Objection! Wait no, hang on. Evidence first. Hold it! Excuse me while I pick up my flash cards with random legal terms written on them. In the meantime, perhaps you’d like to interview Phoenix Wright? He’s the main character of the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy, which has just been re-released as an HD remaster for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC. Is he still as good a lawyer as he was back in the original trilogy? Well, let’s see.
Presenting the Witnesses Testimonies in Ace Attorney Trilogy
The plot and writing of the Ace Attorney series are as strong as ever. The humor carries the courtroom scenes and the majority of the screentime. However, it’s during serious cases like Turnabout Goodbyes, where the writing is actually strongest. Seeing Phoenix and the cast become emotionally invested in cases is a much more compelling storyline than the throwaway cases for fun that lead up to it. One thing I question is that a few lines seem to have been changed since the original to include pop culture references, bizarrely, one by Grossberg mentions the Harlem Shake. That actually broke the immersion briefly, as it wasn’t a frequent occurrence and the three games aren’t big on real-world pop culture parallels. But, for all the snappy writing, the best line is still “Objection!”
Phoenix Wright’s ensemble cast is a very eclectic bunch of barmy witnesses, mildly competent assistants and badgering prosecutors. While some of the characters like Oldbag and Lotta Hart could be just throwaway one-shots, their reappearance in subsequent games really ties the cast together and ups the hilarity when you start taking tangled relationships into account. Phoenix is, of course, the only sane man most of the time, occasionally joined in this by Miles Edgeworth if he’s not being a small black hole of despair and sarcasm. Assistant Maya is exactly the cheeky and mischievous sort that complements Phoenix to a T, and the scatterbrained Detective Gumshoe makes me lose faith in the Japanese police force just slightly. Each character is memorable for their own quirks and mannerisms, and every single meltdown on the witness stand is hilarious.
Witnessing the Crime Scenes of Phoenix Wright
The art is, unfortunately, where I must say I have the greatest objection. Originally, when released for the Game Boy Advance and subsequent ports to the Nintendo DS and 3DS, pixel art was used. It was a style that the series was known for, and worked well for those mediums. For the HD remake? Not so much. The new art style looks like a first-year art student colored in a manga page with Microsoft Paint.
While it’s not super noticeable on a 15’ computer monitor, playing it on a larger monitor or viewing it on the TV, the lack of detail becomes very apparent. The animation is clunky and looks like it was pulled right out of 2002, and the lack of textures and details just looks amateurish. The worst offender is by far the wide shots of the entire courtroom. At this point, I’d advocate for pulling screencaps from the anime series and substituting those instead.
Cross-Examining Phoenix Wright‘s Adventure Game Mechanics
While the sound effects are all intact and the screen wobbles stay true to the original, the lack of voice acting is puzzling. The only voiceovers are for big statements like “Objection!” or “Hold It!” and it seems like an odd choice for the game, particularly considering there are already actors for each of the characters in the Ace Attorney anime. The sound effects are great and really help to convey the mood at each turn of the game, but could have benefited greatly from the addition of voice actors. Lines like “Anyone standin’ behind it woulda had more face and less nose, free of charge!” would be even more hysterical in side character Lotta’s over the top southern accent, and Edgeworth’s quiet rage would have an outlet for expression when he demands Oldbag stop hitting on him.
The puzzles in the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy are a mixture of frustration and genius. I had never played the original, nor do I have any understanding of the Japanese court system this is parodying, so it was basically like being thrown into a vat of ice water. Half of what “makes sense” is absolute moon logic that you figure out by throwing evidence until something sticks, and the other half is very cleverly crafted so you can put together the mystery yourself. Not all of the requests for evidence were worded clearly either, and I only figured out why Phoenix presented certain evidence after his own explanation of it. It was also very confusing that my client could still be declared guilty, even after I’d proven their innocence, simply because I hadn’t found who the actual suspect was.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Review | Final Thoughts
Phoenix Wright Trilogy has a strong basis of not just nostalgia but strong writing and interesting characters that allow it to stand amongst the classics even after so many years. No matter whether you’re playing the original, Justice For All, or Trials and Tribulations, you’re getting an authenticly goofy courtroom drama. The lack of a polished art style and the absence of voice acting are definite pitfalls that knock this down from being an absolutely stellar remake, but even they can’t dampen the hilarity and well-written plots of these games, and they don’t diminish the replay value.
TechRaptor reviewed Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy on PlayStation 4 with a copy provided by the developer. The release covers The game is also available for Xbox One, PC and Nintendo Switch.
Phoenix Wright's story and humor stand the test of time, but the graphical upgrades do it no favors. While voiceovers would be appreciated, the sound effects and dialogue are creative enough to make up for it.
- Funny Story and Dialogue Still Stands Test of Time
- Hilarious Characters
- Amateurish Artwork
- No Voiceovers