Game: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy
Platforms: PC, Xbox One, PS4, Switch (Reviewed)
Release Date: April 9, 2019
A review copy was provided for our Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy review.
Phoenix Wright is one of those series that has always mildly interested me, but I’ve never gotten around to playing. So when the opportunity to review this remastered trilogy arose, I jumped on it. The original games all released in the US over a decade ago for Nintendo DS and were first bundled into a trilogy for 3DS and mobile in 2014. It contains the first three games in the hit series: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Justice For All, and Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations, for a total of 14 episodes. It’s part visual novel, part adventure game, and holds up surprisingly well ten-plus years later.
The graphics have been updated from the old pixellated renderings to a beautiful hand-drawn art style. There is no voice acting, apart from Phoenix Wright’s famous “Objection!”, but the characters are such that it’s not hard to imagine what they would sound like. The menus have been updated slightly while still retaining their original charm, and the text scrolling sounds perfectly suit the murder mystery theme. The soundtrack has a certain timeless quality, and will definitely add to the nostalgic value for those who played the original games. The way the music picks up after Phoenix points out a contradiction in the witness’s testimony adds tension to the courtroom that is positively exhilarating. It’s like being inside a Law & Order-type legal drama.
The characters are all completely over-the-top, with names like Dick Gumshoe and Sal Manella, and the dialogue is delightfully corny to match their exaggerated personalities. Each episode contains an endearing cast of familiar characters, as well as some new entertaining new personas specific to the investigation at hand.
See Also: Upcoming Games of 2019
As for gameplay, first of all, the series requires you to suspend disbelief a bit; the legal system in the Phoenix Wright universe is not the legal system as we know it. Not only are the rules quite different, but everyone involved is hilariously incompetent. You’re not stuck in the courtroom the entire time, either. There are investigation portions during which you are able to travel back and forth between several locations, often unlocking more as you go, and finding clues requires you to examine each scene thoroughly.
You can interview characters as well, asking them questions and presenting them with evidence to pry helpful information out of them. The investigating can get a bit tedious at times, because you may have to explore every facet of every scene to find what you’re looking for or try every piece of evidence in your possession to get someone to open up. However, even if an action is ultimately fruitless, it will still usually trigger some amusing dialogue.
I haven’t had enough time with the game yet to play through all fourteen episodes; as of right now, I am almost done with Episode 5. Unfortunately, I find myself hopelessly stuck on the episode due to an ill-timed save. The game prompts you to save at certain key points but also allows you to manually save at any point. I got into the habit of saving before presenting evidence in case I struck out, so didn’t have to sit through all the dialogue again. When asked if I had definitive proof of someone’s guilt, I answered yes, although I wasn’t sure what it was — if you’ve ever played Phoenix Wright, you’ll know that this is pretty typical.
Often it’s necessary for Phoenix to bluff in order to buy time and then examine the evidence afterward. In this case, however, there is no such evidence, and I am not able to rewind the dialogue, leaving me with no course of action but to present the wrong evidence until I lose the trial, which sends me back to my last save point. Ergo, I’m stuck in an infinite loop.
I have reached out to Capcom in an attempt to resolve the issue and can hopefully fix it without having to replay the whole game. It’s true that this was a mistake on my part, but I had no way of knowing what would happen, and that it would be possible seems like an oversight on the part of the developers. At the very least, there should be an option to go back to a previous checkpoint; I’d rather lose a little progress and not have to start an entirely new save file.
So, if you’re planning to jump into this new release, let that be a warning to you: save wisely.
…more thoughts on the new trilogy coming soon.