Reopening the case...

Is Ace Attorney as timeless a brand as Capcom and its fans would have you believe? Well, on the one hand, I would say yes. These murder mystery courtroom dramas with an abundance of Japanese cultural influence provide incredibly well crafted stories that can be enjoyed by anyone who’s ever picked up a book. Looking at it from a different perspective however, it’s easy to say that no, perhaps Ace Attorney is not the timeless franchise some would have you believe. I imagine very few people play through these games more than once after they’ve reached each game’s conclusion, forever shelved physically and mentally as a worthwhile experience, but one they wouldn’t necessarily retread.

I say this as someone who has played through every western released Ace Attorney title, and thus sees the Ace Attorney Trilogy as detritus to my enjoyment of these games. Do they offer anything outside what we’ve already experienced the first time? No, not really. But, for newcomers who have yet to guide the ace attorney himself through his history of turbulent turnabouts, this package is one hell of a deal.

Turnabout’s Fair Play

So, what is the Ace Attorney Trilogy? Well, put simply, it’s a collection of the first three Phoenix Wright titles: Ace Attorney, Justice for All and Trials and Tribulations. The three games have been remastered for the 3DS with enhanced visuals as well as the obligatory 3D support. As an added bonus, the Japanese versions of the games are also included, though unless you’re fluent in the language you’d be forgiven for skipping these. Still, it’s a very nice addition that adds a feeling of completeness to the package.

Many characters in the series have puns as names. Winston Payne is one of them.

Many characters in the series have puns as names. Winston Payne is one of them.

Now the question is, do these enhanced features add anything to what is already a nigh untouchable trilogy? Well, not really. The redrawn character portraits, in my opinion, look terrible. There’s a lack of soul that once permeated within each and every pixel of the original art, and the over-the-top reactions of the characters don’t quite hit the mark like they used to. Even the judge isn’t as hilariously menacing as he once was; his dialogue losing a bit of its punch when juxtaposed with his “enhanced” expressions.

The 3D effect on the other hand does work quite well and, as with Dual Destinies, adds a nice layer of depth to the familiar backdrops. It’s nothing ground-breakingly beautiful but it is nonetheless effective at adding a layer of immersion to the proceedings.

The Jury’s In

Now, how about the games themselves? Do they hold up to this day? Well, seeing as though they’re primarily visual novels with some detective and critical thinking elements, I would absolutely say yes. Presenting the right piece of evidence at the trials is as satisfying as ever; when Phoenix (or yourself, through the microphone) yells “Objection!” and the music immediately cuts out, a wave of satisfaction and relief washes over you. Especially given the judge’s stern gaze.

These are some of the most finely crafted stories in gaming history and features plots that keep you guessing throughout…

The gameplay is not one to outdo the writing, either. These are some of the most finely crafted stories in gaming history and features plots that keep you guessing throughout, not to mention some genuinely shocking twists that you’ll never see coming. The Ace Attorney Trilogy is also host to a wonderfully bizarre cast of characters. Phoenix’s best friend Larry Butz continuously steals the show with his brand of faux despair shouting, and his assistant Maya Fey is more than just that as she constantly helps Phoenix when all seems lost. Sometimes you’ll laugh your arse off, other times you’ll come close to tears; to say these games are an emotional rollercoaster would be something of an understatement.

maskedman

The universe of Phoenix Wright is about as grounded in reality as a bad LSD trip, and that’s a very good thing.

A Guilty Pleasure

Needless to say there’s around 80-90 hours of content in the Ace Attorney Trilogy. Each game clocks in at around 30 hours to complete, with the latter two games having some of the longest (but some of the most entertaining) chapters in the series’ entirety. If you’re yet to play the original Phoenix trilogy or are simply looking for your next story fix, the bargain price of this bundle paired with the immensely high quality of each game simply isn’t to be missed. The Japanese versions of the trilogy could even serve as a benchmark tool if you ever decide to learn the language.

Despite the “HD” overhaul being a little underwhelming, these games stand the test of time and hand it in to their teacher with an undebateable A+. While I can’t say they’re worth playing all over again for series veterans, there’s never been a better time for newcomers to experience this collection of classic visual novels.

A review code of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy was provided courtesy of Capcom. 

A Favourable Sentence

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