Sailing the Blue Skies since 2001.
Ace Attorney series (DS)
As I remade my list, I couldn't drop Phoenix Wright off of it. So I coupled the three games with Apollo Justice, since all of them are excellent and, more importantly, their stories flow together.
Thanks to some recommendations from the Nintendo Database forums, I picked up the first Phoenix expecting a well-written treat. And that's what I've got with all of these great games. The gameplay is pretty straightforward (get a client, ask them, the police and witnesses questions, look for evidence, go to trial and defend your client using said evidence, find the right person guilty in the end), but Capcom's key strength in these titles are the well-translated storyline and characterization. This series would fail on all levels if the care and attention that was carefully put into this title's translation wasn't there. Thankfully, Capcom did not hold back. The game's characters are strongly defined, loaded with some solid yet simple animations, some great dialogue and the musical themes are perfect. The DS is also decently thought out, letting you interact with the crime scene, shout OBJECTION! (which is oddly fun, but also thankfully not required for the sake of playing it in public), and makes menu traveling a breeze.
The payoff when you reach the end of the third game is one of the best in all of gaming. It's incredibly consuming, making you not want to stop playing it. It calls back the major players of the series in a perfect manner, and the plot ties up so many loose ends that it is extremely satisfying once it's all over. An amazing conclusion. I wish more games could end this well.
Now, I do hate to say it, but the games do have their fair share of typos, which shatters some of the believability of these characters (quit starting at me! from Justice for All, for example). The DS exclusive Case 5 of the original Phoenix seems to have faded away in the sequel's plotline (which is a bit of a bummer, since it did spin around one of the key players in the games). I don't like the life bar Justice for All introduced...if it could have regained health during chapter breaks instead of only when you get a successful Psyche Lock break, I'd probably like it more (Trials and Tribulations handles it better). And lastly, don't go into this series expecting to be floored by the visuals. The games recycle many sprites from the last games without adding anything new to them. That's not to say that they don't look nice, but it's a bit lazy. But all and all, I love these games. What a wonderful concept. And Apollo took it to a whole new level. :) But it began here.
Color me surprised that Apollo's first set of cases managed to do a feat I did not expect them to do - exceed the entire series that came before it. Don't get me wrong - Phoenix's trilogy wrapped itself up quite nicely over the duration of three games, but Apollo Justice does so much with its first four cases that it felt just as good. I was amazed that Capcom could pull off such a feat, but they did it with ease. Apollo and Trucy are excellent characters (and, oddly enough, I may like both of them over Phoenix and Maya, which is very impressive), and Prosecutor Gavin is a very fresh spin on a rival, being intensely likable but in his own unique way compared to Phoenix's opposition. Ema Skye's return to replace Gumshoe as the series' detective is very welcome, and both her personality and passion for forensic science add immensely to the joy of the game. I enjoyed doing the various tests on evidence over Psyche-Locks tenfold. The elements from the bonus fifth case from the original Phoenix Wright have returned, so you can spin around your evidence to try to find hidden clues. Adding to the pleasure was the newfound mystery surrounding Phoenix Wright's departure from the defense attorney trade (I don't dare ruin it here), something that was a shock once it all fell together. Lastly, Apollo was the first game built for the DS from the ground up, and it quickly shows. The graphics have (mostly) been overhauled, and the character sprites are much more animated and detailed, and the backgrounds are far richer than before. I do think that playing the earlier three games helped make this one so captivating (especially with the Phoenix subplot), but Apollo's beginning is incredible. I can't wait for more.