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Layton and Wright Make a Mediocre Game

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As someone who has played and re-played the entire Ace Attorney series, I was eagerly awaiting for the release of Level-5 and Capcom’s project Professor Layton vs Ace Attorney Phoenix Wright. While I have never gotten the chance to actually sit down and play a Professor Layton game, I’ve had them on my list for a while, and I figured that this game was the perfect opportunity to hit two birds with one stone. For all intents and purposes, I wanted to love this game, and yet, when Nintendo finally sent me back my repaired 3DS, I was thoroughly disappointed that I had waited an entire month for a game that I found myself forcing to finish. Layton and Wright are awesome on their own, but make for a very bleh duo.

The Story:

professor-layton-vs-phoenix-wright-ace-attorney-nintendo-3ds-gameplay-screenshots-2A mysterious girl is pursued through London by an unknown force. Seeking out Professor Layton and his trusty apprentice Luke, the trio wind up in a mess, causing her to have to be defended by Phoenix Wright and Maya Fey who happen to be in a London for business. In a strange sequence of events, a book that Espella always carries manages to transport both duos to a medieval town called Labyrinthia. It is a town full of witches, magic, puzzles and witch trials. Soon enough the Professor, Luke, Phoenix and Maya all meet and embark on a journey to not only save Espella who has been accused of being a witch, but also to uncover the secrets of this strange town.

 

professor-layton-vs-phoenix-wright-01The Combo:

Perhaps I went into this game expecting a lot. I love Phoenix Wright and I’ve heard nothing but good things about Professor Layton games too. However, the combination of both games really didn’t do it for me. Firstly, just the simple mixture of art styles felt jarring and out of place. The mishmash of Professor Layton’s more cartoon-like and simple art style up against Ace Attorney’s more detailed and slightly more “realistic” cartoon style just didn’t seem to fit. Thankfully, the puzzle aspects mixed with the trial aspects did work fairly well.

My Thoughts:

This game had both good and bad things about it, however, for me the bad outweighed the good. For the first time ever in a visual novel, I found myself to be incredibly bored. In fact, I was more interested in finding all the puzzles and solving them than progressing through the actual story. I quite liked following Professor Layton and Luke through the town of Labyrinthia, but I dreaded heading into the witch trials.

In fact the witch trials were exactly why the Ace Attorney aspects didn’t work for the game. Ace Attorney has always been about logic, sometimes funky logic, but logic nonetheless. Like the Professor Layton games, Ace Attorney forces you to use your brain and logically put the pieces of a crime together. But, when you throw magic into the mix, suddenly your logic is thrown out the window. You’re no longer using real logic but logic that has to keep in mind that the impossibility of magic is possible. (Yea, Phoenix doesn’t really grasp this at the beginning either.)

phoenix wrightWhich brings me to Mr. Phoenix Wright in general. Once again, Capcom has decided to change his voice actor. When Dual Destinies first dropped I struggled with the fact that all I could hear was Jude Mathis’s voice from Tales of Xillia coming out of Wright’s mouth. However, his voice eventually grew on me as the game continued. I still don’t know why they would replace a perfectly good voice actor with someone that can’t even yell “OBJECTION” and “HOLD IT” forcefully enough to command some attention, but let’s just say his voice never grew on me whatsoever throughout the course of the game.  It just didn’t fit. I did chock it up to the fact that this is a younger Phoenix, and not the mature one in Dual Destinies. (Note: Although it’s not completely clear, I’m fairly certain this game takes place sometime after Trials and Tribulations but before Wright’s debarment in Apollo Justice. This has to do with the fact that Maya is still working for Phoenix in this game, not to mention she spouts of “ZVARRI,” several times which is a catch phrase from a witness in Trials and Tribulations.)

When you aren’t busy solving puzzles with Layton and Luke, you are taken to the witch trials with Phoenix as the defender. Although it starts off as a “standard trial” from the Ace Attorney series, there have been several changes. Some I liked, while others I seriously hated. As I said before, you got to remember that logic is used slightly differently. Hell, you even refer to a Grand Grimorie, which is a book of spells. And forget photographic evidence, you will be getting pictures from a court illustrator, because we all know that a drawing is perfectly accurate. Again, this doesn’t fit with the Ace Attorney series.

The biggest change is that all witnesses are on the stand at the same time. Instead of one witness telling their tale separately, it cycles from one person to the next, each witness getting one piece of dialogue. Personally I disliked this addition due to the fact that it felt out of place. It takes some getting used to. You still press each statement, but now sometimes your pressing will cause other witnesses to remember new information that either agrees or disagrees with said statement. Some are simply time wasting dialogue, while pressing the correct statement, and questioning the right witness at the correct time will allow you to continue onward. It became quite convoluted at one point for me when I kept pressing a specific statement and then questioning a certain witness only to not get anywhere. What I eventually found out was I had to continue on through the dialogue that I pressed, not question the first witness that remembered something, and wait until another witness remembered something. Yea, my head is starting to hurt too. Ace Attorney has never been this complicated. It’s always press, amend statement, or present evidence. The end.

phoenix screenshotThere was a cool thing that is added thanks to all the witnesses being on the stand together. Because their accounts don’t always match up, you sometimes will get to choose to use specific statements to discredit other statements. This is usually the answer if you can’t seem to find any actual evidence in your court record.

In the end, the entire story comes together, just like any game. Things become perfectly understandable, although still pretty damn far fetched. I’m not saying that Phoenix Wright lives in the real world, but he certainly lives in a world where everything makes sense. Suspension of belief, barring the whole supernatural spirit medium aspect, is not something that normally belongs in the Ace Attorney series. Truthfully, all I wanted to do was mess with the puzzles in the game. They were the only thing that required actual logic. If anything, Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney has made me want to invest in the Professor Layton games. I also feel the need to replay and actual Ace Attorney game that makes some damn sense.

It wasn’t the worst game I’ve ever played, but I don’t eagerly recommend it to anyone either. If you are a hardcore fan the way my friends and I are, you are bound to feel some disappointment over how the game is handled.

 

About Emily Horton

Emily is just your average twenty something girl who discovered her love for gaming at the age of three or four, all thanks to her older brothers. Mario, The Lion King, Aladdin, Zelda were her first loves, but Pokemon, Final Fantasy, Tales, and pretty much all Japanese games eventually fell into that category. She has an unhealthy obsession with Pikachu, hoodies, her 3DS, t-shirts, plushies, and purses. She may also fancy herself as an excellent lawyer due to number of times she has played through the Ace Attorney series. Outside of videogames, she is a Disney, Harry Potter, and Tolkien fanatic, while also recently discovering that she is now a hardcore fan of Supernatural thanks to Netflix allowing her to watch eight seasons rapid fire. She has elvish writing, the Deathly Hallows, a rather large Tinkerbelle and a large Yuna from Final Fantasy X all tattooed on her body, with only more geeky stuff to be added. Currently working on her own fantasy novel, she hopes to publish it eventually once all the kinks are worked out.

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