The Ace Attorney series has been releasing new games and content for over two decades. Each of the titles in the series have their own twists and turns, offering over thirty cases combined. This makes it difficult to decide which is the best. The popular mystery game franchise has spawned not only video games, but also spin-offs, soundtracks, manga, movies, and even live-action theater shows.
It’s not just the high suspense and constant excitement of the Ace Attorney games that make them a great experience: the visuals are also some of the best in the visual novel genre. The question, then, is which Ace Attorney games are the best of all?
10 Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth
When Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth was released, expectations were high. The game introduces a new type of investigative game, where the resolution of cases does not take place in court. Instead, Edgeworth will investigate the crime scenes. It’s a new yet familiar experience with an amazing soundtrack to boot.
You can play Edgeworth, one of gaming’s most iconic villains, explore his backstory and learn more about his life. While going out on the streets to solve cases like this wacky character sounds exciting, however, most cases fall short compared to the other games. Sometimes endings are a bit predictable too.
9 Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice
One of the more recent Ace Attorney releases, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit Of Justice features, as the name suggests, the spirit of the main entries. The writing is excellent and a refreshing new environment is introduced that takes the players to the heights of the Himalayas. New characters and their customs make the cases and plot twists entirely new and memorable.
Apollo Justice’s backstory, however, is quite disturbing, which can undermine the experience of its signature charm. There are some plot holes as well, making some personalities quite superfluous in terms of the overall plot.
8 Justice Apollo: Ace Lawyer
It’s not easy to make good game sequels, but Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney manages to gently reboot the series by introducing a seven-year time skip. For the first time, another protagonist is introduced: Apollo Justice, an apprentice of Phoenix Wright.
Adds an intriguing new twist to gameplay: During trials, Justice can pick up on small changes or reactions in a witness’s body language. This added element made testing feel even more exciting. Unfortunately, some of the puzzles are unbalanced and most of the individual cases are forgettable. However, Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney came up with some fantastic ideas and implemented them well.
7 Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Justice for All
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Justice For All offers great character development, allowing fans to delve into the characters’ backstories. It also features the franchise’s only legal female antagonist: Franziska von Karma. This adorable perfectionist doesn’t go anywhere without her signature whip.
Justice For All could have been an even better title, since half of the cases are truly great and emotional. However, it suffers from a lack of consistency: the other half of them are pretty disappointing. The opening is considered one of the worst, but the ending case is one of the best: it changes the game mechanics in new and interesting ways. The main thing holding this title back is this core inconsistency.
6 Ace Attorney 5: Dual Destinies
Ace Attorney 5: Dual Destinies is a true masterpiece when played on the Nintendo 3DS as it takes full advantage of the 3D features. It is also available on Android devices, but playing on 3DS offers the best experience. Dual Destinies features fully animated cutscenes, ensuring players become even more involved in the story of Phoenix, Athena, and Apollo. All of these new characters bring good humor and quirky personalities to the table.
Athena remains one of the most wholesome characters in the series, as no one can hate her clumsy personality. Unfortunately, the game feels stiff at times and seems to have an overwhelming amount of dialogue. The added mood matrix game is also a controversial feature. However, it does offer priceless Ace Attorney moments, like the chance to defend an orca in a case.
5 Professor Layton VS Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
Professor Layton Vs Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is a crossover that no one knew they wanted until they got it. It completely captivates the players with its charming visuals and narrative. The main plot takes place in Labyrinthia, which is the perfect meeting point for Layton and Phoenix, as it combines serenity and darkness.
The location and concept are great, but the title is flawed. It seems that the developers did not combine the two franchises as successfully as they could have. The puzzles seem quite a bit easier than typical Professor Layton games, while the courtroom scenes are quite different from typical Ace Attorney games. A bold and nice crossover, to be sure, but the idea had even more potential.
4 Ace Prosecutor Investigations 2
Ace Attorney Investigations 2 is one of the games in this franchise that always has good cases. There are no boring or lengthy trials, and fans can explore what it really means to be a prosecutor. Another big bonus is the introduction of Gregory Edgeworth, Miles’ father. This intriguing new persona gives us a glimpse into Miles’ backstory, to a much greater extent than before.
There is also a new mechanic called Logic. Logic kicks in whenever a character tries to hide or withhold information, and Miles tries to bring the truth to light by reading his words and emotions. Although this installment is better than its predecessor, it still does not offer innovative changes. The narrative also feels somewhat weaker than in other titles.
3 The Chronicles of the Great Lawyer Ace
The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles is two games for the price of one. Both offer great visuals, remarkable narrative, and a complex story. The bundle consists of The Great Ace Attorney: Adventures and The Great Ace Attorney 2: Resolve. The game takes place in Meiji-era Japan and Victorian England. Fans take on the role of Phoenix’s ancestor, Naruhodo Ryunosuke.
More intriguing and rather dark plots and characters are introduced, as well as many interesting new mechanics. He searches for evidence while the trial is ongoing, which keeps him involved in the plot, and he travels between the Japanese and British courtrooms. However, the experience is quite long: some of the cases involve more than 10 hours of gameplay, which can seem exhausting.
2 Phoenix Wright: Ace Lawyer
The game that started it all: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. The original entry is over 20 years old, but it’s still one of the best visual novels out there. Gives a great introduction to the series and the backstory of Phoenix and Miles.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney perfectly establishes the wacky and supernatural elements of the franchise. With interesting and creative cases, along with one of the best soundtracks in the series, it’s still very high on the list. The only downside to this masterpiece would be the potential lack of challenge, with the puzzles sometimes feeling a little too easy compared to what came after.
1 Ace Attorney 3: Trials and Tribulations
Ace Attorney 3: Trials and Tribulations was originally intended to be the final game in the franchise. It is the product of an experienced development team that has become more than comfortable with what it is doing. There are no new mechanics and it’s one of the least ambitious games, but Trials and Tribulations still manages to steal the heart of its player.
The deep narrative and complex plot make it hard not to get fully invested in the characters. The game offers even more lore, and as a bonus, you can also play as Mia. Godot is a great villain, and his obsession with coffee makes him so relatable and deliciously quirky. The final case of Trials and Tribulations should also be mentioned, as Bridge To The Turnabout remains one of the most exciting cases in the series’ history.
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