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After a few years, the Ace Attorney series is back in a big way, and this new compilation trilogy is exactly what it says on the tin. Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy is a fantastic compilation of three DS-era games, completely remastered and updated with better visuals and UI. For those familiar with the Ace Attorney series, you will find more of what you already love – a visual novel style focused around irreverent and ludicrous court cases alongside a point-and-click adventure involving gathering clues between each courtroom battle.
Famous for its brilliant and silly characters, the court battles in Ace Attorney Trilogy are always a blast to click through. While nothing has changed between the original versions besides graphics, having all three available in one place makes the trilogy a great definitive edition. This trilogy contains Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies, and Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice.
As a package collection, you can access each game from the start. If you want to experience Apollo Justice again, you can. If you want to focus on the Phoenix Wright games, you can skip between chapters and games from the main menu at will, which is a nifty consideration for those who played some Ace Attorney games in the trilogy and not others. This raises an issue that the developers seem to know – there is essentially no replay value to these games. The stories are identical to the original and all linear, which means nothing changes from playthrough to playthrough. While this trilogy does get you access to previously-exclusive DLC and some extras, this doesn’t necessarily increase replay value or make it worth while to buy the game just for them.
In terms of gameplay, the Ace Attorney games don’t feature much active playing. You will be reading walls of text until you need to select an item to throw down as evidence or question a witness more on their testimony. The beauty in these games isn’t in the gameplay; it’s in the wild narratives that spin hilariously out of control. When not in the courtroom, the games transition into a point-and-click style, where you examine scenes, talk to people, and find clues dotted about.
Depending on which phase of gameplay you like, you might enjoy the more involved info-gathering at scenes over the courtroom showdowns. I didn’t enjoy the crime scene examination as much as the courtroom sections, but there is an equal amount of both to be had in all three games. Whether you’re examining a scene for vital information or picking the proverbial smoking-gun evidence to unceremoniously slap in someone’s face, Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy has everything you need, want, and love in a Phoenix Wright game.
The story presentation is effortlessly funny and charming, with a slight exception being Apollo Justice. As one of the older games in this trilogy, it suffers from glaring pacing issues in the form of circular conversations that end up rehashing the same details far too often. When you compare it to the likes of Dual Destinies and Spirit of Justice, you see how the game evolves and becomes vastly more streamlined and interesting, while never switching up the formula. Comparatively, Apollo Justice stands out as the more obtuse game, not being nearly compelling enough to sit through the time it takes to get through all the dialogue and twists and turns.
The sound direction and music in the trilogy are extremely well done. While often overused, the impactful whip noises and desk slamming go a long way in making the games retain enjoyment and eke out another hearty chuckle. The memes will attest as much, but is there anything more enjoyable in Phoenix Wright than yelling Objection! Take That! or Hold it! to get your point across? Stylistically, being deep into the court battles is the best part of each three games. While they all tend to drag at one point or another, you’ll no doubt find a lot to love about them all despite their issues if you’re a diehard fan of the series.
At its core, the Ace Attorney Trilogy is a puzzle game, and you will need to pay attention to the details of the story to progress. If you like logically sorting through things, you will get a lot of mileage out of the Ace Attorney Trilogy. While it might feel like there are branching paths, the game can’t seem to escape the painfully linear issues that the cross-examination section can run into. This is especially true with other choices you are presented with during the courtroom and investigations, such as being asked to present evidence at a certain moment or to wait until later – no matter the choice, you will always end up being forced to pick the option that keeps the story chugging along. Getting something wrong will only set you back briefly, but if you struggle to supply the correct evidence, the reality is the same trial and error of selecting the next piece of evidence until you get it right.
Bear in mind that the games in this trilogy are all re-releases, and effectively remasters. You should be prepared to make some concessions when it comes to quality of life, such as not being able to move immediately to an area until you first go through two other areas connected to it. Small annoyances like this, and the problem of real-world logic not especially applying to the ridiculousness of these games can lead to being frustrated during Cross Examinations and questioning.
Regardless of the shortcomings that most visual novel games like these face, Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy is the best way to enjoy all three games in one place instead of rooting around for your 3DS. If you enjoy the Ace Attorney games, this trilogy serves as an excellent courtroom-based romp, replete with ridiculously exaggerated and charming characters who complement the bizarre and convoluted stories being told. That said, as this is simply a high-res re-release of three older games in the series, there isn’t anything new for those who have played the games before to enjoy outside of convenience or playing around in the scene creator.
Reviewed on PC, review code provided by Capcom.