When I first started playing the Phoenix Wright series, I made it a point to yell into my DS as much as I possibly could. I screamed "Objection!" at my opponents with the fervor of a 30s newsy without a penny to his name, and the fans of my special brand of courtroom voodoo would come to know me as their savior. It's true; I was once a young hotshot attorney without a care in this world. Then came a sequel, and another, bringing us to the third in the series to be released domestically, Trials and Tribulations. Needless to say, I stopped screaming at my DS a game and a half ago, but only for the sake of my worn and weathered vocal chords.
Fans will be delighted, if they haven't discovered it already, that not much has changed in the world of everyone's favorite ace attorney. Those that were never turned on by the series will experience the exact opposite feeling, but they should know the score by now. Luckily, I fall in the former camp; so diving back into Phoenix's world feels natural and comfortable, like a no frills set of sequels to your favorite pulp serial.
[Trials and Tribulations] much like the titles that preceded it, is fueled by a quirky and colorful cast that you'll remember long after the experience is over.
With that said, one should expect to soak in the cold opening, in which the crime in question is obscurely displayed, and prepare for long afternoons of investigations, courtroom proceedings, and more investigations. It's a tried and true formula that's still fun, and it still takes a patient gamer to derive the most joy from its text-heavy trappings. Other features of the courtroom, such as the hilarious Psyche-Lock breaking Magatama (a power that allows you to break locks and "see the secrets" hidden in a testimony), return to the repertoire, a chief component of the series' absurd charm.
This time you'll kick things off behind the defense stand as Mia Fey, Phoenix's mentor. Things start with a bang as you go through one of her earliest cases, one that happens to center around accusations against the titular lawyer who—far from the snappy suit wearing finger-pointer he is today—quivers nervously as he delivers his testimonies. From there and throughout all five cases, the proceedings only get more tangled as the ridiculously animated witnesses pour in by the dozens; all held under scrutinizing watch by both the player and the prosecutor Godot (who looks like he's borrowing a heavily modified version of Geordi La Forge's visor).
A series like Phoenix Wright lives and dies by the quality of its writing. Thankfully, Trials and Tribulations is as punchy as ever, because there's a heck of a lot of dialogue to process. While sitting through the longer trials and investigations can be a bit tiring, the well of humor rarely dries up. This is thanks to the fact that this iteration is, much like the titles that preceded it, fueled by a quirky and colorful cast that you'll remember long after the experience is over.
It might be a while before it's over, at that. The first two DS titles were fairly lengthy affairs, but the third trumps them both, and this is kind of a double-edged sword. On one hand, the player definitely gets their money's worth, but the pacing also fluctuates from being occasionally zippy to dragging its feet. There's never a case that you won't want to see through to the end, but there's a fine line between an investigation being exciting and tedious.
Perhaps the wildest thing of all—more harrowing than any of the preceding courtroom drama—is that the next title in the series, which will be starring newcomer Apollo Justice, is already looming over the horizon like a lawsuit with your name on it. While you might consider the constant threat of cases piling up on your desk the ultimate incentive to power through Trials and Tribulations, rest assured that it's a concoction best sipped at a leisurely pace.