GAME: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
CASE: From the Ashes
CONSOLES: DS, 3DS
This case is a weird one to deal with. When the original Ace Attorney came out on GBA, it only had four cases, but this one was added for the DS version. Playing it now, knowing it was added in after the trilogy had already been completely, you can see the cracks. The story picks up where the previous case left off, catching Wright and Edgeworth out of sorts but unable to feature Maya.
Instead, we get Ema Skye, the bubbly younger sister of defendant Lana. Her obsession with doing things scientifically is the opposite of Maya's mysticism, but the character is pretty similar in the end. She introduces you to some new gameplay features, using the DS' features to spray chemical solutions, dust for fingerprints and rotate 3D evidence.
A lot of this stuff feels like an unnecessary exercise in dragging things out. Instead of merely clicking on a piece of evidence, it makes you play minigames. This attitude runs through the whole case. Characters never just say what they're going to say: instead, the player has to present a seemingly arbitrary piece of evidence to make Phoenix ask an obvious question. The proceedings are dragged out for a whole extra day for a second murder which is an obvious red herring from start to finish.
This extra day adds very little and, like in the Steel Samurai case, feels like it was added just to stretch out playtime. It serves to establish that some evidence was stolen, but other than that all we get are extra comedy moments. Unfortunately, these are the weakest parts of this case. Character's comedy lines feel forced, and Officer Meekins is up there with Lotta Heart for unfunny bitparts you wish you could skip.
For the first half of this case, these bugbears were getting me down. The characterisations all felt a little off; Phoenix was lying around feeling sorry for himself, Edgeworth had become self-parody and the relationship between the Police Department and the Prosecutor's Office was characterised almost in the polar opposite of the previous case.
As the mystery unravelled, it all began to make more sense. Phoenix' journey from Ace Attorney to Justice For All made sense by the end. Edgeworth's dodgy reputation was explained in a way the main game never accomplished. And the story between the detectives and lawyers all made sense.
Best of all was the satisfying conclusion to the central premise of the story: a defendant who didn't want to be found innocent. A quality story of guilt, betrayal and love, this is Ace Attorney at it's very best. It's just a shame the effort it took to get there.
A slightly messy case that redeems itself with a phenomenal final act.