On September 8th, Court's in Session for Ace Attorney: Spirit of Justice

The sixth main installment of Capcom's long-running lawyer sim will fill your 3DS with high-stakes anime melodrama in less than a month.

News by Bob Mackey, .

While Japanese fans of Capcom's Ace Attorney series got their fix with last year's unreleased-in-America Great Ace Attorney, we Americans have spent nearly three years without getting our anime courtroom action on with the spiky haired public defender—two years if you count Layton vs. Wright.

That will change on September 8, though, when Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Spirit of Justice heads exclusively to the 3DS eShop. As with 2013's Dual Destinies, this newest installment will be digital-only, which may come as a slight disappointment for those of you who prefer your games to take a physical form. But digital distribution seems to be the only way Capcom can afford to continue taking risks on this niche series, to the point where it's surprising the Ace Attorney games haven't yet ended up on Steam—if Danganronpa can find an audience on the PC, its inspiration surely can.

With Dual Destinies resetting the big changes 2008's Apollo Justice had for Ace Attorney, Spirit of Justice looks to be a very fan-friendly take on the series that still manages to work in some new courtroom mechanics—while including just about everything we've seen in past installments. Most notably, SoJ features the return of Phoenix's energetic assistant Maya Fey, who seemingly departed for good after the third entry in the original Ace Attorney trilogy. Ema Skye, the forensics-scientist-in-training from the first game's bonus DS chapter, is also making a return, which may make up for the ignoble fate she suffered in Apollo Justice. (Seriously, she got a pretty raw deal.)

While Ace Attorney isn't really interested in deviating from its reliable courtroom antics, Spirit of Justice mixes things up a bit by dropping Phoenix into a new land with new rules—much like in Layton vs. Wright. Along with the standard contradiction-spotting seen in past games, SoJ's new setting of Khura'in features a "Pool of Souls" in its justice system which displays the last few moments of a victim's life from their perspective. Shockingly, Phoenix and his team will have to determine how these reenactments clash with witness testimony throughout the course of this new adventure.

As with Dual Destinies, Ace Attorney creator Shu Takumi has taken less of a hands-on role, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing; the last two games he worked on, Layton vs. Wright and Great Ace Attorney, were apparently fraught with production problems, leading to some slightly disappointing results. In any case, the semi-respectable Japanese magazine Famitsu gave Spirit of Justice some pretty respectable scores when it debuted in Japan a few months ago, so Ace Attorney fans shouldn't have anything to worry about.

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Comments 8

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  • Avatar for Godots17thCup #1 Godots17thCup 2 years ago
    Although I'm happy that Ema Skye has apparently accomplished her long-time dream of becoming a forensic scientist, I do hope that she hasn't lost all of her bitterness and cynicism from Ace Attorney 4. I actually really enjoyed grumpy Ema and thought it really helped her stand out from the rest of the cast.
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  • Avatar for Banandango #2 Banandango 2 years ago
    @Godots17thCup That was my one big nitpick about Dual Destinies. Phoenix pretty much had his entire character development from Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney retconned, and he's suddenly back to being his goofy, likeable paragon-of-truth-and-justice self after he sticks his attorney's badge back on. I don't buy that, not after those seven years of revenge planning and underhanded courtroom tactics. I know he was likely reverted back to his old self to please the fans, but come on.

    (I'm still buying this game, though.)
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  • Avatar for swamped #3 swamped 2 years ago
    Whoops, I'm on the last case of AA:DD, better hurry up. Really excited for Ema and Maya.
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  • Avatar for Dreamboum #4 Dreamboum 2 years ago
    Layton VS. Ace Attorney and GAA are wonderful games that pushes the concept of the franchise even further than the highly conservative Dual Destinies to me.

    Even if one considers them as flawed, I can't see where it would be a bad thing when the other side just plays softball and makes it like everything in the whole AA universe happened 2 days after AA3. Considering SOJ will have even less things to show for it and will not even have a single new objection theme, I really wonder where this will lead us. I really expect a downward cycle due to the lack of identity and novelty the franchise faces.

    They should have let DD and SOJ's director keep doing the good work in the Investigations spin-off series. That was a really good side series that could have had a good transition towards the 3DS.
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  • Avatar for bobservo #5 bobservo 2 years ago
    @Dreamboum I'll admit Layton vs. Wright was pretty good (with some great production values), but it never really knew what it wanted to be. I really would have preferred that Capcom/Level-5 found a natural way to mix the two styles of play, rather than keeping them segregated.

    And based on some import reviews I've read, Great Ace Attorney comes off as being largely unfinished. That doesn't mean I don't want to play it, though.
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  • Avatar for Dreamboum #6 Dreamboum 2 years ago
    @bobservo It could have been much more, I agree. They did not put enough cooperation between these two worlds.

    In their respective parts, Layton VS. AA brought to me the kind of dynamism, silliness and turnabouts that I simply haven't felt in Dual Destinies. I prefer Takumi's style to bring something really new and fresh to the table and his tight writing. Though at this point, I would rather see him work on new IPs just like he did with the fantastic Ghost Trick.
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  • Avatar for bobservo #7 bobservo 2 years ago
    @Dreamboum The biggest downfall in Layton vs. Wright was the boring pureness of Espella Cantabella. I expect Takumi to write spunky female characters, but the overwhelming innocence and goodness of Espella really grated on me by the end of the game.

    I don't blame Takumi for the kinda-dumb plot twist, because that seems to be right out of Layton's playbook. I wish they chose to leave some stuff unexplained rather than establishing a setting that entails giant pieces of machinery covered in Warner Bros.-esque disappearing ink.
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  • Avatar for keshavkrishnan19 #8 keshavkrishnan19 2 years ago