Operation Backlog Completion 2024
Oct 122016

spirit-of-justiceI already wrote a freelance review of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice, but now that I’ve played its DLC as well, let’s discuss the newest entry in my favorite video game series.

Many people have named Spirit of Justice their new favorite Ace Attorney game. For me, Trials & Tribulations still claims the #1 spot. (I’d like to play the other top contender most people have, if Capcom would kindly localize it already…)

Nevertheless, Spirit of Justice is an excellent game.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice, currently available only on the Nintendo eShop, sends Phoenix to the Kingdom of Khura’in, where his old assistant Maya Fey is about to complete her training. There, he encounters a legal system where lawyers are all but non-existent. The people of Khura’in hate lawyers, and few people are willing to take up anyone’s defense due to a law known as the Defense Culpability Act:

“In the name of Her Eminence, those who would support criminals will be deemed just as guilty.”

In short, a lawyer whose client is found guilty will receive the same sentence. This severely raises the stakes, since Phoenix is at risk of execution if he loses a case in Khura’in.

Meanwhile, Apollo Justice and Athena Cykes are in charge of the home office, which the localization still vaguely pretends is in California despite more overt Japanese influences than ever.

Still, even he has his endearing moments.

Still, even he has his endearing moments.

The prosecutor this time around is Nahyuta Sahdmadhi, and it’s been a long time since we’ve had a prosecutor this hostile. New Ace Attorney drinking game: take a shot every time Nahyuta says you’re going to hell.

There’s more to Nahyuta than meets the eye… but unfortunately, he’s one of the least interesting prosecutors the series has ever had.

His claim to fame is supposedly that he can see the course a trial will take from the very start, or something… but this never really comes into play much. He’s mainly just calmly insulting, and after how much I liked Simon Blackquill and even Zacharias Barnham, I found Nahyuta disappointing.

But there’s a lot more to the plot than just Nahyuta. (After all, Trials & Tribulations is my favorite game even though Godot is my least favorite prosecutor.) Spirit of Justice has a more epic overarching plot than usual, since there’s a revolution going on in Khura’in. It’s pretty exciting to watch unfold.

Even the cases that don’t tie directly to that plot are great. The second case is quite possibly the best Case 2 in the series, and while a lot of people disliked Case 4, I loved it for obvious reasons.

Click for minor SoJ spoiler, implied Dual Destinies spoiler
I want Blackquill as my assistant in more cases. That was awesome! And after dealing with Nahyuta for three prior cases, it was so satisfying to watch Blackquill shut down his nonsense with a sharp, “Silence!”

On a side note, people criticize Athena’s characterization since she seems less competent than in the cases she led in Dual Destinies… but this is the first time she’s taken the lead on a case where the defendant wasn’t a close friend.

Plus, both cases she led in Dual Destinies resulted in her freezing up due to her PTSD flashbacks. No matter how flustered Nahyuta made her, that never happened again. I say Athena’s characterization in Spirit of Justice is fine.

Spirit of Justice also draws more heavily on the previous games than Dual Destinies did, not only because of the heavy focus on spirit channeling, but also because of ties to Apollo Justice.


And while Nahyuta felt a bit dull, the rest of the cast made up for it. Of the new characters, Princess Rayfa in particular had the sort of character development that would have improved Nahyuta. Of the returning characters, Apollo’s development was great. I’d go so far as to call Spirit of Justice his game, not Phoenix’s.

On a personal level, I liked the story of Dual Destinies more than Spirit of Justice. (I know this is heresy among many Ace Attorney fans, much like my low opinion of Godot.) First, Blackquill alone made Dual Destinies one of my favorite games in the series. Second, I found its story much less predictable.

While I loved Spirit of Justice’s final case, I figured out many of its big twists in advance. Only one really shocked me, and I wish the case had more moments like that.

On the other hand, it had some surprisingly subtle foreshadowing, which I liked a lot!

Click for major Spirit of Justice spoiler
That bottle of black Je Suis L’belle hair dye in Inga’s room? It seems like just a nod to Dual Destinies until you remember the rules of spirit channeling. White-haired Amara would have had trouble passing herself off as a man with black hair.

Nevertheless, it improved on Dual Destinies in many ways. For example, you’re allowed to freely investigate areas again, and I think the series has finally found a happy medium. It lets you know which areas you need to search for evidence, alerts you when you’ve found everything, and marks which objects you’ve already examined. This eliminates the pixel-hunting of the early games, while still letting you investigate areas for funny dialogue.

(I still wish it was slightly less linear, though, especially when it comes to breaking Psyche-Locks. Psyche-Locks felt all but pointless.)

It also raised the difficulty from Dual Destinies, but kept the “consult” feature in case you get stuck, another nice balance.

Now, let’s talk about the DLC. There are three DLC cases: two non-canon “Asinine Attorney” episodes and one full-fledged case called Turnabout Time Traveler. The Asinine Attorney episodes are amusing, but pretty short. Turnabout Time Traveler, however, is great! It’s set after the main game and well worth playing.

Overall, I enjoyed Spirit of Justice a lot and definitely recommend it to fans of the series. It leaves me curious, however, about where they’ll go from here.

Click for major Spirit of Justice spoiler
Throughout the whole game, I thought they were planning to phase Phoenix out for good as the main character. The Khura’in setting was created because they felt Japan/California no longer had enough challenges for him, and there was all that stuff about how Phoenix knew the office was safe with Apollo in charge…

…and then Apollo stayed in Khura’in.

So where are we going from here? Will future games be split across the two countries like this one? Will Apollo get his own series set in Khura’in?

Well, I’m sure Capcom will make its plans for Ace Attorney 7 known in time. Until then, let’s hope they localize Dai Gyakuten Saiban next… and maybe Ace Attorney Investigations 2?

Capcom, can we please have Investigations 2?


I’ll never give up! Anyway, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice was an excellent game and a great addition to the Ace Attorney series. If you’ve played it, what did you think?

Buy Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice from the Nintendo eShop

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  5 Responses to “Spirit of Justice is an Excellent Ace Attorney Game”

  1. …OH!


    That… that makes a lot of sense. The spoiler that was about what looked like a mere Dual Destinies reference WAS something more. Ah hah.

    I’ll have more thoughts when I do the DLC stuff, but I also think this was Apollo’s game. Which I’m very fine with, especially since Apollo’s actual game was more of Phoenix’s.

    I’m also…really curious what they’ll do for Ace Attorney 7. Maybe there won’t be one! I’d be fine with nothing until, what, 2019? (…of course, I’m saying that now.) And by “nothing” I mean “localise the Japan-only games.”

    • Somehow I never saw this comment arrive. o_o Sorry about that.

      Yes, I considered that part to be just a reference until the problem it solves started bugging me, and then I realized it was brilliant!

      Ace Attorney Investigations 2 and Dai Gyakuten Saiban would be excellent to have in the meantime. (Please, Capcom?)

  2. Oh, by the way. Any comments on the music?

  3. […] From the sixth Professor Layton game to the sixth Ace Attorney game – the next game on this list is Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice. While you might sometimes hear me complain about Spirit of Justice and place it low in my series rankings, here it is as my second-favorite 3DS game. You see, Ace Attorney is my favorite series. Even a “bad” Ace Attorney game is still a great game. […]

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