Back in 2010, I fired up Microsoft Word and wrote a review for the original Ace Attorney game for the Nintendo DS. This review was pretty poorly written and even used Comic Sans for its font, but I was proud of that review, for it was the first one I had ever written. As such, that game is pretty special to me. It was not only the first game I ever reviewed, but it was also the first visual novel I ever played, opening me up to a genre that I have come to love over the years.

Now here I am, eight years later, and just now getting around to playing the conclusion to the original trilogy. It only felt right that I should try reviewing it and I hope to do more reviews like this in the future. Let me know if you guys have any suggestions for older games that I should try reviewing, I am open to pretty much everything.

Anyways, let us move on to the actual review. Ace Attorney 3 brings with it all that was great about the past two games, but also brings with it the faults of those two games. It features a longer, fleshed out storyline when compared to its predecessors, but also does not bring anything new to the table when it comes to gameplay.

Pros:

Longer, fleshed out storyline. What sets the story apart this time around, aside from being the longest one in the series thus far, is the fact that Ace Attorney 3 is much less episodic in nature when compared to the past two titles. Without spoiling, let me just say that, this time around, the story builds on each case in a very interesting way, quite unlike the past two games. It provides for a more fleshed out, overarching story, something that the series definitely needed in order to keep the experience fresh. I have yet to play any of the games released after this one, but I hope that they keep up this trend.

No bad episode. The past two games in the series both had an episode that paled in comparison with the rest of the game, so I was very happy to see that Ace Attorney 3 did not suffer from this problem. Out of the five episodes in the game, none of them felt like they overstayed their welcome or felt out of place in comparison with the rest. The quality was pretty consistent throughout and, as such, there was no bad case. This is in part due to the way that the game links its episodes, as I discussed in the previous point, but even then, each episode is good enough in its own right. However, when made into a nice overarching storyline, it is just that much better.

Fantastic soundtrack. This one is pretty much a given, but I have yet to be disappointed by the music in the Ace Attorney series. Despite the change of composer here in Ace Attorney 3, the soundtrack managed to maintain the quality from the past two games and even have a few standout tracks of its own. The soundtrack here consists of remixes from the past two games and several new themes, none of which felt out of place and only a couple of which I did not like (such as the character theme for a certain old man). Out of all of these new tracks, my favorite ended up being the character theme for Godot, titled “The Fragrance of Dark Coffee”.

Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney − Trials and Tribulations (3)

Cons:

Lack of new gameplay features. While the storytelling may very well be the best in the trilogy, the complete lack of any new gameplay features was definitely disappointing. The second game introduced the concept of psyche-locks, which was a very cool feature to have, but here in the third game, no such feature was added. In fact, The game plays exactly like Ace Attorney 2 did. Granted, this is a visual novel, so the lack of gameplay features is not really surprising, but I was looking forward to something new like the psyche-locks from the second game or even the 3D evidence inspection feature from the first game.

Lack of basic visual novel features. Outside of its gameplay features, Ace Attorney 3 is a rather barebones visual novel, missing a lot of features I would consider basic for the genre. However, I also understand that this is a DS game, so I can forgive the lack of features like auto-mode, textbox options, etc. Even so, there are two features that this game (and the two games prior to it) absolutely need, the first of which is the ability to view past messages. There were several times during my playthrough where I misread something or needed to check up on what was just said a little while ago, but was unable to do so without going through a whole string of dialogue again. Being able to see just the past few messages would have been immensely helpful in these situations.

The other feature the game needs is adjustable text speed. Many scenes in the game have incredibly slow dialogue, sometimes painfully so. The fact that these messages could not be sped up or skipped really can slow down the pace of the game at times. Granted, the animation and cutscenes are tied to the text speed, so that part is at least somewhat understandable, but the game should really allow these scenes to be sped up. In fact, after clearing the game once, the player is able to play through a new game with this very feature, allowing text to be displayed instantly rather than having to be typed out first by the game. I really wish this feature was available from the start, it would have made these slow scenes much more bearable.

Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney − Trials and Tribulations (1)

Ace Attorney 3 is a solid conclusion to the original trilogy. It brings with it all that made that first two games great and takes it up a notch, providing a more fleshed out, overarching storyline with some very consistent quality. However, the game also brings the problems of its predecessors, mainly the lack of basic visual novel features such as adjustable text speed and the ability to view past messages. The game also does not bring anything new to the table when it comes to gameplay, instead opting to just stick with what it has and tell a story. Despite this, the game easily earns my recommendation, but do be sure to play the first two in the series before giving this one a shot.

Score: 8.5/10

I played the DS version of the game, but it is also available on the 3DS as part of the Ace Attorney HD Trilogy. This same trilogy will be available for the Switch, PS4, Xbox One, and PC sometime in 2019.

Read more about how I do my game reviews here.

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