Games / Game Reviews

Review: Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney


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By Sean Booker
October 12, 2014 - 12:46

Briefly I would like to point out my history with both franchises to better help inform my perspective on this crossover. I have completed every Professor Layton title and only played through the first Phoenix Wright game.


Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is a perfect example of a crossover game done right. You easily get the best elements of the two series along with a ton of fan service while each benefits from the others’ inclusion. The story is delightfully dark which raises the stakes for our protagonists. There’s a lot of great twists and turns and some incredibly powerful cliffhangers that will shock and excite the player. Layton/Wright is a must play game for fans of either franchise.


Professor Layton, along with his apprentice Luke, and Phoenix Wright, along with his assistant Maya, are transported to the mysterious town of Labyrinthia - a world filled with witches and magic. If you were like me and felt the previous Layton title was lacking in its around the world adventure then you will definitely appreciate the smaller setting this time. Placing the game in one central location helps make it feel more solid in its mystery as opposed to the random plot threads that multiple locations produced before. There is a much better setting here for you to explore around and easily enough backstory to dig into.


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The game is split into two sections that you will play between throughout the story. First is the puzzle solving and point-and-click adventure mode that comes from the Professor Layton series. It plays identical to how it always has without much difference. One minor, but appreciated, improvement is now the map will display how many of the hint coins and hidden puzzles you have uncovered for each location. This is handy if you enjoy looking for every hidden element in the game. The mini games have been removed this time around. A bit of a bummer (though I personally never spent too much time with them) but the game easily makes up for it in its twenty-plus hour length and additional gameplay from the courtroom sessions.


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These sessions, or witch trials, are where you will take control of Phoenix Wright and cross examine witnesses just like in his series. To be a witch is a crime in Labyrinthia and it is your job to shed light on these accusations. The biggest difference that Layton/Wright introduces to this franchise is having to cross examine multiple witnesses at the same time (usually groups of them). Often one witness will want to make a comment on part of another witness’s testimony. The player will have to jump back and forth through the group asking several witnesses at the same time about what happened. This gets deeper when you can use a specific witness’s statement to contradict another’s testimony. It’s a twist that maintains the core gameplay while pleasantly mixing up the formula.


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Moving back and forth between these two play styles helps keep the game’s pacing moving quickly. No one section ever feels dragged on since it jumps back and forth so frequently. Characters also don’t just stick with their usual partners as the game mixes up the group frequently in order to produce new dynamics. Hint coins found while adventuring can even be used in the trial sections, a great example of the crossover. If you are a fan of both game series then there is a lot of great fan service for you here as Layton/Wright blends everything together nicely all the way until the game’s final climax.


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This all works together to help make this story incredibly engaging and fun to work your way through. With magic in this world the mystery is bigger than ever with fantastical elements to witness and debunk. The darker nature of the Phoenix Wright franchise is pushed further and will surprise fans of the more whimsical Professor Layton games; they work off each other in a great way. The story goes to some grim places and the chapter structure of the game wonderfully gives way to some amazing cliffhangers. This causes the mystery and the overall action to feel more meaning on constantly keep the player guessing. The twists and turns the story takes are incredibly fun. The stakes are real and Layton/Wright will surprise you with how it doesn’t pull any punches.


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It is how these two franchises are combined that really makes this such a fun adventure to go through. We get the best aspects of both worlds and they play off one another to further enhance each respectively. There are smart and interesting new twists and additions to be found for fans of each series. Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright is engaging and exciting the whole way through and is an easy recommendation for anyone with a history with these franchises.


Rating: 10 /10


Last Updated: January 24, 2022 - 11:00

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