Professor Layton Vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney; A Review

What do a British archaeologist, his apprentice, and an American defense attorney and his spirit medium sidekick all have in common?  Only a world of magic, witchcraft, and ProfessorLaytonVsPhoenixWrightCoversecrets!  Professor Layton, master of puzzles and secrets of the past, and Phoenix Wright, Ace Attorney and brilliant defender of the wrongly accused find their lives intersecting upon the arrival of a strange blond girl on a rainy night, on not one but two different occasions.

After encountering the girl’s strange, seemingly magic book, both the professor and his apprentice find themselves transported to a strange world of knights, horse-drawn carriages, and sorcery!  Where is this place?  What happened to the girl after they got separated?  And who is this bold-voiced, finger-pointing, spiky-haired baker and his young friend?!  I promise you answers and more, as we delve into the world of Professor Layton Vs. Phoenix Wright, Ace Attorney.

Before I begin delving into the game, I would just like to make some things RatedTclear.  This game was designed to be played on the regular Nintendo 3DS, but can also be used on the Nintendo 3DS XL, and the Nintendo 2DS.  The average running price is roughly $40, and this game is rated Teen for, quote:

  • Mild Blood
  • Mild Suggestive Themes
  • Mild Violence
  • and Use of Alcohol

Please, readers, do consider yourselves warned.

Now, to the actual review.  Here are…

My Positives:

 1. The story is exciting.  From the very minute when you see Cameron Accidenti’s headlights in the first cut scene, you constantly want to know what’s going to happen next.  Even during some of the drier times in the witch court part of the game, I still found myself always wanting to know what piece of evidence would become relevant next, or who’s testimony would make or break the case.

 2. All of the characters have layers.  I don’t think I could name more than four characters who seemed to be one-dimensional.  The witch court brought out peoples PLVSPWKiraWitchopinions of one another and their personalities, and looking for puzzles around town allowed me to watch them and get to know them.  These characters all feel alive, and hardly anyone is completely who they say they are.  Heck, just the fact that there are witches living among the townsfolk is example enough to think that!

 3. The story flows well.  There isn’t one example I can think of right now where two parts of the story felt like they contradicted one another.  Note, though, that I say felt like.

 4. The surprises were all very, very well hidden.  I’m one of those people who likes to try and solve the mystery before the characters do, and that was no exception with this game.  I thought that I had figured out the game’s ending long before I got there, but as it turns out, I was pretty wrong.  Every time I had thought I’d figured something out, something new would pop up and throw a kink in my idea.  I must say, very well done Nintendo.

5. Witch court can be very challenging.  I struggled a lot with most of my trials because there were a lot of surprises, a lot of evidence, and a lot of testimonies to sift through.  It would take a long time just to simply get through one cross examination, simply because I would have no idea whether to press, present, or listen.  Of course, that isn’t always a bad thing.  Just when it seemed like things were about to slow down and stop spinning, someone would jump down from the balcony or butt in while I was pressing someone else, and the room would start spinning all over again.  Witch court might have felt long at times, but I still enjoyed playing through and getting my chance at revealing the truth.

6. The game-play is FUN.  Because most of the puzzles were both tied to the scenario, and all fairly different from another, the game-play hardly felt repetitive at all.  Some have said PLVSPWShadePuzzle1that the puzzles and over all the entire game wasn’t the most challenging of the Professor Layton series, but for someone new to both series, I found it to be just hard enough.  And don’t let the fact that I keep mentioning Witch Court fool you, I like the puzzles a lot.  Witch Court just has a little more that needs to be talked about.

7. You can use Professor Layton Hint Coins in Witch Court!  Yay!  Woohoo!  Alright!  Trust me, if you get as confused as I tended to in court, you’ll be cheering too.  I don’t know if all of Phoenix Wright’s cases have a hint system, but if they’re as confusing as the Labyrinthian ones, I think Capcom might want to put some thought into adding one.

8. They did a good job combining the art styles from Professor Layton and Phoenix Wright when they were creating characters.  For the most part, the main characters all seemed very realistic and more Phoenix-focused, but a lot of the townsfolk seemed far more Layton-focused.  I think the main reason is that a lot of the main characters were very serious figures and needed to appear as such, where the townsfolk all seemed to be fairly comical, in which case Layton’s softer, cartoonier art style seemed to fit them better.  Also, the fact that most of the townsfolk were rather cartoony helped the plot from getting too dark, in my opinion.

Unfortunately, for every up there tends to be a down or two, and this game is no exception.  So, now that we’ve spent some time looking at the positives, it’s time to look at…

My Negatives:

1. There are holes in the plot.  Some of them are smaller, some of them are more significant, but regardless, there are holes in the plot that I find rather… interesting.

PLVSPWDarklawTestifying
The shields at the top right of the screen display how many more times you can mess up in the trial.

 2. Witch court can feel very long, dull, and confusing sometimes.  Like I said back in My Positives, there were times in Witch Court where I had know idea whether to Press, Present, or Listen.  This led to what was probably hours of wasted time, as I went through the same testimony over and over, trying to find just the right time to present just the right evidence, or ask just the right question.  Plus, you only get five chances to mess up per trial, talk about pressure!  Witch Court isn’t easy folks, I promise you that.

3. I want to know in just what country entrapping girls in iron-maiden like cages and dropping them into burning fires counts as “Mild Violence.”  Grant it, it’s possible all is not as it appears when it comes to the bonfire in the center of Witch Court, but it’s still fairly graphic imagery.  I think I can see why this game is rated Teen.

4. You can use Hint Coins from the Professor Layton series to help you in Witch Trials.  That’s great.  I found their helpfulness to be spotty.  That’s not so great.  When it came to Hint Coins in the Witch Trials, using them generally brought about one of three outcomes for me.  Either,

  • They helped me see exactly what I needed to do next,
  • They were redundant and didn’t seem to help me with what I really needed help with,
  • Or the hints they gave were actually fairly useless, and I might have done better if I’d saved them for later.

I had a tendency to second guess myself in Witch Court, so I used a lot of Hint Coins.  They weren’t always the most helpful, but I suppose they did their job right.  After all, they’re called “Hint Coins,” not “Hey, Here’s the Answer Coins.”PLVSPWCatEve

5. The cat.  Unfortunately, I can’t say anything more than that without giving spoilers, but that cat is not what I expected it to be at all.

6. Picarats are not explained.  In this and all Professor Layton games, every time you solve a puzzle (or win a case), you receive Picarats.  The number you get often goes down every time you get a puzzle wrong, but it’s impossible to have the number drop to zero.  After you beat the game, you can go to the extras area, and if you have enough Picarats, you can use the extras features.  If you don’t have enough, you can try to beat the puzzles you missed.  (Assuming I’m remembering correctly).  None of this is explained in game, so I had to wait before I played my first true-blue Professor Layton game before I learned what they even were.

Well, there we have it.  Some of my positives, and some of my negatives for Professor Layton Vs Phoenix Wright, Ace Attorney.  Taking into account the fact that there are two more positives than there are negatives, and the plot to this game was pretty good, I’m going to give it three and a half stars.  I would recommend buying this game, specifically if you are interested in trying either series, since this would allow you to experience both of them at once.  For now, my fans, fair well and happy puzzling!