Order in the court.
I will admit to being a total Law & Order junkie, to the point that a signed photo of Sam Waterston hangs in my living room. As a fan of puzzles games, it’s not surprising that the process of sifting through evidence, formulating a theory and then trying to prove it appeals to me. Phoenix Wright doesn’t follow that model exactly, but it still scratches that itch for courtroom drama. Add in the odd cast of characters and an appealing price, and it’s a nice package for 3DS owners.
Most gamers know Phoenix Wright starting with the original game on Nintendo’s DS, but the series actually goes all the way back to the Game Boy Advance in 2001 (Japan Only). Playing as defense lawyer Phoenix Wright, players must dissect and discredit witness testimony to prove the innocence of their client (and sometimes the guilt of another party). Careful reading and a good memory are the keys to a successful trial; witness statements will contain contradictions that conflict with the evidence, and being able to spot them is the path to uncovering the truth.
Contents: Ace Attorney, Justice for All, trials and Tribulations
While each game starts with a refresher on the courtroom experience, the scope of the series goes beyond that. Phoenix will examine crime scenes and interview witnesses, collecting information to use at trial. While lawyer is still the most important role to be played, there is a fair amount of detective work to be done here as well, and the two play nicely into each other to create a more rounded experience.
The game consists entirely of 2D sprites, which have been updated for the 3DS. The new versions are faithful to the originals, and are just sharper and cleaner. That’s a good thing, because a lot of the game’s charm comes from the characters, who will gesture and flail wildly when pressed in the courtroom. It keeps things from ever getting too serious, and provides the occasional dose of humor. My only complaint with the visuals is the 3D – much like a lot of 2D games, the only effect is separating the layers of sprites and creating some depth. To be fair, there’s not much that can be done with games like this, but it adds nothing and I turned it off within a few minutes.
For $30, the Ace Attorney trilogy contains the first three games of the series (Ace Attorney, Justice for All and Trials and Tribulations), which is a great bargain. A word of warning though, the Phoenix Wright games are very similar to the Professor Layton games; each game is built on the same concepts, with the only differences being minor tweaks. As a result the games are consistently good, but playing them back to back to back would likely lead to monotony. These games are better played with some time left between them, so they can each be enjoyed fully. That small bit of advice aside, it a great collection for anyone who missed the originals or series fans looking to replay the early games.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.