Escapism. Video games are a great way of allowing the player to be who they want, but becoming an attorney isn’t an occupation that often tops the wish list. However, the Phoenix Wright games brought drama and excitement along with thrilling stories that quickly attracted a legion of fans. All of a sudden being a legal eagle was cool.
The original trilogy was so well received that numerous sequels were greenlit, but instead the focus shifted to Apollo Justice, a fresh faced youngster looking to earn his legal chops. Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy is the re-release of the second trio of games.
To be absolutely clear, what we have here is a collection of interactive stories. There’s a lot of reading required, and not as much “playing”, so if that’s not your thing then Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy is not for you. It’s fortunate, then, that you can whack the text scrolling on auto to save wearing your “A” button down into a fine dust. Why, if you really want to sit back and relax, pop things into Story Mode and let events automatically unfold in front of your very eyes.
If a slowly paced tale of mystery is just your thing then you’ve got the right game here. Each episode follows Apollo Justice and his mentor, Phoenix Wright, as they investigate and solve numerous cases in and out of the courtroom. They are supported by an ensemble of weird and wonderful characters, who more often than not aren’t what they seem.
At times you’ll be chatting to people and examining crime scenes, as well as looking for evidence in the classic point and click style. However, the most exciting (and frequent) segments take place within the courtroom itself, as you hear witness testimony and cross examine them sentence by sentence.
This is where your powers of perception come in, as you scan for inconsistencies and aim to present the relevant evidence to prove it. There are also some, let’s say, almost supernatural abilities that will help you break down certain witnesses. Apollo’s bracelet provides him a level of focus which would catch out even the very best poker player, for example. You’ll need to be careful however, because five mistakes later and your interrogation will come to an abrupt end as the judge loses his patience.
It’s during these encounters where the famous “Hold It!” and “Objection!” catchphrases will be yelled as you search for that elusive gotcha moment. It’s genuinely satisfying as the penny drops; things all of a sudden making perfect sense. This is also a testament to the skillful writing at play in Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy, everything is there for a reason.
There are puzzles to be solved here, but not in the traditional sense. The challenge comes from how you perceive seemingly unconnected statements and evidence, and ultimately link them together to tell the true story. It’s rarely straightforward, as your investigations will reveal numerous red herrings and dead ends, before eventually getting to the bottom of things.
Sometimes you may get stuck, but that will most likely be because you haven’t scoured every location for evidence, or spoken to every character. Hitting “X” will allow you to review recent conversations, if you feel the need to go back through and double check something.
In Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy some of what made the original games feel innovative, such as using the microphone on the Nintendo DS to dust for fingerprints and shout “Objection!”, are lost to simple button presses. Sure, the technology back then was a little hit and miss but it made the experience more immersive overall.
More importantly, despite each case being twisty, turny and often convoluted, they make sense. Reaching the end is satisfying, thanks to the quality of the writing. There’s humour, darkness and often moments you won’t see coming. For those of you who like a good story, you can’t go wrong with Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy.
There are a few cutscenes, but the hand drawn action usually plays out frame by frame. It looks great, like an interactive comic, with only a few sequences revealing the true age of the games (for example when talking through theories and scenarios behind each crime).
Throughout Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy, the music does a good job of matching the pace and tempo of the storytelling. For example, if you start to hone in on a significant breakthrough a tense piece will start to build in the background punctuating this very point.
Each entry is split down into episodes, covering numerous different cases. You can save at pretty much any point, and you will be offered the option to do so at the end of every chapter. There is also an autosave function for the more forgetful amongst you.
Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy consists of: Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies and Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice. The DLC content is included for the latter two titles also. That means there’s a generous sixteen episodes on offer that usually run for two to three hours each. As a result you’ll be kept busy for a long while which makes the near £40 price tag just about worth it, if this is your sort of thing that is.
This isn’t purely a repackaging of the original games however, there are some lovely extras bundled in that are sure to please fans of the series. The museum section is home to the Orchestra Hall, which gives players the option to listen to their favourite tunes, as well as tinker with how they are arranged and watch the adorable little avatars play on stage. Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy also sports a fancy new menu theme for the occasion. It’s also here where you can flick through the Art Library, and have a look at everything from illustrations to the Spirit of Justice Prologue anime. Not only this but the Animation Studio allows you to explore characters and relive your favourite moments.
When all is said and done, the extras are a nice touch but Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy is a collection of games which remain pretty much untouched. There are, however, new voice dubs in this release, as well as support for six other languages.
You may well be reading this review and thinking there isn’t a substantial amount of difference to preview, and you’d be right. This is because with the repackaging completed and the extras thrown in, Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy is ready to roll. It’s up to you to discover how each story ends, if you didn’t take the opportunity the first time round.
For fans of this trilogy, or those games that came before it, Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy will definitely scratch that itch. Otherwise, there isn’t anything here that will win round the doubtful. Despite no fundamental changes, the games themselves stand up well even today, and look good on the big screen.
Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy may well be an acquired taste, but it remains one of the most absorbing text based adventures out there.