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.)
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.