Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy Hands-On Preview – A Strong Opening Case

The best way to play the last three Ace Attorney games.

The Ace Attorney games have long been some of my favourites in Capcom’s repertoire. They always employ witty writing and outlandish twists to turn up the drama in what would otherwise be a rather bland courtroom setting. They’re genuinely the best games in this genre. But while Capcom has put the work in to ensure the best games in the series have had their time to shine on modern platforms, the arguably less popular games have been left out.

I’ve spent considerable time with the opening cases of each of the games in Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy, and while they’re still not my favourites, this is absolutely the best way to play them and absolutely worth your time if you enjoyed the previous collection or even the Great Ace Attorney collection from a few years ago.

Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy Preview - Phoenix Pointing At Court

Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy continues where previous Ace Attorney trilogies have left off. The collection brings together the last three Ace Attorney games in the modern-day trilogy. Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney is the first game in the series, initially released for the Nintendo DS. The other two, Dual Destinies and Spirit of Justice, were released for the Nintendo 3DS. All three games and some nifty extras are included in the collection to offer a substantial collection.

If you’ve never heard of an Ace Attorney game, they’re often divided into two distinct parts. In the Investigation phase, you’ll do a lot of interrogating to discover evidence and testimony that could be used to defend your client. These are often typical adventure game-style fare – moving from location to location to find everything you need to build a case. The games are linear, which can lead to some uninteresting moments, but for the most part, the writing is strong enough to carry them.

Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy Preview - Opening Case of Spirit of Justice

But the strongest aspects, and easily my favourites, are when you’re actually in the courtroom. In these parts, witnesses will be called to the stand to testify about what happened. You’ll read each statement carefully, press for more information to be added to the testimony, and be given the option to present evidence that contradicts the testimony. It’s a simple system that can get incredibly thrilling, especially as you get closer and closer to the truth about whatever case you’re working on.

It’s a good thing that this collection opens with a bang. This preview covers only the first two cases of each game, and I’d just forgotten how strong the first case of Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney is. It’s one of the best cases in the series and a stark reminder of why I love these games so much. They have a zany sense of humour and a colourful cast of characters that no other game has.

Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy Preview - Kristoph Speaking To Apollo Justice

An especially nice touch with this collection is that they’re brought together in a way that almost feels like you’re playing one big game. From the beginning, you can select which game you want to play and which cases you approach first. For first-time players, I obviously recommend playing them in order, but for those long-time fans who might want to jump into their favourite case (or even their favourite part of each case) first, that option is there too.

Numerous modes and settings have also been added that’ll benefit players who struggle with the more interactive elements of the game, too. The first, appearing in previous collections, is Autoplay mode. Autoplay plays out the conversations for you and pauses the actions when you need to make a choice or present evidence. You can even adjust the speed at which Autoplay moves.

RELATED:  It Looks Like A Dragon's Dogma 2 Demo Could Be On The Way

Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy Preview - Olga Orly

The other newer mode is the Reader / Story Mode. When in this mode, you will automatically progress through the game without pressing anything when it is turned on. All answers and evidence are presented automatically on your behalf. I’m sure series purists will fume at the idea of such a mode even existing, but if more players can experience these wonderfully clever, funny, and exciting stories, then it’s hardly a bad thing.

For those who don’t want their hands held entirely, the Consultation option is still available in Dual Destinies and Spirit of Justice. Many players had issues with how explicit these hints were, though, but being able to adjust or turn off these hints completely is still possible. I’d have loved to have seen Consult options added to the first game too, for the sake of consistency, but alas, it was not meant to be.

Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy Preview - Phoenix Questioning A Witness

Other new features include an art gallery and music player that allow you to experience everything in all the games independently. The most intriguing new inclusion is the Animation Studio. This allows you to set up a scene with a character, a pose and a voice line to create unique animations that don’t appear in the game. It’s a novel idea, but there’s no way to export these animations and you’re restricted to how the characters appear in the game (for example, you can’t make Apollo appear on the right side of court given he never does in the game). This does make it feel a bit limited in what you can create, but it is still a pretty nice little extra that I’m sure more creative and dedicated fans will put to much better use than I ever would.

Obviously, these games were released across almost a decade ago. As such, each game has a different artistic style and even different teams working on them. While it’s clear that each game looks different, each has been given excellent polish to look more modern than ever. Presenting these games that originally appeared on the Nintendo DS on a modern television in 2023 would’ve been questionable, but the visual updates in Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy are nice.

Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy Preview - Animation Studio

That being said, it feels inconsistent. The first game, Apollo Justice, employs a 2D style brimming with personality. For this collection it has been upscaled in a way that looks crisp as anything. The other two games made the jump to 3D visuals instead when they were initially released, and while these games are clearly upscaled, it’s clearly all that’s happened to them in this collection. There’s not much retouching or remastering on the latter two games, which is especially obvious with the compressed-looking animated cutscenes that bookend each case.

Putting that slight nitpick aside, Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy brings the missing Ace Attorney games to modern platforms with great effort and improvements that’ll no doubt make the series more appealing than it already was. I’m incredibly excited to relive the remaining cases when the game launches next month. And I’m happy that this collection is the best way to experience these games again.

Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy Preview - Courtroom As It Appears In Spirit Of Justice

Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy is launching on PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC and Nintendo Switch on January 25th, 2024.