Developed and Published By: Capcom Categories: Puzzle, Adventure Release Date: 01.25.24 Price: $49.99
Ace Attorney has had quite the rocky journey in the west hasn’t it? It starts out strong with the DS remakes finding the IP’s footing in the west after staying exclusive to Japan on the GBA for years. Then, a brand new sequel, our first game in his trilogy, Apollo Justice! After this would be a bit of a quiet spot. While series creator was busy with Ghost Trick, we’d receive more games in the line of spinoffs, including the Miles Edgeworth titles, of which only one would release stateside due to slowing sales.
Next comes the 3DS. The only title America would get physically would be the Professor Layton crossover, as both Great Ace Attorney games would be passed on in their entirely and the next two games in our collection Dual Destinies and Spirit of Justice would be digital only. To live and die on the 3DS eshop. To which then the 3DS and WiiU eShops would die, giving uncertain futures to these games. That is until Capcom announced another Ace Attorney collection. This meaning, all six mainline games as well as the two prequel Great Ace Attorney games are all on modern consoles in physical form. And once again, Capcom gives this series the premium treatment with re-releases.
Our first title and the only one series creator Shu Takumi worked on. Trials and Tribulations was meant to be the end of Phoenix’s journey, with this next title following a new defense attorney, Apollo Justice. Seven years after the last game and Phoenix is down on his luck. Disbarred, forced to work as a shady gambler to make due. No longer our protagonist, but a mentor to the young Apollo. I always enjoyed the more relaxed and somber take on Phoenix Wright as a character, this is something I’d take *great* issue with when Dual Destinies completely reversed this. Regardless, the aspects you probably grew to love with the series still exist and good lord are the characters still well. Characters.
The new showcase mechanic for Apollo Justice is the Perceive System. Pay attention to the subtle movements or actions people do during cross examinations, this is vital and the game will outright ask you if you even noticed it was happening before they expect you to work with it. If you ever played the DS version of the first game (or any of the 3DS games) the investigations should feel right at home too.
In a way, this did feel like a true ending to the series despite leaving itself open ended. Characters grow, characters move on. As a series goes on longer, I do feel sometimes (depending on the series) it should grow and move on with it’s userbase. Sometimes series need to end or characters need an ending…not according to Capcom though.
When Dual Destinies came out, I absolutely hated this game. There was things to love, like the character designs. I own and adore the artbook for Dual Destinies and it definitely has some of my favorite designs in the series. But the issue comes with how returning characters are treated. Phoenix is back, and becomes quite the butt monkey. It almost feels like he’s reverted back to Ace Attorney 1 Phoenix. Apollo is needlessly edgy for a good hunk of the game, and they don’t tell you this, and you barely even actually control her, but Athena is this game’s main character. The whole game revolves around her and the new edgy prosecutor Simon Blackquill and a constant nagging about “The Dark Age of the Law”
Gameplay wise though, it’s more Ace Attorney, which is a good thing. The new mechanic is Athena’s Mood Matrix, which has you tracking down conflicting emotions during testimonies. Could they be feeling an emotion they shouldn’t in a dire situation? Find out why and use that towards them. Professor Layton Vs. Phoenix Wright would be released pretty close to Dual Destinies and felt more in like with what I wanted the series to evolve into, not regress. But that’s where the The Great Ace Attorney would step in, but we wouldn’t get those westward until just recently.
Dual Destinies did have DLC in the form of costumes and an extra chapter. Of which I honestly quite enjoyed. Then again, maybe I just like the pirate aesthetic.
I never played Spirit of Justice before this trilogy. I wasn’t a fan of Dual Destinies, let alone only having a digital release. First things first, if you have an issue with long introductions, lets just turn around right away. I never did, so I was ready to get invested in the new land of Khura’in and the focus on the spiritual aspects of the series. So long “California”! At least for parts of the game. Sometimes you’re Phoenix, sometimes you’re Apollo back home. I much prefer this kind of placement for the characters as opposed to Dual Destinies which had you want to focus on people not Pheonix…but make it a Phoenix game anyway until it suddenly comes a game about Athena. Characters do feel more grown and natural than the regression the previous game had. And any oddities felt better due to the foreign land concept.
Once again, we have more of the same. Psych Locks, Perceiving, Mood Matrix, they all return. But this game’s new mechanic is Divination Seances. These have you witnessing the final moments of a victim before their untimely death and are ultimately used for the final verdict in court. Sure it’s just another gimmick, but it feels natural enough and I’ll take anything to keep a series feeling fresh after two decades. Also the meme clown girl is in Episode 4.
Spirit of Justice also has DLC, much like Dual Destinies. Everyone gets outfits as well as another new case.
So what’s the point of buying this collection outside of modern preservation of the series. Well, modern preservation of the series. But also a trove of extras, like Capcom always seems great at doing.
Every game has all of the content you’d want, so every episode, even DLC. As well as an episode select which allows you to get into specific scenes in specific acts. Freely. Use this if you just want to replay a certain part.
Then we have the museum. An Orchestra Hall to listen to each game’s music as well as new orchestrated renditions in addition to songs exclusive to the trilogy. All with a cute little band playing made from the collection’s cast. Next is the Art Library. Key art, concept art, the in game art, backgrounds, even cutscenes can be viewed here. Dual Destinies as well as Spirit of Justice have fully animated cutscenes, which I might add look fantastic in HD.
Last up is the Animation Studio. Here you can view the character animation for everyone in the trilogy. Is there a break down you especially enjoy? View it to your heart’s content. Just a heads up though, you will get spoiled if you go here first. This all can also be used to create some previously in heard of shenanigans. Please be responsible.
Was this collection just a reason for me to finally play the 3DS games with a fresh mind? Yes. Am I glad I did it? Also yes. I still have issues with Dual Destinies’ handling of returning characters, but in my old age, I find myself caring less and less. These games look good, they play good, and having all three together in HD with all the amenities, it’s perfect. Did I mention this can all be controlled by the touch screen still too? Perfect. Here’s to hoping the last three titles get ports soon so the entire series is in HD, translated, and physical.