Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Case 1 Review

Save An Innocent Man
Patrick Wiseman

Most games do the rounds when they come out. And some games are lucky enough to experience something of a revival in the future. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney was released way back in 2001, but the courtroom adventure continued long afterwards. Microsoft acquired the rights to remaster the Ace Attorney trilogy – starring everyone’s favourite lawyer – back in 2019. So if you’re an Xbox gamer, you’re in luck.

For now though, we’re going to be focusing our attention on where the adventure began. Capcom – the brains behind this eccentric yet very entertaining series – realised they were breaking new ground with this one. No-one was quite sure what to expect, so they had to ease players in. And let’s face it – there aren’t many games out there that throw new players into the deep end right away!

The Background

Frank Sahwit desperately hatches a plan to pin a murder on Phoenix Wright's friend Larry Butz.

The case begins with an Asian man standing over a woman’s body. In his desperation, he decides to frame a man seen leaving the woman’s apartment for her murder. Cue the court lobby. Here we meet rookie American defence attorney and protagonist Phoenix Wright. Fresh out of law school, he’s decided to take on the defence of the man we saw leave the apartment earlier. This man is his best friend Larry Butz, who has been accused of killing his girlfriend Cindy Stone. Larry doesn’t seem to have the best luck, as Phoenix recalls how “when something smells, it’s usually the Butz”.

The cast of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney are a very eccentric bunch, which helps lighten the tone given the nature of what we’re in court for. This might not have worked well in other games, but it enables Capcom’s brilliant writing to show. They know when to take things seriously, when to make players laugh, and also when to strike the happy medium to keep players focused on the plot at hand. Besides this, a lot of the main characters are also young and good-looking, but good-looking hero characters have been a hallmark trope of so many games that we’re not going to beat them up for that!

Court is in session

Court is now in session, and it’s here that you’ll be introduced to the Court Record. As your mentor Mia Fey makes clear, the evidence in the Court Record is vital for a defence attorney – it’s the only ammunition you have to stand against the might of the Prosecution.

This part is written in for players to understand how the Court Record works, but it also provides the chance for a bit of light-hearted humour – and an achievement to add to your GamerScore points haul. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney provides plenty of opportunities to bump your total up, and you can begin here by telling the court that the defendant’s name is Mia Fey – yes, your mentor Mia Fey! Needless to say, she’s not impressed at all, and doing this awards the “Please Turn In Your Badge” achievement for 30 G. Answer “Larry Butz”, and let’s get moving.

The Case Begins

“Rookie Killer” Winston Payne – a man who has a suspicious amount of hair for his age – is the Prosecutor on this case.  After going through the motions, he calls his sole witness. It’s the Asian man from the apartment!

Frank Sahwit is called to the stand as the prosecution's witness.

WE know he’s guilty, and he knows it too – but the people in the court don’t yet. Fortunately, it becomes clear that Mr. Sahwit – yes, it’s a pun, Capcom are big fans of those – is a bad liar with a fiery temper. Not a good look in a courtroom!

Over the course of the trial, you Press Mr Sahwit and Present Evidence to expose his lies, which quickly come tumbling down one after the other. The shouts of “Objection” become more frequent, and the pressure builds on Mr Sahwit as he digs himself deeper and deeper into the hole meant for Larry Butz until the inevitable happens. We’re not going to walk you through to the climax of the case. We’re confident you can figure it out for yourself. Just make sure you don’t run out of rope with the judge or he’ll give Larry Butz a Guilty verdict!

It turns out that Mr. Sahwit isn’t a “travelling newspaper salesman” at all. He’s a common burglar who used his “job” as a pretext for committing robberies. Cindy Stone walked in to her apartment and caught him in the act, and he saw no other option but to kill her.

Court is Adjourned

So Larry Butz has been found innocent. You’d think he’d be relieved, right? Well, no. He believes that Cindy Stone never loved him, but Mia’s not so sure. She puts you on the spot, and tells Larry you have proof he wasn’t being used. The right answer here is “The Thinker” Statue. It’s heavy and would be difficult to travel abroad with, but Cindy took it with her nonetheless. This cheers up Larry a bit, but he’s still upset.

A thankful Larry gives “The Thinker” to Mia and leaves, while Mia and Phoenix go out for dinner to celebrate. This might seem like a trivial point, but “The Thinker” is not consigned to history just yet. It will soon be at the centre of another case. And this one will set Phoenix Wright on the path to the legendary Ace Attorney!

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Patrick is a keen writer with interests ranging from video games to sports, history and more. In particular, he is a big fan of Arsenal Football Club and the McLaren F1 team. When he's not busy writing, he can be found cheering on his favourite teams and planning his next holiday.
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