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What order should I play Professor Layton and Ace Attorney?

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What order should I play Ace Attorney in?
What order should I play Professor Layton in?

One day, while I was visiting the 3DS page on Reddit, someone who loved Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask asked if it was worth buying the older games in the series. Two days later, someone wanted to play Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies and asked if it was necessary to play Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney first.

And then it began.

  • Another person interested in Dual Destinies asked if they could play it without any experience with the series.
  • Someone else asked which Ace Attorney game should be played first.
  • A few more days passed, and someone asked if they should play the Professor Layton games in the order they were released, or in chronological order.
  • The next day, someone asked if they could play Dual Destinies before the rest of the series.
  • And after that, yet another person asked which Professor Layton game was best to enter the series with.
  • Someone asked if they should play all the previous Professor Layton and Phoenix Wright games before the crossover.
  • Meanwhile, someone else asked for help figuring out where to start the Professor Layton series… and the Ace Attorney series, too.

This sudden rush of interest in these two series may have been because of the upcoming release of Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney at the time. Many people want to experience Professor Layton and Ace Attorney before playing the crossover. Somewhere in the middle of typing answers, I realized I should write a guide to answer all of these questions about the order in which to play the Professor Layton and Ace Attorney games.

Now, with The Great Ace Attorney and Ace Attorney Investigations 2 available in the west at last and Professor Layton receiving a new entry for the first time in years, newcomers looking for the order to play Ace Attorney and Professor Layton are more common than ever.

I’ve given a brief overview of both series in the past–Ace Attorney when I finished Dual Destinies, and Professor Layton when I finished Azran Legacy–so feel free to stop by those articles to learn more about either series.

Ace Attorney

Now, let’s take a look at the Ace Attorney games.

There are six games in the main series, as well as five spin-offs — two in the middle of the timeline and two prequels, as well as the crossover with Professor Layton.

The order to play the main series Ace Attorney games is:

  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Justice for All
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Trials and Tribulations
  • Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice

Which Ace Attorney game should you play first? Ideally, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, which is now available across all platforms as part of the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy.

If you intend to play the entire series, release date order is best, but it is not strictly necessary when it comes to the spin-offs.

When should you play Ace Attorney Investigations? As spin-offs, Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth and Ace Attorney Investigations 2: Prosecutor’s Gambit are not as important to the overall plot. It’s fine if you play them last, even though they released after Apollo Justice. However, they reference events from the original trilogy, so your best experience will be to at least play the Phoenix Wright Trilogy first. If you want to avoid even implied spoilers entirely, they are best played before Dual Destinies, as well.

Can you play The Great Ace Attorney without playing the other Ace Attorney games first? Yes. The Great Ace Attorney and its sequel stand on their own due to being far-distant prequels, so they can be played at any point. Playing them later will help you see the series’ progression, as well as callbacks to and subversions of the original trilogy, but there are no direct connections.

If you’re looking for the best way to play all Ace Attorney games on modern platforms, skip ahead to: Ace Attorney Collections!

If instead you want to know more about the individual releases across the DS and 3DS era as well, here are all the Ace Attorney games in release date order:

Ace Attorney’s chronological order is almost identical to release date order, except the Investigations games are set before Apollo Justice, and The Great Ace Attorney precedes everything.

Before the release of the Trilogy collection, some players also preferred to start with Dual Destinies rather than track down the DS games. Dual Destinies doesn’t spoil much for the previous games, so it’s a decent starting point for a newcomer to the series. (This doesn’t mean it’s spoiler-free. Ace Attorney is a plot-driven series, after all. If you want to play all of the games, it’s best to play them in order.)

As for the other question–do you have to play Apollo Justice before Dual Destinies–the short answer is no, you don’t have to. If you want the full experience, however, you should. And you should play Apollo Justice before Spirit of Justice.

With the closure of the 3DS eShop, Apollo Justice, Dual Destinies, and Spirit of Justice are no longer available on 3DS. Apollo Justice received a physical DS release as well as mobile ports, while Dual Destinies and Spirit of Justice also have mobile ports.

Fortunately, it is now easier than ever to play the Ace Attorney series, as they’re (almost) all available on modern platforms in collections!

Ace Attorney Collections

The Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy (Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Justice for All, and Trials & Tribulations) has been released digitally for the Nintendo 3DS (no longer available), Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, iOS, and Android. Imported physical copies can also be played in English. This is the best place to start the series.

Is there a collection of main series titles 4-6 (Apollo Justice, Dual Destinies, and Spirit of Justice) for modern platforms? YES!

Capcom finally released the Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. This collection contains Apollo Justice, Dual Destinies, and Spirit of Justice.

It is available digitally for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC, with a physical Switch copy also available. Imports of the physical PS4 copy include English as well.

You might also spot a bundle called the Ace Attorney Anthology. What is the Ace Attorney Anthology? It’s a bundle of the Phoenix Wright Trilogy and the Apollo Justice Trilogy, so that you can buy all 6 main series games together at once.

Will there be an Ace Attorney Investigations duology collection? YES!

After years of Ace Attorney Investigations only having mobile ports in addition to the original DS release, and Ace Attorney Investigations 2 only being available in Japan (I spent a decade asking for AAI2 in English), the Ace Attorney Investigations Collection has finally been announced, which includes an official Ace Attorney Investigations 2 localization.

It will be available on September 6 digitally for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC, and physically for Nintendo Switch as well. Imports of the physical PS4 version will also include English. (In Europe, the PS4 version received a physical edition while the Switch didn’t.)

And Investigations 2 wasn’t the first previously untranslated Ace Attorney game to get an official localization recently, which brings us to the last collection…

Dai Gyakuten Saiban and its sequel were finally localized in a collection called The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles for the Switch, PS4, and PC! A physical Switch copy is also available. As with the others, imports of the physical PS4 copy will include English as well.

Once again, can you start with The Great Ace Attorney? Absolutely. You play as Phoenix Wright’s ancestor, and the events are so far-removed from those of the main series that starting here shouldn’t be a problem. It contains only a few slight references to the main series, and it’s some of the best storytelling the series has to offer!

Play them all, if you can! Including the spin-offs!

Professor Layton

All right, let’s move on to the Professor Layton games.

Here’s where it gets a little more confusing. There are seven games in the main series. Here are all the Professor Layton games in release date order:

The first six games are divided into the original trilogy and the prequel trilogy. Layton’s Mystery Journey (formerly announced as Lady Layton) tells a new story set after the original games. Meanwhile, the newly-announced Professor Layton and the New World of Steam is set after Unwound Future. Therefore, the chronological order is:

  • Professor Layton and the Last Specter
  • Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask
  • Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy
  • Professor Layton and the Curious Village
  • Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box
  • Professor Layton and the Unwound Future
  • Professor Layton and the New World of Steam
  • Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires’ Conspiracy

The Deluxe Edition of Layton’s Mystery Journey includes 40 new puzzles, the original version’s DLC outfits, and improved graphics.

If you love the story, there’s also a movie. Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva is set in between Last Specter and Miracle Mask.

Then there’s the iOS/Android spin-off, but since Layton Brothers: Mystery Room isn’t part of the main series and plays more like a streamlined Ace Attorney game than a Professor Layton game, don’t worry about it too much. (However, it IS enjoyable.) Layton’s Mystery Journey confirmed that Mystery Room is canon.

An additional spin-off, called Layton 7, was announced for iOS and Android, but was most likely cancelled.

So, which Professor Layton game should you play first?

Once again, my general recommendation is that if you plan to play them all, you should play the games in the order they were released. Gameplay and design improved the further the series went on, so if you play them in chronological order, you’ll feel like you took a step back when you get to the original trilogy.

While Professor Layton games are also story-driven, the original trilogy doesn’t have a strong overarching plot. If you want to skip Curious Village, you’ll be okay.

If you don’t plan to play all the games and just want to try them to get a feel for the series, the next logical starting place is Last Specter. On the other hand, if you want to only play the 3DS games, you should be able to start with Miracle Mask easily enough, although the prequel trilogy has a stronger overarching plot.

However, most fans agree that Unwound Future is the best game in the series, so if you never play it, you’ll be missing out on something great.

Unfortunately, these games have not seen many ports. The original trilogy has received mobile ports, which makes Curious Village (iOS/Android), Diabolical Box (iOS/Android), and Unwound Future (iOS/Android) still accessible without tracking down DS copies. Will Last Specter, Miracle Mask, and Azan Legacy get mobile ports? Better yet, will the Professor Layton series be ported to other platforms? Will we ever have a Professor Layton Trilogy collection? There’s no sign of it happening so far, but with Level-5’s recent revival, maybe there’s still a chance.

Layton’s Mystery Journey is unfortunately one of the weakest games in the series, but it doesn’t rely on knowledge of the previous games to play. You can play Katrielle’s game even if you haven’t played the others. In addition to the 3DS and Switch versions, it is also on iOS and Android.

What about New World of Steam? Can you start with Professor Layton and the New World of Steam? Few details are known about this upcoming new game at all, let alone whether you can play it without playing the other games, but I’ll update this post once we know more.

So, now that you know about the individual series… what about the crossover?

Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney

Professor-Layton-vs-Phoenix-Wright-box-artCrossovers often appeal to both audiences, so while fans of both series are interested in Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, a lot of people looking at it are either newcomers to both series, or have played one but not the other. For that last group especially, a crossover looks like a great way to try out the other series–so do you need to play previous Ace Attorney/Professor Layton games first?

Not really. Its position in the timeline is vague. Most fans place it after Trials and Tribulations in the Ace Attorney timeline, and between Diabolical Box and Unwound Future in the Professor Layton timeline, but since that puts it simultaneously in the year 2019 and in the steampunk-esque vague 1960s (no one knows when Professor Layton is actually set), does it even matter?

Due to references and shout-outs, the crossover means the most to fans of both series, but it doesn’t depend on players having prior knowledge of them. In fact, this is a great way to give Professor Layton fans a taste of Ace Attorney gameplay and vice versa. Most importantly, Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright has no spoilers for either series.

So no matter what your knowledge of the series is, if you want to play Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, go for it!

Unfortunately, with the 3DS eShop closed, the only way to buy the crossover is to track down a rare physical copy. As of September 6, 2024, Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is the only Ace Attorney game not available on current platforms. Will Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright be remastered or receive a port? With the general lack of Professor Layton ports, it seems unlikely, but if that situation changes, I’ll update this page!

Let me know what worked and what didn’t work, and be sure to ask if you have any more Ace Attorney or Professor Layton questions.

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  36 Responses to “Order to Play Professor Layton and Ace Attorney Games”

  1. Okay, so now I’m in the position where I’m pressured to play a Professor Layton game.

    • Oh? Well, here you have a lovely little guide as to where to start! 😀

    • Well, price-wise, Miracle Mask looks like the best place to start…

    • …well no Diabolical Box and Unwound Future are.

    • Since you didn’t seem to rage over PL vs. PW’s plot twist like I did, I wholeheartedly recommend starting with Diabolical Box and continuing from there in release order.

      Of course, if you don’t mind getting a used copy or paying an exorbitant price, it’s BEST to start from the beginning with Curious Village. 😛

      But DB –> UF –> LS –> MM –> AL is the next best way to go.

      Remember, if you plan to watch the movie, it falls between Last Specter and Miracle Mask. Since Last Specter is ALSO selling for an absurd price, you might consider watching the movie just to have a better idea of what’s going on in the overarching plot.

      • The movie can’t fall between last spectator and the miracle mask because the girl from curious village is seen in the movie with the professor and characters from the diabolical box as well as the box its self make an appearance in the movie there for the movie falls between curious village and the diabolical box

        • No, you see the main plot of hte movie is a flashback to an adventure that occured between Last Spectre and Miracle Mask and the rest is set somwhere between Curious village and Lost Future.

    • Whatever you do, just make sure you play Unwound Future at some point.

    • Trust me, the Professor Layton series is something you should play. I have seen some original copies of the ds games in stores like Cex for as cheap as £5. Personally I would say that plot-wise the third game (The Lost/Unwound Future) is the best. You might be surprised at how good the older games are in comparison to the 3ds games.

  2. (I still haven’t watched the Ace Attorney movie, so note that.)

  3. AAvPL actually contains some references to Ace Attorney: Trials & Tribulations, along with mentioning the running ladder vs. stepladder joke. Something to think about that might help.

  4. Hi there, I’m so glad I found this, and you creating this as I own all the Professor Layton games including the crossover and now I’ve recently got the first Ace Attorney game and I was wondering what order are the other games in that series were, so thank you for this page explaining it properly.

  5. I’m get excited whenever I learn that people actually play the Layton and Wright games in America. I played the original Japanese version of PL vs AA, and it sure was amazing. Funny how both sides of crossover doesn’t have a language barrier at all. (just learned that localized AA is set in Los Angeles, so the language part is not a problem in translated ver.) I have the prequel trilogy for Professor Layton series, I recommend starting the series with Last Specter, since it is the beginning of the whole story, then skip to whatever one they want to play (they may get confused where Remi went) This crossover also did make me a AA fan. I recently got the AA123, Dual Destinies, and The Great Ace Attorney. Looking forward to them!

    • This crossover is the best and my most favorite game btw!

    • Yeah! I think it takes more work to localized Ace Attorney because of all the puns, and it’s sometimes ridiculous that they pretend the series is set in Los Angeles when some parts are clearly supposed to be in Japan, but it works pretty well.

      I really wish they’d re-release the Professor Layton games, maybe as a collection or on the eShop. That would make it easier for people to get into the series.

      The crossover did the reverse for me. I’d just become an Ace Attorney fan when I first heard about the crossover, so I borrowed a friend’s copy of Curious Village and became a Professor Layton fan!

      I hope they localize The Great Ace Attorney. I’d like to play it.

      The crossover could have been my favorite game, but I didn’t like the ending twist. :/ Up until that point, it was one of the best games I ever played, though!

      • I thought the ending was great. They plugged all plot holes at the end, and seemed pretty realistic (meaning it might be possible through a huge company’s technology, considering the project was backed by the government). The end credits’ music also made me get hyped too.

        • I thought the ending created more plot holes than it filled (I went through some of them in my fifth point here: http://www.samanthalienhard.com/2014/09/5-lessons-phoenix-wright-professor-layton-ending.html) and I found it hard to suspend my disbelief even as a Professor Layton fan.

          (I was also irritated by how they handled Barnham. I could have more easily forgiven the ending if he had a role to play in the final case.)

          • I guess this was also the problem for translation nuances. For example, the Storyteller saids that his disease was FOUND as incurable, so in a way it should make sense, instead in English he saids it IS a incurable disease. I think the others also the same (not really sure about the plot holes, I should research it in Japanese)

            • That would definitely help my concern with the Storyteller.

              As for the plot holes… it might just be the Layton-style twist ending taken to an extreme. Of the Professor Layton games, my least favorite is the one where I see similar plot holes caused my the twist.

  6. I literally just realized that the Professor Layton series’ chronological order is pretty much the same as star wars.

  7. I just want a sequel to the mystery room. Really enjoyable casual gameplay…and such an interesting hook ending, just begging for another go round!

  8. I’m totally new to all of this but my daughter really thinks I’ll like Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney. So I’m going to start with that. I’d like to get the trilogy but I’m not crazy about not having the physical copies.

    • Great! It’s always nice to see someone new trying the series. 🙂

      It’s definitely disappointing that the trilogy collection is digital-only here. If you can play the DS versions, physical copies of them should still be easy to buy online.

      (Dual Destinies and Spirit of Justice, unfortunately, have no physical English versions.)

  9. The movie can’t fall between last spectator and miracle mask because the girl from curious village is seen in the movie at the beginning when they unmask Don polo, also characters from the diabolical box and the box itself make an appearance in the movie, so we can say that the movie takes place between the events of the curious village and the diabolical box

    • Technically, yes, it’s a frame story set sometime after Curious Village. Only the intro is set during that time, however. The main events of Eternal Diva are set in between Last Specter and Miracle Mask (the role of Descole and references to the movie later in the prequel trilogy make this clear).

  10. Hey thanks so much! I recently got all of these games (except the Ace Attorney prequels which I’ll maybe get on Switch or PC someday) and I wanna order them on my 3DS home menu in the order they’re played in, and your post makes a lot of sense, so thanks for this, I appreciate it!

    • Thanks, I’m glad you found it helpful! Ace Attorney is one of my favorite series, and Professor Layton is also great, so I love to see more people getting into them!

      (And on that note, The Great Ace Attorney is fantastic, so definitely pick that up if you end up liking the series.)

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