Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy Review

Richard Walker

For reasons we can't quite fathom, it's taken almost five years for Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy to make the jump to modern platforms, its three marvellously engaging and outlandish courtroom dramas stranded on the Nintendo DS and 3DS, until now. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy sucked me right into Capcom's unique visual novel adventure series, and I promptly got hold of a 3DS and every entry in the Ace Attorney series I could lay my mitts on. This Apollo Justice collection has only become more vital since the closure of Nintendo's eShop on 3DS – this is now the only way to own and play the digital-only Dual Destinies and Spirit of Justice in the west. Not that you need any further reason to consider Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy – it's essential stuff.

Should you be uninitiated with the Ace Attorney games, the conceit is simple. You take on the role of defence attorney, tasked with proving the innocence of your client, who's usually implicated in some manner of grisly murder. Where Phoenix Wright had his lawyerly wiles supplemented by Maya Fey’s psychic spirit-channelling abilities, Apollo Justice can use his mystical bracelet to pinpoint when a witness is telling porkies, and you can duly isolate the exact moment at which there's a big fib. The real heart of the game is in listening to testimony, then picking out the inconsistencies, which is often easier said than done.

Your first port of call in this collection should be Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, which follows on a few years after the events of third entry, Trials and Tribulations, retaining the vibrant artwork of those first three original Phoenix Wright games. It's a great start to a fantastic trio of games, the latter two complete with their special episodes and bonus costumes, while the entire trilogy is complemented by a glut of bonus material, like artwork and music. With Apollo taking the spotlight, Capcom introduced new mechanics to the table, like the spiky-haired defence attorney's ability to perceive small tells using his mysterious bangle. Forensic scientist Ema Skye also has a selection of helpful investigative tools with her, so you can dust for prints (finger and foot), or detect blood using luminol. It's all a bit CSI, though you can't help but miss how well the forensic tools worked with the DS/3DS – using the touchscreen to dust before blowing into the mic to reveal a print.

Young fledgling lawyer Athena Cykes joins Apollo on his journey during Dual Destinies and Spirit of Justice, bringing along her 'mood matrix' gizmo and expertise in analytical psychology. Occasionally, she takes the spotlight, putting Apollo on mentor duties, in a nice change of pace. And while all of this can often veer into silliness, the entire experience is never anything but unadulterated fun. There's always an inherent thread of logic to each case you're presented with, too, even when events shoot off in unexpected directions – it all tends to pan out in a neat and satisfying way, albeit with a comical twist. Each game being set during the so-called 'dark age of the law', means there's usually a grim edge to much of the narrative. After all, for the most part, you're dealing with nasty homicide cases.

However, this is a world in which a 'not guilty' verdict is celebrated with a shower of confetti in the courtroom, in which a shackled prosecutor (and convicted murderer) named Simon Blackquill (aka the ‘Twisted Samurai’) has a pet hawk that attacks witnesses or happily perches on the judge's head, in which there's a character who looks like an alabaster Greek statue. There's more than ample character and unique, endearing charm on show across all three games, even when the series abandons 2D artwork for 3D character models and environments in Dual Destinies and Spirit of Justice.

The shift to three dimensions allows the camera to swoop around the courtroom, and enables you, as an unsanctioned crime scene investigator, to explore from various angles with a nudge of the right analogue stick. This brings a welcome element of depth to what was previously a flat, two-dimensional plane, making investigations far more dynamic and involving. You're part-Columbo, part-Perry Mason (there's some nice, contemporary references for you), picking through evidence at the scene of the crime while the police have their backs turned (highly unorthodox; illegal, even, for a lawyer), then working to defend your client in front of the judge.

It matters not one jot that it doesn't really make sense. It's impossible not to become swept up in the playful pantomime of each case, pinpointing inconsistencies and presenting the right evidence to overturn the charges brought against them. If you soaked up all of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy, you'll relish all sixteen episodes included in Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy, and new features like being able to play through any chapter of any episode in any order you like from the outset. Of course, it makes no sense to do that from the beginning, but for revisiting cases or mopping up any trophies you might have missed, it's invaluable.

Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy is an indispensable collection of games. Even if you have only a passing fancy in visual novels or missed out on Phoenix Wright's adventures, the three games collected here – Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies, and Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice – all have their moments, and, as a whole, chart a portion of the Ace Attorney saga and some of the series' most memorable cases. You don't want to miss out on it. And, if you've already played all three on your DS and 3DS, what better excuse is there than this to revisit them?

Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy

Like Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy before it, Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy brings together three Nintendo DS and 3DS cult classics, but with a slew of bonus material. Beautifully scaled up to pop on your big TV display rather than the dinky handheld screen, all three games look stunning - gruesome murder mysteries have never been so inviting.

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Some fantastically catchy melodies that will worm their way into your brain, and a selection of orchestral arrangements to enjoy in the Orchestra Hall bonus menu. Lovely, lovely stuff.


Gorgeous artwork blown up using the RE Engine – the Ace Attorney games included here look at home away from the confines of a small handheld screen. Even the move from 2D to 3D does little to diminish the colour and character.


If you relished everything the previous Ace Attorney Trilogy had to offer, then you'll lap this up – again, investigating, pressing witnesses, calling out inconsistencies, and presenting evidence is the order of the day.


Three superlative games – DS classic Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney and its two 3DS follow-ups – and a stack of bonus content make for a generously proportioned, comprehensive package. This is proper value for money. It's great.


The new chapter select makes this a far more palatable list than the previous collection's one was, and you can track your progress via the 'Accolades' menu. A very good, highly enjoyable list.

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