3. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
Any new franchise has a big burden placed on it outright. It has to shine in a way that both attracts fans, but also wanted them to play the game again, or potentially plays the sequel when it comes out. For Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, this was indeed a big challenge.
Thankfully for all, it did so spectacularly. So much so that not only was a series born, but eventually a manga, a live-action movie based on the original title, and now, and anime.
But back to the game. Over the course of five cases (again, I played the DS version), we were introduced to Phoenix, Maya, Mia, Edgeworth, Gumshoe, the Judge, and more characters that have been seen throughout the series. Each with their own unique style and flair.
To me, though, what really made the series shine was the storytelling. It would have been easy to just make a mystery, have it be funny, and do kind of well. Instead, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney blended the fun characters with a rather dark plot that no doubt shocked fans, but also had them rallying behind the heroes to see justice be done.
Just in the opening two cases, a friend of Phoenix is framed for murder, then, his mentor Mia Fey is murdered, with Maya, her sister, being accused of the crime. Add that to more and more twisted tales and you’ve got something truly unique. A trait that has defined the series in every single game.
This only got better with the added fifth episode “Rise From The Ashes”. This was made after Justice For All, and thus Takumi wanted this case to better reflect the reasoning behind Miles Edgeworth’s “disappearance” in the sequel. What became of it was a truly gripping story about corruption and the “need” for justice. A thread that would be touched on in the games to come.
Add this to the other four cases and it becomes very clear why Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney has endured for 15 years, and has been successful because of it.