GAME: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
CASE: Turnabout Sisters
CONSOLES: GBA, DS, Wii, iOS, 3DS
After the low-key tutorial, this is the case where things get real. The other few members of the regular cast are introduced: Detective Dick Gumshoe, Phoenix' partner Maya Fey and the ruthless prosecutor/ handsome dandy Miles Edgeworth. The lovable Dick and Maya don't settle into their roles straight away, Dick starting off as a minor adversary and Maya as a defendant. The unbeatable ruthlessness of Edgeworth is clear to see straight away.
The other side of the gameplay coin arrives here too, with this trial taking multiple days and introducing the investigatory point-and-click sections that punctuate time spent in court. Throughout the series, these are the less interesting part of the game but they keep the story moving. And what a story.
After getting to grips with the mechanics in the first case, it's easy to forget they exist from here on out. The writing, the characters, the back-and-forth flow of the case is utterly absorbing. Fairly standard procedural crime drama is improved immensely with the melodrama and colourful characters of over-the-top animé style.
This story, despite being one of the first, is particularly emotional. The murder victim is Mia Fey, Wright's mentor. After relying on her advice in the first case, her death here is a powerful Obi-Wan moment. The suspect is her younger sister, a trainee spirit medium. This mystical aspect is significant as the series goes on, for better or worse.
The villain of the piece is another masterpiece. His story spreads the seeds of a greater arc, and despite being only the second killer in the game, he is impressively untouchable and intimidating. Think of a combination of Magnussen from BBC's Sherlock and Barry White from the Cillit Bang adverts.
Because this is such an early case, the concept of a villain with the courts in his pockets is a little undercooked. The denouement ends up feeling a little rushed and unsatisfying, particularly as the killing blow is taken out of the player's hands.
Overall, this is another strong piece of crime fiction which sets up the characters and setting for the series to move forwards with confidence.
A great start to the game proper, only let down by a slightly rushed finish.