First seen on the DS, we’ve been spoiled for Phoenix Wright games in the years since the spiky-haired attorney first appeared on the GBA in Japan in 2001, and on DS in 2006 on British shores. Six main series games have been released, in addition to numerous spin-offs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy sees the original three Ace Attorney titles – Ace Attorney, Justice for All and Trials and Tribulations – come to Nintendo Switch in one bumper package.
The majority of us will know this inside out by now, but here’s how Phoenix Wright works. Your objective throughout the three murder-mystery games is to work to prove your clients’ innocence in a court of law, using any and all evidence you find during the game’s exploration segments. Between hectic court sessions, you must gather evidence and information about the crimes committed, not only through speaking to various witnesses and bystanders (including your own defendant) but also by exploring crime scenes and various other environments.
Though the crimes and overarching stories themselves are often bizarre, throughout the games’ various stages of investigation, interrogation and deliberation, the gameplay never grows tiresome. Each episode’s narrative still feels well-developed and unique, their characters and mechanics welcoming and entertaining, with regular references being made to past episodes, cases and events as the trilogy progresses.
The many characters you encounter throughout the Ace Attorney Trilogy are all memorable in their own way – and not just in terms of their pun-tastic names (Lotta Hart, anyone?). Every character has their own story to tell, each with their own motivations and backgrounds, and perhaps one of the most enjoyable aspects of the trilogy is how each game builds upon the previous relationships forged, and feeds into each other in both subtle and overt ways. Detective Gumshoe is a prime example of this; though you concern yourself with his incompetence in the beginning, you soon grow fond of him and know him to be doing the best job he can as a man of the law.
Button controls and touchscreen play are equally viable gameplay styles, meaning that you can seamlessly transition between docked and handheld play as desired. This makes the slightly-outdated navigation menus and UI easy to overlook, with the only awkward aspect being movement, as you cannot freely move between the areas of the game from any location like in later games in the series; rather, you have to move around in sequence from place to place.
Sporting a significant graphical upgrade in comparison to the games’ original releases, crisp audio quality and a variety of optimisations for big-screen play, the Ace Attorney trilogy is hands-down one of the best experiences on Nintendo Switch to date. Whether playing handheld or docked, the experience was just as enjoyable, and very few technical issues presented themselves after extended play. As veterans of the series will already be aware, however, there does exist the need to click exactly the right portion of the screen for certain tasks, and it’s easy to slip up and present the wrong piece of evidence, so do be careful. Especially as there comes occasions that you’ll need to present all available evidence in sequence, desperately trying to find the right one to trigger the next in-game event, you’ll want to hold onto as much credibility as you can.
There are two issues of the games which should be made known to the unsuspecting first-time player, however. First, the glitch remains in places where even when the correct piece of evidence was presented, the next cutscene or dialogue did not always trigger; in such a case, you will need to reload your previous save, and try again. This ties into the second concern, which is that – unless you create two separate save files per game, reloading is not a possibility. Do save often, and consider utilising more than one save slot per game. With ten available, there’s no need to be thrifty.
If you’ve never played the Ace Attorney games before, or if you’re looking for a new set of visual novel-style games to sink your teeth into, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy is absolutely a must-buy on Nintendo Switch. With great humour, memorable stories and characters, a unique take on the legal system and – of course – a killer soundtrack, you really can’t go wrong. Just remember to only raise your objections when you actually have the evidence to support them, or you’ll learn the hard way that the Judge will only forgive so many spontaneous outbursts.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy £29.99
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy is perfectly at home on Nintendo Switch, its gameplay fun and engaging for players both new and old. Although it has one or two minor issues, the overall experience is one highly recommended to anyone looking for a new game (or three) to sink their teeth into.