To be very frank, we need more games like Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy. Why? Because it really provides a breath of fresh air in an industry that’s oversaturated with shooters, battle royales, and unfinished content. We need more titles that really stimulate the mind and encourage the player to think outside of the box in order to successfully progress through the story. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy is a game that’s all about attention to detail, keen observation on not only what’s being said but also what’s being emphasized in the dialogue, which can determine whether the defendant is lying through their teeth or completely innocent. We’ve had titles like this in the past with Rockstar’s gritty L.A. Noire, but these gems are truly few and far between. If you’re anything like us and enjoy a game that really tests your cognitive abilities while being an enjoyable experience from start to finish, then grabbing this trilogy is an absolute no-brainer. It’s Columbo all over again but in video game form! OK, only old-school junkies will get that reference...
What to Expect
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy contains all three of the original Phoenix Wright titles: Ace Attorney, Justice for All, and the fan-favorite Trials and Tribulations. If you’re entirely new to the series, this trilogy is sure to give you enough insight on Nick’s (a.k.a. Phoenix Wright) backstory, along with captivating and exciting trials that are sure to stimulate you. Much of your time playing will be reading text but also taking advantage of the game’s point-and-click mechanics, as well as features such as the Psyche-Lock, which is introduced much later. In fact, critical evaluation of every case file is imperative to successfully winning a case, as one slip up can lead to losing your reputation. There are two sections that make up a great portion of the gameplay in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy, the Investigation Phase and the Courtroom Phase, both of which are filled with compelling information that you’ll need to piece together effectively. We’ll dive more into the gameplay later but for now, let’s take a look at the visual side of things.
One impressive feat that the folks over at Capcom performed was being able to take these three classics and spruce them up in complete HD. Not only do the visuals look much sharper than their original counterparts, but the overall animations look cleaner which add to the realism regarding things like body language, and facial expressions. Overall, the games look a lot more polished, which give the games a more modern feel, and just look fantastic.
One thing that we felt has remained intact for most of the series has been its music, which definitely received a little fine tuning as well. It’s still very reminiscent of the handheld versions but definitely sounds much cleaner and less grainy, which is always a positive. It’s just great that everything about the game has remained largely the same, not trying to tamper with anything that could potentially tarnish the authenticity of the series. Of course many people would argue that they’d like to see fresh new content out of the series in the west, but for now this will certainly satisfy you enough. Just give us more console ports of the other titles and we’re singing!
What’s truly gratifying about Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy is its accessibility in terms of how players can approach the game. For one, there’s no difficulty setting, which encourages you to really accept the game under its stipulations and go beyond what the game typically asks of you. An example of this is during Investigation Phases, where much of your time is spent focusing on gathering pivotal information from witnesses of a crime, piecing them all together, and having every bit of evidence ready for the Courtroom Battles. The Investigation Phase is honestly such a thrill because you can really dig as deep as you want to, taking notes on every little detail and uncovering as much truth as you possibly can. This takes us back to a feature in the game referred to as a ‘Psyche-Lock’, which is activated when a character in the game is hiding some very incriminating information, but you need to be able to break through their wall in order to collect what’s there.
This is where the accessibility aspect comes in because as stated, the Phoenix Wright series doesn’t rely on difficulty settings; much of the challenge lies in your ability to read between the lines very carefully. Some players may find this to be a taxing ordeal, while others find it to be tactful and stimulating. The “difficulty” really lies in your own ability to take advantage of what’s provided to you, and use it in such a way that provokes a response and earns you rewards for clever assessment. The game doesn’t really punish you in the physical sense in any severe manner, since it does allow you to retry cases you’ve lost, but it can definitely hit you psychologically. Things which were said several lines ago in text may come back to test you in the Psyche-Lock scenario, but even during the Courtroom Phase as well. For this reason, the game allows you to save at just about any moment during gameplay, which is a plus because it does certainly help to take a breather to gather your thoughts, come back to the game and reassess the evidence in front of you. There’s a lot of backtracking that you’ll need to do as well, such as returning to past locations to examine things more carefully, or perhaps to just gather missing details while presenting evidence to witnesses.
It’s a smart move by Capcom because games of this nature require a great deal of mental fortitude and really do take a toll on you over time. Cognitive dissonance sometimes kicks in too, especially when witnesses or clients provide you with very deceiving and contradicting testimonies, and so it’s good to sometimes take a break and come back fresh.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
In closing, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy is an incredibly satisfying title that we highly recommend not only newcomers to pick up, but also the dedicated fans as well. While you’ve most likely already solved every case and avoided the guilty verdict, it’s still a thrill to go through every case with a fresh perspective and test your own abilities to see how quickly you can sift through the evidence to prosecute. The game is by no means perfect in any way as it really hasn’t introduced any brand new game features since Phoenix Wright: Justice for All but nevertheless, the game is still one to cherish. The trilogy includes both the English and Japanese versions so if you’re hungry to start studying Japanese, then this is the perfect chance to do so. We will give you a heads up though that courtroom Japanese isn’t the same as regular everyday Japanese, so be ready to have your dictionary at hand to solve that one. Additionally, a post-launch language patch that will expand text support for German, French, Korean, Chinese and Simplified Chinese is expected by Summer 2019. The more the merrier!
The game is still very much the same, which is a great thing.
The character designs, expressions and overall visual appeal has been vastly improved due to the HD upgrade.
Courtroom Battles are always a blast to play, whether you win the case or not.
Many would argue that there isn’t anything “new” with the game and is very much a port of the originals.
Honey's Final Verdict:
There are no contradictions or lies when we say that Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy is a must-have for anyone who loves to tackle tough cases, deal with pesky witnesses, and laugh at the clever punchlines that a lot of characters dish out during conversations. Hours of your time will be heavily invested, and because it’s a trilogy you can really choose to play the game in whatever way you like, be it playing from the very beginning or going straight to Trials and Tribulations to close the case for good. Court is adjourned.
Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.
A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and watch me play on twitch.tv/honeysgaming ! Take care!