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Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

What better game to start reviewing as a video game attorney, than a video game where you pretend to be an attorney?

I first heard about the Phoenix Wright series when I was a first year law student, or a “1L.” I was so into law school at that point that I even wanted to play games where I could be an attorney, even if a strange and argumentative one.

The games are mostly for the Nintendo DS, and follow the same basic premise. You play as a criminal defense attorney, and the first case you receive is also a tutorial, where you defend an old friend, Larry Butz, from a murder charge. “If something smells, it’s probably the Butz.”

For the first part of each case, you talk to your client and gather evidence by using the stylus to click on distinctive or suspicious elements of each scene.

After gathering all the evidence needed, you progress to the “court” portion of the case, where witnesses testify against your client before the judge and the prosecutor, and where you must use the evidence you gathered to catch them in inconsistencies.

I say “court” because the proceedings don’t exactly follow the Federal Rules of Evidence, or the Constitutional protections offered to criminal defendants in the United States. This game was created in Japan, and certain aspects certainly indicate that influence. You have an assistant, a Shinto Priestess trainee, who channels the spirits of the dead, and many of the elements of the cases reference things that American audience might not fully appreciate.

However, even with the inaccuracies, the game is a lot of fun, and really engaging. The one complaint I might have is that the evidence or objections are not always clear, and you only have a limited number of errors before the judge “gets impatient and rules against you,” making you start the trial proceeding over from the beginning. The first in the series is also available on WiiWare, and is fully worth the price.

(Also, if I have used your screenshots and you would like me to remove them, please let me know and I will be happy to take them down.)

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Posted in Friday: Game Review.