One of my biggest claims to fame as a journalist was when I pushed MLP Month. This specialty month allowed me to interview some prominent figures within the brony fandom while spreading the word about fantastic creations by the community. A lot of people might think that the fandom and its works of art are dead nowadays. However, the fandom has proven quite the opposite as more and more works of art inundate sites to this day.
These art forms go from artwork, to games, to the subject of discussion of today: Video. Of course, there’s always the favorites among the fanbase. For example, in the realm of music, people will always think of the Beat It PMV or Discord by The Living Tombstone. In games, the most likely candidate to be mentioned is either Ponytown due to how huge it’s become in recent times or Legends of Equestria. The latter of which surprisingly has active servers and is updated to this day.
The realm of video, however, has the most varied options. Some bronies might bring up incredible works of art such as the animated version of Lullaby for a Princess. However, one of the most influential video projects in the fandom is that of the Phoenix Wright and MLP crossover. Turnabout Storm took 2 years to finish and became a project that provided bronies and Phoenix Wright fans with over 8 hours of thrilling courtroom drama in a fantastic world. This video project had voice acting, custom music, and many charming sequences alongside references to both properties and fandoms.
Ever since the series finished, fans have been clamoring for a sequel for Turnabout Storm. With this in mind, a new series was authored by TheAljavis. This series would not only be the perfect spiritual successor to Turnabout Storm but also provide new cases to keep fans on the edge of their seats as the mysteries are solved. This new project is called Elements of Justice. How does it stack up compared to the previous work and on its own? Let’s find out in this review.
This review will include heavy spoilers, so keep this in mind.
Elements of Justice Premise
I’ll preface this by saying that while Phoenix Wright/MLP knowledge isn’t really required to enjoy this project, it assumes you played the Ace Attorney series up to Dual Destinies. On the other side, it assumes you watched MLP Seasons 1-5. However, if you haven’t kept up on either or, some dialogue sequences will put you up to speed.
It’s been some time since the events of Turnabout Storm. Phoenix Wright got through his disbarment and then founded the Wright Anything Agency with his daughter Trucy Wright. In the pony world, Twilight Sparkle became the princess of friendship and caused a crisis that people love to pretend didn’t happen. Y’know, because marketing is bad.
In any case, the pony world is thrown into turmoil once again as a new murder case rears its ugly head. As murder is extremely rare in Equestria, this becomes a huge set of news for everyone. Not only that, but this murder is quite traumatizing as the victim was hanged in front of an audience of 1,000 ponies during a stage play.
With one of Twilight’s friend’s friend standing as the accused party, Twilight has no choice but to ask for the help of her friend Phoenix Wright. However, he is not alone this time around as he has brought the entire Wright Anything Agency with him. That includes Apollo Justice, Athena Cykes, and Trucy Wright.
Finding the Facts
Since this is an Ace Attorney case, there are multiple twists and turns that are discovered throughout the case. Some of which actually caught me by surprise. For example, it’s revealed very later in the trial that the victim committed suicide. For what reason? We’re not told.
I recall seeing the Live chat as the premier for the third act happened and many people were wondering why the first case didn’t have a guilty party. Some Ace Attorney fans didn’t hesitate to mention the resolution of a case in Spirit of Justice and making the comparison to this case. While that’s a valid criticism, I’d argue that it adds to the mystery of the whole series.
Some people tend to forget that this is the first case. In other words, things need to be set up for the mystery to be worthwhile! Of course, that’s not to say that they may have left the audience with too many questions for the long “Development” cycles that each episode has (around half a year in production).
Regardless, I think that Elements of Justice has done a pretty good job setting up the scene for future cases. Not only that, but the twists themselves will catch the audience off-guard. I think that Aljavis and the EoJ writing team did an excellent job in setting up the crime scene. However, what about the main cast?
Looking for the Contradiction with Friendship
Turnabout Storm did a pretty good job characterizing Phoenix Wright and the MLP cast. As such, it’s only natural that Elements of Justice does an equally good job that’s respectful to the source material. Wright, Apollo, and Athena bring back their quirky dialogue and comedic off-handed observations that allude to previous games.
Meanwhile, the MLP cast does that to a lesser extent but focuses on the characters themselves instead. I love how Elements of Justice accentuated Twilight’s diplomatic behavior since she became a princess; Coco Pommel’s interactions can be powerful tear jerkers with how moving they can be; Pinkie Pie is just as random as ever; I can go on.
However, the highlight of the show is definitely Prince Blueblood, the prosecutor in this trial. Blueblood didn’t have much development in MLP, only existing as a tool of the writing and a foil to Rarity in a Season 1 episode. As such, I was floored at how well they expanded on Blueblood’s personality from his mannerisms to the way he addresses everyone around him. It’s a comedic highlight that doesn’t overstay its welcome.
Before moving on, I’d like to address another aspect that comes hand in hand with the characterization which is…
Elements of Justice (and TS before it) uses voice acting to portray the characters in the game. Admittedly, I always preferred this approach over just using the text boxes and sound effects from Ace Attorney. Unfortunately, a project of this scope will hit some snags along the way, and I cannot ignore them. Especially when it’s a very prominent part of the project.
Let’s start with the minor stuff. I don’t like Apollo’s voice. It sounded far from what I’d expect Apollo’s voice to be. Another minor thing to mention is that the quality of the mics from the cast varies. Some characters have really good microphones with a crystal-clear output while others (which can be pretty easily noticeable) have mics that peak easily or have lower quality.
I’m obviously not expecting AAA Studio quality voice work from the cast. This is an indie project delivered for free, after all. However, these issues are still noticeable and cannot be ignored. So, if you don’t really mind the quality of the voices you can easily just ignore these criticisms. However, I also have an issue with another, even bigger problem within this project.
Help! My Voice is Gone!
I am a huge fan of Voice Acting gigs. I’ve been around for a lot of Voice Acting controversies such as the switch from TJ Rotolo to Ty Olsen in Dead Rising. As such, I will obviously notice when a voice actor drops their role and is replaced by somebody else. In EoJ you can basically see a very awkward rotating door of voice actors that come in and out of the project.
This issue is only noticeable when binging the project (like I did). In addition, Aljavis has always disclosed why VAs had to drop their roles. So, once again, this issue is only attributed to the circumstances behind the project itself. Unfortunately, it does grate me a bit when I see completely different voice actors and actresses perform roles for the same character.
So, yeah. While these are major issues, I won’t give the team behind EoJ major flack either. Otherwise, I’d be coming off as a snobby critic. I still think that the voice acting is serviceable regardless and every character (minus the Apollo exception) does their job really well. I’d love it if I was somehow put up as a cameo and people criticized my abysmal voice acting performance just to get my comeuppance. However, speaking of issues I can’t help but chuckle at…
Cakewalk… Enough Said
Look, I get it, everybody makes mistakes. However, typos and goofs while writing a visual novel are EXTREMELY NOTICEABLE because they are the most prominent part of the project. Everybody knows it, especially in the first episode. It’s a meme among members of the community as well because apparently “Cakewalk” is a misspelling of “Catwalk”.
However, I found a lot more issues across the entire first case. From redundancy issues, to voice lines not matching what the text says. While binging EoJ for this review, I made it my job to find as many inconsistencies as I could, and it was hilarious. I can’t wait until members of the audience point out how many times I say “Of course” or “However” as transition words either so, I’m obviously not exempt from this kind of criticism.
While this is hilarious and something funny to laugh at for some. For others, it can be a huge immersion breaker that will turn someone off the project if more mistakes keep piling on. Of course, that all depends on the viewer’s sense of humor and such. But, once again, it’s hard to ignore this issue since it’s a very prominent part of the project as a whole. I, however, enjoy the way Aljavis took this criticism and made a specialized channel in EoJ’s server dedicated to making fun of him for his mistakes. I live for this kind of thing.
Ace Attorney: Elements of Justice is off to a very good start! The writing (ignoring cakewalks) is on point, the characterization is accurate, and the mystery is thrilling to watch unfold. Do I think that the issues I highlighted are deal breakers? Absolutely not. Such things are expected from a minor production.
If you are in need of something funny and memorable to watch (even if you’re not a fan of either property) I think you’re going to find a very pleasant surprise. I won’t be able to use my usual scoring system since this still isn’t finished. However, I recommend this project wholeheartedly.
What do you think about our Ace Attorney: Elements of Justice review? What was your favorite moment in the series so far? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below. Cyberpunk Month has ended but we ended it on a positive note! Here’s our Cyberpunk 2077 review.