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An illustration featuring many different Ace Attorney characters together.
Image via Ace Attorney 20th Anniversary

The Ace Attorney Timeline – What Order Should You Play the Games?

Hold it! These timelines contradict each other!

This guide goes over the best order to play the Ace Attorney series games, as well as other timeline and release information.

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Table of Contents

Ace Attorney Series Recommended Play Order

With ten entries, it can be confusing where to start (and end) with the Ace Attorney series. The recommended order to play the games in the Ace Attorney series isn’t the same as their chronological, timeline order, nor is it the same as their original release order. The following table lists the best order to play the games in the Ace Attorney series:

Recommended Play OrderGame NameAssociated Collection
1Phoenix Wright: Ace AttorneyPhoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy
2Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Justice for AllPhoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy
3Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Trials and TribulationsPhoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy
4Apollo Justice: Ace AttorneyApollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy
5Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual DestiniesApollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy
6Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of JusticeApollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy
7The Great Ace Attorney: AdventuresThe Great Ace Attorney Chronicles
8The Great Ace Attorney 2: ResolveThe Great Ace Attorney Chronicles
9Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles EdgeworthAce Attorney Investigations Collection
10Ace Attorney Investigations 2: Prosecutor’s GambitAce Attorney Investigations Collection
Recommended play order for the Ace Attorney series games

As you’ll see below in the story timeline, The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles games take place before the two Ace Attorney trilogies. Still, it’s worth saving this great duology for near the end of your attorney adventures. It’s easy to tell they are more recent entries in the series (as explored in the release timeline section) due to their more intricate mysteries and storytelling.

You could play the Ace Attorney Investigations Collection before The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles, but Ace Attorney Investigations does not feature any courtroom battles and instead focuses on arguments and, as the name suggests, investigations. Saving the Investigations series for the end is the best choice if you don’t want to jump between different gameplay mechanics as you play through the series. It’s especially worthwhile if you want to save taking down one of the series’s best main villains for last.

What About Playing the Professor Layton Crossover?

The crossover game Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is currently only available in English as a physical release on the Nintendo 3DS. It is very difficult to get a copy of the game as of now. For those with the means to play this unique crossover title, it’s recommended to play it after Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Trials and Tribulations and before Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney. It serves as a nice way to wrap up Phoenix’s first set of adventures before moving on to the Apollo Justice trilogy.

Ace Attorney Series Story Timeline

Although no year numbers are explicitly given in the games themselves, there are enough details in the games’ cases for fans to get a rough approximation of the year(s) the titles take place. Even without the guesstimated years, the games have a clear story order. The following table lists the Ace Attorney games in their chronological, story order, as well as the approximate year(s) the games take place in:

Game NameApproximate Years
The Great Ace Attorney: AdventuresEarly 1900s
The Great Ace Attorney 2: ResolveEarly 1900s
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney2016 – 2017
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Justice for All2017 – 2018
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Trials and Tribulations2018 – 2019
Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth2019
Ace Attorney Investigations 2: Prosecutor’s Gambit2019
Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney2026
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies2027
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice2028
Ace Attorney series timeline

This timeline gets a bit more complicated when considering some games have “flashback” cases (most notably, Trials and Tribulations), and some involve cases from the past that the main cast wasn’t a part of. Think of this timeline as the order you would play the games in if you really wanted to play them in their story order rather than release date or recommended order.

Where Does the Professor Layton Crossover Fit Into the Timeline?

Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney takes place at some time during the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy and the Ace Attorney Investigations Collection. The game isn’t meant to be “canon” to the main Ace Attorney series, so this “timeline” inclusion is mostly relevant to Phoenix and Maya’s appearances and character behavior compared to how they look and act in the main games.

Ace Attorney Series Release Timeline

The Ace Attorney games were released in North America in a different order than they were released in Japan. Sometimes, they weren’t even released on the same consoles, such as how the original Ace Attorney trilogy was first released on the Game Boy Advance in Japan, but on the Nintendo DS in North America. The following table lists the Ace Attorney games (including the Professor Layton crossover game) in their original Japanese release order:

Game NameInitial Japanese Release Date
Phoenix Wright: Ace AttorneyOctober 12, 2001
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Justice for AllOctober 18, 2002
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Trials and TribulationsJanuary 23, 2004
Apollo Justice: Ace AttorneyApril 12, 2007
Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles EdgeworthMay 28, 2009
Ace Attorney Investigations 2: Prosecutor’s GambitFebruary 3, 1011
Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace AttorneyNovember 29, 2012
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual DestiniesJuly 25, 2013
The Great Ace Attorney: AdventuresJuly 9, 2015
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of JusticeJune 9, 2016
The Great Ace Attorney 2: ResolveAugust 3, 2017
The original Japanese release order of the Ace Attorney games

The following table lists the Ace Attorney games in their North American release date order, and includes the Japanese release order numbers for comparison:

Game NameInitial North American Release DateJapanese Release Order Number
Phoenix Wright: Ace AttorneyOctober 11, 20051
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Justice for AllJanuary 15, 20072
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Trials and TribulationsOctober 23, 20073
Apollo Justice: Ace AttorneyFebruary 19, 20084
Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles EdgeworthFebruary 16, 20105
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual DestiniesOctober 24, 20138
Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace AttorneyAugust 29, 20147
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of JusticeSeptember 8, 201610
The Great Ace Attorney: AdventuresJuly 27, 20219
The Great Ace Attorney 2: ResolveJuly 27, 202111
Ace Attorney Investigations 2: Prosecutor’s GambitSeptember 6, 20246
The North American release order of the Ace Attorney games

It may have taken 13 years for fans to get to officially play Ace Attorney Investigations 2 in English, but the games will all be easily available on current consoles now—save for Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, whose potential for re-release is entirely unknown.


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Author
Image of Niki Fakhoori
Niki Fakhoori
Niki’s love for video games encompasses a wide range of genres, but she is especially fond of RPGs, adventure games, visual novels, simulation games, and fighting games. Her favorite video game-related pastime is asking her unwieldy backlog why she doesn’t have any new games to play. When she isn’t playing or writing about video games, she’s playing with cats, journaling, painting, or obsessing over the latest news in the world of stationery and planners.