All rise for the honorable classic.
Over the years, visual novels have become one of my favorite genres in gaming.
Titles like Danganronpa, Zero Escape, Steins;Gate and many more have become some of the games I most fondly remember from the past decade, and if it wasn’t for the Ace Attorney series introducing me to this genre of games in style, it’s possible that I would’ve missed out on all these great stories.
In that regard, I consider the first trilogy of Ace Attorney games as classics.
Despite my feelings about the series, visual novels are not typically known for their replay value, and even though I picked up 3DS trilogy bundle, I had a hard time getting through the games after playing the latest in the series, “Spirit of Justice”, with its various quality of life updates that were missing in the trilogy collection.
So, when I was given the opportunity to check out the Switch release of the trilogy, I hoped that Capcom would do right by their classic series and after some time with it, I can happily report that they have, for the most part.
Platform: PS4, X1. PC. Switch, 3DS
Length: 25~ hours per game, 3 games total
Given that the story, characters and content of the games remain nearly identical to the original titles, I will treat this more as a port report than anything else.
The most obvious change from the original is the visuals.
Instead of 2D sprites, every character is represented by newly drawn HD portraits and unlike the 3DS/iOS version, the animation frames seem fully intact, making for a clean and fluid looking presentation.
However, note that I referred to this as a “change” and not as a straight improvement, as there’s a part of me that prefers the 2D sprites despite their lower resolution. At least the characters retain their visual identity unlike cases like the HD versions of FF6, which makes me sad just thinking about it.
The real improvements are the various quality of life updates like the ability to skip text from the very beginning of the game without having read the text before. This was especially welcome to someone like me who wanted to just skip through some of the slower parts of the investigations and get to the juicy trials without delay.
During investigations, I noticed that the select cursor gave me a clear indication of the things I looked at and things I didn’t, and given that the worst part of the original games was getting stuck during an investigation phase because I didn’t click on a particular pixel, this was an absolute godsend and made the whole experience flow much more smoothly. The UI for trilogy have been normalized as well, which made each of the games feel a part of the whole instead of its own thing.
Even though those seem like small changes, it permeates throughout the entire playthrough for a much more pleasant experience.
The lack of the 2nd screen is a bit regrettable, as being able to glance at the selection of evidence just by glancing down was always nice, but after a little while I didn’t miss it at all. There were also some gimmicky gesture based actions like blowing on the touch screen to blow away dust for fingerprints, but I also saw them as cute little gimmicks and not much more so they weren’t missed very much.
What did seem a bit out of place oddly enough was the chiptune soundtrack, as even though I adore the soundtrack to the Ace Attorney series, it didn’t fit all that well with the new HD visuals. An option for a newly orchestrated soundtrack would’ve been fantastic and given the port more of an identity of its own.
In fact, why stop there?
Why not fully voice all the trial sections of the game?
Titles like Danganronpa, despite originally being a handheld game, had full voice acting during its trial segments, which added much more dramatic flair, and even more recently, the HD remake of 999 was fully voiced which, given its massive script, was no small feat.
Remastering or remaking a game presents a unique opportunity to not only introduce a classic to a new generation, but to do so in a way where it has an identity of its own, and in this regard I think Capcom came up short.
Despite feeling that this was a bit of a missed opportunity, the Phoenix Wright Trilogy on the Switch has now become my recommended way to experience this classic story thanks to its various quality of life updates and solid price point.
Fun Tidbit – Favorite character from the Ace Attorney series? Miles Edgeworth, of course!
Review copy of game provided by publisher.