Preview: Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney


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Gamers who dedicate time to their Nintendo 3DS have probably heard of the Ace Attorney and Professor Layton franchises. Alongside Pokémon, Fire Emblem, and a good chunk of the Kirby series, they have been the major staples of Nintendo’s portable gaming library, and the most recent additions to the lineup.

These two are finally coming together for the crossover game Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, which will be released Friday in the United States.

Based on European game videos, this game can still get the uninitiated in on this hot sauce, because this is a major entry point for newcomers to both games.

Professor Layton is a puzzle adventure series focusing on Herschel Layton’s life in an animated world in which puzzles and riddles are contrived for the plot at every turn.

Ace Attorney is exactly what it sounds like. It’s about lawyers. It has reached such a level of memetic status that you might have heard some nerd shout “OBJECTION” at the top of his lungs, arm and index finger fully extended, making you wonder,“What’s with the theatrics?”  

Phoenix Wright, the main character of the Ace Attorney series, is also the focus of Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney opposite Professor Layton.

The setup is oddly cliché for a crossover at this point. Layton and Wright can only meet after shenanigans involving a magic book that sends them as well as their respective sidekicks Luke and Maya to the new medieval world of Labyrinthia. Given all that, the plot still isn’t that strange in the context of both series, which feature their fair share of fantasy and science-fiction elements.

The play of both series just has to fit into this new world. For instance, how does a modern-day lawyer fit in here? Why, by participating in witch trials, of course. A new character, Espella, is accused of being a witch and needs Wright’s legal defense to prove to this medieval court that she isn’t one. Meanwhile, Layton’s puzzle-solving expertise takes him through this mysterious new world to uncover its secrets and reveal the darker side of this fantasy setting.

This is the most noticeable dividing line in the game; however, there is some overlap. Phoenix and Maya are seen getting in on the puzzles at one point, and in the first trailer for the game, Layton is shown trying his hand at being a prosecutor. But this latter element appears to have been abandoned as the game’s development has progressed.

A new prosecutor named Inquisitor Barnham takes this role early on. In addition to Barnham, another villain simply known as the Storyteller displays the ability to alter the reality of Labyrinthia via a magic book such as The Neverending Story III. (What? You didn’t know that movie had sequels?) The power he wields puts our four heroes on edge as they encounter more threats, legal troubles, and puzzles to overcome.

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