Phoenix Wright: Ace Update!

For reasons that still aren’t entirely clear to me, I was recently compelled to start Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. And what a strange ride is has been! Since my first post on the game, I’ve completed two more cases: Turnabout Samurai and Turnabout Goodbyes. If the first two cases were, for me, an introduction to the games mechanics and style, then the second two cases proved just how tricky (and weird) a defense lawyering is! Well…in the Phoenix Wright universe, anyway. (Maybe in the real world too?)

Playing Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is largely like watching a mystery novel unfold. Each case presents you with a cast of characters and a grouping of evidence that you must then follow and use, respectively, to prove your client’s innocence. (I learned quite abruptly that getting a “guilty” verdict is akin to losing a life. The game makes you start over and try again.)

But what do you do when you’re bad at reading and remembering? Well then, like me, you end up floundering your way to the truth. This isn’t a “bad” way to play Ace attorney, it’s just not the most elegant way. However, in my defense, while the game is quite good at directing you to your next move sometimes, there have been moments where I ended up scratching my head wondering what to do next. Either I had missed something obvious or not. It really hasn’t been easy to tell always. And it’s in these moment that I wonder who’s failing: is it me or the game?

Image captured by cary, from Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney © Nintendo
Image captured by cary, from Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney © Nintendo

There were several times during the Turnabout Samurai where I got seemingly stuck because I hadn’t presented the proper piece of evidence to a character or because I had missed a piece of evidence somewhere. In this case that involved an actor charged with murdering another actor, I got to a point where I just kept going back and forth between scenes trying to figure out how to trigger the next event. It turned out that I needed to present an obscure bit of evidence to one particular character during a specific conversation in order to get the game to progress. I also became quite good at presenting the wrong evidence at the wrong time, which also lead to me getting either stuck or, during the trial, on the bad side of the judge.

With these lessons learned from the Turnabout Samurai, I became a little obsessive in how I played Turnabout Goodbyes, a spectacularly twisty case in which Prosecutor Miles Edgeworth is accused of murder! I’m not saying that I didn’t get stuck at all, but I didn’t get stuck as much. I also got a little crazy in presenting all the evidence all the time to all the people in order to make sure that I hadn’t missed anything.

Image captured by cary, from Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney © Nintendo

My record during trial remained pretty rotten. Though I will say that, as Mr. Panda warned me in the comments on my previous post, the game requires one to take and accept some large leaps in logic. There remain a couple spots during that trial where I still don’t understand how the evidence linked up to the testimony!

With the end of Turnabout Goodbyes, it looked as though the game was over. Everyone celebrated and then the credits ran. I was taken aback at how short the game was at the moment but pleased with how it had gone. Only then, another case appeared! And with a title like “Rise from the Ashes,” I can only imagine what’s in store.

Image captured by cary, from Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney © Nintendo

While all the writing here might make it seem like my time with Ace Attorney took something of a downward slide, it really hasn’t. As odd as some of the case logic might be, and as difficult as it has been for me to keep track of everything and everyone during a case, I remain no less than extremely impressed with what Ace Attorney offers in terms of game play and story. Especially, the story.

(Spoilers ahead!)

Perhaps it’s this way with all visual novel games, but Ace Attorney wastes no time in presenting its characters. From the very start, you immediately get to know Phoenix Wright and his mentor Mia. I’ll grant that the language is a little stilted and strange at times, but that could due to a little funkiness in the English translation, I imagine. I do enjoy that Wright’s confident yet slightly naïve personality comes out as much in what he says as what he thinks, which is readily presented on screen. And his conversations with others are just as enlightening and often hilarious. I mean, I don’t think that Ace Attorney is supposed to be a purely comedic game, but some of the ridiculously weird conversation threads had me rolling. Not to mention that time when Wright cross-examined a parrot in Turnabout Goodbyes. I was just about beside myself during that entire routine.

Image captured by cary, from Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney © Nintendo

On the more serious side of things, the choice to take Mia out of the picture in such a horrific manner and so soon in the game is a very bold choice, and one that shocked me. I didn’t quite understand why that had to happen until it became clear that she really had to go (even if by murder) in order for Wright to forge his own path. (I was quite grateful, though, for Mia’s help, through her spirit medium sister Maya, in a number of spots.)

On the other side of that coin is Miles Edgeworth, whom I still don’t get. I know that he and Wright are supposed to be at odds, but there were moments during Turnabout Goodbyes that confounded their relationship further, and that was even after the reveal of his and Wright’s childhood together. It could just that I’m so used to recognizing your typical villains in games that when someone fuzzy like Edgeworth comes along, I can’t quite wrap my mind around how I should feel about him. Is he just a jerk or simply a misunderstood soul? I want to bet on the latter, but I’m just not sure. And speaking of confusion, what of Dick Gumshoe? He plays the part of the sweet but bumbling detective, and yet, there are times where I just think he’s being smarmy for no good reason.  And how about Maya?! She was both helpful but a little too meek at times. Yes, she’s young and confused about life as a spirit medium, and now she’s gone! (She leaves at the end of Turnabout Goodbyes to pursue her…uh…mediumship?) Where in the world does that leave Wright?

Image captured by cary, from Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney © Nintendo

Questions, questions, too many questions. Will everything become clear in Rise from the Ashes? I kind of hope so. But that will have to wait until my next update!





  1. Goodness, I think I’d be terrible at this game. I usually bumble through games (as you now are able to witness on YouTube haha) so I’m sure a game like this would be comprised of me wandering around (figuratively) until I tripped over a clue. It sounds like you have everything well in hand, however! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. cary says:

      Haha, thanks! It’s definitely a different sort of game, one that I’m surprised that I’m enjoying as much as I am. As clueless as I feel in the game generally, when I get something right, the reward is pretty great. The game does a nice job in making it feel like you’re the smartest person in the world at those moments. Though I think the stories, as twisty as some of them can be, are what keep me playing. Also the fact that you get to see Wright’s running inner dialogue — some of it is pretty hilarious!


  2. Mr. Panda says:

    Awesome! As I’ve said before, I’m so happy that you’re experiencing this game, and I’m glad to hear that you’re enjoying the story and its colorful cast of characters. They’re the best parts of the game (with the amazing soundtrack being a close third). Edgeworth is one of the best characters, and that moment when he pulls a surprising move in the Steel Samurai ranks as one of my favorites. It was also the turning point for my wife, who became a huge fan of both Edgeworth and the Ace Attorney series from that point forward. Seeing who the defendant was in Case 4 got her excited too, as you could guess!

    Don’t worry about having a rotten record. I mean, we can’t all be Von Karmas, haha. I did the same thing, presenting everything to everyone until I got it right. No shame in that!

    The game is lighthearted and somewhat satirizes the Japanese court system of the time, so it’s fair to find it funny. I mean, I found the localization hilarious, with its references and unique ways of presenting characters. *coughSalManellacough* But it really makes the characters shine, whether it’s Phoenix’s writhing sarcasm or Maya’s love for ramen, I mean burgers! The solid characterization makes some moments stand out even more, like Mia’s death or Edgeworth’s arrest. The characters build each other in a way that I don’t ever get with most game stories.

    I won’t say more to prevent spoiling you on future games, but I will say that the “Rise from the Ashes” case is actually a DS-exclusive bonus case that wasn’t in the original GBA version of Ace Attorney. So it does special things with the gameplay and tells a story that was never told before. I hope you enjoy it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. cary says:

      Oh, very cool! I had no idea “Rise from the Ashes” was an added case. I must admit that I’m slightly stuck in it right now. (Trying very hard not to go to the Internet for help!) But I know I’ll figure it out. Also, it seems like it’s a pretty long case. Based on what I’ve watched so far, the case is really intriguing, and I can’t wait to see how it turns out. It’ll be the subject of my next post, surely!

      I’ll be honest. Being unfamiliar with visual novel games, I’ve been really surprised at just how much storytelling and character-building exists in the game. I’ve read through novels that have less personality! And here Phoenix Wright is able to present a relatively full picture of someone through just a few lines of conversation. It’s really astounding. (In fact, I was in the middle of reading a book before I started this game, and I haven’t been back to it since. I’m getting an even better story in the game!) I can absolutely see why this series has such a devoted fanbase.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Imtiaz Ahmed says:

    there’s been times where i was stuck to, I’d be going back and forth between scenes to find that right piece of evidence, and even in trials it was tough. But once you found the right piece, it was a relief and never took away from the game, because the writing is great and what unfolds after is usually pretty awesome, love this series

    Liked by 1 person

    1. cary says:

      That’s just was I was saying in reply to Athena — the game never makes make you feel all that stupid for making a mistake, and it rewards in leaps and bounds when you get something right. That payoff alone is fantastic!

      Liked by 1 person

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