Being a defense attorney is no easy job, and not everyone is cut out for it. Phoenix Wright is though, and he has been successfully defending the innocent for years in Capcom’s trial based game series. Now, the entire Ace Attorney: Phoenix Wright Trilogy has come to iOS to provide quite a unique experience for mobile devices. There’s so much to dive into for newcomers, and so much to go back over for existing fans of the series. The one consistency is that as soon as you fire up the game, you’re in for a treat that is unlike anything else around.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is composed of two different gameplay sectors with the investigation and courtroom sequences. When investigating, you get to talk to witnesses, and scan the crime scene in a style that’s like a point and click adventure. Everything you discover in the investigation is used in the courtroom, which plays out like a logic based puzzle game. As witnesses take the stand, you get to perform an action filled cross examination where you try to use evidence to cross up witnesses so that they spoil their testimony with inconsistencies. It’s almost like DragonBallZ battle in the courtroom as you yell out Objection! to show that there’s no way a witness would know certain details of the case. You really have to think about what pieces of evidence work the best, and then present them at just the right time, and it’s great to see it all play out.
Each case offers hours of content, and that includes the detailed storyline to set the stage for your puzzle adventure. The cases are so intriguing that they will keep you tuned-in throughout the entirety of the multi-stage cases that switch between the gameplay models. The gameplay isn’t a question mark, as this is a ten year old game that has withstood the test of time, and it can really interest anyone. The iOS version is the question, and it’s not as well made as it could be. The biggest problem is that the game has “HD” in the title, and yet it isn’t optimized for the latest iOS devices. There are black borders on the sides of the iPhone 5, and around the entirety of the game on the retina iPad.
The game is set-up with the first two cases of 14 for free, and the other 12 cases split across three episodes available for a $16.99 in-app purchase. You can buy them individually for more, but no matter how you slice it, it’s disappointing to have a $17 game not optimized for the latest iOS devices. Another problem is that episodes can drag on with numerous slow moving and monotonous sequences. It can be dry from time to time, and there’s no quick way to skip lines, and instead you can barely fast forward by holding your finger on the next arrow. There are also no clear indicators on if you have checked off a certain aspect of the environment, so you can unearth repetitive dialogue without a way to skip it. One odd aspect is that it’s an entirely text based adventure with no voice acting work despite the game being set-up like an action based Law & Order with a lot of humor.
Ace Attorney: Phoenix Wright Trilogy (Free, Universal / $16.99 IAP) delivers such an enjoyable experience that is a treat for first timers or veterans of the series, and it’s worth the total IAP package. You can give it a try for free to see if it’s right for you, but a word of warning, you might get hooked. It would be nice to see it made for iOS a little better, but the gameplay and stories more than make up for it.