Ranking all the Ace Attorney games... And a whole bunch more.

For those who haven’t played the Ace Attorney games, there will be spoilers. You have been warned! Oh yeah, and just in case some folks haven’t seen it, there are also spoilers for The Prestige. Kinda random, but it will be explained in due time. Anyways, onto the lists!

Best Games

1. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Trials and Tribulations

2. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

3. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Justice for All

4. Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney

5. Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth

I like your game dude. Just stop using your stupid catchphrases.

Let me get this out of the way upfront: I like Apollo Justice. Really, I do. I didn’t mind Phoenix Wright taking a backseat and embracing his mentor-like role. (Although I might even argue that Phoenix is a more vital part of the story than Apollo even is, but that’s a story for another day.) The updated graphics are nice, and the new gameplay features are interesting to partake in the few occasions they show up. But the biggest flaw about Apollo Justice is that there is no mention of what happened to Maya, Pearl, Edgeworth, etc. These are characters that have been established throughout the course of 3 full games that are given no mention or follow up. I would have been fine if Apollo Justice had a brand spankin’ new set of characters and created a fresh plot line. But the fact that Phoenix Wright and his back story are incorporated so heavily into the story had me wondering where the hell Maya and the rest of crew went. The Kurain spirit channeling stuff was so essential in making the original 3 games so great. The relationship between Mia, Maya, and Pearl was really the crux of the Phoenix story, and why it made it so emotionally riveting. To ignore what was the most important part of Phoenix Wright in Apollo Justice just put a damper into the entire experience.

The Miles Edgeworth game was pretty fun too. Hopefully the second one eventually comes out in English, although I really can't see that happening. The Phoenix Wright games were already for a niche audience, so I can only imagine how a Edgeworth game probably wouldn't be worth the time and effort to localize it. The sequel looks way more intriguing than the first one, with cases that seem to divulge more information about Edgeworth's father and Manfred von Karma.

Best Cases

1. Bridge to the Turnabout (Case 3-5)

2. Turnabout Goodbyes (Case 1-4)

3. Farewell, my Turnabout (Case 2-4)

4. Turnabout Beginnings (Case 3-4)

5. Turnabout Succession (Case 4-4)

If you look at my list of best games, you’ll see a correlation. The final cases are usually what defines a Phoenix Wright game, and Trials and Tribulation’s ultimate case was by far the best of the lot. It’s long, involved, full of twists and turns… really the list goes on and on. And the moment you understand Godot’s true back story and motivation is a pretty emotional moment. Cases 3-1 and 3-4 are basically stepping stones to the culmination of the grand finale that is Bridge to the Turnabout. And seriously, Maya as the final witness to the final case of the final game in the Phoenix Wright trilogy? Amazing, amazing case.

Minor gripe: Iris and Dahlia are twins? Really? Incorporating the twin trope just seemed lame to me. But whatever, it’s better than The Prestige. Ugh.

Best Songs

1. Turnabout Sisters’ Theme (Both the regular and the ballad version)

2. Godot’s Theme – The Fragrance of Dark Coffee

3. Congratulations Everybody

4. Investigation – Cornered (Variation)

5. Police Cell – Jailer’s Elegy

The Phoenix Wright games had some great music. I believe the music had a large impact on why the game can at one moment be so charming and kooky, but then one moment be emotional and profound. There's so much good stuff to choose from that I'm sure if you ask me on another day, I would have a different top 5.

The ballad version of the Turnabout Sisters’ Theme always seems to play at exactly the right moment. It’s used sparingly, but when that song starts going, it is damn effective.

Best Characters

1. Godot

2. Godot

3. Godot

4. Godot

5. Maya

Remeber, this is just one man's opinion. Just know that my opinions are usually right.
17 Comments
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Posted by wumbo3000

For those who haven’t played the Ace Attorney games, there will be spoilers. You have been warned! Oh yeah, and just in case some folks haven’t seen it, there are also spoilers for The Prestige. Kinda random, but it will be explained in due time. Anyways, onto the lists!

Best Games

1. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Trials and Tribulations

2. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

3. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Justice for All

4. Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney

5. Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth

I like your game dude. Just stop using your stupid catchphrases.

Let me get this out of the way upfront: I like Apollo Justice. Really, I do. I didn’t mind Phoenix Wright taking a backseat and embracing his mentor-like role. (Although I might even argue that Phoenix is a more vital part of the story than Apollo even is, but that’s a story for another day.) The updated graphics are nice, and the new gameplay features are interesting to partake in the few occasions they show up. But the biggest flaw about Apollo Justice is that there is no mention of what happened to Maya, Pearl, Edgeworth, etc. These are characters that have been established throughout the course of 3 full games that are given no mention or follow up. I would have been fine if Apollo Justice had a brand spankin’ new set of characters and created a fresh plot line. But the fact that Phoenix Wright and his back story are incorporated so heavily into the story had me wondering where the hell Maya and the rest of crew went. The Kurain spirit channeling stuff was so essential in making the original 3 games so great. The relationship between Mia, Maya, and Pearl was really the crux of the Phoenix story, and why it made it so emotionally riveting. To ignore what was the most important part of Phoenix Wright in Apollo Justice just put a damper into the entire experience.

The Miles Edgeworth game was pretty fun too. Hopefully the second one eventually comes out in English, although I really can't see that happening. The Phoenix Wright games were already for a niche audience, so I can only imagine how a Edgeworth game probably wouldn't be worth the time and effort to localize it. The sequel looks way more intriguing than the first one, with cases that seem to divulge more information about Edgeworth's father and Manfred von Karma.

Best Cases

1. Bridge to the Turnabout (Case 3-5)

2. Turnabout Goodbyes (Case 1-4)

3. Farewell, my Turnabout (Case 2-4)

4. Turnabout Beginnings (Case 3-4)

5. Turnabout Succession (Case 4-4)

If you look at my list of best games, you’ll see a correlation. The final cases are usually what defines a Phoenix Wright game, and Trials and Tribulation’s ultimate case was by far the best of the lot. It’s long, involved, full of twists and turns… really the list goes on and on. And the moment you understand Godot’s true back story and motivation is a pretty emotional moment. Cases 3-1 and 3-4 are basically stepping stones to the culmination of the grand finale that is Bridge to the Turnabout. And seriously, Maya as the final witness to the final case of the final game in the Phoenix Wright trilogy? Amazing, amazing case.

Minor gripe: Iris and Dahlia are twins? Really? Incorporating the twin trope just seemed lame to me. But whatever, it’s better than The Prestige. Ugh.

Best Songs

1. Turnabout Sisters’ Theme (Both the regular and the ballad version)

2. Godot’s Theme – The Fragrance of Dark Coffee

3. Congratulations Everybody

4. Investigation – Cornered (Variation)

5. Police Cell – Jailer’s Elegy

The Phoenix Wright games had some great music. I believe the music had a large impact on why the game can at one moment be so charming and kooky, but then one moment be emotional and profound. There's so much good stuff to choose from that I'm sure if you ask me on another day, I would have a different top 5.

The ballad version of the Turnabout Sisters’ Theme always seems to play at exactly the right moment. It’s used sparingly, but when that song starts going, it is damn effective.

Best Characters

1. Godot

2. Godot

3. Godot

4. Godot

5. Maya

Remeber, this is just one man's opinion. Just know that my opinions are usually right.
Edited by drac96

The way you ranked the original 3 Ace Attorney games is exactly the way I would rank them as well. Trials and Tribulations exceeded my expectations as an end to the trilogy. Godot was a great character as most of the characters in this series are.

I actually finished both 2 and 3 earlier this year when I went on a crazy Phoenix Wright binge. After which I spent an inordinate amount of time looking for a cheap new copy of Apollo Justice. I ended up getting one, but I just couldn't get into it for some reason. Would you recommend I stick with it? I believe I got to the second case.

I really love this series, so I hope that both Layton Vs. Ace Attorney gets localized as well as Ace Attorney 5.

Have you played Ghost Trick as well? If not I highly highly recommend it. The story, characters, and music are right on par with the Ace Attorney series (I might actually argue that they're better).

Anyways, this was a good read.

Posted by wumbo3000

@drac96: Thanks for reading! Yeah, at the end of the day, I do think Apollo Justice is worth playing through, if only for its pretty cool final case. But be warned, the third case might get a little repetitive. I don't want to spoil anything, but there's a thing that happens again and again that seems to bog down the flow of the case.

And Ghost Trick is definitely up high on my list of games to play. I've heard nothing but great things about it, and now hearing this recommendation makes me want to go drop everything and play it right now.

Posted by FluxWaveZ

Anyone who loves the Ace Attorney series should play Ghost Trick.

The lack of core Phoenix Wright characters in Apollo Justice was disappointing, but it really didn't bother me that much because it wasn't a "Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney" game. Sure, Phoenix is pretty much who the story in that game revolves around, but they were setting up a new cast with a new lead. Having it be a reunion of all the old characters again would feel cheap. It'll probably be much more frustrating for me if AA5 doesn't have important characters like Maya or Edgeworth returning, if only for a minor scene so players can see how they're doing.

I've heard really good things about the second Miles Edgeworth game. It's a shame we won't be able to experience it unless the fansub project pans out.

Edited by BisonHero

You shut your whore mouth! The Prestige is awesome.

Also, I would rank Apollo Justice above Justice For All, because JFA really was unremarkable and had a terribly contrived final case, whereas Apollo Justice was just a much more coherent game. And maybe it was just me, but JFA produced the highest number of "You wanted me to present THAT?! What rational human being would figure that out?" moments compared to any other game.

Also Franziska is maybe the worst character in that entire series, and instead of being a commanding adversary she just comes across as a child prone to violent tantrums. It wasn't funny at all. And while Ace Attorney is a super outlandish universe, I still think that Franziska whipping people constantly really stretches the believability too much. It's a wacky universe, but they still basically adhere to social conduct. Godot only threw his coffee like 3 or 4 times; Franziska whips people what felt like hundreds of times while playing it. I really couldn't wait for JFA to end, and I was so glad when Franziska got shot.

Posted by Phatmac

The last cases are by far the best. I'm surprised that you didn't include Rise from the ashes as it's a great case! Also Apollo Justice's cornered theme is really great.

Posted by BisonHero

I know everybody jizzes in their pants over the Cornered themes in each game because they're basically jazzy JRPG boss battle music, but I've always liked the steady but confident pace of the Objection themes. The one in the first game is by far the best:

As far as I'm concerned, that is what Phoenix Wright, the character, the series, the idea, sounds like.

Posted by CommodoreGroovy

I've been slowly pacing myself through the Phoenix Wright games, and I have recently made it to last case in Trials and Tribulations. If it at least has the quality of the last case in the first game, then I'm really eager to jump back in and finish it. That last case of the first game was sooo good.

Posted by wumbo3000

@Phatmac: I actually like case 1-4 much more than 1-5. Thought the twist was way better, and the insight it gave into Edgeworth's past was really interesting.

Posted by BisonHero

@CommodoreGroovy said:

I've been slowly pacing myself through the Phoenix Wright games, and I have recently made it to last case in Trials and Tribulations. If it at least has the quality of the last case in the first game, then I'm really eager to jump back in and finish it. That last case of the first game was sooo good.

Yeah, the last case in T&T is definitely on par with the final case in the first game. Honestly, I think most of the series lies in the shadow of the first game, and only T&T managed to match it, though I don't think it's really better. Edgeworth is still THE classic courtroom adversary, and his replacements range from terrible (Franziska) to acceptable (Godot) to acceptable again (the prosecutor in Apollo Justice basically has the cocky-but-actually-not-a-dick personality of Godot, except this time with no mysterious past). The first game still has the best music (and a bunch of it gets reused in all the games, like OP's favourite song). And the first game had some pretty good cases, especially the last one.

Posted by Petiew
@BisonHero said:

Also, I would rank Apollo Justice above Justice For All, because JFA really was unremarkable and had a terribly contrived final case, whereas Apollo Justice was just a much more coherent game. And maybe it was just me, but JFA produced the highest number of "You wanted me to present THAT?! What rational human being would figure that out?" moments compared to any other game.

Man, I disagree totally. The final case in JFA is my favourite in the series. The killer is a really smug evil asshole, they did a good job with making him incredibly dislikeable. The twist and the subsequent court session where you have to
really set that case apart from the others. It was one of the few cases where I was actually tense and didn't know what was going to happen. There's a moment just before the "miracle" where you have to choose between Maya and Phoenix's principles and the screen is just black with Phoenix holding his head in his hands. I think that was the only time in the AA games where I was just like "Holy shit, really?".
I'll agree that overall the game is kind of weak though.
 
@wumbo3000
Nice topic, I enjoyed reading through it. I'd rank the games in the same order, though maybe put the Edgeworth game above Apollo Justice. Just personal opinion, but I think AJ had some of the worst characters in the series. The defendants in cases 2 and 3 were terrible, Zak too, and a couple minor characters. Don't even want to get started on case 3, the logic leaps, unlikeable characters and the repetitiveness (like you said) killed it. I'd even prefer to play through Turnabout Big Top again. 

Good choice with Turnabout Sisters, one of my personal favourites too. A couple of my less common favourites: Lying Coldly Child of Magic Kay's Theme When something smells...
Posted by wumbo3000

@Petiew: Yeah, I think Justice For All is the only game where it had Phoenix in that pose of utter defeat, with his head down and his hands in his hair. That was a pretty powerful moment.

You're right, Lying Coldly is an awesome song. I played Investigations a while ago, so I kinda forgot about this. And Trucy's theme was number 6. It was a hard cut, but I had to do it. I'm not sure if it's just me, but Trucy's theme reminds me of Pokemon. I could totally imagine that song being the theme for a Pokemon town.

Edited by FluxWaveZ

@BisonHero said:

I know everybody jizzes in their pants over the Cornered themes in each game because they're basically jazzy JRPG boss battle music, but I've always liked the steady but confident pace of the Objection themes. The one in the first game is by far the best:

As far as I'm concerned, that is what Phoenix Wright, the character, the series, the idea, sounds like.

I raise you this:

(Though I prefer the original game's, this one is still awesome)

And aside from Turnabout Sisters, this character theme has always stuck with me:

The first time the player hears this is when they truly get to know who Pearl is. Love that scene.

Edited by SpunkyHePanda

Some in-depth Ace Attorney discussion? I love it.

I would put the first game at the top and Trials and Tribulations 2nd. The whole Dahlia Hawthorne saga was incredibly ambitious and they absolutely nailed it, with some of the craziest twists and most emotional moments in the entire series. BUT! That game had two other cases, and that's where it stumbled a bit. The Stolen Turnabout had a cool concept that was let down by the first half where the stakes are so low, it was hard to get invested. Also, Ron DeLite was pretty annoying. And then, Recipe for Turnabout was just plain bad. The idea that there was already a trial that Phoenix didn't remember was intriguing, but the explanation was ridiculous and pointless. The biggest revelation out of the first day in court was that Glen Elg's ear ointment was missing. Just pretty damn boring the whole way through. Oh, and the Jean Armstrong character was pretty offensive. All in all, maybe not as bad as Turnabout Corner from Apollo Justice, but not much better.

I agree with Justice for All in 3rd, but not for the reasons most people mention. I've heard people say the cases just weren't on the same level, but I disagree. Except for the 1st case (which was mercifully short), I loved all of them. 2 and 3 had some real tragic "villains", and the final case was crazy intense (exhausting, even) with a great twist that was written all over the walls, but I still didn't see coming. What held JFA back for me was the music. The soundtrack just added so much, particularly in court, and the new tracks just weren't up to snuff. Luckily, the third game got that shit back on track.

Posted by wumbo3000

@SpunkyHePanda: Yeah cases 3-2 and 3-3 were pretty throwaway, but the I feel like the rest of it more than made for it. And you're right about the music in JFA too. There's the music that plays when you cross-examine, and there's the other version of the song that when you really need to fucking cross-examine. The fucking cross-examine music isn't that great in JFA, and I feel like that's a huge part in what makes the everything so goddamn dramatic. Let me make my point.

Play the two songs and see which one gets your adrenaline pumping more:

Posted by SpunkyHePanda

@wumbo3000: No contest. Also, whenever this theme popped up, I had trouble focusing on what I was reading because I could feel it boring into my skull:

Posted by BisonHero

@SpunkyHePanda: Yeah, I despised the courtroom music in JFA, compared to the other games. It just didn't evoke anything at all. For once, I wish the devs had just recycled the tracks, because the first game's music was superb, and nearly every new track in JFA was worse than its prior equivalent.