Review: Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

Any objections?

By Anthony Vigna. Posted 09/09/2014 09:00 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
1-Up Mushroom for...
Awesome medieval setting; Ace Attorney's unique witch trials; Both games are represented rather well.
Poison Mushroom for...
Predictable ending and plot holes; Layton's gameplay offers nothing special; Easy difficulty.

If you’re anything like me, your mind was blown when the Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney announcement trailer was revealed in Japan. Two of the best series on Nintendo DS are joining together in the same game? Sign me up! However, after waiting three years and 10 months for the game to release in North America, it quickly became clear that it would never live up to the hype. Of course, the game is still great, but it’s far from being the perfect game that fans imagined it would be.

The story of the game has its ups and downs. Professor Layton and Phoenix Wright separately run into a girl named Espella, who’s running away from a group of magical witches in London. When the characters open the book she holds, called Historia Labyrinthia, they warp to the medieval town described in these pages. Here, a god-like figure called the Storyteller writes the future fates for Labyrinthia’s inhabitants, which always come true. The town is also plagued by the threat of witches and executes them when they are found guilty in court. I had fun investigating the mystery of the town, but because I’ve played enough games in both series, I knew exactly how the game was going to end. Unfortunately, there are also plenty of plot holes caused by this ending, which harms the story as a whole.

Even though Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is a crossover, there are only a few instances where the two gameplay styles mix together. In one moment, you’ll be solving puzzles like you would in a Professor Layton game. Then, the gameplay will switch to the courtroom battles found in the Ace Attorney series. So, if you don’t like one series but want to buy the game for the other, expect to enjoy only half of the package. This game is truly for those who like both series and enjoy their respective gameplay styles as they are.

The Professor Layton side of the game plays exactly like its predecessors. In a first person view, you interact with the world to look for puzzles that will help you progress through the story. Professor Layton veterans will notice that a lot of the puzzle types, like tile sliding and mazes, have already been used in previous games. Not only that, but they’re also a lot simpler and easy to solve. In fact, I rarely struggled to come up with a solution to each puzzle, making this a pretty disappointing Professor Layton game overall. It’s a good introduction to the series, but the previous games definitely deliver more challenging and satisfying puzzles.

The Ace Attorney sections also play a lot like its predecessors. As Phoenix Wright, you’ll have to cross examine witnesses in court and find contradictions by using evidence to save your clients. However, unlike the Layton sections, courtroom battles are enhanced by the game’s medieval setting. Because these are witch trials, everyone in the courtroom automatically assumes that the accused is guilty. Witnesses in the audience can jump on the witness stand at any time, meaning that you’ll have to cross examine mobs of people at once! This leads to interesting situations, as you’ll be able to point out when different witnesses contradict each other and unearth new information when they remember something through other testimonies. Without the conveniences of a modern era, you won’t be able to use forensic science as evidence. Oh, and because science is thrown out the window, you’ll be able to present magic spells as evidence in court to prove your client’s innocence and accuse other witches!

The Ace Attorney sections fully embrace the medieval setting and stand out as the best parts of the game. The cases are a little easier than I would have liked them to be, but they are still really fun to play due to the new game mechanics and unique setting. On the other hand, the Professor Layton sections do not embrace the setting and feature really simple puzzles, some of which we’ve already seen before in previous titles. This does not mean that the Professor Layton sections are bad, as I’ve still found them to be entertaining, but don’t expect it to do anything revolutionary or complex.

If you have a knack for visual novels, puzzles, and contradictions, then Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney was made for you! Fans of both series will feel right at home, as the game is faithful to each character’s style of gameplay. Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney may not live up to the hype we’ve given it after all these years, but it’s still a great game that celebrates both franchises well.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Log In 0 points Log in or register to grow your Ninja Score while interacting with our site.
Nintendojo's RSS Feeds

All Updates Podcast
News Comments
Like and follow usFacebookTwitter Friend Code Exchange + Game with Us Join the Team!