Ace Attorney 101 with Phoenix Wright and Maya Fey

Oct 03, 2014
2014 Oct 03
Janet Hsu

Welcome one and all, and an especially big welcome to all newcomers to the Ace Attorney series! Maybe this is your first time ever looking at the gameplay elements, or maybe you’re a veteran of our recent crossover with a certain Professor Hershel Layton and his number one disciple Luke Triton – regardless of your level of familiarity with how to play these games, Phoenix and Maya are here to give you a crash course!

Take it away, you two!


Phoenix: It sounds like someone’s been playing too much “Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney” recently.

Maya: Speak for yourself! I actually enjoyed being in the presence of a real English gentleman.

Phoenix: He’s a real something, alright.

Maya: Hey, don’t sourpuss at me just because he kept showing you up, Nick.

Phoenix: …………

Maya: But it’s good to be home! We’ve been away for so long, I’d almost forgotten how to play our own game!

Phoenix: “Our game”…?

Maya: You know! The original “Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney” trilogy, duh!

Phoenix: Oh, right… Duh.

■ Trial Sections  ■

Testimonies and Cross-Examinations

Phoenix: Why is it every witness I face is always a huge liar?

Maya: Not all of them! Remember the one time when—

Phoenix: I know, I know. Some of them just misremember things.

Maya: At least the inconsistencies in their testimonies usually help us get to the bottom of things.

Phoenix: Finding contradictions between a witness’s words and the evidence is the only weapon we have in court.

Maya: I don’t know, Nick. I can think of at least one other thing you use more often than that.

Phoenix: …Dare I ask what…?

Maya: Your super-human ability to bluff your way through everything!

Phoenix: Hey! I back up my claims with evidence!

Maya: That’s assuming you know what you’re talking about when you do, you mean.

Phoenix: I always know what I’m talking about! Here, I’ll show you!

Maya: NO, NICK!!! DON’T!!!

Maya: Way to present your Attorney’s Badge.

Phoenix: Whoops. Umm… slip of the finger…?

Getting a Game Over

Phoenix: What are those exclamation points and that gauge in the upper right corner supposed to mean again?

Maya: His Honor’s level of annoyance at you?

Phoenix: Then shouldn’t I want to have as little of them as possible?

Maya: Just kidding. It’s actually how much patience he has left for your incompetency.

Phoenix: I’d rather you phrased it as my remaining credibility…

Maya: Same diff. It all boils down to a “game over” when you run out.

■ Investigations  ■

Basic Investigation Screen

Maya: All of these commands are pretty self-explanatory, huh?

Phoenix: Yeah, but let’s go over them anyway. The Investigation segments were totally different during our adventure in Labyrinthia, after all.


Maya: Can’t say I don’t enjoy this part of our investigations!

Phoenix: Oh?

Maya: This is where we get to talk with witnesses and other persons of interest to find more info for our case!

Phoenix: Yeah, although there is such a thing as too much info.

Maya: Some people sure do like to talk a lot, don’t they?

Phoenix: …………

Phoenix: …I can think of at least one windy old ba–

Maya: Nick! Don’t be so mean! Don’t you know you have to respect your elders?

Phoenix: I’ll leave her to you next time, then.

Maya: Right! I’ll take care of the windy old bag!

Phoenix: What was that about respecting your elders again…?

Maya: I never said anything about me — that rule only applies to YOU, silly!


Maya: Can’t say I don’t enjoy this part of our investigations, either!

Phoenix: What part of our investigations do you NOT enjoy?

Maya: Well, I especially enjoy this part because this is where we get to “borrow” stuff from the crime scene!

Phoenix: “Highly illegally remove”, you mean…

Maya: Can you really complain when it serves our case?

Phoenix: …I… I guess not.

Maya: Screens like this that have the little left/right arrows on the bottom are twice as fun because it means we can pan to the other side and back!

Phoenix: Oh, perfect. That makes for twice the number of things I have to potentially stop you from removing.

Maya: That’s “BORROWING”, Nick!


Maya: Moving between locations is instantaneous, but sometimes it’s good to make a map for reference.

Phoenix: Oh, right. Every location is only linked with a few other locations, so sometimes you have to move a couple of times in a row to get to where you want to go.

Maya: That’s what I like to call “full-on immersion”! It’s like you’re really there expending energy moving from place to place!

Phoenix: …I don’t think that was meant to be a feature, Maya…


Phoenix: Presenting witnesses with evidence is one way to get them to open up about things, or even just jog their memories.

Maya: And I know just the thing you always present first!

Phoenix: Yup, I make it a point to show this bad boy off whenever I can.

Maya: Too bad no one ever has anything good to say about it.

Phoenix: Yeah, well! We’ll see what they have to say when I present people with their own profiles starting with the second game!

Maya: Yeah! Like… HERE! What do you have to say about your silly ol’ mug, Nick?!

Phoenix: …Th-Thanks for the demonstration, Maya. *sigh*

Magatama and Psyche-Locks

Off in the distance: Nnghoooooooooooooh!

Maya: What was that?

Phoenix: E-Edgeworth…?

Maya: Are you sure? Because that sounded like the distressed wail of a thoroughly traumatized man.

Phoenix: That’s… probably not far off the mark…

Breaking Psyche-Locks

Maya: Hey! Why is Larry trying to hide what he knows about the night of the crime from you, Nick? I thought you guys were best buds!

Phoenix: Probably because he realized he made some mortifying mistake and is trying to cover it up.

Maya: …That sounds about right… Well, what are you waiting for! Present my Magatama and let’s pry the truth out of him already!

Maya: All right! Now, let’s see what he has to say for himself!

Phoenix: He just had to be slacking off, didn’t he?

Maya: That’s not much of a surprise, though, is it?

Phoenix: No… Well, guess I’d better hurry up and present the right evidence… Let’s see here… Just gonna scroll over to the piece I need and… TAKE THAT!

Maya: Way to shove the evidence in his face, Nick!

Phoenix: It wasn’t that hard to figure Larry out. And after I break that other one with some more evidence… There we go…!

Forensics/Scientific Investigation

From the front room: *knock, knock*

Maya: Oh! There’s someone at the door! I’ll get it!

Ema: *bursts into the office* Hi, Mr. Wright! I heard you were going to talk about forensics today and I thought I’d come and offer my expert advice!

Maya: Um, Nick… Who is she…?

Phoenix: Remember that case I took on when you went back home?

Maya: Yeah…

Phoenix: Well, Ema here was my client.

Maya: Oh! So YOU’RE Ema Skye! Glad to finally meet you!

Ema: It’s nice to meet you, too! Now, let’s get down to explaining things, scientifically!

Ema: Now, this is just one of the many forensics tests I can help you with. It’s an oldie but goodie: testing for trace blood with Luminol! All you have to do is pull out the testing fluid while examining your surroundings and spray away!

Maya: Like this?

Ema: Wow! It looks like you found some bloodstains already, Maya! Just keep spraying until you get a strong enough of a reaction for us to take a good look.

Maya: You got it! This is actually a ton of fun! But why is there blood on Mr. Edgeworth’s office floor?

Phoenix: …I’m not sure anyone actually wants to know the answer to that…

Ema: Okay, that’s enough. Now we can zoom in for a closer look.

Ema: And that’s all there is to it! Isn’t scientific investigation amazing?!

Maya: Yeah! And you said there are other tests to play around with?

Ema: Yup! New clues are always waiting to be discovered, scientifically! Well, that was fun, but I’d better get going. *walks into the other room and runs into the delivery boy who was about to knock*

Ema: Ouch!

Delivery Boy: Special delivery for Ms. Maya Fey.

Ema: Maya! It’s for you! See you, Mr. Wright!

Maya: Huh? But I’m not expecting anything…

Phoenix: You’d better go sign for it.

Maya: Yeah. *goes into the front room*

Maya: *in the distance* Why’s the sender’s name “H. L.”…? And I never ordered anything from London…

Phoenix: Um…

Maya: Oh, wow! *pops back into the room* Sorry, Nick, but something came up.

Phoenix: I knew it…

Maya: What’s with that look! I thought you’d be happy for me! After all, it’s the duty of every gentleman to ensure the wellbeing of a lady, Sir Blue Knight!

Phoenix: …………*sigh* I KNEW I never should’ve accepted that invitation from the Legal League of Attorneys.


Thanks, guys! I knew I could count on you! And aww, cheer up, Pheonix! Maya’ll be back to helping you solve cases before you know it!

One thing Phoenix and Maya didn’t get around to mentioning is that you can actually yell “Objection!”, “Hold it!”, and “Take that!” if you want when prompted by a mic icon on the lower screen.

Hold down the Y Button and shout to your heart’s content!

In addition, here are a few other tips for newcomers to the series:

1) Suspend your disbelief

I once had “Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies” recommended to me by an online site’s newsletter, saying that — and I swear this is true — it’s an “ACCURATE lawyer simulator”… which it isn’t by any stretch of the imagination. So if you’re an actual lawyer, or someone who was hoping for a more serious outing, I highly recommend you suspend your disbelief. All of it. Trust me; you’ll have a ton more fun playing if you just go with the insanity. As Mr. Takumi said : “We didn’t apply any … real life ‘rules’ to ‘Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney’. Not one.”

2) Press every statement

When you’re playing a Trial section and you seem stuck, try pressing every statement. Sometimes, the statements that seem the least relevant are the ones that reveal the most.

3) Answer only what’s being asked

A good number of you will inevitably figure some things out in advance of when you’re supposed to. Fortunately, you can avoid the frustration of being too smart for the game by focusing on only what is being asked and looking for the piece of evidence that addresses that specific issue.

4) Examine everything, twice even!

Some locations and objects require more than one look-see, so if you seem stuck in your investigation, try re-examining places you’ve been to and re-interviewing witnesses with any new pieces of evidence you happened to have come across.

5) Groan at the puns

If you’re not groaning at the punny names, you’re not playing it right, is what I like to say. And as terrible as some of them are, remember that you are not getting any worse of an experience than a Japanese player. What that says about how puntastic the names were originally, however, is a different matter altogether…

And above all: remember to HAVE FUN!

Next week, I’ll be back with part two of Mr. Takumi’s dev blog. Will Mr. Takumi make his deadline? Catch up on part one here , and I’ll see you next week! In the meantime, I’m curious if you veterans out there have any tips for new players, or any non-spoilerific stories of when you first started playing you’d like to share! Please leave them in the comments section if you do!

Until then!

Catch up on previous blog entries here!