Game Review

Professor Layton Vs Phoenix Wright

Headline: Fun but a lot of Pressure

2/5 Stars (previously)
3/5 Stars (now)

Originally posted October 4, 2014

6 of 9 people found the following review helpful

Before I begin this review – which is actually my first video game review – I’d just like to say that, in all fairness, this game probably doesn’t deserve the 2-star rating I’ve given it. I’m actually a very big fan of the Professor Layton games and the movie Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva (2009). The reason I’ve given this game a low rating is mostly because I was unprepared for the Ace Attorney sections. Until I got this game, out of devotion to the Professor Layton series, I had neither played nor heard of any games in the Ace Attorney series. Because of this, I had no idea what I was in for when I wasn’t solving puzzles with Luke and Layton. The game’s previous owner – I got a used copy – seemed to have the same problem, because the only saved game showed they never completed the first Ace Attorney chapter. So, just to let you know, I will be reviewing this game as a fan of the Professor Layton series. My apologies to any Ace Attorney fans if I seem bias because I’ve not played any other games in the latter series.
First of all, for what it is, Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright is really impressive when it comes to creativity. The story is exactly what you’d expect from a Professor Layton game with memorable characters, a world that’s interesting (if a little farfetched at times) and a plot that’s both mysterious and easy to follow. Plus, it always keeps the player guessing what the big revelation will be at the end. However, it’s also clear this story isn’t quite as family-friendly as those presented in other Professor Layton games. It can get really dark at times, to the point where you actually think you’re witnessing the deaths of several main characters. There’s also fires, strangling, poison and much more. I understand they had to make the tone more serious to go with Phoenix Wright, but it can be really off-putting to someone who’s used to a series where all you have to do explore and solve puzzles. On a positive note though, the puzzles are just as enjoyable to solve as those in other Layton games – even if there are fewer of them.
Then there are the Ace Attorney sections of the game. I will say this, Phoenix and Maya are very likeable characters, and it’s easy to see their comparisons to Layton and Luke; one is the professional doing his job and dramatically pointing his finger, whilst the other is a lovable sidekick who has a large appetite and skills that come in handy. This helps the two franchises blend well together.
However, whereas adventures and puzzle-solving are enjoyable to me, I can’t say the same about being a lawyer. The trouble with me is I don’t like being put under a lot of pressure – either in games or real life. But this is exactly what you get during the trial sections; you really feel like you’re in a courtroom with higher powers working against you. Unless you’re actually an attorney and know lawyering like the back of your hand, you have to pay extra close attention to everything being said, shown and presented, so that you can stand even the slightest chance of finding a contradiction and presenting the right evidence. To add to the pressure, if you slip up too many times there’s a chance your client will be found guilty for something they didn’t do. And if THAT wasn’t pressure enough, most of your clients won’t just be sent to jail if they’re found guilty. They’ll be put to death! By fire!
Forget being the lawyer, half the time I felt like I was the one on trial. I was so worried about doing something wrong I actually resorted to cheating. That is, I looked on YouTube at walkthroughs of the game and saw what the answers were before giving them. I didn’t do this all the time, but sometimes the hint coins just weren’t enough. As a result, I was always extremely nervous about continuing the game. On the one hand, I wanted to see things through to the conclusion, so I did my best to get past the trials and back to playing the Layton chapters. But I knew the more I played, the closer I’d get to another trial, where someone’s very life would depend on my amateur skills as an attorney. I was so relieved when the final trial was done.
Professor Layton and Phoenix Wright may be professionals in two different areas of work, but Level 5 and Capcom did well to show off both their skills, excessively. There even moments when Phoenix and Maya do the puzzle-solving, and Layton and Luke take to the lawyer’s stand. Plus, at the heart of the game, is the character who brings everyone together: Espella Cantabella. I won’t reveal too much, but the mystery surrounding her is really what drives the game to success.
One last thing worth mentioning is the extra content. If you buy the game now and complete it (12 months after its initial release) you can use the WiFi feature to unlock special concept art and episodes. The episodes do something no other Layton game has done before: break the 4th wall. As well as revisiting locations in the game and giving you puzzles to solve, the characters speak directly to the player explaining how the game was made and some of the decisions that were taken during production. It’s worth checking out.
Overall, I can’t say I hate this game, but I can’t say it’s my favourite in the Professor Layton series either; I’d say my rating of it more 2 1/2 stars or even 3. My advice to any Layton fans interested in getting this game is don’t buy it expecting it to be like the other games in the series – if you aren’t prepared to work your brains off in the upcoming trials you’re really going to struggle. I can’t speak for any Ace Attorney fans because, like I said, I’m reviewing this as a player of the Professor Layton games. Either way, this game is a good buy for fans of one or both franchises, and it’s definitely one of the most interesting crossover games in recent memory.

On April 5th 2015 I received this comment – my first ever comment on one of my reviews:

Wow O.o This is renowned as the easiest Ace Attorney game and you’re actually struggling with it?? I started that series at 10 years old and found it pretty average in terms of difficulty… :/

This review was new territory for me. As mentioned above, it was my first (and thus far only) video game review. I knew it would be necessary to discuss the product’s gameplay, as well as my usual critiquing elements (e.g. the story, characters and extra features). I also felt it would be necessary to explain where I stood as both a Professor Layton and Phoenix Wright player, so readers would know I wasn’t being intentionally biased.
Looking back on it, I think I did a good job explaining the game’s overall tone to the reader and how it affected the gameplay for me. The parts about feeling like I was on trial, and the darker aspects contrasting the familiar tone of Professor Layton, really emphasised this.
Like many of my earlier reviews, it wasn’t the best I’d ever written; I did repeat myself at times and my paragraphs needed some work, but the structure was fairly reasonable. I also wasn’t able to talk about the story and characters as much I would’ve liked. Perhaps this was a good thing – since I didn’t want to spoil the mystery with any specific details – but there was a good reason for it.
The thing I remember most about this review is my attempts at writing it. Every time I tried to on Amazon, my iPad kept rebooting the webpage causing me to lose everything I’d written. In the end, I had to write things up on Pages, then copy and paste it, just to make sure I wouldn’t have to keep starting over again. I decided to write all my reviews this way thereafter, although doing so has been a bit of a double-edge sword; on the one hand it gives me more time to plan my paragraphs, so my reviews are better-written, but it also takes me much longer to finish them – Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright is one of the last reviews I completed in a single day.
If there’s anything I do regret about this review, it’s the rating I gave. I really didn’t want to hate this game, but I marked it down for all the stress and pressure it put me under. Thinking about it now though, the stress and pressure is actually a benefit to the game, because it gets players in the right frame mind and body – almost as if they’re in the courtroom as Phoenix Wright themselves. That’s why I’ve amended my mistake and given it 3-stars here.
All in all, this is one of my most memorable reviews. Several people have found it helpful and it even inspired me to write a Phoenix Wright fan-fiction on my regular blog (https://georgeharvey2015.wordpress.com/2015/08/19/into-my-creative-autisitc-mind/).
I have thought about critiquing other video games before, but I’ve never gotten round to doing it. Maybe now, after reading this again, I will.

(Image courtesy of https://teamshyguys.wordpress.com/2015/02/01/review-professor-layton-vs-phoenix-wright-ace-attorney/)

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