Justice Pursued: Legal System Explored in Gaming


In the alleys of law, the term objection is what it usually is. It raises an opposition to anything said in the court of law. It’s a challenge issued to the validity of the statements spoken, testimonies given & evidences presented.

Therefore, it comes as no surprise that it becomes the catchphrase of the attorney struggling alone to fight for the justice & truth, lost in the labyrinth of corruption, falsities and contradictions.

It’s the lawyer with the spiky hair & the blue suit, Phoenix Wright.

Phoenix's sweating sprite in HD
Truth be told, Phoenix is sweating like this half of the time. Makes me wonder how he winds up winning.

Ace Attorney is a series of visual novel games by Capcom, famous for titles like Resident Evil, Devil May Cry and Street Fighter. The game stars a rookie attorney named Phoenix Wright, who is a goofy, often sarcastic young man with an unshakable belief in justice. He’s also somewhat of a single-minded person, who believes in his clients to the end, despite his clientele being frequented by those who are all but convicted of their crimes.

The game is originally Japanese, & thus features much of the eccentricities and humour typical to Japanese anime community. Those unfamiliar with this style of comedy might find a lot of scenes off-putting and bizarre. If we look past that though, a whole lot of serious issues are present to mull over.

Franziska von Karma from the Ace Attorney: Justice for All.
The defendant, the defence attorney, even the judge, no one escapes her whip in courtroom. Yeah, Japanese legal system.

Phoenix’s quest for justice is frequently challenged by the cases he handle, and the criminals he convicts not only test his sense of morality, but also asks us the question, “What is justice?” In a sense, although Phoenix is the protagonist of the game, it’s the villains who really put the Ace into the game’s title. With 6 main and 4 side games already released, the game boasts of an assortment of villains, making it hard to pick just one. After much internal debate, I picked one from a side game, because in my humble opinion, his story is most realistic. This realism is what makes him a tragic villain.

Simon Keyes: The monkey who made others dance on his tune of spiteful justice

Souta Sarushiro aka Simon Keyes from Gyakuten Kenji 2/Ace Attorney Investigations 2
Looks like a simple enough of a man, right?

Simon Keyes is the main antagonist of the game Gyakuten Kenji 2, localized as Ace Attorney Investigations 2. His story of villainy starts right from his childhood. He was the son of a pastry chef, who was betrayed & killed by his partner. Later on, he’s unfortunate to witness a murder and is caught by the murderer’s accomplices. He somehow manages to escape, but finds himself alone, as the murderer was a high official in the judicial system. Young Simon couldn’t turn to anyone for help, and eventually lost all of his faith in humanity as a result of his abandonment. He took to crime to exact revenge on the one who tried to kill him multiple times during his childhood.

Simon grew up to be an arrogant, spiteful person who finds it hard to trust anyone. He was driven by his desire to exact revenge on people who had done wrong to him. He loathed the legal system which wasn’t there to help him when he needed it the most. Looking at his backstory, it clearly parallels the real life problems of judiciary. The powerful twist laws to their own musing, while the weak runs searching for his promised justice. Backed into a corner, he becomes a criminal. Even though in the game, the murderer from the previous case is apprehended along with Simon, the reality is far grimmer, making Simon a truly tragic villain.

The list does not stop here. There are a lot of characters in the game with varying degrees of background depth. The story is well-narrated with excellent, witty dialogues. The cultural references are aplenty, with oodles of humourous one-liners and wacky characters. All in all, Ace Attorney series fares pretty well as an icon of incorporation of storytelling in video games. Plus, the 3rd game has probably the coolest antagonist ever made. I mean how many bad guys do you know who drink 17 cups of black coffee in a day and live to tell the tale?

Godot from Ace Attorney series.
White hair, red goggles, black coffee. Makes perfect sense.

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Anurag Yadav

Move along now, nothing to see here.