Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Trials and Tribulations

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Trials and Tribulations
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Trials and Tribulations Cover
Platform Nintendo DS
Genre Linear Legal Finale
Score 6  Clock score of 6Gameplay: 3
Fun Factor: 5
Gfx/Sound: 6
Story: 8
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Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Trials and Tribulations (longest game title ever?) is the final game in the Phoenix Wright trilogy, a series of defense attorney games for the Nintendo DS. If you are unfamiliar with the series, you will probably be stunned by the following description: You play as the young attorney, Phoenix Wright, in a justice system where your clients are presumed guilty until proven innocent. You are accompanied by a young woman who can channel dead spirits and murder cases are brought to court the day after the crime was committed. And finally, finger pointing and yelling "OBJECTION!" is your most powerful court room ally.

Ace Attorney games are broken up into two types of gameplay: the first is the actual court room, where you will argue with the prosecutor and cross-examine the incessantly lying witnesses until they crack. The second gameplay type is the on-site investigation. Phoenix Wright himself will head out to the scene of the crime (though often crimes follow him almost like he's Angela Lansbury) and perform investigations, interview witnesses and suspects, and gather evidence. If you haven't figured it out already, this game has a LOT of text. This game is so demanding on your A button I thought mine would fall out by the end. Trials and Tribulations is driven by its story, and it assumes you have played the other two when it comes to the characters and events. You don't need to have completed the previous games to beat Phoenix Wright 3, but it will be a much more satisfying experience if you have.

My category reviews should describe the game well, so read on for the scores which are out of 10.


Gameplay: 3
All three Phoenix Wright games were ports of Game Boy Advance titles from a few years ago, so except for one case in the first game, they really do not take advantage of the DS's capabilities. Sure you can poke the screen to advance dialogue, or shout "OBJECTION!" into the microphone, but that's really nothing compared to what the Nintendo DS is capable of. And since the game is text heavy, 99% of your time is spent just reading text or selecting a piece of evidence to present. The stylus is totally optional in this game (will not be in the next Ace Attorney game which was made specifically for the DS) and the buttons are laid out nicely enough so using the touch screen is basically pointless. The two screens really aren't taken advantage of either, most of the time the bottom screen is just one giant Next Dialogue button.

In terms of actually presenting evidence to find contradictions during a cross examination, either the right piece of evidence to present is really obvious (which made me feel pretty good, like I was actually smart) or so obscure that after you've gone through all 19 other pieces of evidence and 12 portraits (not to mention picking the right sentence of their testimony to present against), you can't help but say, "What the... that makes no sense." I'm not sure if it was the translation or if the original writers were just grabbing for straws, but some of the contradictory pieces of evidence provide very weak connections that left me baffled and slapping my forehead. My last complaint is that the game's text is unskippable until after you've seen it once, artificially lengthening the game.

Fun Factor: 5
Because Ace Attorney games are so linear, you're basically just along for the ride and you can't proceed until you gather all the right evidence or find contradictions in testimony. This basically means that if you're stuck on something, you have no other option but to keep trying. I often found investigating and collecting evidence much more fun and rewarding than the actual court room drama. At least when playing detective you can move around the area and talk to a variety of people. The court room scenes just seem to drag on and on and I almost never played them without doing something else in the background.

Graphics and Sound: 6
The best part about the graphics of Phoenix Wright are the character animations. They give so much personality to characters that would otherwise be flat. The problem is, so many of the characters are reused from previous games that if you've played them, there isn't much new here. Sure, there are a few new characters, and it's great to see them in action, but most of the time you'll be looking at Phoenix, Maya, and Pearl doing their typical surprised/happy/sad animations. This series really needs a reboot in terms of characters, settings, and taking better advantage of the DS's graphic capabilities (and hopefully the new Ace Attorney game coming out this month will fulfill that) because it is becoming stale.

Sound wise, Trials and Tribulations' music shines again. Though most of the best tracks are reused, there are some new ones which I really liked listening to. The music is catchy and the next best thing are the lawyers yelling "OBJECTION!" That really never gets old if you ask me.

Story: 8
Text driven games typically rely on a strong story, and Trials and Tribulations has one, but it is watered down by so much filler that sometimes I was wondering where my great game went. There are five court cases in this game, and the first, fourth, and fifth are incredibly intertwined with each other you'll just marvel at the complexity of the plots. I was often kept guessing until the very end how exactly the murder played out, even though I was forming ideas the entire time and thought I always knew it. This may be because Phoenix Wright's courts play out nothing like a real court would: no one does research on Westlaw, evidence is introduced whenever it is most opportune for whoever is holding it, and the witnesses lie, lie, and lie some more. And they usually lie for really stupid reasons. Sometimes this is incredibly frustrating because you finally thought you blew the case wide open, but alas, another key piece of evidence is introduced out of nowhere and the witness will lie some more.

Though the story has some faults, the writing and English translation is phenomenal. This series has probably the single best translation I have ever seen in a video game, it is full of modern pop culture references and unique and appropriate names. I often found myself laughing at the situations characters were put in, and most of the characters are so over the top that they're simply hilarious. The court room sessions themselves are so dramatic with tons of fast camera movements and crazy actions you'll just love it. I just wish the stories had been a little tighter and the judge a little smarter (he's the stupidest guy in the room!).

Overall: 6
This game's biggest fault is its length and the pace of the plot. This is easily the longest portable game I have played since Pokemon Red, I'm going to provide a guess that it is about 40-60 hours long, but it's hard to say without an in-game timer. There are constants hints at genius in the writing, and the last case is about as epic as a fictional court case can get. There are too many frustrating moment though, where you'll be completely stumped and you'll just resort to guessing, which didn't make me feel like much of a defense attorney. Trials and Tribulations suffers because it's the third game in a series that really hasn't evolved at all since its brilliant original. Playing this one though has me pumped for the new series, Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney. This game was developed from the ground up with the Nintendo DS in mind with an all new cast of characters, a much needed change from a tired series.

If you played the previous two Phoenix Wrights, then Trials and Tribulations is a must play because of the finale, but if you're new to the series, either start with the original or wait for Apollo Justice.

Phoenix Wright Trials And Tribulations Art Maya Pearl Godot Mia Gumshoe