Over the past few years Capcom has been bringing the various Ace Attorney games to modern day platforms, including a pair that had never been released in English before in the form of The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles but there was still a trilogy that had yet to be touched… until now. Although a couple of spin-off investigation games remain untouched, Capcom has put together the Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy to bring to the West next, this time bringing Apollo Justice, Dual Destinies, and finally Spirit of Justice all in one package for modern platforms. With enhanced graphics, all DLC included, and finally freed from the confines of the DS and 3DS, is this trilogy of unique games still worth picking up?
As mentioned before, the three titles contained within this collection are Apollo Justice, Dual Destinies, and Spirit of Justice and each one looks to put a different spin on things as each one adds additional characters while expanding upon the storyline we know of Phoenix and his friends. Apollo Justice starts off the trilogy by taking place over seven years after the ending of the original trilogy and follows the story of newbie defense attorney Apollo who eventually finds himself working for Phoenix Wright, who after a horrible event seven years prior was disbarred and had to give up his attorney’s badge. Apollo Justice finds itself in the weakest part of the trilogy as it offers not only the least amount of cases thanks to the extra DLC added in the last two games but also starts with fan favorite Phoenix at his lowest point while trying to introduce fans to Apollo. That isn’t to say that the story itself is bad by any means, but it does start things off on the wrong foot and meander a bit in a slow burning second case. Thankfully throughout the four cases in Apollo Justice we learn more about the events and truth behind everything that happened to Phoenix in an intriguing narrative all while solving the horrible cases along the way featuring screwy witnesses and even stranger suspects that feel right at home for the series.
The story then moves on to Dual Destinies that brings newcomer Athena Cykes and her more technical gadgets in to assist both the returning Phoenix Wright as well as Apollo as they take on the mysterious cases flooding the courtroom, including the stranger than ever prosecutor Simon Blackquill. Athena works as a charismatic and energetic extra lead character that largely overshadows Apollo throughout most of the game, though this is mostly thanks to her “Mood Matrix” often playing a bigger role in this game than Apollo’s bracelet did in Apollo Justice. Either way, Dual Destinies‘ introduction of Athena works well to help balance Apollo’s growing role in the story while making sure Phoenix still gets some spotlight. Combine this with a slew of other new side characters that help expand the roster, and this entry tells yet another enthralling narrative spanning across multiple cases.It is also worth noting that, while not considered canon as it is a DLC case, Dual Destinies has perhaps the most ridiculous and entertaining case of the entire franchise and while we won’t spoil it here, it is easily a must play.
Finally the third game in this trilogy, Spirit of Justice, serves as not only the best of the collection but also a proper way to bring nearly every character together for a satisfying plot intertwining multiple cases with an inter-country conspiracy. This version of the game sees Phoenix travel to the kingdom of Khura’in where its own justice system is undergoing radical changes and features cruel punishments for attorneys while Apollo and Athena must hold the fort down at home as they take on even more sinister crimes as memorable as the rest. This version of the game also comes with a bonus DLC case that, while not quite as memorable as the one found in the second title, is also quite enjoyable. It can be a bit difficult to determine quite how one would rank these three games in the collection, but Spirit of Justice is easily the strongest set of cases thanks to its unique setting among the games with Dual Destinies inclusion of Athena as Apollo’s co-lead working great, with finally Apollo Justice being the weakest but still highly enjoyable game in this collection.
All three games in the Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy collection continue to play the same as fans would expect, with the player’s time being divided between investigation segments where they will need to search for clues that will help prove their client’s innocence while also pinning the blame on someone else as well as interviewing various witnesses while the majority of their time will then be spent in the courtroom. These in-court segments see players needing to cross-examine the witness and their statements, press for more information, present evidence when they catch a witness in a lie, and of course solve the puzzles that lay at the heart of every case.
What sets each of these three games apart, besides the narrative and the types of cases that players will need to solve of course, are that each of the characters has their own unique gimmick that comes into play both inside the courtroom and during investigation. In Apollo Justice Apollo has a knack, as well as a magical bracelet, that allows him to catch onto unusual body language when someone is lying or leaving out info that can then be called into question to further push the target into telling the truth. Athena’s gimmick in Dual Destinies is a far more interesting mechanic as she has the Mood Matrix, a little robotic companion named Widget that can provide a display of the emotions that a witness is actually feeling when giving a testimony. This means that they may be sad when talking about something that should be happy or overjoyed when discussing a murdered friend, which can then, just as before, be pushed for further questioning.
Perhaps the most unusual gimmick among the three games comes in with Spirit of Justice as the priestess of Khura’in can hold a seance that summons the last moments of a victim’s death giving players a chance to get an in-person testimony from the deceased, though obviously nothing is as it seems, especially in a country undergoing massive judicial upheaval. It is worth noting that since the latter two games in this trilogy were released on the 3DS, the titles do still heavily make use of “touch-screen” mechanics that are now simply handled through maneuvering an object for examination or selecting a piece of an item for further investigation, often giving players more insight into a certain piece of evidence.
Audio & Visuals
All three of the games have been given a noticeable face-lift to help bring them a bit closer to modern-day standards with Apollo Justice’s DS origins making sure that the game retains its 2D sprites that are gorgeously recreated here with plenty of humorous expressions and expressive reactions to events that happen in the courtroom. Dual Destinies and Spirit of Justice both were released on the 3DS back in the day and also saw the series make the jump to 3D models, which at the time saw a bit of a downgrade in quality but now they look better than ever. All of the 3D models have been refined to look as impressive as possible here and move smoothly with a shockingly funny array of reactions that are just as off-the-wall as fans would hope for in the series. This package also comes with all of the DLC released for these games, so players can change the costumes of Apollo, Phoenix, and Athena as well once she is added into the trilogy. It is also nice to note that, while it is absolutely filled with spoilers and should not be viewed until players have completed all of the cases in the package, the game does offer a Museum packed to the gills with extra artwork, promotional material, and much more that fans will absolutely adore.
Considering all of these games originated on a Nintendo handheld none of them have voice work still of any real kind. Various exclamations of Objection!, Hold it!, and Take That! Still happens throughout the cases by the characters but that is the extent of it here, meaning players will need to be up for a lot of reading. Thankfully the background music throughout all three games remains as strong as ever and appears to have been retouched as well to make sure they sound perfect on television speakers compared to handhelds.
Although Apollo Justice may be the weakest of perhaps all of the Ace Attorney games, the Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy happens to contain two of the best in the franchise as well with both Dual Destinies and Spirit of Justice bursting with content and unique cases that are just brimming with personality and a colorful cast of characters that will constantly surprise newcomers and happily please longtime fans looking to see how the trilogy enhances these classic games. Combine these three games with the lovingly curated museum content and any fan of the Ace Attorney games, or those looking to dive into them, will find this trilogy an objectively great time.
Capsule Computers review guidelines can be found here.