The Ace Attorney series can pretty much be described as my comfort food games.
The original trilogy holds a special place in my heart – the first game, in particular – and so I’ve absolutely been living for the resurgence of the franchise in recent years.
More-so, in fact, because I’d never fully played Apollo Justice through, and I’d only lightly touched the 3DS installments, so this latest trilogy has been like bonus content for me.
And while I was going through this collection, case by case, I became more and more annoyed at myself. Why haven’t I played these games before? What was holding me back? Especially due to the narrative links to a trilogy I adore and how Capcom have masterfully continued this story without allowing it to go stale.
But in a few short days, players new or old will be able to continue the story of Phoenix Wright through Apollo Justice, Phoenix Wright: Dual Destinies and Phoenix Wright: Spirit of Justice. As mentioned, the latter games have been exclusive to 3DS up to now.
Apollo is basically Phoenix’s heir apparent – or one of them, at least – in a series of wacky cases that could only come from these genius minds. From solving a murder at a backstage rock concert, to the mystery surrounding a masked wrestler, Apollo continues Phoenix’s unique work from the original trilogy but in his own distinct style.
The games do largely play the same, except Apollo has his own ability which comes from the bracelet on his arm. This enables him to pick up unusual behavioural patterns in the people he cross-examines through perception. With the power of perception, Apollo can slow down a statement and watch the person’s body language very closely, picking out the precise moment where he can detect a contradiction.
It’s a nice approach to keep the games different. If you remember, Phoenix and Mia Fey had Psych Locks they had to undo when it came to the people they interviewed. They had to provide evidence to get them to open up and reveal their deep dark secrets. Well, Apollo has his own approach.
And as a character, Apollo is obviously younger than Phoenix, a bit more brash and hot-headed in some ways, but by the conclusion of the first game, Capcom have helped carve out a very interesting new character in this world that has some fascinating dynamics to tap into.
This is all naturally continued in the 3DS games and so I’d definitely advise you to play these in order as there’s a lot of context you may miss by just diving straight into Dual Destinies. Believe me, I know the temptation is strong.
In case you hadn’t noticed, the graphical upgrade between Apollo Justice and the two 3DS games is significant. Apollo Justice definitely leans more into the traditional visual novel approach you’ll have been used to from the original Phoenix games, though there’s definitely more of a cinematic vibe to this story with atmospheric cutscenes and some unique approaches to puzzle solving you won’t have seen before. Including a musical puzzle where you have to identify a missing cue at a rock concert using a soundboard.
But when you get to Dual Destinies, the Phoenix Wright models are in 3D, there’s animated cut-scenes with voice acting, the color palette is a lot more vivid, and you can actually look at crime-scenes in a full 360 view. It’s a real marvel and it looks absolutely fantastic. I even love all the subtle additions, like the close ups on witnesses and entering the court room each day. Plus you get to combine all the mechanics from previous games while adding in some new ones. You even get special DLC episodes for the first time.
And honestly, there’s a really good arc that carries the games and brings them all together. Apollo Justice really sets the stage by presenting Phoenix Wright in an interesting position and it enables Apollo Justice to really rise, making him an integral part of Dual Destinies and Spirit of Justice, while also giving Wright a fantastic redemption arc. Brilliant stuff.
Some of the case content is a bit questionable, particularly in Apollo Justice where you’ve got older men making suggestive comments toward a fifteen year old girl. And there’s an entire plot point that centers around her knickers! Though the plot does at least lean into a humorous nature quite quickly rather than sexualise it, quickly shifting its gears. But there is a disclaimer at the beginning of the collection which does say content has remained untouched and some story elements may not be appropriate for a 2024 audience.
These games definitely have a sense of humor about them, though, and you’ll soon find yourself swept up in each case, eager to get to the truth and move onto the next. And while I didn’t find as many of the cases as stand out and memorable as the original trilogy – many really are bordering on the absurd – I appreciated the over-arching story telling going on and the ways the games get to their conclusions.
For first timers, you’ve got a gold mine here and will feel really excited diving back into this world, particularly with the latter two 3DS titles. And for series vets, there’s also reason to come back with the amount of bonus content that’s available to you.
For starters, the entire soundtrack is here, and it contains some great ones. I’m a real fan of Klavier Gavin’s ‘Guilty Love’ theme and whenever it popped up during Apollo Justice, I was vibing throughout. It’s a great track that really carries masterfully through that game – as does the character who might be my favourite prosecutor next to Edgeworth.
But of course you’ve got some wonderful pieces from all the games and even orchestral concert takes on classic themes, such as the classic Courtroom Suite theme which gives me goosebumps everytime I hear it. For fans, this is just a must have.
Furthermore, Capcom have added in a vast art library which adds all concept art, in-game illustrations, character designs, and even movies. Of course, these contain spoilers if you haven’t already gone through the cases, and you can unlock more over the course of the game. But it provides a fascinating insight into how the developers originally saw Apollo, Trucy, and of course Phoenix and Klavier.
The most interesting feature is the Animation Studio where you can basically recreate your own animated scene from the games using the various characters, backgrounds and music from each game. I’m not entirely sure what the point of this is. It’s a nice way to record some meme’esque content for your videos, I guess, or even build out your own courtroom dramas outside of the game. There’s certainly no better place to get a Payne breakdown animation than right from the source, right?
Beyond that, you can equip characters in unique costumes when playing the game, there’s an entire Trophy/Achievement list to unlock now. The games have been fully localised into various languages. You can even play them as visual novels without the interactive elements using autoplay through dialogue and turning on a Story Mode where the game makes selections and solves puzzles for you.
It’s both the perfect introduction for players to the Ace Attorney series – though I really recommend you at least play the original Phoenix Wright trilogy first – but also a fantastic celebration for fans who have been desperate for new content for years.
Now all we need are the Edgeworth games to get the remaster treatment. And maybe that Professor Layton crossover. Or, you know, perhaps giving us Ace Attorney 7. There was an interesting tease recently about using RE Engine. Hmmmm…..
Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy is an absolute delight, chock-full of optional extras that fans will revel in, and a narrative journey that takes fun and fascinating twists and turns. Delivered with an unmatched tone and energy, an impressive, evolving art style that enables players to see how the franchise evolves in real time, and some smart mechanics that have been well adapted from handheld systems, this collection is a must for first timers, new fans or old school fans with its variety and consistent quality.
+ Three huge games with tens of hours of great storytelling and puzzle solving
+ All games are well redesigned and made to fit on the big screen
+ Loads of optional fun extras, and that animation studio
+ The complete collection with all costumes and DLCs, bundled in one
+ Story Mode just lets you watch the action unfold.
– Some content hasn’t aged as well as others
Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy is out January 25, 2024 on PC, Switch, Xbox and PlayStation
Code Kindly Provided by Capcom for review purposes
Played on PlayStation 5