Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Smart Button Mashing

After case 2, I thought it could only be so intensive. Then case 3 was incredibly fun and refreshing. After case 3, I thought it could only get so good. Then case 4 was a huge surprise. After case 4, I thought everything ended in a nice way, then in case 5…….

Text, CG, and H-Games
Text CG adventure games (or Visual Novels) were a popular genre in early/mid 90s. The original gameplay itself was incredibly shallow, and then most people preferred flipping pages rather than clicking buttons. The contents were equally thin as most of them were choose-your-path type of thing. However, the genre did find a way to carry itself on in the market, and that was the creation of Hentai Games. Hentai game then have blossomed into its own garden.

One specific genre that H-games had contributed to text/CG adventures was dating sim. While the game play was still the same old, the subject matter was incredibly fresh and appealing (certainly for my type at least). Dating sims made a huge step forward in 1995 with elf’s Doukyusei 2, in which elements like free exploring, gift purchasing, and love metering were introduced.

Doukyusei 2. My best friend’s sister beat both of us in gaining all the girls’ hearts. Memories Off. “Yawn….”

What seems odd to me is that conventional choose-your-path games still exist today, even on mainstream consoles. But instead of endless mouse clicking you get endless button mashing. As I was trying to bear through one of the supposed-to-be classic ones called Memories Off, I realize how much a difference naked girls would actually make.

Wright and Dragonball
Having that said, Phoenix Wright is still essentially a visual novel with some satisfying tweaks of gameplay, thanks to the capability of DS. Cases are made of two parts: evidence gathering and defending. What you do in both parts is basically using the right item/saying the right word at the right time to advance. Case 5 brought in some nice additional varieties but overall the game is pretty linear, as Wright sometimes even tells you what to do exactly. Linear doesn’t spell bad. Each of the stories is very well written with great lines. I have a feeling that linear mysteries work much better than linear romances.

Great characters with great names. I started talking to people with that hand motion.

What I see in Phoenix Wright is momentum building. The defendants are always framed underdogs with the whole case against them, while the real criminals are all dominant in and out of the case. It got to a point whenever a new big shot is introduced in a new case, you’d have an automatic hunch that this is the real murderer. At the court you get to flip the scenario to dominate the dominants. I’d call this a typical Dragonball structure, and it works surprisingly well in lawsuits. The first part of evidence gathering is in fact very slow and boring to me. It definitely helps shaping up the loser’s momentum efficiently. Then you can finally un-release the accumulated glooms at the court, on your opponents. It was quite a pleasant feel clicking at the right evidence to punish those against you and the truth. The gameplay in the courtyard isn’t a lot, but it’s just right for pumping up your satisfaction and keeping the plot flowing. The in court actions would have to be played in one sit out, but I doubt anyone would leave their seats.

15 hours of text adventure that was quite enjoyable. Phoenix Wright isn’t just the name of a great game but also of a great guy.

“Next case please please please.”

Check out Phoenix Wright radioplay based on the entire first case produced by G-Force!

Images jacked from here , there and over there.

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2 Responses to “Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Smart Button Mashing”

  1. Meowman says:


  2. Serbaayuu says:

    I have this game and I’ve had the sequel pre-ordered since November, it’s an absolutely amazing game. The only OBJECTION (haha) I have about it is that once you play through once, you really have to wait a few weeks/months/years to forget most of the cases, so that it isn’t too boring the second time around. Not knowing is about 75% of the fun.

    The next game’s gonna be so much better than the first, I can tell. For one, your Penalty Meter refills if you go for the right track of interrogation/evidence, and that’s a big relief from the 5-strike method in the first game. The new Psyche-Locks look interesting but very hard to crack, from what I’ve heard. And instead of good old Edgey as the prosecutor, you get Franchezcia (that’s the best spelling I could muster) von Karma…she carries a whip…*shudder* At least if she’s anything like her father, breaking her down and proving she’s the wicked villain everybody knows she is will hopefully be just as satisfying as it was for the original von Karma. (Ah, Manfred slamming his forehead into the courtroom wall still echoes lovingly in the back of my mind…)