Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy HD Review
Genre: Adventure, Visual Novel
Platforms: iOS (reviewed on), 3DS
Originally released for the Gameboy advance, the Ace Attorney series has been a beloved franchise since its debut in Japan in 2001. To this date the series has boosted in popularity, the name Phoenix Wright has become synonymous with the word OBJECTION; having already spawned two spin-off games, one crossover, a movie and five games in the main series.
Finally released on the iOS app store and Nintendo eShop, Capcom revives these old games with Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney HD trilogy; providing fans (both old and new) the chance to experience this classic series in all its HD wonder.
You play as Phoenix Wright, a defense attorney currently operating under the business name, Wright & Co. Accompanied with his assistant Maya Fey, the trilogy spans over three years as players take on various murder trials, for the sole purpose of delivering justice for your client.
Within each game, there are roughly four cases for Phoenix to solve, all of them a reasonable length and just as mysterious as one other. As a defense attorney, most of the time you’re treated rather poorly by both prosecutors and judges, so its up to you actively be mindful of whatever evidence to present and avoid asking off topic questions. By not these rules, this will result in penalties and will proceeded with the subsequent guilty verdict for your client.
Gameplay is divided into two segments; trials and investigation. In investigation, it has you exploring the various locations and crime scenes related to the case. As you explore the area, you can collect evidence, question witnesses and present items in order figure out any relevant information. Things mix up for investigation side after the second game, as players unlock ‘magatama’ ability to discover hidden secrets that suspects may be holding. But aside from that, the rest of the trilogy’s investigation scenarios remain pretty consistent throughout.
Trials is real the real action is as you’re in courtroom with the sole purpose to cross-examine witnesses and potential suspects. In every case characters present forward their own lies and hidden agendas, so it’s up as the defense attorney to ‘press’ any particular statements and provide evidence that may contradict some of their facts. As a whole, I found these two gameplay modes to be pretty neat. Impressions I felt upon playing this trilogy left me with that same impression I felt with those classic LucasArts adventure titles. Whilst perhaps a little more simplified, the game certainly does have those moments as players are left to wander around investigate things for themselves.
But like any LucasArt adventure, there are few problems with some of the gameplay. At certain points of the game, players may need to repeat certain dialogue options, or follow through a strict pattern of events in order to progress through the game. Whilst the questioning of witnesses might be understandable through the games context of investigation (comparing earlier statements with new information), this sudden change felt a little abrupt when it was introduced within the epilogue case Rise from the Ashes.
By that point, I had finished the game, and already familiarized myself at playing it in a particular format. None of the earlier cases (from the top of my head) introduced this aspect of gameplay, and its only later eased in with the latter installments of the trilogy. Whilst it’s still possible to figure out answers on your own, some later cases do handle this method of play in a rather tedious manner, so there’s a high certainty that newcomers (like myself for instance) will occasionally take a slight peek at a walkthrough or two. But assuming you do manage to persevere on your own (or look as very minimal hints as possible), the outcome is deeply satisfying as you provide to the courtroom the contradicts that eventually grant Phoenix the desired verdict.
There were also a few minor technical problems. Grammar and spelling, missing text cues, missing animations and one or two audio bugs were a few minor hiccups that I found when I was playing the third game in particular. But even those issues present, most of the game runs just fine on iOS and the experience is no way hindered as a result of these problems.
Being ported from the original DS, the game has made some notable changes for both the iOS and 3DS port. Graphics have had a nice makeover since the games initial release, as backgrounds, characters and animations have all been reworked to bring forward a more colorful, and vibrant looking game.
For the iOS, the controls and layout have also been altered to accompany the iPhone/iPad interface. Whilst still providing the option to have it mimic the original DS dual screen landscape, the game can also be played with a horizontal axis; having the touch screen options and commands condensed into the one single area. For the entirety of it, I played the game with the horizontal setting, as I felt the bottom screen only hindered my experience and obscured the text slightly. For the 3DS version, its still the same game as of the iOS, only with the only difference being the usage of both screens and 3D compatibility.
In regards to the story, this is quite simply one awesome piece of work and serves to be the main motivators to play through the Phoenix Wright series. Characters (both major and minor) are well fleshed out and some even present interesting developments over the course of the trilogy. It also can’t go without mention the prosecutors within the game, as each new title provides a new antagonist for Phoenix within each installment.
From the genius Miles Edgeworth, the cold Franziska Von Karma, to the calm and collected coffee fanatic Godot; each prosecutor within the series carry’s with them their own unique personality trait that keeps the series interesting and fun to play. Personal favorite would have to go to Edgeworth, as he is both one of the more reoccurring characters develops over time and that players will grow to admire.
Whilst the replay value may not be too strong, the trilogy is still lengthy enough to provide a very worthwhile experience. Ace Attorneys has a well written story, provides characters with likeable traits and the cases themselves are just as unique as each other. Satisfaction stems from the narrative, as well as being able to point out flaws, find out clues and successfully complete cases. If you’re into adventure games, crime thrillers or visual novels; ‘HOLD IT’ right there because this is one trilogy that is worth playing.