In the game Ace Attorney, you play as Phoenix Wright. You can guess his occupation: a defense attorney. Somehow he really only deals with murder trials. The basic layout of the game is divided up into trial and investigations. The investigations help you piece together what really happened and the trial is where you basically engage the prosecution in a battle of wits.
The game is originally Japanese but has been localized for English players. It supposedly takes place in Los Angeles, CA, but it’s basically a San Fransokyo protoype. This is especially obvious in their court system, which takes more heavily after a Japanese courtroom. The defendant is assumed guilty until proven innocent, by both onlookers and the judge. The defense has the burden of proof. And there’s no jury. Not only does the defense have to prove their client not guilty, they have to prove who the guilty party really is.
It really makes you appreciate that our court system isn’t like that. As a former member of my school’s Mock Trial club and someone who keeps the constitution in my purse, I have a special appreciation for our court system. True, it’s not perfect, but it’s significantly better than that of Japanifornia. The contrast makes me guffaw with laughter and reminds me of our system’s good.
Though hilarious, the games also have a deeper aspect. It presents you with tough choices that make you think. Perhaps that’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I love pondering the hard questions. I shan’t give the specific questions now for fear of spoiling, but they are quite thought-provoking.
I also love how the game portrays the purpose of a court system and of having both defense attorneys and prosecutors. The culture in the game respects prosecutors greatly while generally viewing the defense as schemers. (This is especially true in the most recent game.) Contrast this to our culture, where many of the people I have talked to view the prosecution as the schemers. But the plot and characters of the game point out a very different idea.
They suggest that neither the defense nor the prosecution is inherently evil, rather they are working together to arrive at the truth. If both attorneys thought the defendant was guilty and acted in such a manner, there would be no one to defend him. Or if both were convinced of his innocence, no one would present the possibility that he is actually guilty. Neither of these scenarios is good, because the best way to arrive at truth is by discussing different possibilities and points of view. Although these games revolve around a court system vastly different than ours, I think this concept still applies to our court system. I could ramble about this forever, so let's move on.
A pet peeve of mine is that when most people today see two persons with a strong relationship, they often automatically start pressuring them to be in a romantic relationship. This is especially true in regards to fictional characters, but I’ve noticed it spilling into real life a lot, too. What I appreciate about Ace Attorney is it shows strong relationships between various characters, be it between people of the same or opposite genders, but it doesn’t romanticize them. In true fandom fashion, the fans heavily ship a lot of these pairings. However, the game itself does not put romantic pressures on its characters, which is a nice reprieve. It reminds you that not every strong friendship needs to end in romance.
On another high note, the writers develop its characters quite well. There are a few prosecutors I hated initially, but I was provoked to sympathy for them. There was one girl I deeply distrusted, but she became one of my favorite characters. There were even people that I loved and related to initially, but they ended up being the worst of them all. You never know what to expect from an Ace Attorney character.There are so many great things about this franchise, but I’ll let you discover them yourself. Get swept up in gripping storylines and gorgeous accompanying music. Laugh at the bizarre things and prepare yourself for major feels. These games will take you for a wild ride. (And did I mention they recently converted it into a TV show?)