Review: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy

The verdict is in for this epic collection of games!

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 12/09/2014 12:00 2 Comments     ShareThis
The Final Grade
grade/score info
1-Up Mushroom for...
Wonderful gameplay remains as enticing as ever; Stunning remastered graphics; Faster text reading; Three epic games in one package; Japanese text included
Poison Mushroom for...
Some of the logic doesn't always flow, making it harder than necessary to solve some cases; Sometimes the narrative can be a little too unbelievable

Capcom’s courtroom dramedy Ace Attorney series of games were a bright spot in the 3DS’s software catalog. Part point and click adventure, part visual novel, the adventures of fledgling attorney Phoenix Wright were a revelatory experience for many Nintendo DS owners. That miraculous piece of hardware introduced entirely new ways to play when it debuted, with titles like Kirby Canvas Curse and Cooking Mama validating both the double screens and touch screen concepts for video games. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney was another title that showed handheld gamers the joys of something beyond platformers and RPGs.

DS would eventually come to be called home to four Ace Attorney games and one Ace Attorney spinoff. In recent years, the series has become less prolific, with Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies being the only mainline entry, so far, along with the crossover title Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright. Perhaps in lieu of this recent drought, Capcom has decided to grace fans with the eShop-exclusive Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy on Nintendo 3DS! The title features the first three games of the series (Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Ace Attorney: Justice For All, and Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations), with enhanced gameplay and an improved translation. The resulting package is a robust and excellent game, one that will ensnare new fans and delight longtime ones with its improvements.

This collection has actually been offered before, but as the iOS game Ace Attorney: Phoenix Wright Trilogy HD. Ace Attorney Trilogy on 3DS does not offer HD output, but it does utilize the same enhanced visual assets of that remaster. Characters and environments are much clearer than the original DS versions, and being on 3DS afforded Capcom the ability to display everything in 3D. The stereoscopic effect makes everything pop. For those who loved the graphical style of Dual Destinies, these three games might feel like a step back by comparison, but each is so unique, I honestly feel like it’s comparing apples to oranges. These are are some handsome titles that feel more like interactive comics or cartoons than a video game. The amazing score for all three games remains, too, making the game pleasing to the ears, as well as the eyes.

The translation is enhanced from the original three games, but for purists, rest assured, nothing has been mangled or distorted. You’d have to comb through each game frame by frame to spot the differences. Of course, for something completely different, Capcom has included the ability to switch between the English translation and Japanese original text, which is pretty cool… for those who can read it. A more practical, and greatly appreciated tweak has been the addition of the ability to scroll quickly through the game’s text! A major gripe I had with the originals was only being able to advance speedily through the text after beating each case. This time, players can read at their own pace from the beginning, which is brilliant. I will say, though, that there are times where the way the text scrolls is designed to convey certain emotions and ideas, so tap forward with caution-sometimes, it’s worth it to stop and smell the roses.

Some might question whether these three games have withstood the test of time. The original DS games were ports of Game Boy Advance games, after all, thus making these ports of ports. I’m of the opinion that if a game was good, it’s always going to be good. I have yet to play something that I enjoyed years ago and suddenly dislike today. Good game design shines through time, and as such, I can say unequivocally that all the games in Ace Attorney Trilogy are as fun today as they were on DS. Beyond the window dressing, the core gameplay is addictive. Players guide Phoenix through investigating crime scenes and interviewing people, to pressing witnesses and presenting evidence during trials. There’s so much satisfaction to be derived from finding contradictions and piecing together mysteries, and there really isn’t much like it on the stands.

That all being said, the Ace Attorney games aren’t absolutely perfect. Some of the logic isn’t as clear as Capcom would have liked, meaning there are times when players will be scratching their heads trying to figure out why the pieces in a case aren’t fitting as they should. The improved translation hasn’t really done anything to alleviate this, which was a missed opportunity. There’s also no avoiding that sometimes the narrative can stray a bit too far into the absurd, though I personally find that to be endearing. Furthermore, it goes without saying that the Ace Attorney games tend to be an acquired taste. These titles are all about reading. Anyone looking for a lot of action will certainly find it here-but not from jumping or taking a turn in battle. The Ace Attorney series is all about the cerebral experience, tickling the same sorts of mental pathways that get set off when reading a good book or solving a puzzle. I think everyone should give Ace Attorney Trilogy a shot, but if these sorts of games weren’t appealing to someone in the past, they likely won’t be swayed now.

Ace Attorney Trilogy is a real love letter from Capcom to its fans. Packed with three huge games for a respectable $30, it’s also budget friendly, too. With beautifully redone graphics, the implementation of 3D, a tighter translation, and faster text scrolling, this is the ultimate version of three incredible titles. The Ace Attorney series has consistently been one of Capcom’s strongest, and this remake of the first three games is perfect for anyone who has yet to jump on the bandwagon. For those who have already played through these games, the additions and refinements should be more than enough to woo them back. Ace Attorney Trilogy represents what the video game industry can be when it thinks outside of the box.

Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.


2 Responses to “Review: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy”

  • 849 points
    ejamer says...

    Still wishing that a physical copy was going to be available for this game.

    Just finished the first game on DS. Even though I loved it less than most seem to, the series is interesting and unique. If a physical release was available I’d probably buy to continue playing… but a digital copy is less appealing.

    One question: this review states that the Trilogy is $15 on 3DS eShop but other sources I’ve seen say $30. Which is it? At $15 seems like a good deal; at $30 it would definitely take a bit more thought. (Can’t check myself because my 3DS is getting repaired.)

    • 1291 points
      Robert Marrujo says...

      ejamer, it TOTALLY says $30 up there!

      Ok, it totally didn’t, and I made the correction after I saw your comment =)
      Thanks for pointing that at out! And thank you for being a Nintendojo reader!

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