It’s hard to object to more investigation and courtroom goodness.
It's been about a decade since the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy came to 3DS, which was actually two years after first debuting on mobile. We've been waiting patiently for another courtroom collection from Capcom, and the release of Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy is finally upon us. It contains Apollo Justice, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies, and Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Spirit of Justice, the lattermost of which was never released physically outside of Japan. If you played and enjoyed the original trilogy, there's even more investigating and lawyer-ing awaiting you in this follow up, with some interesting twists on the familiar Ace Attorney gameplay. A robust suite of extras and museum content make Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy even easier to defend in a court of law.
For those who've never investigated an Ace Attorney game, there are enough optional tutorials here to get new players up to speed or remind veterans of the basics. Most people would probably recommend starting with the original trilogy (consisting of the first three Phoenix Wright games), but I think you can still enjoy the gameplay and character moments even if you start with Apollo Justice. If you do prefer to go back to the first three games before tackling these next three, Capcom pretty regularly puts them on sale.
Diving into the Apollo Justice trilogy of games themselves, each one is broken into four or five episodes, each with a handful of chapters to move through. The first and final chapters generally take place in the courtroom, where Apollo or Phoenix needs to prove their client's innocence; these are the most compelling segments of each episode. The sound effects, twists and turns, theatrics, and humor all blend wonderfully to create a unique experience that few visual novel-adjacent titles can match. This series really does have a special touch that is worth trying at least once, even for those who might prefer picture books to text-filled ones.
While some of the investigation sequences drag on a bit long, careful sleuths will take note of the finer details presented during these moments to help them during the courtroom exchanges. To move the plot forward, you need to be thorough, and that means examining every nook and cranny of the vicinities you can visit. It's fun to see returning characters from earlier episodes pop up again as they–and even folks who only show up one time–have entertaining mannerisms and quirks that make them memorable. The snack-fiend Ema Skye reappears frequently in Apollo Justice, and it's hilarious to see her whip out a bag of treats with regularity, stopping to munch one of them in between every couple words of dialogue.
The three games vary up the gameplay slightly in terms of unique mechanics during the courtroom segments in particular. Apollo wears a bracelet that allows him to notice when a witness is feeling nervous; activating the bracelet puts a magnifying lens on the witness so that you can try to find the minute tick that reveals their true feelings. In Dual Destinies, a new character (Athena) can analyze a witness’ emotions to find a discrepancy between their testimony and their feelings. Spirit of Justice features the Divination Seance, which allows the participants to see through the deceased victim's eyes to glean insight about the crime that took place. As an aside, it's worth noting that Apollo Justice originally came to DS, while the other two games were 3DS entries, so there's a noticeable upgrade in terms of presentation and cinematics with Dual Destinies and Spirit of Justice.
Given the sheer volume of reading, it can take 15 to 25 hours to roll credits on Apollo Justice alone. The other two games are even longer and include bonus episodes that were originally DLC. The Trilogy also throws in extra costumes, six additional languages, the music gallery Orchestra Hall, Art Library, Animation Studio, and even a Story Mode that will play the games automatically if you just want to kick up your heels for a bit. There are upgrades and features in this second trilogy that aren’t present in the prior one, and it’s always great to see that type of treatment given to a collection of games. Far from being a simple rom dump, this compilation is absolutely the best way to experience these courtroom dramedies.
Even if you don't get into any of the bonus materials included in Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy, there's still well over 60 hours of whodunnit goodness and crime scene evidence to sift through. If you already finished the Phoenix trilogy and have been eager for more, don’t hesitate to dive into the Apollo trilogy. For some, the petition to get the two Ace Attorney Investigations titles and the Phoenix Wright crossover with Professor Layton will now begin in earnest. For me, I’m still trying to find times in my everyday life where I can shout “OBJECTION!”