It goes down a little something like this: a scene unfolds, during which you, the player, supposedly witness the moment of murder. It’s always murder, by the way. Every case ends up being a murder trial because the world of Phoenix Wright is apparently populated by sociopaths, all of whom possess a penchant for extensive cover-ups to match their outrageously manic-depressive tendencies. Anyway, whatever your preconceptions are from the scene you’re shown, forget them. What you see is never the real story.
Even the characters you think are guilty are likely just crazy. It’s impossible to differentiate between guilt and the regular insanity that most characters in the game world exhibit, because everyone acts as though a prerequisite for entering into courtroom proceedings is an acid trip and several lines of cocaine. One moment they’re all smiles, and the next their head is hung low as they’re dragged under the tide of soul-crushing grief. It’s the anime aesthetic at work, doing what it does best. Either that, or whoever did the art design for this game was bipolar.
I have a theory that all lawyers and politicians have experience with dark magic, because as soon as they become involved in the profession they’re required to sell their soul to the devil. In that regard, this game is surprisingly accurate, given that you can communicate with your dead mentor at various points in the game. In fact, you’re quite the pathetic lawyer without that supernatural assistance. That’s fine, though, because you attract equally pathetic clients for the most part. It’s a match made in heaven. Or… you know, wherever your mentor went when she got clocked to death (literally, she was beaten to death with a clock).
Phoenix Wright is incredibly linear. Every situation you find yourself in boils down to finding the right piece of evidence to present, with the only alternative being losing. Out of court, you’re literally incapable of losing the game. Most of the sequences out of court involve running from location to location, finding clues to help you build your case, but usually you’ll fail to have anything figured out by the time you’re called back into court. That’s where the best part of the game comes in.
You get to harass people! It’s actually incredibly fun to do your first few cross-examinations, and picking out small flaws that lead to you blowing huge holes in the stories of the guilty and innocent alike will fill you with the sweetest of sadistic joys.
In short, anyone capable of enjoying a linear game that’s a bit insane at times will enjoy Phoenix Wright. It’s an opportunity to play good cop, bad cop, psycho cop, dorky cop, lawyer cop, and supernatural cop, not to mention an opportunity to ultimately get a bunch of anime characters thrown into jail. Everyone wins.
Here’s what you should do: