In the not-so-distant future, crime has become so prevalent that the justice system has been overhauled; trials last only three days, and are decided by judges, not juries. If the defense screws up three times, the client is guilty. The world of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is not friendly to the accused, to say the least.
Phoenix is a defense attorney, and since the police are incompetent (hey, at least this comically dystopian future has something in common with the present!), it’s incumbent upon him to prove his clients’ innocence; not only does he have to ask the right questions during the trial, and object at the right times, but he has to spend his time out of court interviewing witnesses, investigating crime scenes, and finding out who the real killer is. Once that’s done, he has to finagle the trial so that they take the stand and implicate themselves, setting his client free. The prosecuting attorney, Miles Edgeworth, was a friend of Phoenix’s back in school, and is a true magnificent bastard.
The art style might put you off, but this really is a modern take on the adventure games that were so prevalent in the ’80s and early ’90s, before the genre completely imploded. It’s fun, the puzzles are generally solvable and not completely retarded (King’s Quest, I’m looking at you), and the puns are so bad they’re awesome.
It’s been popular enough in Japan for 3 games starring Phoenix, one spinoff starring a younger attorney named Apollo Justice (yes, really), and one spinoff starring Miles Edgeworth. Takashi Miike is currently working on the live-action film adaptation, which should be … interesting, given Miike’s body of work.