E3 07: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trials and Tribulations Preview

Since Capcom first brought licentious litigating to Nintendo's DS with Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, I haven't been able to get enough of the cloak-and-dagger courtroom cock-and-bull. I played the third Nintendo DS title in the series, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trials and Tribulations, at this year's E3. Like the previous two Phoenix Wright games on DS, Trials and Tribulations is an enhanced port of a Japanese Game Boy Advance game. Even though Trials and Tribulations won't have any DS-exclusive cases to truly exploit the handheld's unique features--those will be used in the upcoming fourth DS title--the series' inherently fun gameplay and rock-solid writing should make the third title just as easy to recommend as the previous two.

The five cases--or "turnabouts," if you prefer, and of course you do--of Trials and Tribulations reveal the origins of the strapping young Wolverine-haired lawyer, Phoenix Wright. In addition to porting the GBA game to DS, Capcom has tacked on the "pysche-lock" feature introduced in Justice for All, a type of mini-game making players mentally extricate the truth from a witness's warped mind.

I played a good portion of the game's first episode, Turnabout Memories, which enlists players as a young Mia Fey, Phoenix Wright's mentor from the other titles. In a stunning portrayal of turnaboutery, it appears the young Wright has committed murder over a squabble involving his girlfriend's ex. Despite being one of the most text-heavy series on any console, Trials and Tribulations flaunts its writers' finesse by maintaining fervent interest throughout the court proceedings. After taking the first case as Mia, players return to Wright's lovably oafish shoes for the remaining cases, facing off against a prosecutor known only as Godot.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trials and Tribulations will retail this September, joining High Voltage's Capcom-published Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law on PS2 and PSP for a double-dose of prosecutorial pranks.