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April 2024

Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Adventure
Publisher: Capcom
Release Date: Jan. 25, 2024


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PS4/PS5 Review - 'Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Jan. 22, 2024 @ 7:00 a.m. PST

Featuring the 4th, 5th, and 6th mainline Ace Attorney games, join Apollo on his journey to bring order to the courts and bring an end to the dark age of the law!

The Nintendo 3DS is effectively dead, but many games are still locked to that system. It's no surprise that there's a lot of demand for ports or upgrades to make those titles available to everyone. Few are probably as in much demand as the Ace Attorney titles. Three games — one on the DS and two on the 3DS — represent the "second trilogy" of the franchise and are some of the fan favorites. It's no huge surprise that 2019's Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy is being followed up with Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy to bring (almost) all of the beloved games to more modern systems.

The Apollo Justice trilogy of games brings us back to the world of Phoenix Wright, but it's a few years later. Phoenix has gone through a difficult and busy time since his last game, having been disbarred in addition to adopting and raising a daughter. When up-and-coming attorney Apollo Justice runs into Phoenix, it sets both of them on a path to discovering the truth behind Phoenix's final case and eventually join forces. Each of the games in the collection has an independent plot, connected by the thread of Apollo's burgeoning career, and it has all of the insanity that's expected from Ace Attorney.

The first of the three games, Apollo Justice, was one of my least favorite Phoenix Wright titles, and though I've softened on it over time, it still isn't one of the better ones. It makes the critical mistake of introducing a new protagonist at the same time it puts the previous protagonist at his lowest point, and the result is a story in which Apollo gets precious little time to shine on his own, even if you discount the innate annoyance that comes from Phoenix Wright being disbarred off-screen before the game begins. Despite being the only game in which he is the undeniable star, it's unfortunately Apollo's worst appearance, and the cases aren't some of the better ones.

Thankfully, the second game, Dual Destinies, is a much better showing for everyone. While Apollo takes a backseat in this game and Phoenix returns to the spotlight, Apollo is given some much-needed character and focus in a way that makes him feel distinct from Phoenix. A third new character, Athena Cykes, serves as a much-needed foil to Apollo. A strong lineup of cases and significantly more enjoyable characters make Dual Destinies a big step up from the first game in the package.

The third title, Spirit of Justice, serves both as a send-off to Phoenix Wright himself and a second change for Apollo, this time aided by Athena, to stand on his own as a protagonist. It wisely sends Phoenix to another country with its own law system and rules, while Apollo and Athena stay behind to handle cases that eventually dovetail into a dramatic climax involving the entire crew.

Together, the three games make an excellent trilogy, even if Apollo Justice doesn't lead with its strongest foot. The last two games in the series are some of my favorite Ace Attorney titles, and they do a fantastic job of combining the franchise's humor and mystery elements. It's difficult to say much without spoiling some of the twists and turns, but it all leads up to a satisfying conclusion for the series — at least for the moment.

The three entries all maintain the same basic gameplay as every other title in the series. Your time is divided between investigation segments, where you search for clues and witness testimony, and in-court segments, where you cross-examine witnesses, present evidence, and get the chance to shout, "Objection!" loudly and repeatedly. The core Phoenix Wright gameplay is pretty much what you'd expect.

The major differences are in the new gimmicks. Apollo and Athena both have their own gimmicks that are similar to Phoenix's Magatama lock-breaking. Apollo has a magic bracelet that can "sense" subtle body language that hints that someone is lying or being dishonest. Athena has the Mood Matrix, which gives a holographic indication of the person's current emotional state while they are giving a testimony. If you see an incorrect emotion (such as someone being happy while discussing a murder), you can call it out and push the story forward.

Of the two gimmicks, I think Athena's works better; the game seems to agree, as Apollo's bracelet gimmick is relegated to out-of-court sequences after the initial Apollo Justice game. Athena's gimmick focuses on the testimony and feels more satisfying. Apollo's stuff works a lot better outside of the first Apollo Justice title.

There's a bucketload of cases in this package, with each game having multiple cases. The two titles that were originally on the 3DS even have bonus "non-canon" cases that are unconnected to the main storyline but have some of the most enjoyable trials in the entire franchise. There's a lot of game in this package, and the overall experience is great for fans of the franchise who might have skipped the second trilogy of games. The Trilogy version also comes with a lot of bonus art, costumes, and other fun additions.

The graphical update is quite good. Dual Destinies and Spirit of Justice, oddly enough, end up looking a slight bit worse than Apollo Justice, as they were the first games in the franchise to feature full 3D visuals, whereas Apollo Justice kept the 2D sprites of the original games. The higher-quality 2D sprites end up feeling more colorful than the 3D versions, but the 3D versions have the advantage of a much wider range of movement, which allows for some truly fantastic breakdowns. As always, the music is excellent. There are very few bad tracks in the entirety of the Ace Attorney franchise, and Apollo Justice Trilogy doesn't disappoint.

Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy is a worthy successor to the Phoenix Wright Trilogy released in 2019. It contains all of the same basic upgrades and improvements, and it finally means that the entire franchise — minus the Edgeworth games — can now be played on one system. The overall quality is similar, with the somewhat weak Apollo Justice being followed up by some of the finest Ace Attorney has to offer. It doesn't really matter if you're a newcomer or a long-tie fan; if you like turnabout cases and back-and-forth courtroom drama, this trilogy has you covered.

Score: 8.0/10

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