Review

Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

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Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is a wonderful collaboration between Level 5 and Capcom, combining the gameplay and characters from two highly successful series to create a game that should please fans of both, and perhaps introduce fans of one to the other.

What You Need to Know

Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney begins in the vein of a Professor Layton game – some wonderful animation, some great voice acting and more than a little chatting with his apprentice, Luke, about tea, charmingly interspersed with puzzles that challenge or simply entertain.

Suddenly, a young woman named Espella appears at the door of Layton’s study seemingly on the run from witches and clutching a huge book that contains something called ‘The Story.’ Meanwhile, Phoenix Wright and Maya have just arrived in London on a ‘Legal League of Attorneys’ exchange program. Events conspire to see Layton, Phoenix and company enter the world of The Story – a town called Labyrinthia – and begin to uncover its mysteries.

While the plot is mostly told through Layton-style dialogue, puzzles and movement, there are also large segments of court battles which are conducted Phoenix Wright style. It’s a highly elegant mash-up of game elements that work surprisingly well together.

Professor-Layton-VS-Phoenix-Wright-Ace-Attorney-Review

What’s New?

New puzzle types are included, which means an even larger variety of puzzles. In the court battles there are multi-witness cross-examinations that allow new ideas such as seeing the reaction of one witness to another witness’ statement. You can also use hint coins to help you figure out what part of the witness testimony to present evidence against, and even to narrow down the evidence you should present.

Dialogue between long-time favourite characters Phoenix Wright and Professor Layton, and even some puzzle solving by the apprentice duo, Maya and Luke, also feature and there is even some voice acting for Phoenix and Maya.

What’s the Same?

If you’ve played Professor Layton on the 3DS then there is nothing new in those parts other than another intriguing plot and some new characters (new to Layton, that is). The Ace Attorney-style court battles are in the style of Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies on the 3DS, albeit with the inclusion of Layton and Luke on Phoenix’s defence team.

You’ll Enjoy Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney If You Liked…

… Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy, or Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask – if you can’t get enough Layton puzzling then you will enjoy this.

… Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies – the court battles are classic Ace Attorney, complete with witnesses that break down spectacularly.

… Puzzle games in general – there is a lot of plot in this game but also a great amount of puzzle content.

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What I Liked

- 5.) Wonderful 3D art, as always for both of these series on the 3DS. Their art styles mesh incredibly well together, although Phoenix can look a bit out of place in Labyrinthia with his blue suit standing out among all the middle-ages outfits.

- 4.) Brilliant support for handheld short-burst gameplay – each time you restart you are given a quick recap of where you are up to and what you are trying to do. You can also skip puzzles and come back to them or simply use lots of hint coins to solve them quickly if you prefer the story elements.

- 3.) Seeing Wright and Maya come alive in the fully voiced animated cut-scenes. We’ve seen Layton and Luke in this manner before, but Phoenix and Maya in Layton-quality animation will be a joy for fans of the characters.

- 2.) Some great new characters like Barnham and Darklaw, the prosecutors (or Inquisitors) in Labyrinthia. The mystery around whether they are working for good or ill and the whole mystery around the town of Labyrinthia and its strange fatalism keeps the story intriguing.

- 1.) The cadence between puzzle-solving exploring and court action. It works so well I would welcome another game in this spin-off ‘series.’

Favourite Moment

The first ‘court’ battle in Labyrinthia is surprising and intense, with multiple witnesses, a powerful prosecutor (or Inquisitor) and dire consequences for defeat. Seeing Layton and Phoenix pointing and shouting at once, back to back, while Phoenix’s classic winning music theme is playing is just awesome!

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What I Didn’t Like

- 4.) A slightly more contrived scenario than usual for both of these series – in order to get all the characters into an adventure it had to be like this, but it pushes the boundaries of the logic that both main characters love so much.

- 3.) A few too many speech bubbles at times. Both these series can suffer from a lack of enough editing and this game is no different.

- 2.) Overuse of the ‘switch between characters with a drumming sound to build suspense’ trick in the courtroom sections, as well as the “Order! Order!” sequence. After five full games (now six) in the Ace Attorney series these sequences are getting a little tired.

- 1.) The quality of the courtroom cases is not as high as other Ace Attorney games from a logic and intrigue point of view. The fantastical elements offer extra interest, but they also reduce the cohesiveness of the cases by making it less clear what the exact contradiction the game is looking for. Fortunately you can use hint coins in the cases to narrow down what evidence is relevant.

Least Favourite Moment

No particular moment stands out as bad, per se. There are times when the writers have sought to give all characters a line of dialogue which results in drawn out exchanges that could have been much shorter.


Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trailer


What’s Extra?

The story is long and the game is full of extra hidden puzzles, but there aren’t any toys or extra bits usually found in Layton games other than a recap of the story and an index of puzzles.

The Bottom Line

No objections to this team up! Well done to Capcom and Level 5 for implementing this vision, “I love the thrill of a good solution!”


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