Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
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|Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney|
North American cover art for Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, featuring several characters, including Phoenix Wright, Maya Fey, Miles Edgeworth, and the Judge.
|Producer(s)||Atsushi Inaba (GBA)
Minae Matsukawa (DS)
Naoto Tanaka (DS)
|Genre(s)||Adventure, visual novel|
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, released in Japan as Gyakuten Saiban Yomigaeru Gyakuten (Japanese: 逆転裁判 蘇る逆転?, lit. "Turnabout Trial: Revived Turnabout"), is a visual novel/adventure legal drama video game published and developed by Capcom in Japan, North America, and Europe, and published by Nintendo in Australia. It was first released as Gyakuten Saiban (逆転裁判?, lit. "Turnabout Trial") in Japan exclusively for the Game Boy Advance in 2001, and was re-released for the Nintendo DS as an enhanced remake in 2005 with touchscreen support, microphone support, and exclusive content. This version was first released in Japan, and later in North America, Europe, and Australia. The Game Boy Advance version was also re-released for Microsoft Windows as Gyakuten Saiban PC, published by the Japanese company SourceNext shortly after the Nintendo DS release. In a Famitsu scan, a series of Wii ports of the first 3 games (including the fifth case in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney) were announced, for releases to go between December 2009 and March 2010. The games were distributed via Nintendo's WiiWare download system. The game has also been ported to iOS with episodes 1-2 first being released in Japan on December 21, 2009 and the entire game being released in North America on May 24, 2010.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney stars Phoenix Wright, a rookie defense attorney in the Fey and Co. Law Offices, owned by fellow defense attorney Mia Fey. Other characters include Maya Fey, Mia's sister; Miles Edgeworth, a rival prosecutor; Dick Gumshoe, a scatterbrained detective, and Larry Butz, an old friend of Phoenix's. The game features five court cases divided into episodes. Each case flips between two game modes: investigation and the actual trial. In the investigation aspect of the game, Phoenix gathers evidence and speaks to characters involved in the case. In the trial aspect of the game, Phoenix defends his client using said evidence, cross examines witnesses and solves the mystery surrounding each case. The court perspective is usually in the third person, while the perspective outside of court is in the first person.
Since the release of the Game Boy Advance version, the Ace Attorney series has produced many sequels and spin-offs. Two direct sequels were produced titled Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Justice for All and Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations, which feature the same characters and gameplay as the original game and were also remade for the Nintendo DS, though without additional content. A new attorney, Apollo Justice, is the protagonist of the fourth game of the series, titled Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney. Two spin-off games starring Miles Edgeworth, Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth and its sequel, Gyakuten Kenji 2, were also released for the DS. Phoenix returns as the main character in the fifth game, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies for the Nintendo 3DS. A film adaptation has also been released, Gyakuten Saiban, directed by Japanese director Takashi Miike.
Players take on the role of Phoenix Wright, who acts as a defense attorney. There are two segments: trial and investigation. During trial, players must do a variety of court tasks, including cross examining witnesses, presenting evidence, and objecting to contradictory statements or evidence presented by the prosecution. Players are given five exclamation points representing their health, which is depleted when the Judge punishes them for making a severe enough mistake.
In the first episode, players do not leave the courtroom; later episodes have the Judge adjourn the trial for the day if new evidence is brought up that he feels requires further investigation. On these days, players control Phoenix in the first person and investigate related areas. There are four options - Talk, which allows players to speak to anyone present; Present, which allows players to present evidence to anyone present; Examine, which allows players to search an area; and Move, which allows players to leave the area.
The new (fifth) episode, introduced for the Nintendo DS version, introduces new gameplay mechanics for the investigative portion of the game that take advantage of the DS' features. These include the luminol spray, a spray that allows people to see blood that would normally be undetectable to the naked eye and aluminum powder, which may be used to dust for fingerprints. Both use the touchscreen, while the latter uses the microphone as well. Players may also view evidence in three dimensions during this episode, which allows them to see things they would be unable to detect in two dimensions. The Nintendo DS version also introduces the ability to play the game entirely with the touch screen, the ability to view evidence and profiles on the bottom screen, and using the microphone to say various phrases in it.
The first case of the game presents defense attorney Phoenix Wright at his first trial under Mia Fey's watchful eye, successfully defending his childhood friend Larry Butz for murder of his previous lover, Cindy Stone.
However, in the game's second case, Mia is murdered for being aware of corporate blackmail, and her younger sister Maya Fey is charged with the crime because her name was found on a piece of evidence. While defending her, Phoenix is reintroduced to another childhood friend, Miles Edgeworth, who is the prosecutor for Maya's case and has established himself as a "genius" for the prosecution system. Maya is found not guilty of the crime, and becomes Phoenix's assistant in further cases, offering her channeling ability as a "Spirit Medium" of Kurain village to bring the spirit of Mia to help at critical times. Phoenix and Edgeworth find that while they have their friendship from their youth, they continue to face off against each other in the courtroom both in ethics and logistics.
In the third case, Phoenix and Maya investigate the murder of a famous actor. They soon figure out that the victim was accidentally killed in self-defense by a producer, whom he tried to kill over a matter of blackmail while dressed as the suspect in the case to frame him.
In the fourth case, Edgeworth is charged with murder, and Phoenix steps up to defend him. It is discovered that Edgeworth was set up by his old mentor, Manfred von Karma. Several years earlier, Manfred shot and killed Edgeworth's father, a defense attorney, after he ruined Manfred's perfect record, but led Edgeworth to believe he shot his own father, a constant nightmare of his. Phoenix is able to expose Manfred's cover-up and achieve a "not guilty" verdict for Edgeworth. After the case, Edgeworth thinks about taking time off from his position to consider the events, "Prosocuter Miles Edgeworth chooses death", while Maya announces she is going back to her home in Kurain Village to train.
The fifth case, added for the Nintendo DS, iOS, and Wii versions, has Wright defending chief prosecutor Lana Skye when she is charged with murdering a detective. With the aid of Lana's younger sister, Ema, who aspires to work in forensics, in establishing evidence and the surprising prosecution help of Edgeworth during the trial, Phoenix is able to learn that Lana Skye was blackmailed by the Chief of Police Damon Gant into covering for a murder she thought that Ema had committed several years before. Gant himself is revealed to have committed the murder and pinned the blame on Ema. Though Lana is cleared of murder charges, she willingly goes to jail for being an accomplice; Ema says her goodbyes as she heads to Europe to study forensic science.
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The original concept for Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney was quite different from the final version of the game. Phoenix was originally supposed to be a private eye rather than an attorney. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney was nearly canceled when two of the game's development staff left the company, but Shinji Mikami and Atsushi Inaba saved the project by assigning a member of the Resident Evil team to help out.
Localization and cultural references
The localization team, led by translator Alexander O. Smith created a translation for Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney that makes several references to pop culture and famous quotes in movies. Localization team members JP Kellams and Janet Hsu have confirmed this was their practice in numerous interviews, stating that the original Japanese was filled with references to Japanese culture, most significantly Tokusatsu shows and their surrounding fandom, which constitutes the cultural backdrop for an entire case. The localization team in turn localized these to appropriate Western cultural references.
Available only in Japan to customers who pre-ordered early, a limited edition version of the game was available, packaged in a special black cardboard box with an enlarged logo for the game on the front. The version cost slightly more than the standard release, but compensated by including a bonus sound disc featuring music from the game, a "Gyakuten Saiban" branded phone strap, a keyring in the shape of an exclamation of "Igiari!" (Japanese for "objection"), and a stylus with a pointing finger on the end with which to touch the screen. Buyers of the pack also received a full softback manga volume following the adventures of the "Gyakuten Saiban" cast, which was not available through any other channels.
A Microsoft Windows version of the game was created for publication in Japan; the game was released in episodic form, using graphics of the Game Boy Advance version.
The German software ratings board revealed the possibility of a Wii or WiiWare version of the game. In the November issue of Famitsu, this rumor was confirmed by Capcom barely a week later. The first three Ace Attorney games were released monthly via WiiWare, on December 15, 2009 (Ace Attorney, episodes 1 to 4), and in January 2010 (Justice for All), February 2010 (Trials and Tribulations), and March 2010 (Ace Attorney, episode 5). The North American versions were released in January 2010 (Ace Attorney), March 2010 (Justice for All) and May 2010 (Trials and Tribulations and AA episode 5).[dated info] These are ports of the DS version and made use of the Wii's features, such as swinging the Wii Remote to raise an objection, or to present evidence. The Wii Shop Channel's accessibility on the Wii U via Wii Mode means that the trilogy is also playable on the Wii U as well.
Upon release of the Wii ports, game critics on sites such as 1Up.com and GameSpot lauded the story (which was unchanged from the original games), but criticized the unaltered graphics and faulty motion controls for raising an objection.
The game has also been ported to iOS and was released with all five cases that were included in the DS edition on May 24, 2010 in the App Store. The game had a revamped control system but is a straight port from the previous version. Unlike the Japanese version, an internet connection is not needed for the game to play. Capcom has also announced that it will port the game as part of a trilogy to iOS as Gyakuten Saiban 123HD ~Naruhodō Ryūichi-hen, which appears to have improved visuals over the original series. This includes the ability to run the game in a "dual screen" mode, mimicking the Nintendo DS display with the interactive components on the bottom half, or a single screen mode where the interactive components are overlaid on the main graphics screen. The game ports were released on February 7, 2012 in Japan and on May 30, 2013 in the U.S.
A similar package to the Trilogy HD has been released in Japan on the Nintendo 3DS, entitled Gyakuten Saiban 123: Naruhodō Selection. The game is a slightly updated version of the Trilogy HD version, featuring the same high-definition sprites but with cleaner animation transitions than were present in the iOS version. The English translated script is present in the Japanese version, similar to how the original DS version contained an English translation in the Japanese version. The Japanese version was released on the Nintendo eShop on April 16 and in stores the following day.
A live-action film adaptation of the video game, Gyakuten Saiban, was made by Toho and was released in Japanese theatres on February 11, 2012. It was directed by Miike Takashi. The movie follows the storyline of the first game and stars Hiroki Narimiya, Mirei Kiritani, Takumi Saito and Rei Dan.
The game received mostly favorable reviews, holding an aggregate score of 81/100 from Metacritic and 82.42% from GameRankings. IGN's Craig Harris commented that the game was "harshly linear," yet "interesting and well-written." He believed the script was "dumbed down" in contrast to an actual justice system, although the game does reflect Japanese courtroom proceedings. 1UP's Shane Bettenhausen thought the game had an "entertaining, well-localized story" and "climactic courtroom 'battle scenes'." GameSpot's Carrie Gouskos stated that the game "revitalizes" the adventure game genre with its interesting story and characters "in addition to providing a unique way of interacting with them, case evidence, and the game's scenery." She also thought the game's presentation was "unique and outstanding," though she also criticized its linearity, saying that "all choices inevitably lead to the same result." The game was number 178 in Game Informer's list of the top 200 video games of all time. Destructoid named it the 48th best game of its decade, saying "With its unbelievably memorable characters and oddly addictive adventure/courtroom gameplay, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is easily one of the most unique and surprising games of the last decade."  In Japan, Famitsu magazine scored the Game Boy Advance version of the game a 32 out of 40.
The several versions of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney have been very successful. In Japan, the original Game Boy Advance version sold 58,877 units to date, and the Japan-only budget-priced version of it sold significantly more, selling 129,630 units. The Nintendo DS version sold 128,842 units, while its Japan-only budget-priced version sold 148,552 units. By the end of 2007, the Japan-only budget-priced version has sold 254,681 copies, with 141,681 sold in that year and 130,020 the year prior.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney was very hard to find in stores shortly after its North American release because of a shortage, owing to unexpectedly high demand. Capcom shipped more units in March 2006. They later issued a new shipment in June 2006, which sold out within a week. As of February 2007, Capcom has shipped 100,000 copies of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney.
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- Gyakuten Saiban Official Japanese website
- Phoenix Wright Official English website
- Gyakuten Saiban Official iPhone Japanese website
- Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney at iTunes Preview
- Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney guide at StrategyWiki