Few visual novel franchises are as captivating as Ace Attorney. Filled to the brim with dense murder mysteries to solve, there’s no telling where each case will take you. On top of that, each entry features characters who manage to sprinkle in more intrigue. With the original Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Justice for All, and Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Trials and Tribulations re-releasing soon for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC via the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy, check out our ranking of every game in the franchise so far. Keep in mind that Japan-exclusive titles like Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth 2 have not been included.
8. Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth
Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth is a spin-off title that has fans play as a prosecution attorney instead of a defense lawyer. As you might expect, the gameplay is radically different from the core series in that Miles Edgeworth must physically visit each crime scene and interview witnesses. Though it’s fun to contradict a rival’s assessment in the courtroom, the title lacks the same drama that Phoenix Wright and his pals frequently run into. Though Ace Attorney Investigations is a nice change of pace, it fails to offer anything special.
7. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Justice for All
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Justice for All begins and ends well, but doesn’t make much sense in between. Though Phoenix’s new Magatama accessory and the “psych-lock” phenomenon are interesting, the illogical cases that players must solve are sometimes a chore to get through. Hardcore fans of the franchise still shudder at the thought of the game’s third case, the murder at Berry Big Circus. Despite this, profound themes on morality and the justice system are explored. The title does manage to leave a lasting impression by the time its fifth and final case is closed.
6. Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright jumps between the puzzle solving gameplay of the former franchise and the courtroom antics of the latter, offering something completely unique in the process. Each genius must help a young girl named Espella clear her name after she’s accused of practicing witchcraft and conspiring with an evil force. The crossover excels at appropriately balancing each series’ signature elements, though its narrative falls apart towards the end as a confusing and nonsensical plot twist completely invalidates every major discovery and accomplishment.
5. Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney
Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney is perhaps the franchise’s most polarizing entry in the eyes of most fans. It stars an up-and-coming lawyer named Apollo, the likes of which has big shoes to fill after Phoenix Wright is disbarred. It keeps the formula fresh without drastically changing the gameplay, introducing neat features like the ability to monitor how nervous people are while testifying. Unfortunately, most of Apollo Justice‘s cases are uninspired and the main narrative overstays its welcome. The title makes players want to play as Phoenix Wright again, as Apollo just isn’t as compelling as his predecessor.
4. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice
The most recent Ace Attorney title, Spirit of Justice, improves on the franchise’s fundamentals without changing too much. The shift in setting to Maya Fay’s Kingdom of Khura’in sees Phoenix relax for a change while Apollo Justice and Athena Cykes handle all the murder cases back home. The solace doesn’t last long, however, as the defense attorney soon sees himself back in the courtroom.
This time, he must abide by Khura’in’s laws and suffer the consequences of the country’s Defense Culpability Act if it fails to prove his client not guilty. Spirit of Justice is a lot of fun for those that are familiar with the franchise’s characters and overarching narrative so far. Newcomers should look to older entries before trying this one out, as they won’t be able to fully understand the story otherwise.
3. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies offers a surprising commentary on modern society’s need for a justice system. It takes place during the “Dark Age Of The Law,” when lawyers and prosecutors are doing anything they can to get the verdict they want — even if it means breaking the law themselves. Phoenix, alongside his partners Apollo Justice and Athena Cykes, sets out on a mission to change the public’s perception of the justice system by actually helping out innocent people in need. Though the game’s voice acting and 3D models can be a bit off-putting at times, the overall product is remarkably deep.
2. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
The game that started it all still stands as one of the series’ best entries. It stars an inexperienced and self-doubting Phoenix Wright who manages to win cases by the skin of his teeth. As Phoenix’s reputation grows, prosecutor Miles Edgeworth becomes more antagonistic. His rivalry with the defense attorney grows more compelling as time flies by. It culminates in an emotionally satisfying payoff that the franchise still hasn’t managed to replicate with subsequent titles. Seeing Phoenix transform and gain the confidence that fans now know him for is exciting and uplifting, no matter your career goals.
1. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Trials and Tribulations
Though there are no new gameplay mechanics in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Trials and Tribulations, the title makes it clear that the franchise excels when it focuses on its characters. Case in point, the game’s last case, “Bridge to the Turnabout,” will make you want to hug your family and friends whenever you get the chance. It’s also impossible not to like Trials and Tribulations‘ main villain Godot, despite the fact that he can read your mind. Phoenix himself is forever changed by the events that unfold in the courtroom, leaving players flabbergasted when all cases are finally closed.
The Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy is giving newcomers the perfect opportunity to jump in on Capcom’s fascinating courtroom craze. Veterans have incentive to check it out too, as they can finally enjoy the franchise from their television screens with enhanced HD visuals. Of course, those that prefer the series on the go have the option of purchasing the package on Nintendo Switch. No matter your platform of choice, Ace Attorney is a series worth picking up if you’re willing to experience something you’re not used to seeing everyday. Chances are you won’t be disappointed.