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Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Trials and Tribulations (DS) artwork

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Trials and Tribulations (DS) review


"Have you played the first two Phoenix Wright games? Did you like them? If both your answers are yes, then play Phoenix Wright 3. It is exactly the same as the previous games. And I mean exactly. No new gameplay mechanics have been introduced, and half the graphics are lifted directly from Phoenix Wright 1/2. The formula is stale, but there’s still some fun to be had with PW3. "



Have you played the first two Phoenix Wright games? Did you like them? If both your answers are yes, then play Phoenix Wright 3. It is exactly the same as the previous games. And I mean exactly. No new gameplay mechanics have been introduced, and half the graphics are lifted directly from Phoenix Wright 1/2. The formula is stale, but there’s still some fun to be had with PW3.

Once again, Phoenix Wright 3 puts you in the shoes of its eponymous hero, a bland goodie-two-shoes lawyer. But wait! There’s more! In what is probably the biggest change from the previous games, two of PW3’s five cases have you playing as Phoenix’s mentor, Mia Fey. She’s Phoenix with boobs. It doesn’t change much. Thankfully, Mia doesn’t have an annoying sidekick like Wright does, and her chapters focus on the game’s strengths--the courtroom segments.

Once again, all of the cases are murder trials, all of your clients are innocent, and it’s your job to prove it while simultaneously nailing the real killer. And those killer are, once again, always caught during their testimonies at court. Phoenix Wright 3 takes place in a communist dictatorship where the accused is guilty until proven innocent and perjury is routinely allowed, so the above steps are always necessary to get your client off the hook. You’ll have to point out the flaws in each witness’ testimony by presenting evidence that contradicts a statement. So, if the witness says he saw your client peeling a green cabbage, but you have a purple cabbage in your evidence, then holy crap, it’s a huge conspiracy.

The formula works, mainly due to the back-and-forth banter between the defense and prosecution, but it has many flaws. Dialogue cannot be sped up--you have to watch it scroll while listening to a “tattattatattattat” sound effect for the entire game. Prepare to slide down the volume. Dialogue is also very verbose; characters are constantly reminded of the most basic information, and minor revelations have everyone in the room doing a double take, followed by a thorough explanation. Every character is a caricature, and so they all have their various “gimmicks” that they need to perform every time they’re spoken to. For instance, one guy says “Zvarri!” about ten times in every dialogue exchange.

Though characters often make clever quips--Godot’s obsession with weird metaphors comes to mind--the writing has many weaknesses. Foreshadowing is poor at best; every twist can be seen coming a mile away. Any urgent problems are solved with deus ex machina, for no matter how hopeless a case seems, a convenient solution will always pop up and solve Phoenix’s problems for him. It’s possible to get “ahead of the game”, too; if you figure out anything before the characters do--which is often--you can’t just present that evidence to skip ahead. You have to put yourself in the minds of the incredibly dimwitted cast instead.

I still liked the courtroom parts. Just seeing your theory about what really happened unfold before your eyes is cool. It’s rewarding. Every now and then a character will make a hilarious comment. The bare-bones presentation even works, with its dramatic desk slams and over-the-top facial expressions. Same with the music, which is pretty good even though it’s barely above Game Boy Color quality. The game has its strong points, but after three games, PW’s flaws are ever more apparent.

I haven’t mentioned the investigation parts yet, and that’s because they suck. You wander around and talk with people, gathering evidence along the way. Important events rarely occur during these segments, and so they’re a bore. Dialogue goes on and on, leaving you wondering when the hell you’ll be back in the courtroom. The game is once again completely linear; there are no alternate paths to take. There are no sidequests. You simply look around until you find the one piece of evidence or dialogue that moves events forward. Once you’re done with Phoenix Wright, you’re done. Replay value is nil.

Whether or not you should play Phoenix Wright 3 is a simple question to answer. If you played and enjoyed the first two games, yes. If you didn’t, no. Everything is exactly the same. If you’re a big Phoenix Wright fan, you will probably love this game. Hell, you probably own it already. Those who are less romantic about the series will find themselves tiring of the formula. It still works, but it’s stale.

Rating: 7/10

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Community review by phediuk (November 07, 2007)

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