Professor Layton VS Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (known as レイトン教授VS逆転裁判 Reiton-kyōju vs Gyakuten Saiban?, lit. "Professor Layton Vs. Turnabout Trial" in Japan) is a crossover adventure puzzle video game joint-developed by Level-5 and Capcom and published by Level-5 for the Nintendo 3DS.
The game is a crossover between Level-5's Layton puzzle series and Capcom's Ace Attorney adventure visual novel series, combining gameplay elements from both series. The game features scenario designs from Shu Takumi, the series director for the Ace Attorney series.
Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney received positive reviews, praised for its gameplay mechanics and tweaks which worked well with complementary styles but the game was also critized for how it somewhat relied a little too much on the original characters to flesh out the story. The game was released in Japan on November 29, 2012 and was released in 2014 for North America and Europe.
The game follows Professor Layton, Luke Triton, Phoenix Wright and Maya Fey as they attempt to solve the mystery of Labyrinthia. The game has two main styles of gameplay, "Adventure" and "Witch Trial", which feature elements from the Professor Layton and Ace Attorney series respectively. The game features voice acting and animated cutscenes, a staple in the Layton games but a first for the Ace Attorney series. This has since become a new standard for the latter series, starting with Dual Destinies, which was first released in Japan after the crossover title. The player characters are not confined to the segments in which they are familiar; Phoenix Wright and Maya Fey participate in some puzzles and Professor Layton-style investigations, while Professor Layton and Luke Triton take various roles in trials.
During Adventure segments, players can explore various environments, conversing with characters and examining background objects in order to find clues to solving the mystery of Labyrinthia. The control scheme is similar to the one introduced in Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask, in which players navigate the environments by moving around a cursor on the screen. Investigating certain areas or conversing with certain characters reveals various puzzles, which task players with finding its solution. Solving these puzzles earn Picarats, with more earned for making fewer mistakes, which go towards unlocking bonus content. Throughout these sections, players may also find Hint Coins which can be spent to unlock hints whilst solving puzzles.
In the Witch Trial sections, players take control of Phoenix Wright as he cross-examines witnesses in order to defend his client. While cross-examining a witness, the player can press them for more details, which can sometimes yield new information. The player's main task is to look for contradictions in the witness statements and present the evidence that contradicts their statement. The Witch Trial gameplay uses the "five strike" penalty system from the original Ace Attorney game, instead of the variable health bar-like "Confidence Gauge" system that was used since Justice For All. If the player presents the wrong evidence at the wrong time, the player will lose a strike, with the game ending if the player loses all of their strikes. This time around, Phoenix will occasionally experience a "mob trial", forcing him to cross-examine multiple witnesses at once. Whilst pressing one witness, another may react to one of their statements, and questioning them may yield new information or evidence. In addition to the Court Record, which contains evidence on the case, Phoenix also has access to the Grand Grimoire, a book of magic spells which can also be used as evidence. Hint coins found during the Adventure segments can also be used during trials, providing hints on how the player should progress. Additional Picarats are earned at the end of each trial based on how many strikes are remaining.
A menu that functions like Professor Layton's trunk is used throughout the game, replacing the simple save menu used in the Ace Attorney games. Through the menu, the player can look at the mysteries that Professor Layton is attempting to solve, a list of story synopses, a list of items, and an index of all the puzzles that have been found. There are also options to adjust the sound, as well as saving. The menu is accessed by different buttons depending on the segment: the "L" button during investigations, and the "Start" button during trials. This is due to the differing control schemes used.
The menu and its contents carry over throughout every segment, as do picarats and hint coins. Only the button graphics and the sound effect played when saving change to represent the perspective changes throughout the game. This means that, although the menu is traditionally supposed to represent Professor Layton's trunk, the perspective changes make this impossible.
The game contains twelve downloadable content episodes, each of which has new puzzles and gallery items. The DLC episodes are avalaible when the game has been cleared once. Starting on December 12, 2012, the episodes was released every Wednesday for twenty-four weeks, with the different kinds of DLC alternating each week.
In PAL regions, the content was offered in a similar manner, starting with a story episode on the game's release date, and then releasing new content every week until the start of September. In North America, content was released regularly over the course of six weeks beginning on the game's release date.
The storyline (written by Shu Takumi) in the DLC episodes, which are considered non-canon as they frequently break the fourth wall, take place one year after the events of the game and features Layton, Luke, Phoenix, and Maya returning to Labyrinthia for a visit.
- Phoenix Wright
- Maya Fey
- Miles Edgeworth (minor appearance in story and appearance in one of the DLC episodes)
- The Storyteller - The sinister ruler of Labyrinthia. Whatever story he writes comes to pass as events in Labyrinthia.
- Espella Cantabella - A young woman accused of witchcraft who becomes Wright's client.
- Zacharias Barnham - A local Inquisitor and red-haired knight in a suit of plate armor, he wields a sword that he points at his courtroom opponents in a similar manner to the iconic finger points of various lawyers in the Ace Attorney games. He is highly esteemed for his work among the townsfolk to the point that he is regarded as somewhat of a celebrity.
- Darklaw - The High Inquisitor of the city, as well as Zacharias Barnham's superior.
- A hooded judge - The judge who is similar in appearance to the man who normally oversees Wright's trials.
- Eve - A black cat owned by Espella Cantabella.
Taking place between the events of Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box and Professor Layton and the Unwound Future, a young girl in London named Espella Cantabella is chased after by a mysterious force and seeks the aid of archeologist Professor Layton and his apprentice, Luke Triton. When Espella is suddenly captured, Layton's investigation leads him to a strange book which transports him and Luke to a strange medieval city known as Labyrinthia. This town is allegedly home to witches who hide in the shadows, and is controlled by someone called the Storyteller, who allegedly has the power to turn anything he writes into reality. The town's Knights of the Inquisition, led by the High Inquisitor Lady Darklaw, prosecute and execute by fire all discovered witches in the town's Witch Court. The Inquisition seeks to locate the Great Witch Bezella, the mythical leader of the witches who caused Labyrinthia's devastating legendary fire thousands of years ago.
Meanwhile, following the events of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trials and Tribulations, but prior to the events of Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, Phoenix Wright and his assistant, Maya Fey, who have traveled to London as part of an exchange program, encounter the same book and are also transported to Labyrinthia City. There, they team-up with Professor Layton and Luke to defend Espella against the Inquisitors' accusations of her being a witch, defeating prosecutor Inquisitor Zacharias Barnham in the Witch Court. The true witch responsible for Espella's alleged crime, a flower girl named Kira, claims that Espella is in fact the Great Witch Bezella, and that she framed Espella to fulfill the prophecy that all other witches would be freed once the Great Witch Bezella is put to death in the Court's flames. Espella is arrested, and a trial date is fixed soon after, despite the fact that Espella is revealed to be the Storyteller's daughter.
As Phoenix and Layton seek the true identity of the Great Witch Bezella, their investigation is disrupted when the Storyteller attempts to eliminate the group from the story by writing in an incident in which Layton is apparently turned to gold and Maya is accused of being a witch. Phoenix defends Maya and reveals the identity of another secret witch, a butler named Jean Greyerl, with Espella's help, but when the Inquisition attempt to put a witch to the flames simply for having the status of witch forced upon them, Espella intervenes and demands that she be executed in her place. Phoenix and Maya desperately attempt to stop Espella's execution, and Maya is accidentally sent into the flames in Espella's place.
With the group torn apart, Phoenix, Luke and Espella flee as fugitives but soon discover that Maya may not actually be dead. When they investigate the courtroom, they discover a hidden passage to the Eldwitch Woods outside the city in which the Great Witch rules over the mysterious Shades. Meanwhile, Maya unexpectedly encounters Professor Layton in the same woods, who has no memory of anything after he was apparently turned to gold, and they pay a visit to the Great Witch's manor. The entire group re-unite in the ruins under the manor, in which they discover a mysterious relic named the Bell of Ruin once rested. Suddenly, Espella is plagued by visions of Labyrinthia's legendary fire and runs away, declaring herself to be the Great Witch Bezella.
Layton and Phoenix return to the town, where they witness the enactment of the Storyteller's 'last story' in which the Great Witch Bezella summons a great dragon from atop Labyrinthia's bell tower and murders the Storyteller in front of all the villagers. Espella is found in the bell tower soon after, and arrangements are made for her trial. When Inquisitor Barnham accuses High Inquisitor Darklaw of being a Great Witch herself, she places him under arrest, informing Barnham that she will prosecute Espella instead. As the trial begins, Layton and Luke depart for the Storyteller's Tower in search of a final clue, leaving Phoenix to stall for time and await their return. At the tower's summit, Layton and Luke discover the Storyteller alive and well, and Layton informs him that his story has become 'twisted' from the Storyteller's original intentions, shocking him with the revelation that it is his daughter Espella who is accused of being the Great Witch Bezella.
In Espella's trial, Phoenix and Maya are able to throw suspicion onto High Inquisitor Darklaw with the help of one of the Shades found hiding in the Bell Tower. When Darklaw refuses to testify on the grounds that the trial would be lacking a prosecutor, Professor Layton suddenly re-appears, declaring that he can prove that Espella is in fact the Great Witch Bezella and assuming the role of prosecutor himself. On the witness stand, Lady Darklaw confesses that she attempted to frame Espella for the Storyteller's murder, and that the Storyteller himself orchestrated the crime with the intention of one of the Shades being found guilty as the Great Witch. Furthermore, it is revealed that Labyrinthia's magic is actually an illusion created by the Shades and organised by Darklaw and the Storyteller. Despite Darklaw's testimony, Layton calls the Storyteller himself as the trial's final witness, still insisting that Espella is Bezella.
The Storyteller reveals that his real name is Arthur Cantabella, the president of a chemicals company called Labrelum Inc., and that Labyrinthia is an artificial research facility designed to test the human effects of a mind-controlling substance found in the groundwater. Layton deduces that the Legendary Fire occurred when the Bell of Ruin caused the townspeople to simultaneously fall unconscious as a result of these chemicals and the town's fires got out of control. Believing herself to be responsible for ringing the bell, Espella became obsessed with the idea that she was possessed by the mythical Bezella, and the Storyteller created Labyrinthia's witches and mythology to counteract Espella's condition. However, Phoenix and Layton are able to prove that it was in fact Darklaw who rang the bell rather than Espella, but that both had blocked out all memories of the event.
Espella throws herself from the top of the bell tower, unable to confront these revelations, but is saved first by Lady Darklaw and then by Luke operating one of the Shades' machines. Darklaw, now going by her true name of Eve Belduke, abandons her mistaken vendetta against Espella and the two reconcile at last as childhood friends. The Storyteller releases everyone from hypnosis and Layton, Phoenix, Luke, and Maya depart Labyrinthia for London on a boat driven by Barnham.
The game was officially announced at the Level-5 Vision 2010 press conference on October 19, 2010. The game was originally an idea that Akihiro Hino, CEO of Level-5, came up with and a project that he himself proposed to Capcom, sometime after some initial development work had been completed on the project. Jun Suzuki, the producer for the Layton series, noted that Hino was a huge fan of the Ace Attorney series and even had challenged Suzuki to "produce something on par with Ace Attorney" while developing the Layton games. The idea came as a surprise to Shu Takumi, series designer and creator of the Ace Attorney series. Keiji Inafune, the head of Capcom's R&D Management Group at the time, was "80 per cent certain" that Takumi would refuse the idea. However, according to Inafune, Hino was able convince Takumi to accept the idea, giving him creative control as the main scenario writer for the project, although Takumi was not in charge of the script. The game features animated cutscenes produced by Bones.
Inafune stated the game is a true collaboration between the two companies jointly sharing in the effort, as opposed to the licensing of characters by one company; he felt that "[they] wanted to create a great history, which would have been impossible if both parties were not fully involved". Hino recognized that fans of both series would "want to see a showdown" between the lead characters as well as sections where the two "join hands and take on a really big challenge". Both Level-5 and Capcom were contributing towards the game's development, though Capcom was specifically handling the visual design while Level-5 published the game.
The artwork style used is a mix between the detailed visuals from the Ace Attorney series and the flatter cartoons from the Layton games; the mixed style is a result of a drawn-out trial-and-error process to figure out how best to mix the two conflicting styles.
The game support the 3D effects on the Nintendo 3DS console; though Level-5's developers have already worked with this feature in the release of Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask in 2011, this was the first Ace Attorney game to support that feature, as the transition to 3D models was new to the Capcom series (which previously only used brief instances of 3D imagery in the "Rise from the Ashes" episode of the original game's DS port and Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney). Takumi was initially hesitant of this feature, as he had stated his preference for 2D graphics in his games in the past, but has since come to appreciate it, knowing that the transition to the 3DS made 3D graphics inevitable and realizing that the 3D visuals "[let] [them] present the action from different angles and really [expand] the freedom of expression [they] have" with the courtroom parts of the game.
The game was first hinted at as a crossover between Capcom and Level-5 by Inafune, who was talking to Japanese business magazine Diamond prior to the Tokyo Game Show 2010, where he mentioned that he had great respect for Akihiro Hino, the CEO of Level-5. On September 25, 2010 the game was outed on Twitter when Jiro Ishii of Level-5 accidentally tweeted to Jin Fujisawa of Square Enix; "Huh? Oh, Gyakuten XX. I'm making it, with Mr. Takumi!" in Japanese. This led to rampant speculation of a new Ace Attorney game being developed by Level-5, similar to how new Capcom games from established franchises are being developed externally, such as DmC: Devil May Cry being developed by British developer Ninja Theory. The mistake was quickly covered up by Jiro Ishii who tweeted later that day that, "A misunderstanding seems to be spreading, so let me say that I'm currently working only on Time Travelers". Yo Oizumi and Maki Horikita, who voiced Professor Layton and Luke in previous games reprise their roles, whilst Phoenix and Maya are voiced by Hiroki Narimiya and Mirei Kiritani, who also played their roles in the Gyakuten Saiban live action film.
The game had originally only been announced for release in Japan, with Capcom gauging interest from the community over whether or not to localize it for other territories. In July 2011, Level-5 International America Inc. conducted a Facebook poll in which fans were asked what currently Japan-only Level-5 game they had the most interest in. Professor Layton Vs. Ace Attorney ultimately won the most votes, with over 6,000. Although the game had yet to be officially announced for release outside Japan, an English-language press release from Capcom at Tokyo Game Show 2011 hinted as such. Journalists had also noted the game's listing on various Western online retailer, further suggesting a release outside Japan. Level-5's CEO Akihiro Hino had earlier stated that Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney would be released in North America and Europe by its international studio in 2013, however a more recent statement from Level 5 following its Japanese release asserted that a Western release had not been confirmed or announced.
During Japan Expo 2013 in France, when asked about a localization of the game, Level-5 CEO Akihiro Hino said that "something was in the works", but that he couldn't talk about it at the time. Level-5 International America posted about it on their Facebook page later the same day. A release for North America and Europe was finally confirmed on Nintendo's Nintendo Direct presentation on August 7, 2013, slated for release in 2014. Due to the fact the North American release fully retains the European localisation as is, this is the first Professor Layton game in the region that features Maria Darling's voice as Luke Triton, instead of Lani Minella as in previous games.
The soundtrack to the game was a collaborative effort between Layton series' composer Tomohito Nishiura and newcomer Yasumasa Kitagawa—both of them, aside from composing new tracks, arranged music from previous installments of both franchises, with Kitagawa arranging some compositions from Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney composer Masakazu Sugimori. Nishiura and Kitagawa arranged and orchestrated the music with the help of Yumiko Hashizume and Norihito Sumitomo; whom had both previously worked on the Professor Layton series. Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney contains re-orchestrated versions of various tracks from both series' games, as well as newly composed pieces. While the arranged pieces were used mostly with gameplay, the animated cutscenes were accompanied by more cinematic orchestral music. All orchestral pieces were performed by Layton Grand Caravan Orchestra.
Awarding it a score of 9 out of ten, Oliver Jia of Game-OST.com praised the album as "the soundtrack that fans of both series have been wanting for years." Luna Lee of RPGFan Music similar responded favorably to the soundtrack, but criticized the tracks for being, "segregated into two camps and [having] few overlaps with one another."
Japanese pre-orders of the game included a special bonus soundtrack containing five musical tracks and a celluloid film strip containing select animation cels. The entire soundtrack was officially released on a 3-disc set as Layton Kyouju VS Gyakuten Saiban Mahou Ongaku Taizen (lit. Professor Layton vs. Gyakuten Saiban Magical Mystery Music) on April 10, 2013. The first disc contains all Professor Layton related tracks, the second disc contains all Ace Attorney related tracks, and the third disc contains the music used during the cinematic cutscenes throughout the game.
- It should be noted that none of the anime cutscenes from the initial announcement trailer or the early anime-style images made it to the final version.
- Miles Edgeworth makes a cameo appearance during the epilogue, where he is seen facing off against Wright in court after the latter and Maya return from London. There is a variation in the epilogue courtroom scene depending on the save state of the loaded game. On a first playthrough, Wright faces off against Edgeworth, if the player however loads a cleared file in order to play through the game's finale again, Wright will instead be in a trial against Flynch. Edgeworth also appears in one of the DLC episodes "Fire Festival", in which he visits Labyrinthia after winning a competition run by Labrelum Inc. Wright will also occasionally mention Edgeworth if he fails to solve one of the in-game puzzles.
- Although a crossover, this is the first Ace Attorney game in which all speech bubbles are voiced, even for minor characters. In other games, voiced speech bubbles are usually limited to attorneys and prosecutors, with rare exceptions.
- This is also the first time in the Ace Attorney series in which a save menu can be accessed by a touchscreen button rather than just the "Start" button and the first original Ace Attorney release in which multiple save files (three in this game's case) can be recorded on a single game copy.
- This is the only Ace Attorney game to date to have a Dutch localization. However, all the games in the Professor Layton series since Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box have been localized into Dutch.
- Two scenes in the game makes a reference the recurring "Ladder VS Stepladder" gag from the Ace Attorney series.