It's been a few years since we've last seen an Ace Attorney game starring the bird-haired attorney, Phoenix Wright. Whether you're an old fan or a newcomer to the courtroom proceedings, the newly-released Ace Attorney: Phoenix Wright Trilogy HD for iOS is here to lay down the law. Is this premium package worth the investment? Or do we have any OBJECTIONS! when it comes to its presence in the App Store?
The Ace Attorney series first appeared on the GameBoy Advance in Japan and all three of its first titles were ported to the Nintendo DS in North America. They followed the story of a young defense lawyer in training named Phoenix Wright as he hunted down clues, investigated mysteries, and fought to find out the truth in the battlefield of the court. After years of duking it out in the courtroom, he'd pass the torch onto a lad named Apollo Justice, who would star in the fourth game in the series.
But now that the Phoenix Wright trilogy has made it to iOS in one handy package, players can experience the thrilling saga of Phoenix's rise from bumbling neophyte to champion of justice. The free version of the adventure game trilogy only contains the first two episodes of the first game, so that you can get a feel for the series and get introduced to its rhythm. Each episode's story is spread out over three-to-four days and contains any number of the following components: investigation, trial former, and trial latter.
The intros of every episode show snippets of the crime you'll be solving, giving you only enough info and visuals to spark your interest. You'll then progress through the story by advancing dialogue, searching for clues and evidence during the Investigation phase, and then presenting said evidence during a few days in court in the Trial phase.
In the Investigation phase, you'll travel back and forth from different locations in order to search the environment for clues and question persons of interest. Oftentimes, you'll come across evidence that can be stored in the Court Record and will be available for you to check for clues or use as evidence in court. During the Trial phase, you'll be able to question witnesses and use the evidence and clues you've gathered in order to find holes and expose the lies in their testimony.
Since this is mostly a text-based adventure, the most you'll have to do is tap little arrows to advance dialogue. If you get impatient, and are gifted with speed-reading capabilities, then you can just hold your finger down and the text will instantly flash on the screen. When investigating different scenes, you'll drag around a little targeting reticle that will turn red once you hover over something that can be checked. Most times, you'll just find something that prompts some background information from Phoenix. But every now and then, you'll come across valuable clues.
The controls are simple, intuitive, and require little more than slight tapping and dragging, making the Phoenix Wright Trilogy a breeze to navigate. It would have been cool to include some of the features that were on the DS games though, like the option to hold down a button and shout "Hold it!" or "Objection!" into the microphone, rather than just tapping. But at least the inclusion of vibration helps add a little oomph to the game and makes your objections that much more epic. Nothing beats the feeling of figuring out what a witness is lying about and then presenting the evidence that proves it. JUSTICE.
This is an HD port of the trilogy, so the visuals are an important part of the whole experience. The character models, scenery, and objects have been given a facelift and are presented with sharp, clear lines. Colors pop more and the details are even greater in some of the smaller items.
While it might technically look better than the original graphics, I'd dare to say that the pixelated sprites, coupled with the fantastic animation that the series is known for, did a lot more to add to the trilogy's charm. And sometimes, the cleaned up character models look a little strange, as if they were straight out of a fan-made, anime-inspired visual novel. You can tell there's quality present, but it falls short of being something truly special.
But one thing that has definitely not changed and remains as awesome as ever is the soundtrack. Every wonderful chiptune song sets the mood and really gets things amped up in court, especially when a charged back-and-forth happens between the defense and the prosecution. There's nothing quite like the rush of knowing that you're about to solve a case and mete out some extra-hefty servings of justice, especially when listening to "Cornered." I can honestly say that the music in the Phoenix Wright series gets me more pumped up than any fighting game's tracks or any boss themes from role-playing games.
As for the Trilogy's story, you simply won't have a moment of boredom. Just to give you a taste of what you'll be in for, expect to deal with spirit possessions, whip-wielding prosecuting attorneys, a samurai, weird circus acts, master thieves, and gangsters. Ace Attorney's wild cast is full of memorable characters with great designs and even cooler freak-out animations. Sometimes it's worth solving a case just to see their epic meltdowns.
The Trilogy's somewhat slow pacing (especially for the mobile crowd), and its premium price are the only things that really bog down the game and keep it from getting a perfect score. Also, its mobile additions are a bit lacking, like the Everyone Object feature that lets you post an animation of a character with custom speech to social media. But, all told, it is worth every penny for fans of adventure games with gripping, albeit farfetched, stories filled with interesting characters.
You'll feel more adrenaline trying to catch a lie in a testimony than you ever thought possible in the Phoenix Wright Trilogy, which says a lot about how deeply it can immerse you in its stories. If you've got the cash to drop, then do yourself a favor and jump into this series. After all, skipping over a pack with this much quality content would be a great injustice.