Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Spirit of Justice Game Review

Title: Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Spirit of Justice
Company: Nintendo, Capcom
Nintendo 3DS
Release Date: 
June 9, 2016
How we got the game: 
We bought it.

Ever since we discovered Trials and Tribulations on the Wii’s Virtual Console years ago, we’ve been hooked on the Ace Attorney series. The visual novel’s point-and-click exploration combined with the “who dun it” logic puzzles really tested our brains and emotions. The amazing writing and wonderful characters kept us invested throughout the entire game.

So, naturally, when Spirit of Justice was announced, I went crazy. I believe it was early in the morning when I heard the news and I woke Kris up just to tell her. Still, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the game!


Like the majority of the Ace Attorney series, Spirit Of Justice split its time between investigation sequences and the trial in court. Investigations involved talking to people to gather information about the crime, usually a murder, and clicking on the scene to gather clues. Court would have us cross-examine witnesses, pointing out contradictions and presenting evidence to sway the judge to our side.

Even though this is the same, each game has its own twists to it and Spirit of Justice was no different. We have Apollo’s bracelet, Athena’s widget for therapy sessions, and spirit channeling was brought back. Not to mention, we’re in a new setting so the laws are different putting us in more danger than ever.

Yes, the main cast have their special abilities to help discern the truth from all the witnesses that commit perjury. They were all used throughout the game, and Spirit of Justice also introduced Insights. With the new setting, Khura’in, Insights were used to decipher Divination Seances, where a new character was able to show the victim’s final moments. It was quite an interesting addition!

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It really was interesting because you’d think that’d be it. The final moments is just that. But with a little thinking and exploring the victim’s five senses, not everything adds up and there’s more to the death than meets the eye. It really was a fun and clever additon!


We’re always impressed with the soundtracks of the Ace Attorney games — the music always has the correct tempo and sound to really amp up the scene, especially during the trial sequences when we’re confronting a suspect.

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With the new Khura’in setting, the music for the new characters and news places was awesome. It really set the tone (and danger levels in some cases). Kris and I take turns reading as different characters and there were times I would just pause to take in the music.

You can’t not listen to the music! We would love to someday get our hands on the soundtrack! The graphics are well done too, with the sprites, their animations, and the anime cutscenes. I honestly wouldn’t have minded a few additional cutscenes!

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I wish there were more cutscenes. Plus, at the end of each case in the original trilogy, there was a group photo of the gang that was always adorable. I wish they added some of that in as well.

Oh, yes, I missed those illustrations! Especially if you consider how much of an impact family made on the final case… Imagine how adorable a group photo would have been!

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Where do I begin about the story? As usual, the final case ties all the previous cases together. Except for the fourth case this game… We still haven’t figured out how that ties in other than reintroducing Prosecutor Blackquill. Anyway, we take a trip to Khura’in where Phoenix finds himself in trouble (of course) as does Maya (who is back–yay!). But while they brought back old and new characters alike, we learn a lot more about Apollo’s background, which was awesome.

Yes, the fourth case was a bit odd… Enjoyable, of course, with Athena and Blackquill, but still odd as it didn’t really fit in with the rest of the cases. It was as if the developers of the game added that case in at the last moment because they forgot to give Athena a trial to star in. There wasn’t even an investigation part! Phoenix, of course, is busy in Khura’in, where he learns that lawyers are all but extinct due to a law called the Defense Culpability Act — basically, a defendant’s lawyer was to suffer the same fate as the accused. If the defendant was found guilty and put to death, so would the lawyer for “abetting a criminal.” There was a group called the Defiant Dragons bent on leading a revolution against the regime in order to right the legal system, and as Apollo and Phoenix, we joined right in!

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For the final case, we swapped back and forth between playing as Apollo and Phoenix. In the end, they teamed up for the trial part which was great. I don’t think we’ve had a case where the two of them teamed up together before. Overall, the story of the game was so in-depth and, in my opinion, the most shocking and revealing for the characters. It was really well done! My biggest worry is that there won’t be another game…. There were a lot of references to all the previous games and they brought back a lot of older characters. It was actually a good ending for the series as a whole, but I hope that’s not the case. There was a final scene at the end of the credits that made me believe there will in fact be another game, so I hope that’s the case.


While we love the characters and stories, we do sometimes find it a little difficult to return to the games. The investigations and trials aren’t linear at all and can really take a lot of brain power to figure out, but once you know the story and the outcome, it’s not as exciting the first time around.

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I will still play these games over again when I have the time, but I agree. It’s just not the same when you already know the culprit. I mean, the last case is usually a doozy with many twists and surprises. But it won’t be as “fun” and “shocking” since we already know the answer.

Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Spirit of Justice gets…
5 out of 5 lives.

Have you played this game? What did you think? Let us know in the comments! 

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Readers Comments (10)

  1. I have played some of the Ace Attorney games, but never this one. I am glad to hear it is awesome! I am not surprised, though, as the series is rock solid!

  2. Awesome review! I loved this game, as I have with most of the series. I also didn’t like the fourth case at all. I usually don’t mind “filler” cases, but that case was just difficult to understand and not just because it was based on a very Japanese comedy style. I would have preferred it to be a DLC case, simply because it didn’t fit. The last case was essentially 2 cases in one anyway, so that 4th one was mostly fluff. I loved the 2nd case though. It’s perhaps one of my favorites and made me respect Trucy (a character I generally disliked) more. I enjoyed the final case through and through, although I wasn’t the biggest fan of the last hour of it. Maybe I had higher expectations for it, but there was missed potential. Loved the other twists in that game. And the Divination Seances were really well-done. I thought I wouldn’t like them, since I hated the (returning) Mood Matrix sequences, but they always played with your presumptions. It’s essentially the video evidence that has been present in the recent Ace Attorney games. Finally, I loved all the returning characters, with Maya being my favorite. I wish she were involved more though. Great game overall!

    • I enjoyed the fourth case, but I was disappointed in it. I feel like they through it in there to give Athena a little spotlight (maybe because she’s wasn’t in the trial for the final case?) and also to bring back Blackquill. It definitely would have made more sense if it was DLC, especially since it was so short too. It acted like the general “first” case of the game.
      I’ve always loved Trucy. I find it hard to dislike any of the characters in that series, lol. I felt as though the whole game was well done mostly because of the flashbacks and references to the other games.
      BUT… that makes me worried that that’s “the end.” Which I really hope it’s not…

      • The fourth case is most certainly just there for Athena’s sake, which is why I feel like three attorneys is too many. Two is more than enough, which is why the ending works for me. I don’t think the series is over. They can certainly continue it from there, and where Apollo ends up makes it likely that we’ll see more Divination Seances in the future. Plus, I’m pretty sure the DLC takes place after the game anyway (I believe), so there are opportunities to keep it going.

        • I think they added Athena to throw in another girl who is an actual lawyer and not an assistant. I do love Athena, but she does seem like she was thrown in for that sort of variety.
          I’m pretty sure the games aren’t over (they’d be dumb if they decided to stop, lol) because we need to continue Phoenix and Maya’s story, and now we need another Apollo game to follow him. And I also want a separate game for Athena. She and Blackquill have a deep connection and I want to see more. We don’t know much about Athena so we need some backstory for her.

          • I agree. And I don’t hate Athena, but I don’t think she bring much to the series. She had a pretty good story in Dual Destinies, but I don’t think her return is justified here. She’s just there to use the Mood Matrix, which is one of my least favorite parts of the game. It’s usually obvious what emotions people should be having during situations, so it doesn’t add much, even in the case that actually dealt with psychological issues (incorrectly, I might add). I want more Phoenix and Maya, and I wish that the game had more of them together. I’m glad the DLC case at least has them back to their usual selves. As for Athena, I’d be fine with more story, especially since we got Apollo backstory finally. Though I’d say the Dual Destinies backstory for her was sufficient. I guess what I want most from the AA series is a new proper Phoenix Wright only entry.

          • I can agree about the Mood Matrix. Between Spirit Channeling, Apollo’s bracelet, and now the Divination Seances, the Mood Matrix is the one that brings the least to the table and it is the easiest.
            We haven’t played the any of the DLC cases lately. Our Switch should arrive at our house tomorrow so we know that’s going to take up our attention, lol. Plus, if it takes them awhile to get another Ace Attorney game out, we’ll have the DLC to tie us over. 🙂
            Honestly, I haven’t played Dual Destinies in a while so I don’t really remember. I have to replay the whole series anyway.

          • It’s somewhat sad for the Mood Matrix when looking for a person’s nervous tic is more satisfying than it, haha. But the Switch is going to be more than enough before the next Ace Attorney game. In fact, maybe the next AA game will be on the Switch! I’d be so happy if that were the case. Can’t wait for you to finally get the Switch! Enjoy!

          • The nervous tic can be hard, lol.
            I would love for an Ace Attorney game to be on the Switch! We found the original trilogy through the Wii Ware, not knowing they were DS games. So we played them on our TV. Now we have to huddle together on one of our 3DS’s… Plus, our other sister (who doesn’t play video games) played the original trilogy with us on the TV. She absolutely loved it and it was great to solve the puzzles together.
            I can’t wait to get my hands on the Switch! But I’m so worried it’s going to take over my life… April is a busy month without the new video games, lol.

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