The 'Shroom:Issue 150/Challenger Approaching!

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Challenger Approaching!

Written by Roserade (talk)

Greetings, beautiful ‘Shroom readers, and welcome to Challenger Approaching!, where I analyze a character if they were put in Super Smash Bros.!

That’s right, Challenger Approaching! has returned! ...for now, anyway. I’m only intending for this to be a guest section for 150, but hey, maybe I’ll write more in the future, we’ll see. I hope you’ve been enjoying the rest of the ‘Shroom this issue, by the way! The staff has put a lot of care and love into this issue, and it certainly shows. Make sure to check out everything by our writers.

Now, let’s find out which challenger is approaching!

For those of you who are a member of the Marioboards, you know who to expect. Thank you to everybody who participated in my thread for determining this issue’s character. No matter if you suggested characters or simply voted, you helped this section come to life, and I’m very grateful for it. So, without further ado, as decided on by the readers:

What if Phoenix Wright was in Smash?

The man himself!

That’s right, the ever-investigating Capcom character is here to join the fray! I personally am not too well acquainted with the Ace Attorney games, but they’ve always peaked my interest, and the remastered trilogy remains near the top of my list of Switch games to pick up. His series is noticeably unique and charismatic, focusing on the inner-workings of a Japanese-esc courtroom and the wacky characters in Phoenix Wright’s world. That being said, how would this murder-solving man of wonder work in Smash?

Get your table turned-about, and let’s get this case cracked!


Phoenix's classic pointed pose

Phoenix Wright first appeared in the GBA game Gyakuten Saiban Yomigaeru Gyakuten, a murder-mystery solving game released exclusively in Japan in 2001. In 2005, the game was ported to the Nintendo DS with an English language option, bringing Phoenix over to the United States for the first time. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney was met with positive reception, and Phoenix became a mainstay Capcom character. Since then, six games have been made for the main series, with multiple spinoff games also under its belt. The visual novels feature a strong, titular cast of characters, with the main character usually being Phoenix Wright himself. Some of the other characters include his boss, Mia Fey, his assistant, Maya Fey, and his eternal rival prosecutor, Miles Edgeworth. Interesting, Phoenix has been a character in a different fighting game previously, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, but the concepts shared here will be almost entirely separate from Marvel vs. Capcom.

Phoenix himself is a defense attorney in court, generally working for murder cases. Growing up, he went to grade school with characters Miles Edgeworth and Larry Butz, where he was involved in a class trial over a stolen bit of lunch money and found his passion for defense. From there, he moved on to Ivy University; in that time, he was falsely accused of murder, but was successfully defended by Mia Fey. Mia took Phoenix under her wing, as part of their law firm, Fey & Co. When Mia is murdered, Phoenix took over the firm, renaming it to Wright & Co., and brought Mia’s sister, Maya Fey, in as his assistant, who comes in handy particularly for her spiritual abilities as a developing medium. For many years, Phoenix made a name for himself as a defense attorney, until the later games, where he began mentoring other characters, such as Apollo Justice and Athena Cykes. His role and business varies in each of the later games, but he is known primarily for his skills as a tried-and-true defense attorney, even beating out notorious prosecutors, such as the never-losing Manfred von Karma, in the court of law.

Main Ideas and Characteristics

Phoenix Wright marks a big first for a character in Smash Bros.: no character from a visual novel series has been incorporated into Smash before. One could also propose that Phoenix would be the first puzzle-series representation, since Dr. Mario is only a clone and really doesn’t represent the Dr. Mario games beyond his name and Megavitamin attack. As with any of the third-party characters added recently, extra care needs to be given to make Phoenix feel as though he thoroughly represents the Ace Attorney series as a whole. The courtroom system in his games is focused on making quick correct decisions, sometimes on the fly, to progress the case in your favor. Tying together evidence and reasoning is the primary goal of any Ace Attorney game, so there has to be a way to incorporate this into Smash.

… Well, one could argue that on-the-fly decisions and counterattacks is in the same nature as Smash itself, so I’d daresay that this philosophy is already fit for Smash. That being said, Phoenix Wright can take the concept one step further. Phoenix’s playstyle will be focused primarily on adapting quickly to situations and understanding your opponent’s capabilities to counteract them to the best of your ability. Specific moves and attributes of his will reflect this concept, but we will be getting into that shortly. For his general characteristics, Phoenix is middleground when it comes to ground and air speed, but his attacks are quicker than they may seem to be. His weight is on the lighter end of the middleweight tier, for even one strong rebuttal may completely destroy your argument in a courtroom. As well, his jump height is rather low, but this is to account for something else special about his kit, which you’ll be reading about momentarily.

If you’ve read Challenger Approaching! before, you may expect standard attacks and aerials to come next. However, because of Phoenix’s special gimmick, we’ll be taking a look at his Special Moves first.

Special Moves

To start things off, we’re going to take a look at his Neutral Special, which is his big “gimmick move”. Phoenix’s Neutral Special is called Case File, in which he pulls up a menu on his body. Inside of the case file are six objects, which the player can move to via the analog stick. Pressing B again will put whatever object currently highlighted into Phoenix’s hand, and it will be utilized in many of Phoenix’s different attacks. Each object gives unique weight, speed, and range to each of the affected attacks, and will remain in his hand unless he throws it using the grab button. When one of these objects is thrown, it’ll stay onstage longer than a normal item usually would; while any of the objects will fade away after a certain amount of time onstage, throwing it immediately offstage is the quicker way to dispose of it. An object can only be selected once in a case file set, until every object is picked once. Understanding when to grab an object for what effect is crucial to playing Phoenix, and reflects the idea of knowing how to best counteract your opponent.

When the player has picked every object once, the case file will reset, giving the player access to any of the six objects once more. If Phoenix has any object in his hand while trying to pick another object, the move will fail.

While specific attacks may have different attributes with different objects, most of the adjusted attributes will be consistent across every affected attack. For general reference, here is a list of every item utilized in Phoenix’s moveset, with their general effects:

  • Suitcase: increases power and range, decreases attack speed
  • Coffee mug: increases power, can have a “shatter” effect (will be explained with certain attacks)
  • Thinker clock: increases power, can bury with certain attacks
  • Blue Badger doll: increases speed and range, decreases power
  • Samurai spear prop: increases range, introduces tipper mechanic (akin to Marth)
  • Badge: minimally increases power, every affected attack has small hitstun and small upwards knockback

For his Side Special, Phoenix uses his most-memed ability: Objection! He will flick out his arm with a quick movement, pointing his index finger dramatically. As he does so, the classic Objection! text message appears above his head, and he shouts out the phrase. It functions very similarly to Mario’s Cape, with a fast attack that will reflect projectiles. However, instead of turning the opponent around, if the Objection! hits another player, it will knock them slightly upwards with a small amount of hitstun, allowing for any quick aerial combos follow-ups. As an aesthetic detail, Phoenix will rotate through shouting Objection!, Hold It!, and Take That! every time he uses the attack. The effects of Objection! remain the same, unless Phoenix is holding the Badge, in which case the attack has a full paralysis effect.

Up Special is… pretty basic. Honestly, it was hard to come up with anything that would be really befitting of Phoenix, and be based strongly in a gameplay mechanic of his games, sooo… We’ll call this move Witness Testimony. In it, Phoenix stands on top of a podium which appears underneath him, completely replenishing his two jumps. Of course, he can only use this move once in the air, so Witness Testimony won’t replenish alongside the jumps. When on top of the podium, Phoenix can turn around on the small platform, using any grounded attacks for the few seconds while the podium is active. For reference, the podium would last about three-fourths of the way through a fully-charged Smash attack. If Phoenix jumps off of the podium, it will fall out beneath him, becoming a projectile much like Sonic’s Spring or Banjo & Kazooie’s Launch Pad. You can use any aerial attacks during your jumps following Witness Testimony, but make sure to keep in mind Phoenix’s low jump height.

A crime scene investigation as it appears in-game.

For his Down Special, Phoenix pulls out his kit for a Scientific Investigation. Anybody who attacks Phoenix while his kitbox is out in front of him will cause the box to burst fingerprint powder everywhere. A small cloud of it will form in the air, slightly larger than the cloud of Piranha Plant’s Side Special. While the opponent will stumble backwards, leaving them momentarily stunned, Phoenix and the opponent will be fully obscured by the dust. From here, Phoenix can use any follow-up he wishes, while being completely obscured. This can be great for a quick combo setup, or perhaps can result in a read, if you anticipate your opponent’s next move while in the dust. The dust cloud will not damage opponents over time, like Plant Side Special, but the initial impact of the dust cloud will do slight damage.

Standard Attacks

Phoenix holding his papers, as inspiration for his up tilt.

Phoenix is not one for physical fighting, but he makes do as best he can. His jab attack is two light punches followed by a kick, akin to Mario’s jab. While Case File objects don’t impact this attack’s speed, they may increase or decrease the first hit of the attack according to their average function. His forward tilt is a quick swing with his left arm, which is also affected in its range, speed, and power by any object in his hand. His down tilt slams his hands down in front of him, akin to his desk slamming animation in the Ace Attorney games. His up tilt is a dramatic swing upwards with a sheet of paper, being replaced by any Case File object in his hand if one is active. The attack doesn’t have much vertical range, but extends very far horizontally, and even has a small windbox to it if no objects are active.

Phoenix’s aerials are not the most versatile, but they’re impacted significantly by which object he has in his hand. His neutral air is swinging his arm around himself, with the range significantly increased by the Samurai spear prop and Suitcase items. His forward air is a kick forward, akin to Snake’s forward air. While it doesn’t have the exact same spiking quality, it does have strong horizontal knockback. His back air involves a strong hit by his fist or an object towards his back, with the shatter effect in-place for if the attack is sweet-spotted with the Coffee mug. Phoenix will point straight-upwards with his free hand for his up air, and his down air is an arching swipe with whatever object is in his hand. The down air has a spike at its middle, but it becomes harder to hit depending on his object is in his possession. If the Thinker clock is used with this attack while the opponent is grounded, they’ll be buried in the ground.

As we move into his smash attacks, I can thoroughly explain the shatter mechanic that comes with the Coffee mug. When a strong attack with the Coffee mug hits, the mug shatters, leaving two shards on the stage, and leaving the opponent with a burned effect. These shards can then be picked up and thrown as quick projectiles.

As well, here are a few other details relating to Case File objects:

  • Any tilt or smash attack involving the Samurai spear prop has a tipper. This also includes down air and back air.
  • The suitcase can sweet-spot an attack at about the middle of its swing.
  • The Thinker clock will bury with forward smash.
  • The Badge’s hitstun mechanic applies to any move that utilizes it.
  • The Blue Badger doll will let out a squeak every time you hit somebody with it!
Phoenix's shocked animation, as the inspiration for his up smash.

Phoenix’s forward smash is a simple swing of his fist, but the attack animation and effects will change depending on his Case File object. For his up smash, Phoenix jumps upwards with a shocked expression, causing a large hitbox with his body. The up smash is not impacted by any objects in use. Finally, his down smash has him get hit by an Objection! textbox, causing him to fall backwards and land on anybody around him. Humorously, this attack can spike if it’s hit on ledge.

To be honest, I don't have many ideas for throws coming to mind. I suppose just tossing the opponent around and throwing a pipe at their head, or some sort of similar action, will suffice. Perhaps his down throw could reference his apparent super-sneezing from Marvel vs. Capcom?

Final Smash

For Phoenix’s Final Smash, Court Case, a massive gavel will strike the stage in front of him, knocking anybody in the gavel’s way into the witness’s stand. While it is a bit of a copout, it’s hard to imagine a more befitting Final Smash for Phoenix Wright than an attack in a similar vein to Marvel vs. Capcom. Using all of his signature animations, he barrages the opponents with a slew of damaging speech bubbles and pieces of evidence, until with a mighty Take That!, the opponents are staggered over on the stand, the case an obvious win in favor of Phoenix. The judge swings down his mighty gavel one final time, sending the opponents soaring offscreen.

Other Details

There are still a few other minor aesthetic details to take note of with Phoenix. Firstly, his three taunts are as follows:

  • Suddenly, a hummingbird flies at Phoenix and jabs him in the face, leaving him with an exasperation expression.
  • A mug of coffee comes flying out of nowhere and hits Phoenix in the head, leaving him drenched with coffee and with wide eyes, before shaking the coffee away.
  • Phoenix gets startled as Maya jumps up from out of nowhere, then rests his hand behind his head and chuckles nervously while Maya gives him a pleasant nod.

As for victory animations:

  • Phoenix stands behind his podium, slamming both his hands down, then pointing dramatically with his left arm. While the name Phoenix pops up onscreen, so does the textbox reading Take That! behind his head.
  • Phoenix stands behind his podium while the camera gets an over-the-shoulder view of him. He turns his head around, before giving a grin and presenting his badge to the camera.
  • The camera zooms in on a closeup of Phoenix and Miles Edgeworth staring at each other intently, before it pulls back wide. Phoenix’s name pops up on screen while the two point at each other and shout Objection!

Phoenix’s alternate colors consist of:

  • An outfit with silver hair, a white tie, and a maroon suit, referencing Miles Edgeworth.
  • An outfit with a brown tie, gray-ish suit, and a bandage on his cheek, referencing Dick Gumshoe.
  • An outfit with silver hair, a light blue tie, and a dark blue suit, referencing Manfred von Karma.
  • An outfit with white hair, a white tie, and a green suit, referencing Godot.
  • An outfit with a white tie and a purple suit, referencing Maya Fey.
  • An outfit with a red suit with a tiger print, a golden tie, and orange skin, referencing Furio Tigre.
  • An outfit based upon young Phoenix Wright.

Overall Analysis

Focusing primarily on understanding and acting upon your opponents, Phoenix Wright manages to find a way to incorporate the logical-deduction of the Ace Attorney series, creating an engaging character with plenty of tricks up his sleeve. They say that the courtroom can be a battlefield, and Phoenix proves that he can fare just fine either way.

That’s my concept for a Challenger Approaching!. Thanks for reading!

The 'Shroom: Issue 150
Staff sections Staff NotesThe 'Shroom Spotlight
Features Fake NewsFun StuffPalette SwapPipe PlazaCritic CornerStrategy Wing
Specials Awards AnalysisSwitch It Up!Fans in Unusual PlacesChallenger Approaching!A Touch with the MusicWelcome to My Dream WorldSuper Mario Odyssey Travel Guide