The sixth Ace Attorney game hit the 3DS a couple of months ago and once Dragon Quest VII was finished I jumped right into it. I greatly enjoyed the previous game, Dual Destinies, but while it was a joy to just have the series back after a few years, it didn’t quite capture the magic of the original trilogy. With Spirit of Justice, the series has finally returned to its original heights.
There are still some problems for the series to work through. For one, there are too many characters that are important enough that that all feel like they need to be given their due. There is Phoenix, Apollo and Athena, the three attorneys that work at Wright Agency. And then there is Trucy Wright and investigator Emma Skye. There must also be appearances by previous prosecutors like Miles Edgeworth and Simon Blackquill. Then the game also returns Maya Fey, with a cameo for her cousin Pearl. I’ve enjoyed this whole series and am more than happy to see each of these familiar faces, but the sheer number of returning characters makes it hard to find room for new ones.
That weakness plays into Spirit of Justice’s greatest strength. This game is the most focused game in the series. All of the cases, save one, are laser focused on the game’s central story. Most of the time there are one or two that play it out, with the player gaining greater understanding of the characters in the more disconnected chapters. In this one, 4 of the 6 cases tried feature one of the protagonists in a compromised position and one of the other two is the first chapter that introduces the country of Khura’in. Each of the other four are all building to the central storyline of Khura’in.
IT makes that central story possibly the strongest in the series, with the possible exception of Trials and Tribulations. The situation in the foreign country gradually becomes clear to the player, as does the connections some major characters share with it. It gradually builds and deepens as it is goes along, letting the player really get to know the story. Spirit of Justice does have one of the smallest casts in the series. The same faces show up over and over. It lets those characters get more development, but it also limits the world a little bit. I like it with this game, but if there is a sequel, fingers crossed, I hope it widens the scope a little bit again.
One thing I love this game for is bringing Maya back. I didn’t realize just how much I missed the interplay between her and Phoenix until they were together again in this game, however briefly it was. I like Apollo, Athena and Trucy, but these games have always been at their best when it’s been Phoenix and Maya doing the work. I’ll play these games forever for just the scraps of those two. While even on her return Maya spends a lot of the game kidnapped or accused of murder, but just bringing her back at all after two games with her absent was enough for me.
Ace Attorney Spirit of Justice is just more of the same for the series. That is more than enough for me. The more the gaming landscape changes, leaving less and less coming out that I am truly interested in, the more I have grown to savor familiar comforts like Ace Attorney. This is a series that got it right the first time out, there really isn’t anywhere for it to grow. Each game lives or dies on the writing; on the plots and characters. In that area, Spirit of Justice excels.