First released on the Game Boy Advance exclusively to Japan all the way back in 2001, the Ace Attorney series has seen many iterations and ports over a variety of (predominantly handheld) systems. This generous package of the first three games in the series (the entire Phoenix Wright trilogy) is the first time players have been able to experience these highly revered titles in glorious HD.
Other than a fresh coat of paint, the games remain almost identical to their original releases, but this is no bad thing! If ever there was a case of ‘if it ain't broke, don’t fix it’, it’s here. While PW:AAT is essentially a visual novel, it completely transcends that genre and occupies a niche area in gaming all to itself. With such a strong and engaging narrative and a well-written and interesting cast of characters, it’s no wonder that the franchise is so revered and has enjoyed cult-like status. Purists may balk at the lack of pixel-style art in this new HD version, but the presentation really is beautiful and the bright, vibrant colours really pop off the screen, enhancing the experience further.
Gameplay consists of investigation and courtroom segments. Investigation mainly involves travelling between locations, interviewing suspects and gathering evidence, while the courtroom sections see players listen to testimonies, cross examine witnesses and present evidence that they found during investigations. While gameplay is fairly basic and somewhat stringent (there aren’t multiple paths or ways to complete a trial, for example), it's always engaging and does a great job of never feeling like you’re just playing a visual novel. The over the top mannerisms and comical interruption animations of the main protagonists never get old and bring such a great sense of fun to proceedings. Add to that the absolutely wonderful (and fantastically Capcom sounding) soundtrack and you have an amazingly presented experience.
Despite the visual novel market being extremely niche, we feel that PW:AAT is something everyone with a love of videogames should try. If you’ve never played any of the series before, this is an ideal place to start. Even if the idea of playing a visual novel holds no appeal whatsoever, we’d highly recommend giving this a look. The Phoenix Wright trilogy is undeniably iconic and is thoroughly deserving of its place in videogame history. Excellent stuff.
PHOENIX WRIGHT: ACE ATTORNEY TRILOGY / DEVELOPER & PUBLISHER: CAPCOM / PLATFORM: PC, PS4, SWITCH, XBOX ONE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW