Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Trials & Tribulations (Nintendo DS) Review

By Adam Riley 04.11.2008 17

Review for Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Trials & Tribulations on Nintendo DS

The Gyakuten Saiban series from Capcom has long been a popular mainstay on the GBA in Japan, with all three games proving to be great successes on the handheld. However, the re-named Ace Attorney titles have only recently reached Western shores via Nintendo DS ports, yet have quickly built up a strong following in both the US and Europe. Now the third game has been ported over in the form of 'Trials & Tribulations', and despite a wait of over a year, Europe can now get its hands on what might well be the best version so far.

To start off with, it must be stated that this game is just a straight port of the GBA game, just as Justice for All was. Therefore, there are no re-worked visuals, the soundtrack is exactly as it was in the Japanese-only Game Boy Advance version and there are no extra cases, as there were in the first Phoenix Wright port to DS. Thankfully, though, as this is basically just a text adventure, the game does not need to rely on overly detailed graphics, with the clever script taking centre stage. Additionally, the hand-drawn characters that are included all still manage prove to be full of personality, with each character having their own unique set of facial expressions, strange dress sense and general style (be it menacing, cute, comical, or whatever, depending on the situation). Then there is the mood-setting music, with each character having its own trademark track, some wacky and some annoying, whilst others are moody and quite haunting. Overall, considering it was 'only' a GBA game, the presentation levels are so high they fit very nicely on the DS just as they are.

Screenshot for Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Trials & Tribulations on Nintendo DS

The game itself revolves around turning a bad situation on its head and proving that your defendant is actually 'Not Guilty'. Phoenix Wright, the Ace Attorney from the first two games and namesake of the English translated titles, is somewhat surprisingly not in the driving seat in Trials & Tribulations. In fact, even his name has less prominence on the box art, with 'Ace Attorney' taking the limelight, opening the series up for other protagonists, as seen with Apollo Justice earlier this year. In this particular case, whilst Phoenix Wright is still prominent within the game, this third in the series is all about explaining the past and tying up loose ends in the present time. Things certainly take a slight twist, so expect some surprises...

There are several different aspects to the actual gameplay, with the main split being between the in-court proceedings and the detective work. First and foremost you need to have done your homework before there is any hope of landing that much needed 'Not Guilty' verdict. This means moving from location to location in the detective phase (doing so via the menu screen – this game involves no walking; simply touch the location and you ‘warp’ there), talking about whatever subjects appear in the dialogue window to accrue clues, statements and sometimes even pieces of vital evidence, and even showing other pieces of evidence to members of the public in order to drag a different response out of them. Psyche Locks are back as well. These were introduced in the second game and represent bonds that lock certain topics that people do not want to discuss with the defence attorney. Basically, depending on how strongly the person wants to keep a snippet of information from you, a differing number of locks appear on-screen and you must break each one down by presenting evidence that contradicts what they are saying in their cover-up. This really does help to stop the game from being too linear as you often have to leave people behind, go fetch more clues and then eventually come back to unlock their secret(s).

Screenshot for Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Trials & Tribulations on Nintendo DS

Once you have chatted to everyone you can possibly talk to, plus gone around examining each place you visit (sometimes for more evidence, most of the time just for the fun factor of reading the humorous dialogue between the main and supporting characters), you are thrown into the perilous court arena with a scary bearded judge rapping his gavel repeatedly to get order in his courtroom. Here you will face the onerous task of combating the stand-in prosecutor's jibes, judge's shortcomings and the barefaced lies and bemusing responses of the numerous witnesses that take the stand. Each witness will provide their testimony, with key points broken into separate sections for you to absorb, analyse and then compare to whatever data you have stored in your Court Record (pieces of evidence, on-the-spot witness statements from the investigation and information on all persons involved in the case). You can then choose to 'Press' each point to squeeze more information out, and possibly gain key extra lines of testimony, or you can merely jump right in with an 'Objection!', revealing a gaping hole of a contradiction in the statement (both can be accessed via the microphone by shouting 'Hold It!' or 'Objection'). However, be warned, should you get the answer wrong (and this goes for when trying to unlock a Psyche Lock as well), you will face a penalty (which varies depending on the importance of the situation you are faced with). Lose the entire 'energy bar' and it is Game Over, forcing a re-start of the chapter currently in progress.

The game is not without its flaws, though, since many a time players will be left completely stumped and forced to go through every permutation of showing evidence to different people in order to progress. But thankfully the game has such class and wit in its lengthy script that it can just about get away with such a laborious task due to the fact that gamers will enjoy what they are reading…and if something is duplicated by asking the same or a very similar question, the response can simply be skipped through quickly by pressing and holding the stylus on the touch-screen throughout the conversation.

Screenshot for Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Trials & Tribulations on Nintendo DS

As for how long the game lasts, this game excels in all other areas when compared to the first two games and does so in terms of length as well. The DS remake of Gyakuten Saiban, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, had an extra case added onto the end that was brand new compared to the GBA edition, and Gyakuten Saiban 2 / Ace Attorney Phoenix Wright: Justice for All had a lengthy final case to keep people on their toes, but this third outing really takes the biscuit in terms of sheer value for money. Being the third and final entry into the Phoenix Wright trilogy, absolutely everything is tied together, meaning the fifth and final case this time lasts a ridiculously long time…to the extent that if you are not a particularly avid follower of the previous games, it could grow rather tiresome. For Gyakuten Saiban aficionados, though, it is a sublime ending to a fantastic trio of games. This is a must-buy for all adventure followers and is certainly worth every penny for those that have yet to take the plunge.

Screenshot for Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Trials & Tribulations on Nintendo DS

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

The Ace Attorney series has got increasingly better with each entry and the conclusion to the Phoenix Wright trilogy ties all plot threads together so seamlessly it makes this a must-have for those who became engrossed with the first two. As for newcomers there are plenty of flashbacks and explanations along the way to prevent any alienation creeping in. Anyone that missed out on the Japanese and US releases must seriously considering grabbing this European version as soon as possible.









C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10 (4 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


Heh - I didn't know you imported the game too Adam. Great review! I am soo psyched (or pcychod Smilie) for the North American release. :-D

I'm part way through case 2 (I'm playing a few games simultaneously at the moment) and it's fantastic. Nice review Adam. :Smilie

Oh my god!!!! >.< WANT!!! *cries* :cry:

There are not many games I want more than this. If I lived near a shop that sold import games, I'd not wait for the US version!! But I guess I have to D:

It's the lonest of the games? Including Rise From The Ashes on the first? I'm going to enjoy this immensely...

Twitter | C3 Writer/Moderator | Backloggery

I am so sad now. I thought the game was coming to the US in September, so when you said "US release at the end of October", I hoped it was a typo. Not so. :-(


23rd October is the US date now, I believe. It was delayed...why I don't know.

I thoroughly enjoyed this and am now going to go back to play FFCC Ring of Fates Smilie

I tried to avoid putting any spoilers in the review... :Smilie

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

So glad to see this finally getting a release in Europe. Are there any readers that have yet to play this masterpiece? If so, I implore you to rush out and grab it whilst you can! :-D

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

Definitely the best in the series so far. Smilie

And sadly it's once again been overlooked by the British public, not even making the DS Top 50 since launch a few weeks back Smilie

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

It's the best so far, but of course a huge amount of European fans will have imported it by now...

Twitter | C3 Writer/Moderator | Backloggery

You'd be surprised, though, since the majority of DS owners 1.) Won't know where to import from and 2.) Probably wouldn't even realise they CAN play foreign games on DS!

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

Court-Records is a very popular website though which proves how huge the hardcore audience is, and I think that although NoE brand it as a touch generations game, Ace Attorney's fanbase is a lot more than that.

Twitter | C3 Writer/Moderator | Backloggery

NoE brand it as a touch generations game, Ace Attorney's fanbase is a lot more than that.

Agreed, though good to see a release over here anyway. Shame about the poor charting position for it Smilie

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer

Sadly the DS Top 50 is far too swamped with 'casual/non-game' titles for anything decent to squeeze in there anymore :-(

I wish Chart-Track would split the DS up into a Full Price Top 50 (>£20) and Budget Top 50 (<£20).

Apollo Justice failed terribly earlier this year as well. I think Capcom would be better to push the games itself, rather than leave it to Nintendo all the time.

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

Yeah Nintendo just can't seem to understand the series. The advertising, the promotion, it's just all wrong. They're appealing to the wrong audience.

Infact I don't know if CoE would be a great idea either. CoJ on the other hand know Ace Attorney/Gyakuten Saiban very well indeed. Smilie

Twitter | C3 Writer/Moderator | Backloggery

I finished it a few months ago - absolutely loved it! Best in the series.

( Edited 07.11.2008 15:56 by Jacob4000 )

Tried the Apollo Justice demo a while back and loved it. Smilie
Is there anywhere selling the original Phoenix Wright for cheap? I want to get into the series properly. Smilie

Phoenixus said:
Tried the Apollo Justice demo a while back and loved it. Smilie
Is there anywhere selling the original Phoenix Wright for cheap? I want to get into the series properly. Smilie

Look on eBay -- you can generally get copies (used) for a good percentage off retail price.

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