This pick is more of a shout out to the entire Phoenix Wright series for the Nintendo DS. It's hard just to pick one game in the series without talking about the others since they are so woven together but, it would also be silly for this series to take up four slots on my Top 52 list as well. Regardless, the Phoenix Wright series owned my life for a semester and all I could think about was playing this game.
Title: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Justice for All
Console: Nintendo DS
Release Date: 01/16/07
Genre: Adventure/Visual Novel
My Ranking: #30
In the Phoenix Wright series, you play as Phoenix Wright, a up and coming lawyer. Yes, Phoenix Wright is a lawyer game. In each case, which is always a murder case of some kind, you are playing as the defense attorney for someone who has been wrongfully accused. It is your job to find the contradictions in the witness' statements and find holes in the prosecutor's arguments.
Sounds boring at first, trust me; I know. However, once you start playing the Phoenix Wright games, your hooked for a couple of reasons. For one, the cases you deal with are astounding and finding the contradictions is a surprisingly difficult task if you're not accustomed to thinking outside the box. I would love to give an example here of what I'm talking about, but I do not want to spoil anything about the crazy twists that are in every case of every Phoenix Wright games. Seriously, you can NEVER foresee how a case will end. Sure, you'll end up winning the case, but how you win will blow your mind.
Calling the Phoenix Wright series a visual novel is surprisingly accurate. The connection you'll gain to Phoenix Wright will become so strong by the end of the fourth game because the writing is by far the best I have ever seen in any video game. When you catch a tricky contradiction in a witness statement, you'll share your excitement with Phoenix. When you see Phoenix lose a battle, you'll emphasize with his feelings. Anyone who enjoys character development in video games has to play this game.
This game should have failed miserably since the gameplay is minimal. When investigating a crime, Phoenix Wright is a point and click adventure. When finding contradictions, all you are doing is reading text, searching through your evidence and pressing the "Press" button for more information out of the witness. However, since the story is so engaging and the music is fantastically composed (and fits the environment of the game), the minimalist gameplay doesn't even matter.
Though Phoenix Wright is a lawyer game, you can see from the videos and photos that the game looks very anime. This works to Phoenix Wright's advantage as whenever you counter an argument the screen shakes, the background moves really fast, and the animations are highly exaggerated, making the pleasure of finding a contradiction that much more exciting. Sometimes you'll just laugh from the animation alone (e.g. a prosecutor throws coffee at Phoenix... multiple times, lolz).
I highlight Justice for All (the second of four games in the series) in this post since it features my favorite case in the entire series. The wikipedia article on this game gives an excellent description of the case without giving away the major twists. "Phoenix defends Matt Engarde, an actor charged with the murder of his television rival Juan Corrida. This case ends up becoming a personal matter after Maya [your assistant] gets kidnapped by an assassin hired by the real perpetrator." Ah! I want to say so much but I have to respect the spoilers! Lame.
The Phoenix Wright series has gained a huge following of deeply devoted fans. On Newgrounds I discovered a long series of flash animations and spinoffs called Phoenix Wrong. The Phoenix Wrong animation series takes the animations from the Phoenix Wright series, as crazy as they are, and re-appropriates them with sound bytes from movies, songs, pop culture, etc. It sounds silly as first, but some people are REALLY creative with the combinations of sound bytes and Phoenix animations. (Howard Dean's famous exclamation + Von Karma's scream animation = ROFLMAO). A good example is shown below.
The Phoenix Wright games are probably the best sleeper hits in video games right now. Even after four games in the series being released, and a fifth one being announced, this series isn't at the forefront of video gamer's minds, and it should be. Sure, there are many ways you can attack Phoenix Wright's style, the main one being the gameplay is minimal. However, regardless of how bad it looks from the outside, once you play it, you'll be captivated in fantastically fun experience.
My Top 52:
#52 --- Star Fox 64 (N64)
#51 --- Kirby's Adventure (NES)
#50 --- Roller Coaster Tycoon (PC)
#49 --- Grand Theft Auto III (PS2)
#48 --- Metroid Prime (GC)
#47 --- Halo 3 (Xbox 360)
#46 --- Bomberman 64 (N64)
#45 --- Guitar Hero II (PS2)
#44 --- Super Street Fighter II (GEN)
#43 --- Pokemon Puzzle League (N64)
#42 --- Soul Calibur II (GC)
#41 --- Gears of War (Xbox 360)*
#40 --- Elite Beat Agents (DS)
#39 --- Call of Duty 4 (PS3)
#38 --- Super Metroid (SNES)
#37 --- The Orange Box (PS3)*
#36 --- Metal Gear Solid (PS)
#35 --- Doom (PC)
#34 --- Super Mario Kart (SNES)
#33 --- Mischief Makers (N64)
#32 --- Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Wii)
#31 --- Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars (SNES)
#30 --- Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Justice for All (DS)