After what seems like f-o-r-e-v-e-r, I’ve finally completed Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Justice for All. Much like with the first game, I find myself in awe of the experience. I know that “awe” probably isn’t a word applied to many visual novel games, but there’s something pretty special about Ace Attorney, and I think it revolves around storytelling and character. As ridiculous as the games’ cases are, and as illogical as the case logic is at points, the game succeeds in crafting elegant stories despite the madness. And the same can be said of the games’ characters. As wacky as they can be, each of them is imbued with plenty of charm and heart, even the bad guys.
If I have but one thing to say about Justice for All, it’s that if, like me, you really enjoyed the first game, then you’d probably really enjoy this one. The gameplay is similar to that of the first game – obtain a case, collect clues, take them to trial, and question people to defend you client and find the truth. A couple new things are added to the scheme this time around. One is that you’re given the option to present people’s profiles, as opposed to the physical evidence itself, during questioning and as evidence. The second is a special item called a “magatama” that allows Wright to see “psyche-locks,” which are indications that someone is lying or hiding something. Breaking a characters psyche-locks, if and when they appear, often lead to major breakthroughs in information, as well as general hilarity…sometimes.
In Justice for All, players are treated to four cases. The first one, titled “The Lost Turnabout” may have been the least memorable, but that might be due to the fact that it’s essentially a tutorial. Honestly though, isn’t the most terrible way to present a tutorial in a game. And it does contain the wonderfully awkward Maggey Byrde, who’s up on a conflated murder charge and is a total Phoenix Wright fan. After contracting a case of amnesia by being bopped on the head with a fire extinguisher (lucky him that amnesia was all he got!), Phoenix Wright has to figure out where and who he is. By working through Maggey’s case, Wright regains his memory. From there, it’s onto the next case: “Reunion, and Turnabout.”
Far and away my favorite case of the game, “Reunion, and Turnabout” re-re-introduced Maya Fey (she appeared at the end of the first case), Wright’s sidekick and a spirit medium-in-training from the first game (I was so glad to see her again!), and introduced players to the home of the Fey family, the spiritually-imbued Kurain Village. All was not well in the peaceful town as a murder had occurred during a spirit channeling session, and unfortunately, Maya, who had participated in the channeling, was the prime suspect. As the case progressed, other members of the Fey family took part, such as Maya’s foreboding aunt, Morgan Fey, and her too-cute-for-words younger cousin, Pearl Fey. (She becomes “Pearls” to Wright and is “Pearly” to Maya. Too! Cute!) Pearl was a gem (no pun intended) of a character, and the way she and Wright interacted, after Pearl got over her initial shyness, was nothing less than adorable. This cuteness lay in stark contrast to the case itself, which turned very dark and tragic in its later stages, particularly in revealing how the murder was planned and carried out. (Not by Maya. Uh, spoilers.)
The game’s third case, “Bigtop Turnabout” was interesting but long. Or, rather, it felt unnecessarily lengthy. And, it was pretty convoluted. And, the case revolved around a murder at a circus, and I’m not a fan of circuses, so…yeah. However, this case brought about some of the game’s most bizarre characters…which, I guess, would be expected because of the circus, and such. And what a group of costumed human beings they culled together! From the flamboyant star accused of murder, illusionist in pink Max Galactica, to the “world’s worst?” clown Moe Curls, to the unusually sparkly lion tamer Regina, to the don’t-hate-me-because-I’m-beautiful-and-also-“innocent” acrobat Acro, to the ventriloquist act from this side of I-don’t-know-what, Ben and Trilo. The whole case was, quite literally, a circus.
The fourth and final case “Farewell, My Turnabout” was like the third case, a little bit too serpentine for its own good, but at least it brought back Miles Edgeworth! And as dark as “Reunion, and Turnabout” was, this case upped the suspense factor with the kidnapping of Maya. (Poor Maya, she really takes the brunt of things in this game.) So not only did Wright have to solve the case, he had to save Maya as well. That part of the case certainly overshadowed the crux of the murder that involved two TV stars, which played out well enough but wasn’t very captivating in the end.
With the second Ace Attorney game in the bag, it’s time to move onto the third, Trials and Tribulations! Or…maybe it’s best to take a short break. After all, it seems that Wright’s doing okay, and Maya’s done with being kidnapped (for now anyway?), and Pearl…wait, what happened to Pearl? I think she went back to Kurain Village at some point during the fourth case. And Edgeworth! He disappeared once again.
Hmm…I don’t know if I can wait to find out everyone’s fate, so onward with Trials and Tribulations it is!
All images, including lede, were captured by cary, from Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Justice for All © Nintendo