Game Reviews

Ace Attorney: Phoenix Wright Trilogy HD

Star onStar onStar onStar onStar off
Ace Attorney: Phoenix Wright Trilogy HD

If there's one criticism you could level against the Ace Attorney games, it's that they make for quite a passive experience.

Much of the game - a soap opera courtroom drama, starring rookie lawyer Phoenix Wright - involves reading through thousands of lines of text.

It is, thankfully, charming, impeccably translated from its native Japanese, and achieves some superb comic timing (especially considering the simplicity of its dialogue system).

And this dialogue is all delivered by a huge cast of barmy characters with outlandish personalities and crazy visual tics.

Take that!

The actual gameplay? Well, there are investigation scenes (Wright does double duty as a detective between court days), but those are mostly a case of tapping on everything vaguely suspicious.

The only time when Ace Attorney asks for your actual involvement is when you're cross-examining a witness's testimony, trying to find a contradiction between the witness's version of events and your evidence.

These moments are few and far between, but wholly satisfying when they crop up.

You go over the witness's statement with a fine-tooth comb, trying to find something to undermine in his recollection, or to expose him as a liar. And then, suddenly, you twig.


The testimony is wrong. It contradicts a piece of evidence. The witness says one time but the phone records say another. The witness says one date but his passport begs to differ.

The game responds in a spectacular fashion. Wright yells "Objection!", the music screeches to a halt, and a smug smile creeps across the lawyer's face.

Bang. He launches his counter-attack and tears the witness's testimony to shreds. The prosecutor's jaw drops a few inches. The music explodes into a high tempo ditty as Wright dutifully exposes the truth.

These gotcha moments are a fist-pumping triumph. They're genuinely one of the most satisfying moments of any game. This is why we play Ace Attorney. Three times over.

Okay, so it's not always perfect. Sometimes, it's not crystal clear what the developer intended you to spot. Other times, evidence might arguably contradict two statements but is only accepted when presented in response to one.

But it's these moments that demonstrate why Ace Attorney is so engaging and rewarding. And, like any ripping yarn, it's impossible to put down until the real murderer is behind bars.

Hold it!

Sadly, this iOS port (a three game compilation of Phoenix Wright, Justice for All, and Trials and Tribulations) is far from perfect.

Trilogy HD ditches the sprites from the DS games, and replaces them with high-resolution artwork.

It does an admirable job of capturing the look of the old games, but some of the art is rough and sketchy. Some is downright ugly.

The effects and transitions are worst affected. The pop-ups don't look so hot when blown up to Retina display resolution, and the neck-snap transitions between scenes is choppy.

The music is identical, though it might not sound the same as you remembered it reverberating out of a tinny DS speaker.

Order in the court!

Another niggle: you have to wait for each line of dialogue to crawl onto the screen. To be fair, it's the same as the DS edition, but some lines appear more slowly on this iOS port (trust me - I tried both versions in tandem).

Also annoying is the fact that the game has big borders on iPad, and two black bars on iPhone 5.

In the end, this is a slightly disappointing port of three excellent adventure games. The issues are never big enough to spoil the game, and they shouldn't put anyone off from trying these DS classics for the first time.

But if you're looking for the real experience, you'd be better off on eBay than the App Store.

Ace Attorney: Phoenix Wright Trilogy HD

The Ace Attorney games are genuinely excellent games, with hilarious dialogue and engaging plots. Shame this iOS port is a slight disappointment