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Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy (3DS) Review

/ Feb 17th, 2015 No Comments

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy

You don’t know a man fully until you know his whole story. Witnessing the meteoric rise of a mythical attorney is a thing of beauty. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney gives gamers the opportunity to learn about this quirky iconic character from the very beginning.

Rise from the Ashes

An origin story is usually straightforward, but Phoenix Wright has a few instances where he becomes the man he wants to be. There is the obvious thrust to become self-sufficient and competent after the death of his mentor, Mia Fey, in order to bring her murderer to justice. Then, there is the childhood memory of being falsely accused of stealing only to have two friends defend him against the accusation. Finally, there is a murder trial where, by the tenacity and intelligence of Mia Fey, he is found innocent. All of these instances make Wright the often unsure, generally glib, brilliant defense attorney he is known to be.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy

Phoenix Wright is always sort of ready for court.

In Ace Attorney Trilogy, players go through the majority of Phoenix Wright’s career as a defense attorney. Going from Ace Attorney to Justice for All to Trials and Tribulations, you get to meet all the colorful characters that make up the Ace Attorney universe. Whether it is the constant nemesis Miles Edgeworth, the enthusiastic and blunt sidekick Maya Fey, or the clueless horn dog Larry Butz, there are plenty of memorable characters to meet along the way. The series does a superb job of utilizing continuity and character relationships to create depth throughout the three games included in the trilogy.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy

Nick’s nervousness doesn’t go unnoticed.

Each case goes through a number of various twists and turns. It combines the compelling drama found in a court room drama with the off-beat goofiness found in anime. Court cases would be exhausting in real life given the idiosyncrasies and overbearing personalities of witnesses, judges, and attorneys, but they afford great moments of hilarity and drama in the game. The trilogy is worth buying soley to witness how the localization creates a bizarre, warped Japanese version of Los Angeles. It is a place where a cowboy beat cop can be explained away because he is from West LA.

Objection Investigation

Every case in Ace Attorney is split up into a set number of days, and each day is split into two gameplay sections, trial and investigation. Both are fairly straightforward. Trial is when you will cross-examine witnesses and present evidence in order to defend a client. Investigation happens in between trials, and this is where you speak with people and gather possible evidence. The two aspects work together — without evidence and information gathered during an investigation, you have no ammo during a trial. However, each aspect is a bit more complicated and nuanced than that.

Your best weapon during trial is your ability to cross-examine witnesses. The prosecuting attorney will call forth a witness with usually damming testimony against the defendant. After a clear statement of the testimony, the judge allows Phoenix to cross-examine. During cross-examination, players can go through each line of the testimony and choose to either “press” the witness for more information, clarify their statement or leave it alone. Pressing too much may get you penalized (as can accusing someone falsely, or presenting irrelevant evidence to a statement), and being penalized too many times will earn the defendant a guilty verdict.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy

Cross-examination is crucial to the health of your case, so think carefully when looking for a contradiction.

What is important during cross-examination is to find a contradictory statement — either with what has been stated in court, testimony, or evidence in the court record. If you spot the contradiction and successfully reveal it, you can use that as leverage to get new information to help your case or outright discredit the witness. Utilizing cross-examination is vital to being successful in Ace Attorney as most of the dramatic turns and momentum in a trial stem from successful cross-examination.

Investigations are much more leisurely than trials as there aren’t gameified stakes. During investigations, Phoenix will travel to a number of locations. These vary by case and trial day. As more information is revealed in court, you can gain access to new areas to find relevant evidence.

At every location players can search for evidence. Examining an area is easy by just going to the examine menu option. This brings up a reticule that allows players to hone in on objects and get more information. If it is relevant to the case, you’ll make a note of it and add it to the court record.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy

Investigations involve exploring various areas for clues.

The majority of areas will either have relevant clues or a person of interest to talk to for information. Often, players will need to trigger a specific series of events before some characters show up in a location, but you’ll know when you’ve done it right by a title placard appearing and the fade in of some LA weirdo. When conversing with characters, players will sometimes need to present necessary evidence to prompt them to talk about a certain issue or to gain evidence from them.

If you are successful in both your investigations and trials, and use sound deductive reasoning, you can prove to be a top attorney. Your client will be found not guilty and everyone leaves happy, except for Miles Edgeworth, but that dude is always bummed.


Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy brings the entirety of Phoenix Wright’s story to the 3DS, allowing anyone an easy way to experience the trajectory of the series’ characters. The Ace Attorney series is such a charming franchise with an interesting gameplay style, memorable characters, and compelling court room drama, and the Ace Attorney Triology is a great way to experience Phoenix Wright’s journey again.


Kalvin Martinez

Kalvin Martinez

Senior Editor at Gaming Illustrated
Kalvin Martinez studied Creative Writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He writes reviews, prose and filthy limericks. While he is Orange County born, he now resides in Portland, OR. He is still wondering what it would be like to work at a real police department. Follow Kalvin on Twitter @freepartysubs
Kalvin Martinez

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Gaming Illustrated RATING



Gameplay in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy is identical to the original games. The evolution of the formula over the three games is fascinating to see. Depth gets added to gameplay throughout the Trilogy with new elements. However, the same basic principle of rewarding smart deductive reasoning remains, which is what made the original games so memorable.


Plenty of work and love was put into the Ace Attorney Trilogy to update the graphics over the original games. The laborious work to re-draw many of the portraits works to excellent effect. The game looks crisp.


The music throughout the series matches the vibe and tone of Phoenix Wright's demeanor. It sounds like an approximation of what you'd expect to hear in a prime time law drama, but filtered through the game's weird version of Los Angeles. It has always been a shame there was no voice acting in the game, but there is nothing better than when the music changes up as Phoenix Wright gets a hunch.


Story is the reason to pick the Ace Attorney Trilogy up. Each of the three games presents several engrossing cases to get caught up in, often with clever and interesting twists. While the cases themselves are inventive, it is the journey the characters in the game go through that is the singular reason to give the game a spin.