Revisiting the Phoenix Wright Trilogy in 2019

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Nintendo took advantage of the new year to host a sale of many of their titles. Popular games like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon, and Octopath Traveler are being sold at a decent discount, attracting the large and loyal fanbase of Nintendo. Yet, out of the many titles on sale, the one that stood out to me the most was the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy for the 3DS, which I promptly bought.

The Phoenix Wright series is a staple in the catalog of games Capcom has brought to the Nintendo library, starting in 2005 with Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney for the Nintendo DS. The player takes on the role of Phoenix Wright, a rookie lawyer championing murder cases, and bringing offenders to justice. A visual novel design was used, utilizing a balance of serious and quirky dialogue, and over the top characters and cases, to create a memorable experience. Phoenix Wright games became extremely popular, spawning 5 main series games, 5 spinoffs, and a crossover with another popular Capcom alumni, Professor Layton, selling over 6.7 million units worldwide as of June 2018.

My first Phoenix Wright game was the 2nd title in the series, Phoenix Wright: Justice for All, on the DS. Teenage me circa 2007 was enthralled. I was hooked on the gameplay, the stories, and the characters. I spent hours playing and replaying cases, trying my best to solve them without ever making a mistake. I went back and did the same with the first game, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. However, as time went on, the best games of the late 2000s came in like a flood and Phoenix Wright sank into the deluge. I’m not exactly sure how I parted with my copies of Justice for All and Ace Attorney; I suspect I traded them into Gamestop to pre-order Bioshock as any 16-year-old kid with no money would do.

It’s now 2019 and Phoenix Wright is back like he never left. The trilogy released back in 2014 and the games have aged beautifully. Its signature gameplay has as well. You start with a case and the details become clearer as you move along the story. Your time leading up to the courtroom trial is spent searching multiple environments for clues and interviewing witnesses for information.

In the courtroom trial phase, you cross-examine witnesses using the clues you’ve found to pull apart their testimonies. Any inconsistencies and lies you expose to the judge and jury progress the game along. If you make too many mistakes, you get an unfavorable verdict and you start again from your last save. My favorite feature is the usage of the 3DS microphone to present evidence or stop a witness testimony for further explanation. Holding a button and shouting “Objection!” or “Take that!” adds a fun flair to an already fun game.

The music is reminiscent of 80s video game music and synth pop. Courtroom music can get especially suspenseful when the revelations you uncover during cross-examination are brought to light. Character art is especially eye-catching. Each character is unique and memorable; their animations showcasing a wide range of emotion to match their personalities and the mood of the scene. Many of the characters encountered in the Phoenix Wright series have puns in their names. As cheesy as they are, they never fail to bring a smile to my face. Characters like Redd White of Blucorp, or Frank Sahwit just to name a couple.

In obvious conclusion, this is a must buy for 2019 if you’ve never played a Phoenix Wright game. The experience is one you won’t forget and is a welcome addition to anyone’s game library. For those without a 3DS to play the trilogy on, you’re in luck. The Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy is getting an additional port to the Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch, and PC, set for an English release in early 2019. Check out the trailer below.

For more information on the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy, click here.

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Erick Leach

Erick is from Sacramento, CA on his way to getting a B.S. in Computer Science at Sacramento State to make the games he loves playing. When he's not watching Japanese shows featuring costumed heroes and giant robots, he's looking for vinyl copies of his favorite music and wincing at the price.

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