Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is an adventure visual novel for the Nintendo DS.
The gameplay consists of the player solving five separate cases where there are two sections for each case. The first being investigation where the player asks questions of people surrounding a case in order to gain information. The second is the trial in the courtroom where the player must defend their defendant.
Pro Engaging choice-based gameplay
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is all about choosing your own adventure through living the life of a defense attorney. It's up to you to do a good job for your clients, meaning you have to make the best choices when going through the case. When you interview witnesses and suspects, there's a dialogue tree where you choose what you want to ask them, and then during the trial, you carefully choose the best evidence to support your argument. You get to the bottom of each investigation and trial on your own terms, either by following your instincts or listening to helpful suggestions from other characters.
Pro Polished character designs
As this is a character-heavy visual novel game, it helps a lot that the art for the characters are all really well-done. Full of expressive personality, they look just like the ones in the series' anime. Their exaggerated humor shows through their designs and animations, helping the game to stand on its art and writing without more complicated animations or even much voice acting. Experiencing the story through the character art doesn't get tiring, since it does such a good job of carrying the whole legal drama.
Pro Charming music
Since this is a port of an older game for the Game Boy Advance, the music still has a rather old school sound to it, but this only adds to the charm. It's great at setting the tone in any given scene, sounding more serious with lower instruments for when you're collecting evidence, and then again when presenting that evidence to the court, while it's of course much lighter during funny conversations with silly characters. There's always a computerized sound throughout that makes it charming to listen to, like going back in time before the more modern orchestral music in gaming today.
Pro Accessible learning curve
Even if you don't know anything about legal cases and courtrooms, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is easy to grasp and learn. The first case is more of a tutorial for how the game works, and it does a great job at getting you used to the mechanics with collecting evidence, questioning witnesses, and going through the motions of presenting your argument before the judge. You don't need to know any special legal language or anything like that; you can still have fun with this game while getting to feel like a defense attorney in an entertaining way.
Con Not for players who want more involved gameplay
Since this is a visual novel without much voice acting, that means there's a lot of reading. You won't find typical gameplay here with responsive controls and freedom of movement. The gameplay is all about being an attorney and an investigator, through gathering evidence and presenting evidence to defend your client. If you're not used to these types of games, this may not be for you unless you're willing to try something new.
Con Puzzles are not always balanced
Puzzles in the game are not evenly balanced in difficulty, which can be frustrating when one of the more difficult to solve puzzles come up. It would be one thing if the more difficult puzzles were found at the end of the game, but more often than not they are found in the middle and scattered around.