending to taken them on this year. Um…well…? I could say that, over the holidays, I stumbled across a new Nintendo DS emulator for Android that I was curious to try. And yeah, having played emulations on my tablet before, I could say that knew that I needed a simple game to try with it, one that didn’t require extensive button use or the need to hook up a controller. And okay, maybe I read one too many reviews of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney − Spirit of Justice last summer and thoughts of it had wormed their way into my subconscious. I could say all of that. I don’t really know why I picked up Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, but I’m playing it now. And I’m glad that I am.
Hey Phoenix Wright fans, got any tips and advice? I’ll take all the help I can get!