The Ace Attorney Timeline: All Phoenix Wright Games in Chronological Order | Hacker Noon

The Ace Attorney series can be tough to follow if you want to do so chronologically, rather than playing through each game in the order of their release. To follow a chronological order while still keeping in line with the way these games were meant to be played, you would play them like this:
1. The Great Ace Attorney: Adventures
2. The Great Ace Attorney 2: Resolve
3. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney 
4. Phoenix Wright: Justice for All
5. Phoenix Wright: Trials and Tribulations
6. Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth
7. Ace Attorney Investigations 2 (also known as Gyakuten Kenji 2)
8. Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (non-canon)
9. Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney
10. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies
11. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice
This is about as close to chronological as you can get. This article goes further in-depth, regarding where each case of the series occurs in its timeline. Minor spoiler warning if you decide to take a closer look!

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@mm22Marc Magrini

Huge fan of video games hoping to inform and entertain people

The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles has finally been released overseas, bringing previously Japan-exclusive spinoffs of the Ace Attorney series to the rest of the world. These games take place in the past, introducing characters and storylines completely new to the franchise. 

While the games are very self-contained, the changes to the story and cast that come as part of the change in time period can be very confusing.

This brings up a good point about the series itself: the general timeline of the games is, likewise, very confusing.

Many of the games feature very linear gameplay, but they prioritize gameplay and intrigue over a story that goes from point A to point B. As such, some games will have their chapters take place before a previous one, or even very far into the past. Even if you’re a long-time veteran of the series, keeping track of when certain events happen – particularly, events you’ve played through before – can be very confusing.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Chronological Order

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Image via official press release

For the purposes of this article, I have looked over each major Ace Attorney game and spinoff. Every game has its own details on when events take place, allowing them to be described on a case-by-case basis. If simply going through the games according to when they (mostly) take place, this would be the best order to go about it.

The Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney Timeline: All Games in Chronological Order

  1. The Great Ace Attorney: Adventures
  2. The Great Ace Attorney 2: Resolve
  3. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney 
  4. Phoenix Wright: Justice for All
  5. Phoenix Wright: Trials and Tribulations
  6. Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth
  7. Ace Attorney Investigations 2 (also known as Gyakuten Kenji 2)
  8. Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (non-canon)
  9. Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney
  10. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies
  11. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice

This is the most “chronological” order of the Ace Attorney series. However, as stated before, some games are a little more complicated with their timing. 

Even The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles, despite its storyline being very self-contained and linear, falls victim to this. A major chapter in the second game actually takes place between two chapters of the first. But the timing of that chapter is made very clear the moment it takes place, unlike some games of the main series. So, if you’re a fan of the series and interested in discovering how Ace Attorney’s exact timeline is structured, read on.

DISCLAIMER: Minor spoilers will be stated from here on out, so be warned. 

I’ll be dividing the chronological order of the Ace Attorney franchise into three sections: 

  1. Before Phoenix Wright became a lawyer
  2. During Wright’s career
  3. After Wright’s disbarment 

The timeline will state the game each case comes from, as well as what parts of the case apply to that time. 

Note as well that I’ll only be mentioning cases that occur while the player is directly interacting with them. Certain cases mention incidents that take place years prior, but if you never play as a character during that year, only relevant gameplay is taken into account. Major events, such as the DL-6 incident, will not be part of this list.

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Image via Unofficial Ace Attorney Wiki

Cases Before Phoenix Wright’s Career

  • 1. Ace Attorney Investigations 2 – Case 3, Beginning
  • 2. Ace Attorney Investigations – Case 4
  • 3. Trials and Tribulations – Case 4
  • 4. Trials and Tribulations – Case 1
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Image via Unofficial Ace Attorney Wiki

These are all “flashback” cases, in a sense – you play them during later games in the series, but they actually occur long before Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. Of note here is Case 3 of Ace Attorney Investigations 2; only the first part of it takes place before the other cases listed here. This isn’t the last time a discrepancy like that occurs, so get ready for things to be a little more complicated.

Cases During Phoenix Wright’s Career

  • 5. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
  • 6. Justice for All – Case 2
  • 7. Justice for All – Case 1
  • 8. Justice for All – Case 3
  • 9. Justice for All – Case 4
  • 10. Trials and Tribulations – Case 2
  • 11. Trials and Tribulations – Case 3
  • 12. Trials and Tribulations – Case 5
  • 13. Ace Attorney Investigations – Case 2
  • 14. Ace Attorney Investigations – Case 3
  • 15. Ace Attorney Investigations – Case 1
  • 16. Ace Attorney Investigations – Case 5
  • 17. Ace Attorney Investigations 2 (see notes)
  • 18. Professor Layton vs Ace Attorney (see notes)
  • 19. Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney – Case 4, Middle
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Image via official press release

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney takes place in a pure chronological order from start to finish. The games after it jump back and forth throughout the timeline, with Justice for All’s first case taking place after the second. There are later games that follow this odd method of storytelling, but from here very few events occur between games.

Notes: Ace Attorney Investigations 2 takes place in a purely chronological order, with the sole exception of Case 3’s beginning. Professor Layton vs Ace Attorney doesn’t shift its position in the timeline at all, but it isn’t considered part of the main series canon. Its exact place is a little messy, as well – it might even take place at any point between Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney and Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney.

Cases After Phoenix Wright’s Disbarment

  • 20. Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney (see notes)
  • 21. Dual Destinies – Case 2
  • 22. Dual Destinies – DLC Case
  • 23. Dual Destinies – Case 3
  • 24. Dual Destinies – Case 4, Beginning
  • 25. Dual Destinies – Case 1
  • 26. Dual Destinies – Case 4, Middle/End
  • 27. Dual Destinies – Case 5
  • 28. Spirit of Justice
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Image via official press release

Like the first section, this only spans over three games of the series. Dual Destinies is probably the game with the strangest structuring of its timeline, with the entirety of Case 1 taking place in between the first sections of Case 4, and a DLC case taking place before most of the game. Spirit of Justice takes place in a normal chronological order, like Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – it has a DLC case as well, but that takes place after all other cases in the game.

Final Thoughts on the Ace Attorney Timeline

Trying to follow the games as they happen can be a little more than challenging, as you can see. Part of why the series is structured like this is to fill in some gaps, set up interesting plot threads, and provide simple tutorials that still allow fan-favorite characters to show up. While the timeline of the games might not make sense if you’ve never played the series, everything falls very well into place in context.

Still, I recommend that fans of the Ace Attorney series keep this timeline in their minds if they find themselves playing through the games again. Who knows – you might uncover a piece of foreshadowing you wouldn’t have noticed otherwise…

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