Pleasing Courts With Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
When it comes to law and the judiciary system, it may be one of the most ridiculously complex practices of rules, regulations and execution out there. Law school takes about as long as medical school to complete and for good reason. Where doctors learn the intricacies of physiology and care, lawyers perfect the intricate craft of courtroom etiquette that requires the utmost knowledge of anything that could come into play. Of course, if you don’t have eight years to spend on boring old law school, you could always just play Phoenix Wright and jump into deep and intricate cases in seconds. The Phoenix Wright games are perhaps the most popular of all visual novel games out there and both Japan and North America received their first taste of the quirky courtroom drama on this day in 2001 and 2005 respectively with Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney.
In 2000, Capcom video game director Shu Takumi had just wrapped up Dino Crisis 2. As a reward for his work, Takumi was given the opportunity to come up with an original product of his own. An avid fan of adventure and mystery, Takumi saw the opportunity to do something that Capcom had rarely taken on before. He wanted to make a game that would bring robust story, characters and puzzle-solving together with simple gameplay that anyone could pick up if they wanted to. Takumi was given a team and six months to produce his visionary project.
Though Phoenix Wright is the iconic spikey-haired lawyer we know and love, he didn’t start out that way. Originally, Takumi had planned the Phoenix Wright games as a detective story in which the detective is framed for a crime and, faced with an incompetent lawyer, decides to represent himself. However, Takumi wanted taking apart contradictions in character stories to be a central part of the game and felt that a private investigator’s story wouldn’t make much sense in this regard. He decided that it would make more sense to make Wright into a lawyer and split the game between environmental exploration for clues and courtroom dissection of character testimonials using logic and evidence.
This development led to Phoenix Wright as we know him. Specifically when Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney begins, we find Wright as a new hire at the law firm of his boss and mentor, Mia Fey. Each chapter of the game presents a different case in which Wright must do whatever he needs to defend his clients. He soon gains the assistance of Mia’s sister, the clairvoyant Maya, as a secretary and assistant to his cases, investigations and courtroom battles. As the cases get more and more serious, Wright also finds himself facing off against his childhood friend and rival, the cold and calculating prosecutor, Miles Edgeworth.
In creating the story Takumi believe in a system where bit by bit, the character got pieces of the whole picture that could eventually be put together in a revelatory moment in which everything would become clear. To this end, he divided the game into the aforementioned investigative and courtroom segments. Players explore areas searching for clues and when everything is gathered and everyone has been talked to, Wright then takes everything he’s gathered to the courtroom to begin the battle for his clients’ innocence. Clues and evidence found in the investigative segment constantly come into play, informing either contradiction in testimony or a moment in which the right bit of evidence with certain testimony reveals the truth as crystal clear.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney caught the attention of many with Its quirky humor, vibrant characters and worlds and masterful storytelling made it a game that was practically a staple on the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS. Phoenix Wright would quickly become a beloved mascot for Capcom and numerous sequels, spin-offs and alternative entertainment would come after the classic original game. It may not be fun in the least in real-life to be a lawyer and many of us may not find it worth the effort. Luckily, Phoenix Wright games continue to supply us with the fast track to being a courtroom pro.