• Sat. Apr 1st, 2023

Video Game Review – Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Justice for All (2002)

BySean Clark

Jul 8, 2021
A few months after playing through the first Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney game on Steam, I finally was able to play through the sequel, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney- Justice for All. I had heard that there was a new gameplay mechanic that makes playing through the second game more interesting, that there was an emotional case involving a circus and that the new main prosecutor had ties to a certain villain in the first game. Justice for All did a fantastic job building on the stakes of Ace Attorney while feeling like a satisfying sequel at the same time. While I prefer Ace Attorney over Justice for All, the sequel holds up well on its own with two outstanding cases and great character development. The main reason I prefer the first game is because of the first case in Justice for All. Like the first game, Justice for All is a visual novel that follows defense attorney Phoenix Wright as he investigates cases and fights in court for his clients to be proven innocent. To explain the plot of the game and why I love Justice for All so much, I will break down each of the four cases below. Spoilers for Justice for All ahead.

1. The Lost Turnabout

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Richard Wellington on the witness stand in Justice for All.
The introduction case of Justice for All brings players back to the Phoenix Wright universe in an amusing way. Phoenix is knocked out with a fire extinguisher and has amnesia before his next case: defending Maggey Byrde. She is a police officer who is accused of killing fellow officer Dustin Prince after pushing him off a high balcony at a park. Throughout the case, Phoenix struggles to remember anything about being a lawyer or who anyone in his life is along with his cell phone getting stolen. However, he pushes through and discovers that con-artist Richard Wellington killed Prince since the two officers had his missing cell phone, worried they would expose his crimes and contacts. Wellington pushed Prince off the balcony and wrote Maggey’s name, albeit incorrectly. This case was a breath of fresh air after two exhausting cases to end the first game. The process to expose Wellington was easy and provided a nice transition into the three main cases ahead.

2. Reunion, and Turnabout

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Mimi Miney wowing to take revenge on Dr. Grey after her car crash in Justice for All.
The first main case of Justice for All introduces two key elements, the new main prosecutor and the new gameplay mechanic. Phoenix goes up against Franziska von Karma, the daughter of Manfred von Karma, who killed Miles Edgeworth’s father and attempted to put Miles in prison in the first game. Franziska is cold, calculating and ruthless like her father, going to extreme lengths to maintain a perfect record. I love her introduction and there is more great content from her in the next two cases. Reunion, and Turnabout also displays a new gameplay mechanic, psyche locks. These appear during investigations where someone involved in the case is hiding something important. Evidence is needed to figure out the truth but like with courtroom cases, wrong answers cause you to lose health. However, getting them right allows you to gain health back, which is useful if you struggle in court. As for the case itself, Dr. Turner Grey goes to Kurain Village with Phoenix, a spiritual village where Maya and the rest of the Fey family hold their residency. Maya attempts to channel the spirit of Mimi Miney, who died in a car crash a year ago after committing malpractice by distributing medicine incorrectly, leading to the death of 14 patients in Grey’s clinic. Grey is supposedly killed in the meditation chamber by Mini’s spirit after taking control of Maya, leading to her arrest. However, after Phoenix investigates, he discovers that Mimi’s sister, Ini, is actually Mimi with facial reproductive surgery after Ini died in the car crash. Mimi hides in the chamber when the spirit summoning is taking place, knocking out Maya and killing Grey. She accomplishes this with the help of Morgan Fey, the mother of Pearl Fey, since she wants Pearl to replace Maya as the future head of the family. In this case and the final case, Pearl fulfills the role of Maya, acting as Phoenix’s assistant. I love her naivety and childlike perspective on the world. Considering that she lived in Kurain Village her whole life, she is a fish out of water in the city. She provides many amusing and wholesome moments to make the adventure more fun. While the case is interesting with Phoenix figuring out the truth by deducing the car in the crash was British, the reveal falls flat for me. Morgan’s involvement feels like an attempt to create a connection for the players when it just makes it feel more generic than the rest of the case should be. Even though it’s possible the third game, Trials and Tribulations may follow up with this plotline, it does not work for this case, bringing down my enjoyment of its ending.

3. Turnabout Big Top

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Franziska von Karma taunting her perceived victory over Phoenix in Justice for All.
The next case involves a circus…. yes, you read that right. It is the most hilarious and absurd case of the two games so far. Maximillion Galactica is accused of murdering the circus ringleader, Russell Berry, after Moe the Clown, ventriloquist Ben and Ben’s dummy Trilo saw Max at the scene of the crime. Phoenix, Maya and Pearl investigate and interact with the many strange people at the circus. Unexpectedly, the case has an emotional ending that left me holding back my tears. Six months ago, the acrobatic brothers, Bat and Acro, suffered severe injuries after fighting with Leon the Lion. Leon bit Bat in the head, causing him to go into a coma after Regina Berry, the animal tamer, sprayed pepper on Bat, causing Leon to sneeze. Russell put down Leon and told Regina that anyone who dies becomes a star in the sky, causing her to take the death more easily. The dejected Acro saw Regina happy and sought to take revenge as he believed she needed to pay for her supposed crimes. His pet monkey, Money, stole a bust of Max and summoned Regina to the courtyard after a show one night. Russell found the note and went in her place. Thus, when Acro dropped the bust on Russell, he killed him thinking it was actually Regina. Since the bust of Max looked like the real thing, Moe thought Max was flying away from the scene after murdering Russell. I did not expect the emotional ending, making the case satisfying as all the humor leading up to the reveal balanced it out well. The circus was entertaining and the music, composed by Naoto Tanaka, created a lively and fun atmosphere that amplified my enjoyment. Also, the court action was unique. When questioning the clown, Phoenix was penalized for pressing on any statement without logical reason, making it difficult to get answers out of Moe since Moe was uncontrollable. It made cracking the case more challenging, and on top of interviewing an aggressive ventriloquist and a naive Regina, there was never a dull moment in the case.

4. Farewell, My Turnabout

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Phoenix is attempting to break the psyche-lock on Adrian Andrews in Justice for All.
Through the first eight cases of the Ace Attorney trilogy, Phoenix Wright defended clients that were innocent and deserved to be free. But what happens when Phoenix receives a client that is clearly guilty, but must defend him for the sake of a close friend? That is the conundrum of the final case of Justice for All, Farewell, My Turnabout. This case is a roller coaster with Jammin’ Ninja, Juan Corrida, is found dead after a Grand Prix. The Nickel Samurai, played by Matt Engarde, was arrested for the murder after the Nickel Samurai was spotted leaving Corrida’s room around the time of the murder. During the investigation, Maya is kidnapped by notorious hitman Shelly De Killer, forcing Phoenix to get an innocent verdict for his client, Engarde, in exchange for Maya’s freedom. Phoenix is desperate to clear Engarde so that Maya can be free. It looks promising as Engarde’s manager, Adrian Andrews, seems guilty as Engarde has an alibi and her fingerprints were found at the scene of the crime. During this whole mess, von Karma is shot by De Killer and Miles Edgeworth, who Phoenix thought was gone, returns as the lead prosecutor for the case. Edgeworth and Phoenix work together to save Maya, discuss their differences and discover what is the true purpose of their respective positions. I enjoyed seeing Edgeworth’s arc continue from the first game, and with the two working together, I felt a high level of satisfaction. Like with Suzaku and Lelouch in Code Geass or Zuko and Aang in Avatar: The Last Airbender, seeing a pair that were on opposing sides forming an unstoppable duo is always great when developed well. On the final day of the trial, Phoenix has to buy time and defend Engarde so Detective Gumshoe can retrieve damning evidence for Engarde: that he videotaped De Killer killing Corrida to use as potential blackmail. This would force De Killer to eliminate his contract with Engarde and release Maya. However, Gumshoe crashes his vehicle, but luckily Franziska arrives to bring the evidence Phoenix needs to force Engarde to confess. If he doesn’t confess, then the police would set him free so De Killer could make him his next target. With Maya free and a slew of terrible losses under her reputation, von Karma leaves the country after her perfect record was destroyed. This case was exhausting and frustrating with Phoenix forced to defend an evil and guilty man. I felt for Phoenix as he was chastised by many for defending Engarde, but with von Karma showing up and forcing Engarde into a no-win situation, the case became one of the most satisfying video game moments I have had in awhile. It was written brilliantly and I loved the tension the whole case had through its entirety. Overall, the soundtrack and cases for the first game triumphed for me over Justice for All. However, I still enjoyed Justice for All due to its great character development with the satisfying return of Edgeworth, an intense final case and the absurd circus case. Like the first game, I highly recommend Justice for All and it is available on every console, PC, IOS and Android. Rating: 8.5/10