If the video game calendar was given its own Zodiac, then 2014 would definitely be listed as the year of the re-master for Sony and Microsoft. Although it is less common, the trend has continued into the Nintendo world, with Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy being the latest release to lead the charge. Just as it says on the tin, the digital only compilation includes three games from the series, Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney, Ace Attorney Justice for All and Ace Attorney Trials and Tribulations.
The story begins in not so distant future, as you take the role of Phoenix Wright, a rookie defence lawyer with a keen eye for justice. As you successfully defend each client from their false allegations, you will learn more about certain individuals that populate the bench of the prosecution such as Miles Edgeworth and the menagerie of characters like Wendy Oldbag that give their potentially catastrophic evidence at the witness stand. Outside of the court, you must find the key evidence for your defence, by visiting the scene of the crime, and talking to the characters you encounter in your quest for legal acquittal.
One of the biggest changes that each of the entries in Ace Attorney Trilogy has received is updated graphics. Each character and background has now lost the pixelated look from the original release, and now sports a stylish animé style illustration. These new drawings bring a whole new dimension to the game world, but upon closer inspection, it is clear that instead of being newly created for the 3DS port, they are actually copied from the iOS HD re-release that was released last year. It is not all negative however, as the bland text that plagued the mobile release is now gone, and replaced with a font that is far more fitting to the style of the series.
If you have not experienced a Phoenix Wright adventure before, the game progresses as a visual novel, with occasional interaction required during dialogue, during the cross examination sections in the witness testimony, or when you are in the investigation phase outside of the courtroom. While the action may not be the quickest of paces, the suspenseful exposition and finely tuned characterisation of each NPC leaves you hungering for the next line of dialogue, and the reactions that occur if you hit the right weakness prove to be very satisfying in the process.
With every successful contradiction you make in the cross examinations, the witness involved will begin to crack as their lies become visible. Sometimes this will result in a simple change of attitude, but in other cases, they will suffer a breakdown, with some of them resulting in dramatic or hilarious outcomes. Speaking of humour, the excellent English translation that was present in the original releases is intact, but if you prefer to enjoy the game in its original Japanese, that option is available as well.
The initial teaser trailer of the game suggested that each of the games would receive a remastered soundtrack, but this did not seem to be the case in the final release. While each of the scores are well composed and full of variety, there is a distinct lack of any form of enhancement, and it is particularly noticeable for low quality samples such as the “Objection” and “Hold It” voice clips in the trial sections. Despite this, it is still as much of a thrill to hear the Cornered theme when you find a hole in a witness’s testimony as it was when the games first appeared on Nintendo DS.
Overall, Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney Trilogy is the definitive version of the first three adventures in the franchise, albeit an optimised version of a previously available compilation. If you have missed any of the original adventures, or you have never entered Capcom’s virtual courtrooms, then you will find an entertaining sets of adventures filled with wildly imaginative characters, a tense twist filled storyline and an excellent soundtrack.