With the announcement of The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles coming west, there’s bound to be a slew of first-time players immersing themselves in the world of Ace Attorney. So, with that being said, here’s the order a newcomer can approach diving into this culturally impactful and storied franchise.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy
There is actually no idealized, perfect order to play these games in, but the first purchase any interested party should make is Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy. This package contains remastered versions of the first three Ace Attorney games; Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney − Justice for All, and Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney − Trials and Tribulations. These versions all feature sprites and music developed for their updated iOS releases.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney − Justice for All occurs after Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, and Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney − Trials and Tribulations occurs after Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney − Justice for All. Basically, play these games in their listed, advertised order, and you should have no issues.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy is available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Steam, and Nintendo Switch. The three titles are also all individually released on Android, iOS, DS, and 3DS.
Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth
This game is essentially a spinoff that focuses on Miles Edgeworth, one of the series’ central characters first introduced in the original Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. One does not necessarily have to play this after Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney − Trials and Tribulations, but the change of pace this game provides can be seen as a lite reprieve from the norm.
The gameplay in this title has elements that differ from the mainline entries, the primary of which being an absence of traditional court trials. Still, the gameplay processes are about the same. As the name implies, there is a stronger emphasis on investigations than the norm with the mainline games. There are also some new mechanical factors exclusive to Edgeworth, making this title a standout entry.
Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth is available for DS, Android, and iOS.
Ace Attorney Investigations 2
This title is a direct sequel to Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth and is not officially localized. What makes the absence of this title in the west even more unfortunate is that this is one of the more positively received entries from fans. There is, however, an exceedingly well-done fan translation that is more than worth experiencing.
While I don’t personally consider this title to be particularly noteworthy, it is highly regarded in the community for its fair share of reasons and is absolutely worth playing. Unless Capcom finally makes a duology pack including both Ace Attorney Investigations titles, the only way an English speaker can experience this particular game is through fan translations.
Ace Attorney Investigations 2 is available on DS, iOS, and Android only in Japan.
Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney
Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney is the fourth mainline entry of the series, taking place several years after the events of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney − Trials and Tribulations. It also features a new protagonist, the titular Apollo Justice.
This game should definitely be played after having gone through the final title of the prior trilogy. It spoils developments regarding a particular key character, and its emotional weight will be lacking if played before that point. This is arguably the black sheep mainline game, but it is also one of the most unique and has its share of strengths.
Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney is available on DS, 3DS, iOS, and Android.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies is the fifth mainline entry in the series, taking place after Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney. This was also the first game on 3DS, marking a new beginning for the series, though this newfound beginning was short-lived.
There is also a DLC case for this title that is not required but does help with context for one specific character and is just pretty enjoyable. This DLC case, alongside the other DLC, is included in the iOS and Android releases.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies is available for 3DS, iOS, and Android.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney − Spirit of Justice
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney − Spirit of Justice is the sixth, and so far, latest mainline entry of the Ace Attorney franchise. This is also the conclusion of the Apollo trilogy of games and where the current chronology has left off.
Additionally, there is a slew of DLC, similarly to Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies, with there being one fully-fledged case that takes place after the events of the base game’s final case.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney − Spirit of Justice is available for 3DS, iOS, and Android.
That is my recommended play order for the currently released Ace Attorney titles aside from the upcoming The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles. With these being prequels, though, you don’t have to be caught up with the rest of the games to experience it.
If there’s one thing I hope you got out of this piece, it’s to play the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy first, with Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies, and then Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney − Spirit of Justice in that order afterward. The Investigation games can be played whenever you desired, ideally some point after completing the original trilogy, but that’s ultimately up to you.
Here’s hoping that Capcom makes collections of and localizes the two Investigations games and the fourth, fifth, and sixth mainline Ace Attorney titles. Once that happens, we’ll be golden.
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