Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (

When Phoenix Wright became a defense attorney, all he wanted was to help innocent clients. Unfortunately, he lives in a world where it’s guilty until proven innocent. Not only that, but he has to face prosecutors who care more about winning than they do about justice. Can Phoenix beat the odds and prevent innocent people from rotting in a jail cell, or worse?

Despite the Americanization of the game, the legal system is strictly Japanese. In Japan, at the time they released the game, it’s guilty until proven innocent and that leads to complications. Therefore, you can imagine that defense attorneys didn’t achieve many victories. Therefore, the game’s essence is that of a defense attorney fantasy. Phoenix does have a hard time proving his clients’ innocence but, in the end, something always happens that proves his clients innocent. The game takes place 20 minutes in the future with the fantasy element of spirit channeling. It’s also quite serious save for a few ridiculous moments worthy of an anime, such as Phoenix cross-examining a parrot. I am not kidding.

For those of you who don’t want any spoilers, you might want to skip to the very last paragraph of my review. Spirit channeling plays an active role in the game by having Maya contact Mia Fey, her sister and Phoenix’s mentor. Despite the game using Mia for fan service, I absolutely loved the character. She is every bit as capable at her job as Phoenix is and maybe more. All I know is that, without her, Phoenix would have never won. Many people feel that her being used as fan service undermines her, but I feel that the game could have easily portrayed her as a beautiful woman with no intellect whatsoever or a woman hoping to make it big while crying about her beauty because no one takes her seriously. Instead, Mia is a confident person who doesn’t let anyone stand in her way and proves herself to be more than just a pretty face. Plus, to me, it seems more sexist to give all the strong intelligent women small breasts but maybe I’m just being a bad feminist. Speaking of Mia, I do love the game’s portrayal of women. It’s quite common in anime for the women’s main desire to get married, Sailor Moon and Wedding Peach being a couple of examples. In this game, the women have no desire whatsoever to tie the knot. For example, Maya and Ema, Phoenix’s sidekicks in the game, want to be a spirit channeler and a scientific investigator respectfully.

Despite Phoenix being the main character, the game is about the prosecutor, Miles Edgeworth. He starts out as a ruthless man who would do anything to get a guilty verdict. As the game progresses, his worldview starts to change as, little by little, he cares more about finding the truth than he does about his perfect record. In the fourth case, he’s forced to come to terms with all the lives he ruined by being in the defendant’s chair. In the fifth case, he becomes an ally to Phoenix while considering turning in his own resignation.

The game play is quite unique. You travel through different locations collecting evidence and gathering information from as many people you can find.

During the trial, you listen to witnesses testify and use the evidence you gather to point out any contradictions in what they have to say.

If you can’t find any, you can press the witness until you find it. The fifth case is the only one that takes advantage of the Nintendo DS gaming system by also having you spray luminol and dust for fingerprints.

This game is intriguing and addictive. I give it 9 out of 10; I laughed and almost cried during some scenes.

Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box (

When Professor Layton’s mentor opens the fabled Elysian Box, he dies. Is the myth about whoever opens that box will die true, or did someone murder the professor’s mentor and make it look like the myth was true?

The plot is your typical Professor Layton game. At first, it looks like something mystical is going on. Then the characters explain everything in a way that a raises even more questions. To sum it up, the entire series is one big Voodoo Shark (a term invented by SFDebris). Don’t get me wrong, I love the series but I can’t ignore its flaws. I will say one thing, and I warn you that there will be spoilers in what I say next. Professor Layton is not a fit guardian. He regularly abandons Flora, a girl with psychological abandonment issues to the point where she can’t be alone, to go adventuring. When he discovers that Don Paolo kidnapped Flora, he decides to continue solving the mystery of Folsense and the Elysian Box and treats getting Flora back as an afterthought. At this point, I wonder why Flora’s even in the games anymore. She did serve a purpose in the first game but now she’s little more than the token girl of the series. You could say the same about Emmy in the prequel series but she has actually proven useful on more than one occasion.

The game play is the same as ever. You explore the scenery while solving various puzzles along the way. Granny Riddleton will collect any puzzles you miss. You also have three mini-games you can play in the form of exercising an overweight hamster, repairing a camera and taking pictures, and brewing and serving tea to the citizens of Folsense. For those of you who follow my twitter account, you know that the last one is not only my favorite in this game but in the entire series. You can also collect keys to read an old diary. When you’ve finished the game, you can solve bonus puzzles to unlock a few bonuses in the game.

This game is addictive and intriguing. I give it 8 out of 10; one of my favorites in the series.

Professor Layton and the Curious Village (

Professor Layton has just received a note from the late Baron Augustus Reinhold.  His mission, to discover where the Baron has hidden his fortune.  On the way, he has to solve every puzzle the villagers give him.

This game is actually the very first of the Layton series.  The plot is about Baron Reinhold’s family and you have to figure out the story little by little.  This is also an introduction to the characters and the only one we really get a back-story about is Flora.  So, I can’t really say anything about the game without giving away spoilers.

The game play is the same as any other game from the Professor Layton series.  You solve puzzles in order to collect picarats.  You can find hint coins throughout the game and if you miss a puzzle, you can go to Granny Riddleton.  You also have three mini-games you have to solve and in this one you need to assemble a robot dog, put a picture together and create the perfect inn rooms for Luke and Layton.  When you’re done with the game, you can solve the puzzles in the bonuses section and unlock plenty of hidden content.

This game is addictive and challenging.  I give it 7 out of 10; a good introduction to the Professor Layton series.

Professor Layton and the Last Specter

When Professor Layton receives a letter from his long time friend, Clark Triton, he immediately travels to Misthallery to help.  The only people helping Layton are his assistant Emmy, and his future apprentice, Luke.

            This is a prequel to the Layton series, so Flora’s not in this game.  Instead, we have Emmy, a woman who can kick the ass of people twice her size and jump on rooftops.  Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against Flora, but Emmy’s more my type of character.  Again, I cried during the story, but I don’t think it’s as powerful as Unwound Future.  Without giving away spoilers, the parts in the story that made me cry involved abuse to animals.  I can’t really count that as being powerful, because I have a soft spot for animals, so getting tears out of me like that is taking the easy way out.  Still, there is a problem I have with the story.  Layton is more worried about putting a grown woman who has repeatedly shown herself to be more than capable of defending herself in danger than he is about a ten-year-old kid who is also the son of his best friend.  Flora I can understand, but being more worried about Emmy than Luke is like having an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer where Giles is more concerned about Buffy being hurt than he is about Xander.  Although I do consider myself a feminist, I don’t like to toss around words like racist and sexist lightly, but I’m going to have to call sexist in this case.

            Like usual, we have the puzzles and three mini-games.  The puzzles are very difficult and you will need to use a few hint coins.  If you miss any puzzles, they’ll go to Granny Riddleton’s shack.  Some of you are probably wondering, “How could they be sent to Granny Riddleton’s shack when Layton never even met her until Curious Village?”  It’s actually very simple; Layton never meets her in this game.  The only connection he and Luke have to her is through a cat.  The mini-games are the train course, the puppet show and the gold fish tank.  To me, none of them particularly stood out and I only completed them to unlock bonus puzzles.  In addition to those things, this game also comes with something completely new.  You can now view short segments of minor characters to get a better understanding of their lives.

            I’ve already mentioned a problem I have with the story, now I’ll talk about a serious problem I have with the game.  It comes with an extra mini-game called Mouse Alley.  What you do to unlock it is tap ten mice running around through Misthallery.  Then you play a mini-game where you’re doing nothing except tapping mice with your stylus.  Okay, how is this a puzzle?  I played this game for hours, thanks to my obsession with getting 100% completion and all I gained from this stupid thing was cramped fingers!  Were they trying to come up with something different to keep us from getting bored with the series?  If that’s the case, they should just stick to what they know, because they really sucked at that.

            Thankfully, not all new things are bad and there was one new feature that was far from it, Professor Layton’s London Life.  You get to create a character and do tasks for various Layton characters throughout the game.  You even get to have one of the Layton characters become your roommate.  Trust me, it’s way better than it sounds.  The minute I started this game, I couldn’t put it down.  I’m surprised they didn’t make this into a separate game; it can definitely stand out on its own.

            While the puzzles are challenging, the story line intriguing and London Life completely addictive, the mouse alley game was horrible and the mini-games didn’t really catch my interest.  I give this game 9 out of 10, good, but not as good as its previous game.

Professor Layton and the Unwound Future

In the future, a criminal organization led by a corrupt Professor Layton has taken over London. In order to stop him, Luke has sent a note ten years in the past in the hopes that Layton will bring down his future self and save the city.

As usual we have Professor Layton, Luke, Flora, Chelmey and many other characters that we are familiar with from previous games, as well as a few new ones. In this game we finally discover what made Layton the gentlemen he is today, why he treasures his hat and what started the one-sided feud between him and Don Paulo. Despite how happy Layton might seem, his past is actually a tragic one. At the end of the storyline he cries. I want to leave this review spoiler free so I can’t say why he cries, but I can say this: when he cries he actually seems more human. Luke is, as usual, the doting apprentice of Professor Layton. He happily solves puzzles and defends Layton when he is insulted. In this game you truly see how close he and Layton are as certain events unfold. Despite those events, Layton and Luke continue to have their beautiful friendship. Flora is the odd one out. She is loved by both Layton and Luke, but she is not fully accepted as part of the group. When she confronts them about leaving her behind, Layton breaks his gentleman code by lying to her. He claims that it’s because he doesn’t want to put her in danger and that is a factor, but not the true reason. Flora is still new and she is not as close to Layton as Luke is. Plus, let’s face it; Flora cannot take care of herself due to her past (those who have played Professor Layton and the Curious Village will understand what I’m talking about). Still, I was happy that Flora included herself in the adventure and she even got to solve a few puzzles. Unfortunately she is still a damsel in distress, yet I really hope that these are the first few steps for her to slowly develop into a strong character. The character of this story that truly surprised me was the villain, who despite his evil plan, is actually a very sympathetic character.

Like every other game in this series, you will be solving puzzles and they get harder as the game goes on. Trust me, you will need to collect as many hint coins as possible and some of them will be sent to the riddle shack if you fail to solve them in time. However, in order to advance further in the game, you will need to backtrack and solve a few more puzzles. The puzzles also reward items that are necessary for completing the three mini-games. In this game, they are the delivering parrot, the toy car and the picture books. The parrot delivers items to various characters in the game and once he finishes the last delivery, you have a new companion to help you collect hint coins. The toy car comes with various courses and is actually my favorite of the mini games, and not only because of the animation and the arrows. It also gives you a glimpse into Luke’s character. Despite how hard he tries to be an adult, he’s still a ten-year old kid who likes to play every once in a while. The picture books are incomplete and it is your job to collect various drawings and finish each story. When you’re through with the story and the mini-games, you unlock Layton’s Challenges and when you’ve completed those, you unlock profiles, art, sound clips and various other special features. If that’s not enough, you can download new puzzles using the Wi-Fi on your Nintendo DS. In other words, not really that different from other Professor Layton games, but sometimes consistency is not such a bad thing.

Not only is the game fun and challenging, it is also a compelling story with true characters. The story was filled with twists and turns that I honestly did not see coming and the characters show a hidden depth that will surprise you. For the first time in this series, I actually cried. I give this game a ten out of ten. I was going to give it an eight or a nine, but the fact that the game emotionally affected me brought it up to a full ten.