Phoenix Wright Trilogy (PlayStation 4) Review

By Drew Hurley 08.05.2019

Review for Phoenix Wright Trilogy on PlayStation 4

The Ace Attorney series has been a mainstay of Nintendo handhelds since their inception on the Game Boy Advance way back in 2001. Since then they have been indelibly associated with the DS systems, so much so, that the series has felt like a Nintendo franchise. It isn't. It's Capcom. And now, Capcom is branching out to other platforms. The Ace Attorney franchise has now racked up a considerable eleven titles, mostly on Nintendo, but back in 2013 the first three games received the HD treatment on mobile. Now, with Switch embracing many such HD remasters, it seemed a no brainer to see it arrive on Nintendo's latest hot product. But it's not just the Switch that's receiving this bundle of sleuthy goodness. For the first time ever it's reaching the Xbox and PlayStation platforms!

The first title in the series, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney quite fittingly introduces the titular Attorney as a young man far from his Ace title. Instead, he's taking on his very first case as a junior partner under the guidance of his friend and mentor Mia Fey. Ignoring conflicts of interest Phoenix is acting as the defence of his friend Larry, who has been charged with the murder of his girlfriend. This is the first of five chapters, each contributing to Phoenix learning his craft, alongside young Miss Fey. This craft means investigating and delivering both evidence and arguments to uncover the truth. Each chapter sees Phoenix head off to the scene of a crime and inspecting items in the environment or talking to potential people of interest to build up a case file to use in court.

For example, in the second case Phoenix takes on the defence of another potential murderer, and before the case starts, he has to head to the scene of the crime to establish any other potential suspects. This means visiting the scene of the murder, clicking on items in the room, taking stock of the scene and gathering up evidence to build a case file. Examining a broken lamp adds 'Glass Shards' to the case file with the note "Completely unrecognisable from its original form" - a piece of evidence that can later be used in court. One of many items, many Chekov's guns to discharge. Along with physical evidence, testimony can be added. Speaking with potential witnesses and people of interest.

Screenshot for Phoenix Wright Trilogy on PlayStation 4

Once all of the pieces of evidence are found, the action takes to the courtroom. In these sections, Phoenix faces off in court against a prosecutor, with a judge presiding, and a defendant to protect. During these cross-examinations, the items in the case file can be used. For example, that aforementioned observation of the shattered glass lamp comes up when a witness comments on the broken lamp, a witness who couldn't have known the glass shards were originally a lamp. This is the essence of the cross-examination sections. Listening to testimony, pressing the witness to try and get them to slip up, then presenting evidence to catch them in a lie.

Throughout every case in each of the games in the trilogy, the mechanics remain the same, with only some small changes in the latter two titles in the trilogy. In these Phoenix embraces the spiritual even further, receiving a mystical Magatama, which when used on other characters invoke interactions more like an interrogation than a cross-examination. Giving Phoenix a conversation where he has to present the correct pieces of evidence to unlock "Psych-Locks" and reveal the secrets the individual is keeping most hidden.

Screenshot for Phoenix Wright Trilogy on PlayStation 4

Gathering up the evidence; outsmarting the opposition; or pushing a criminal until they get caught in a lie. It's all utterly satisfying. Whether it is watching an innocent get declared "Not Guilty," or finally seeing a slimy scumbag get exactly what's coming to them, watching the polished veneer shatter - watching the character transform from a grinning villain into an utter mess as their plans fall to pieces.

Even with the gameplay remaining much the same, it never gets old, thanks to the superb writing. Impressive considering the amount of playtime on hand here, each game easily wracks up a whole day of gaming. Literally. We're talking 24 hours or so for each instalment in the trilogy. And across those 72 hours, the story remains funny and clever throughout. Surrealist moments are masterfully mixed in with genuinely smart cases. The twists and revelations can often be a little too obvious, and there is occasionally too much backtracking required in the investigation phases, but it's never egregious. What helps throughout, is the eclectic cast of eccentric weirdos, badgering a Parrot, interrogating a character straight out of Jojo's Bizarre Adventure, facing off against a coffee-swilling prosecutor with a Cyclops-style headpiece. They're nuts and constantly entertaining.

Screenshot for Phoenix Wright Trilogy on PlayStation 4

While it's nice to see the series make the jump to whole new platforms, they are not the best place for it. Core elements of the game were designed for handheld and that jumps out here. First up, the presentation. The graphics have been overhauled to make it feel at home, but there's no voice acting or FMVs, making it very evident as a handheld or early game port. Considering these three titles have all received an anime adaptation, scenes from this could have been included for improving the impact.

Then there are the controls, as these were a perfect fit for touch screen as opposed to controller. Finally, the way the game is separated into cases, and these cases each broken up into episodes makes for perfect on-the-go play. Nintendo handhelds have long been the home to the franchise, and it's still the case here. If the option is available, Nintendo Switch is the best way to play. Though, there's one place these other platforms are superior. Achievements! Trophies! Nintendo has still yet to implement a system, a criminal oversight.

Screenshot for Phoenix Wright Trilogy on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

A must buy. Case closed. There are so many reasons to pick this up. For those who haven't tried the series out, this debut on other consoles add up to a wonderful incentive. It's amazing that even 20 years on, these still hold up. The only thing that lets this collection down is that there is little extra to elevate this remaster, other than just a graphical overhaul. Regardless of this small bump, these remain some of the very best Visual Novels out there and with no end in sight for the series, this glimpse of them arriving on new platforms is very promising.






Visual Novel



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

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


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