A Ranking of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Cases

I can’t be the only one who was exceptionally excited to see that the The Great Ace Attorney games are coming to the switch after being trapped in a language that I can’t speak for so long. I’ve often felt that the switch is the perfect place to have all of the games in the Ace Attorney series, but that comes down to Capcom and if they’re willing to port or not. I’m still hoping that we’ll get the announcement of the second trilogy coming to switch any day now, but in the meantime I replayed the very first game for the first time since I was in middle school. Its been a long time and I didn’t remember a ton of the details from these cases which was perfect. By the time I got done, I realized that I regarded them a lot differently thanks to the way I’ve come to better understand storytelling since I was 13. So, with that in mind and in celebration of how we’ll be seeing more of this amazing series on the switch very soon, here is our ranking of the five cases of the first Ace Attorney game.

5. Turnabout Samurai

There’s a term called “third case syndrome” in the Ace Attorney fandom. This refers to the way that the third case in a game tends to be the weakest (though this is not always the case). That all started here with Turnabout Samurai. It’s not an awful case by any means, but it’s just the weakest in the game. Like many other third cases, it’s not directly connected to the main thrust of the overarching story in the game and it’s jump in length isn’t quite as justified as a longer case that is connected to the overall story.

Turnabout Samurai just feels like it’s spinning it’s wheels for a little while is all. However, it does have the distinct highlight of Edgeworth kind of coming onto your side during the trial. Too bad that that highlight is nearly at the end of the case. It has the distinction of introducing some recurring characters as well, though they’re some of the weaker ones of the Ace Attorney stable.

4. Turnabout Sisters

This is another one that’s not bad, but it’s just not the best either. I would almost make it tie for third place, they’re that close. Turnabout Sisters has one of the stronger reasons for you to be involved in the case. After all, the victim is your boss, which is actually kind of a bummer. It also introduces us to series mainstay, Maya, which is one of my personal favorite characters. However, it doesn’t do the best job of characterizing her as she seems to get over her big sister’s death just a bit too quickly, which can take some players out of the moment.

Still, there is the excitement of feeling like you’ve uncovered a conspiracy as you go along and this case is iconic for being the first time that you get to face off against Edgeworth in the courtroom. It also has the killer in the game that has just the MOST PUNCHABLE face. Redd White’s smarminess is just something that makes bringing him down incredibly satisfying.

3. The First Turnabout

This is a short and sweet case that gets itself out of the way quickly and really is just here to get you introduced to the game’s mechanics. That being said, it’s one of the better intro cases in the series. Unlike some others that can go on a bit too long or have irritating characters, this is to the point in the best of ways and just the quintessential first case. I love it. It also doesn’t have any investigation segments, which is perfect for those who only want courtroom action.

2. Rise from the Ashes

This one just barely misses making it into the top of the list. The problem is that it was made quite a bit after the first version of this game came out in order to give a reason to get the new version on the DS (which was the first version here in the states) and that really shows in the way that this case is constructed. Maya is gone after being your companion and while Ema is interesting, we don’t really know her like we did Maya. It also delays the way that Edgeworth was meant to go and revaluate himself after the end of the fourth case, which causes this strange delay in his character arc, which feels unnatural when you know the way that the game was initially meant to flow. 

The case entirely makes up for this by taking real advantage of the enhanced power it was given by several years of progression in the medium. Rise from the Ashes is just so much more cinematic than those that came before, giving it such a unique feel that you can’t help but to remember it. There’s also quite a bit of foreshadowing for later in the series, which can be either a good or bad thing depending on where you stand.

1. Turnabout Goodbyes

This one rose to the top for me after all these years just based on the strength of the story being told here. It’s a culmination of everything that has come in the game up to this point, giving you a whole new view on Edgeworth and marking a wonderful turn for his character. This is a large part of the reason that he’s always been such a fan favorite. It’s not that he’s the first, but that he has one of the stronger arcs over the course of his game, which makes it a joy to take part in.

It’s a more serious case, but there’s still a lot of that Ace Attorney levity that balances things out. We’re introduced to even more characters and it’s funny to think that at this point in the series, getting testimony from a parrot is the wackiest thing that we had seen. It’s almost quaint, knowing what was to come in the future for these characters.

1 thought on “A Ranking of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Cases

  1. Great list! I agree that Turnabout Goodbyes should take that top spot! I don’t think there is a bad case in the bunch here though, what a fantastic start to the series.

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