Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy Review

Richard Walker

Nintendo's handheld consoles largely passed me by, from the Gameboy to the Gameboy Advance and DS, I missed out on a litany of great games. I'm exactly the target market for Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy, then, offering a golden opportunity to play the first three – and apparently best – games in the Ace Attorney series.

Phoenix Wright isn't just a hotshot lawyer, he's a crack investigator too, finding all of his own evidence to then use in the complex murder cases he's presented with. That's one reason he's great. As a rookie defence attorney under the tutelage of Mia Fey, Phoenix Wright is a plucky underdog, and you can't help but root for him as you work through each eventful chapter.

Unfolding as a visual novel, there's a lot of reading to be done in Ace Attorney, but the game's offbeat writing, cast of colourful characters, and head-scratching, often serpentine court proceedings make things constantly compelling. Those with a short attention span might find Ace Attorney a bit boring, and perhaps this remastered collection could have benefitted from fully voiced characters, but pity those who don't 'get' Phoenix Wright's legal escapades. They're missing out.

More than a mere courtroom drama, Ace Attorney demands powers of deduction, mastery of logic and a soupçon of lateral thinking to gain justice for your clients. Not just that; you also have to know when to present decisive evidence while cross-examining witnesses, pick out contradictions in their testimony, and choose the right moment to pounce. I love all of this. A lot. I also love the game's oddball characters, like the unhinged Wendy Oldbag, wannabe photographer Lotta Hart or the seemingly innocent April May.

Spread across a total of fourteen episodes, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy could prove a little much for some, but as a package, this represents great value with 60 hours of trials and tribulations. Twenty hours of that is literally the third game, 'Trials and Tribulations'. Each episode has its own threads to pursue and tie together, divided into periods of investigations and trials, giving you ample time to interview suspects, coordinate with the bumbling Detective Gumshoe, and build the evidence in your court record.

Mixing point-and-click adventure bits with dialogue exchanges while examining crime scenes, investigation in the Ace Attorney Trilogy proves enjoyable, though not quite as involving or fun as the trials themselves. In second title 'Justice for All' and third game 'Trials and Tribulations', however, the introduction of the 'Psyche-Lock' adds an interesting wrinkle to investigating each crime, using a supernatural device to break through a witness's defences.

As in court, you'll present evidence or the profiles of key members in the case to dig further and get the truth out of your interviewee. It's a slightly daft, but neat mechanic that ensures the investigation part of Ace Attorney is a little more engaging. In the first game, I'd often find myself rushing to get back into court for the intense back and forth legal ping-pong between Wright and the prosecution, but in the sequels, Psyche-Lock brings the investigative sequences a little closer to the workings of the courtroom. This is a good thing.

Every one of the trilogy's episodes has its own trail of intrigue, its own rabbit-hole to delve into, as you accumulate evidence, present your findings in court, then separate truth from fiction to ensure your client is found 'not guilty'. There are no punches pulled in the Ace Attorney Trilogy either, each case involving grisly killings that feature stabbing, shooting, or horrendous bludgeoning, and things are never quite as they seem. You'll have to prove that to formidable prosecutor rivals like Miles Edgeworth with his frilly Austin Powers scarf, Franziska von Karma who'll happily lash anyone she doesn't like with her whip or the mysterious masked Godot.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy looks crisp and clean - its vibrant visuals are unsurprisingly the best they've ever been - and the soundtrack is exclusively comprised of pure ear worms. And with so many hours of weird crime and law-based jousting, this is truly an indispensable collection. If you've played these all before, then perhaps there's nothing here to really coax you back, but if you're discovering Phoenix Wright for the first time, then there's no excuse not to dive in headfirst. It would be a crime not to. You can also cross-examine a parrot. Need I say more?

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy

Giving a whole new audience the chance to discover the exploits of fledgling defence lawyer Phoenix Wright and his bizarre world, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy is fantastic. There's no reason to object to this, Your Honour. I rest my case.

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Ridiculously catchy music, shouts of 'objection!', and that's about it. But then, that's all you really need. Some voice overs might have been nice, though. The sound of the text being typed into the text window can get a bit annoying.


Once a bit pixelly on the Gameboy and DS, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy now looks positively lovely, colourful and sharp. Vibrant is the word. Yes, vibrant.


If you like a good visual novel adventure type thing, then Ace Attorney Trilogy should prove a joy. You can press witnesses for info, throw evidence at them... It's great.


Three lengthy and enjoyable games, spanning 14 episodes, the Ace Attorney Trilogy represents excellent value. This is a polished collection well worth having.


Complete every one of Ace Attorney Trilogy's episodes and you'll bag the majority of achievements. Make use of those ten save slots, and you can get the other more specific, potentially missable challenges quite easily too. An alright list.

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