Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Trials and Tribulations

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Objectively speaking, is Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Trials and Tribulations, Capcom's goofy courtroom adventure for the DS, a great game and worthy purchase? The answer is an explosively resounding "Yes!" Disclaimer: this opinion is in no way objective and neither Gamers with Jobs nor its parent company Investors with Money can be held liable for hearing damage from resounding explosions.

I can't truly criticize Trials and Tribulations, because I already love Phoenix Wright, the world's unluckiest defense attorney, from his spiky hair to his adorably useless Lawyer's Badge. It's been going on for two games already. I know he has flaws but I don't care. As the final chapter in the Phoenix Wright trilogy, there was no way I was skipping this game. It would be like watching Empire Strikes Back and deciding to give the next movie a miss, since it obviously won't have Han Solo in it. Without revealing any spoilers, all Phoenix Wright fans can rest assured that the finale is clever, satisfying, and Ewok-free. The story concludes but also expands somewhat, adding new depth to familiar characters, as well as introducing some new ones, including Godot, the weirdest prosecutor Phoenix has ever faced. How weird? Let's just say he's a combination of aphorisms, robotics, and breakfast. Like Wilford Brimley.

For series newcomers, even I have to admit this is the wrong game. It gives away surprises from the first two games, without any gameplay improvements. Start with the original Phoenix Wright instead. Since they all play the same, this description of the mechanics of Trial and Tribulations applies equally to the other games:

Phoenix Wright is a very, very linear adventure with lots of text and very little animation. Most of the game consists of pressing a button to see the next line of dialogue, which might just be an ellipsis. As a defense attorney, half of Phoenix's time is spent in courtroom battles where he must cross examine witnesses and catch them in a contradiction by selecting and presenting the right piece of evidence. Presenting the wrong evidence or presenting at the wrong time depletes his health bar and too many mistakes will end the game. However, you can save at almost any time and try again. The other half of the game is wandering around interviewing people and gathering evidence, which is purely risk-free, as the game won't let you continue until you've done every necessary action. Occasionally this devolves into aimless wandering and random clicking. All of this will sound very familiar to someone who plays a lot of hentai games, or so I've heard.

In court, this sedate play style becomes surprisingly exciting. Phoenix is always up against impossible odds and ruthless prosecutors. He deals with ghosts, samurai, circus freaks, magicians, assassins, and a never ending parade of lying witnesses. The game takes its characters seriously but the actual cases are overblown and ridiculous, which makes for an interesting tone. The solution to the mystery is always some silly Encyclopedia Brown type of twist. "And then, the murderer tried to wash away the baking soda with some nearby vinegar . . . but he forgot one crucial fact!" Phoenix's hapless client is found near the scene covered in blood, but right next door, Bugs Meany is filing his nails, looking smug.

Although the investigation segments can provide a bit of decent puzzle solving, the courtroom battles are much more compelling. It's great fun to present evidence by shouting "Objection!" into the DS microphone, and more advanced players will discover that it also recognizes "Obstetrics," "Bob Texan," and "Confection." The Phoenix Wright series is very stingy about art assets, re-using character models and backgrounds whenever possible, but every character gets at least one exaggerated "shock" animation. When you catch a witness in a big lie, they scream, "Noooo!" and writhe around. Their glasses fly off, their hair falls out, their heads explode. The manual contains this warning: "All characters, laws, and legal matters in this game are works of fiction." Aw, really?

So, Trials and Tribulations doesn't offer any real changes to this formula. That's fine, really. The story's the thing, and the storytelling has actually improved. The first two games begin with a tutorial murder case to teach you the ropes, but the case itself feels a little pointless. Trials starts with a bang and the first case places a shotgun on the mantle, so to speak, leaving us to wonder in every subsequent case when it will go off. Furthermore, (and this is nothing that isn't on the box) some cases take place in the past, with Phoenix's mentor, Mia Fey, as the protagonist. Obviously, I can't describe how well everything fits together, but it's a grand payoff not only for this game but for the series. It's probably the best game of the the three. You may say that it's really a story, not a game, and I might concede that point, but if anyone claims that it isn't a truly epic, consistently entertaining story, I present this final chapter as evidence, as I heartily shout, "Stop texting!"

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Comments

the finale is clever, satisfying, and Ewok-free.

You had me at Ewok-free.

And now I have to go try out "Obstetrics" - possibly the worlds only in-game use of the word. Ever.

Nyles wrote:

more advanced players will discover that it also recognizes "Obstetrics," "Bob Texan," and "Confection."

I dunno. I found the new characters to be extremely weak and the game was carried by the old, familiar ones... which leads me to wonder how the next game, with a new protagonist, will fare. Give a douchebag a mask and a cup of coffee and he's no Miles Edgeworth.

LobsterMobster: Perhaps the upcoming "Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law" will be more your speed?

Hans

I'm right with Lobster on this. I was quite dissappointed until the last case. It was a game where in the last 1-2 hours you went, "Ahh so all the pointless stuff was useful."

But don't get me wrong, I love Ace Attorney games.

Also the Ace Attorney game needs to do a spin-off series with Miles Edgeworth as a prosecutor.

Spoiler wrote:

[color=white]The most enjoyable part of "Trials and Tribulations" was the time you played as Edgey.[/color]

Edit: Fixed as per Nyles suggestion

Elliotx, not to criticize, but that last sentence could be considered a spoiler. I don't know if readers of the article would care about spoilers, but maybe.

Edit: Ah, never mind. What am I, the Spoiler Police? Answer: no.

Further edit: Cool, thanks. Apparently I am the Spoiler Police.

I loved the first two. I have to admit, if the was the ET game in a Phoenix Wright package, I'd probably still give it a look.

Elliottx, your spoiler fills me with such glee. I turn into a squealing fangirl whenever he appears.

Yeah, cause all I need is one more game on my not finished pile.

I did go out and but PW: And Justice for All because of this article. Couldn't justify to the wife the $40 Gamestop and Fry's wanted for T&T, plus wanted to get some backstory. Couldn't find the first one anywhere, tho...

Plus side? Now I have something besides Puzzle Quest to play on the 2 hour commute home.

Thanks easter bunny!

The first one's almost impossible to find in retail stores. The first printing sold out too quickly, and they didn't really cover demand with the second printing, either.

Phoenix Wright's Attorney's Badge looks like a Jam Sandwich Cream.

Is there an alternative to shouting "Objection!" into the microphone, or is getting funny looks on public transport half the fun?

Yes, you can just press a button to object. Those cookies look like something I used to get from my grandparents. They're tasty.

Hurrah! Found a Gamestop in my town that had 4 used copies of Ace Attorney. Now I have the trilogy, and all is Wright with the world...

Okay, now I sound like Moe.

Dear Moe,
f*ck you, clown.
Love,
Hardworking defense attorneys everywhere

I

billycasarez wrote:

I

Do you have any idea how much glee I had in me when I clicked the link to go to this thread? I was all "Ohhh, maybe the release date was pushed up from being so ridiculously far out there!" And not only do I not get that, but I don't even get a full comment. Here let me finish that comment for you:

billycasarez wrote:

I suck.