When we last left Phoenix Wright in 2013 (before he came across a certain puzzle-solving professor), he was an experienced Ace Attorney, forming his own law firm with a trusted band of friends. But once upon a time, Phoenix Wright was a green rookie, one who was unfamiliar with the fine practice of finger-pointing and boisterous outbursts. Now comes a chance to re-visit Mr. Wright's old cases with Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy, a compilation of the first three games in the series, and it's a sterling reminder of everything fans have come to love about one of Capcom's most unconventional franchises.
Those unfamiliar with the Ace Attorney series will find one of the strangest success stories to come out of Japan. The original Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney released in North America in limited quantities, with Capcom expecting it to be a niche title. However, the game's unique ability to combine witness probes, evidence examination, and reading comprehension into a viable gameplay premise quickly gave it cult status, resulting in two sequels: Justice for All & Trials and Tribulations.
All three games have been given a noticeable restoration, with visuals looking far more detailed and colorful than their old Nintendo DS counterparts. The visuals have also been refined to support 3D, similar to the facelift that Capcom had to give the series for last year's Dual Destinies. As gimmicky as it may sound on the surface, however, the 3D visuals are truly impressive, with characters designed in the foreground to make the most of their wacky mannerisms. The only issue here is that the graphics may feel dated for anyone just coming off the newer Dual Destinies, but given that they're an upgrade from old Game Boy Advance-level graphics, that's a minor nitpick.
The games themselves hold up strongly. While there's an iOS version of the Ace Attorney Trilogy out in the wild, Capcom went out of their way to take advantage of certain 3DS-specific functions. For example, there's a sequence that involves using the 3DS mic to blow away dust.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy is a fascinating pick-up for those that want to play through all of Phoenix's old cases either just as they remember them or in a different way. The Japanese version of the games are fully intact and players can switch between them at the push of a button on the main menu. It's a nice piece of fan service for series purists and fans of Japanese dialogue, but it's a feature that won't get much play from anyone unfamiliar with the Japanese language.
In fact, that's the big takeaway from this compilation, in general. The Ace Attorney Trilogy is aimed for fans of the series that can't get enough of the series' lawyer antics. Just as is the series' hallmark, the games are linear, text-filled affairs. There are no big twists or any other major extras to be found, but if you simply like examining evidence, meeting dozens of kooky characters, and a series of feel-good stories about the law and the power of friendship, there are still few titles better than the Ace Attorney games.
Of course, it's also a fine starting point for anyone curious about who these characters are and how they've become so beloved. There's a real sense of evolution in these games. Mechanics like psyche locks are introduced in subsequent games, but there's also the evolution of the characters themselves. Phoenix, Maya, Mia, Edgeworth, and others are fully fleshed-out characters, each with stories and arcs that are engaging to watch unfold.
No objections here. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy is a fine compilation and definitely a good standby for bedside gaming or long road trips.
These impressions are based on a Nintendo 3DS download code provided by the publisher. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy is available in on the Nintendo eShop now for $29.99. The game is rated T.