Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Trials and Tribulations

Shortly after the success of Turnabout Trial in 2001, Shu Takumi’s boss, Shinji Mikami suggested that they make a trilogy with a grand finale in the third game. Atsushi Inaba, the game’s producer then called Mr. Takumi into a meeting once the latter returned from a vacation. Mr. Inaba asked requested the script for five episodes in the span of three and a half months. Despite these outrageous terms, Mr. Takumi managed to get his work done on time, though one episode had to be cut due to memory constraints. Regardless, Turnabout Trial 2 was released roughly one year after the original’s debut. It too became a success, and there was only one game left to work on. Unlike the case with Turnabout Trial 2, production of the trilogy’s concluding installment went smoothly, though the development cycle lasted slightly longer, being released in January of 2004. Named Turnabout Trial 3, it continued the series’ success, helping to retain the following it gathered with the previous two entries.

A few years later in the West, the success of Turnabout Trial 2, retitled Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Justice for All, demonstrated the series’ staying power. It was only logical to localize the final game as well. However, the localization process was less than ideal. With the localized title Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Trials and Tribulations, it saw a release in North America in October of 2007, yet it was conspicuously absent in other regions. Despite getting prerelease reviews in gaming publications, the DS version was not released in Australia, though they did eventually receive the port on the Wii in 2010. Furthermore, it was delayed in Europe to the extent that the next game in the series, Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, saw its release first. It’s speculated that ratings complications is what caused this to happen. Some fans had to wait an unreasonably long time for Trials and Tribulations to come out in their region. Did their patience pay off? Was Mr. Takumi able to defy the perceived curse involving trilogies and end this one on a triumphant note?

Analyzing the Experience

WARNING: This review will contain unmarked spoilers for Trials and Tribulations and the series thus far. Spoilers pertaining to future installments will be marked.

Two young men who were students at Ivy University confronted each other over a female colleague. The argument became heated, culminating in one of the men assaulting the other, knocking his opponent unconscious. Worried about what he did, he fled the scene. When he did eventually return, to his horror, he discovered the other student, Doug Swallow, dead in the exact spot he left him. Accused of murder, the young man now faces a judge. A young defense attorney, Mia Fey, decides to represent him in court. She is quite nervous about the case, as this is only her second time in court. Her first trial proved to be a traumatic incident. Nonetheless, she is determined to acquit the college student so that he may have a future.

As soon as it begins, Trials and Tribulations differentiates itself from the installments leading up to it, as its first episode, “Turnabout Memories”, is a flashback to five years earlier. I really admire this development for two reasons. The first is that it’s far more believable than the tutorial case featured in Justice for All wherein the protagonist, Phoenix Wright, was rendered an amnesiac due to the culprit striking him on the back of the head with a fire extinguisher. To Mr. Takumi’s credit, he did wind up regaining his memories in a realistic fashion, but it was still a convoluted setup. With Mia Fey lacking experience, it makes sense from a narrative standpoint why someone would need to explain the game mechanics to her and, by extension, a player new to the series. At the same time, the tutorial isn’t intrusive, and returning players can opt to skip most of the in-depth explanations.

The more important reason I appreciate this flashback case is, as one would expect in a story-heavy game, how it expounds upon the backstories of characters we had come to grow attached to, yet didn’t really know too much about. Mia Fey had been described as a genius defense attorney by Phoenix. Even if the advice she offered in the first and second games was typically sound, showing is more effective than telling, and it’s evident from this episode alone why Phoenix thinks so highly of her. As Mia Fey, one of the first things you will be made to do in this trial is cross-examine the defendant.

As it so happens, the defendant is none other than Phoenix Wright himself. Taking place three years before he would become a defense attorney himself, Phoenix was an art student with the level of maturity one would expect out of his hopeless slacker friend, Larry Butz. You will learn this all too well as he proceeds to brazenly lie in court about not having known the victim and merely stumbled upon the scene by accident. When a witness testifies in court, it is broken up into multiple statements. In this specific instance, he calls the victim a “stuck-up British wannabe”, but he likely would not have hurled such an insult without seeing the Union Jack under Doug’s jacket.

As per usual, these contradictions are what you have to look for when you’re cross-examining witnesses. When you spot a discrepancy between what the witness is saying and the typically incontestable information in the court record, you can present a piece of evidence to call them out on their faulty testimony. To accomplish this, you cycle through the individual statements until you bring up the one carrying a contradiction. From there, you select the appropriate piece of evidence. You can usually tell you’ve made the right choice when the music stops as you present your evidence. Despite what your first forays in the art of cross-examination may suggest, a witness could simply be factually incorrect in their testimony rather than actively lying. Regardless, you resolve any contradiction in the same way.

If there are no contradictions in a witness’s testimony, you can press the statements to draw out more information from them. By doing this, witnesses may end up amending new statements to their testimony or revising existing ones. Most of the time, this is the statement on which you need to focus your attention, but be careful, as sometimes the new information may be entirely correct while invalidating an earlier portion of their testimony. It’s vital to be perceptive when cross-examining witnesses, for if you waste the court’s time by making a mistake, you will be penalized.

A green bar represents your character’s credibility in court. The meter will decrease every time you make a mistake. Normal mistakes will decrease the meter by a set amount, and in certain scenarios, errors will be punished more harshly. If it’s completely drained, your client will be declared guilty, signifying a non-canonical game over.

The other aspect that allows the introductory case to stand out from the corresponding ones from the previous two games concerns how it ends. While tutorial cases typically ended with everything being alright – even keeping in mind that the defendants lost someone close to them – “Turnabout Memories” ends on a rather bittersweet note. Phoenix’s girlfriend, Dahlia Hawthorne, was the one who killed Doug, and he refuses to believe it was really her on the stand. Mia convinces him to forget about her, and it’s there he reveals that he was also studying to become a lawyer to save a childhood friend of his. He hopes that the two of them will meet again one day. What makes this moment bittersweet is that though he does succeed in becoming a lawyer and reaching out to his friend, Mia wouldn’t live to see him accomplish that goal, as she was murdered shortly after his own first case. I admire this episode for not only taking a twist that few would see coming, but also giving the protagonist a lot of retroactive character development. It’s hard to believe that this art student would get his act together and punctuate his legal career by defeating a prosecutor who had gone forty years without tasting defeat.

In the span of two games, the average person following the series up until this point has a good idea of what to expect in an average Ace Attorney episode. An innocent person is accused of murder, Phoenix investigates the crime scene, and the defendant’s fate is settled in court. In the second episode of Trials and Tribulations, “The Stolen Turnabout”, Mr. Takumi decided to play with the formula. A master cat burglar who goes by the name Mask☆DeMasque has stolen the Sacred Urn from the “Treasures of Kurain” exhibit. The younger sister of Mia Fey, Maya, is the one to break the terrible news to Phoenix. The urn is a priceless artifact to the Fey family, so Phoenix doesn’t hesitate to help.

By now, the average fan will know what to expect when exploring the crime scene. By selecting the “examine” option, you can highlight any portion of the screen. If there is something important in the spot you highlight, Phoenix and whoever is with him will comment on it. Should the object prove relevant to the case, it will be added to the court record as evidence. If a person of interest is present, you can converse with them on a number of topics. You can also use this opportunity to present them the evidence you’ve collected or character profiles. Oftentimes, this is required to open up more dialogue options, but on occasion, it will result in a humorous exchange.

Phoenix carries with him an artifact called magatama, which was gifted to him by Maya and infused with spiritual energy courtesy of her cousin Pearl. When a witness suddenly withholds information, the screen will instantly turn black and a number of mental barriers will manifest in the form of Psyche-Locks. How many appear depends on the person’s willingness to keep their secrets. If you see one or two, the person isn’t particularly concerned with staying quiet. Should you see five at once, you can be sure the witness will turn the entire case on its head when they impart their knowledge onto you. To break these locks, you must present evidence that contradicts their claims – not unlike the standard operating procedure in court. When Pearl first gave the item to Phoenix in Justice for All, she warned him that misusing the magatama will cause his soul to shatter. In gameplay terms, if you present the wrong evidence or answer the questions incorrectly, Phoenix’s credibility gauge will decrease. However, you don’t have to worry about losing the game, as he will simply stop his questioning if the meter is completely drained, forcing you to start over from the beginning. In a welcome change from Justice for All, the gauge will replenish itself upon concluding an investigation phase or courtroom session, meaning that you aren’t punished as drastically for your missteps.

As they investigate the crime scene, they receive a call from Dick Gumshoe, the lead detective, who claims that Mask☆DeMasque has turned himself in. When they meet him at the detention center, the alleged thief, Ron DeLite, confesses to his crimes, but says he lost the urn. Phoenix asks DeLite why he would want to contact him, but the latter claims it was his wife who did that. When they meet her at their apartement, she insists that Ron isn’t really the infamous cat burglar, but merely a fan. Unconvinced that DeLite really is a thief, he agrees to defend him from the charges of grand larceny.

Even before Phoenix’s first trial has begun, I could tell the staff put far more effort into this game than they did in the entirety of Justice for All. For the first time in the series, Phoenix Wright is taking on a case that wasn’t instigated by the discovery of a dead body. Though it would be more accurate to describe Trials and Tribulations as a murder mystery game in the guise of a courtroom drama, having Phoenix handle a different crime goes a long way in adding much appreciated variety to the proceedings.

When Phoenix enters the courtroom, he comes face-to-face with the mysterious Godot. He is considered by many to be the greatest prosecutor in the country – to the point where even Miles Edgeworth thinks highly of him. When he formally introduces himself in court, he proudly proclaims that he has never lost a case as a prosecutor in his life. The judge is initially impressed with his credentials until a few seconds later when he reveals that this is the first case he is to prosecute. Previous prosecutors were openly antagonistic of Phoenix Wright with Miles Edgeworth determined to keep his perfect win record intact and Franziska von Karma wishing to surpass the latter by defeating the former in court. While those two characters at least kept their contentious qualities in check until they began losing, Godot doesn’t waste any time throwing insults the title character’s way, almost immediately calling him “Phoenix Trite”. Phoenix’s confused reaction would likely mirror that of anyone playing Trials and Tribulations for the first time – this malice is all coming from a man he’d never met before in his life.

Among the many prosecutors in the series’ history, Godot was often considered a fan favorite. One commonly cited reason has to do with his personality; he rarely loses his cool, has a great leitmotif, and is able to command the court’s attention with his very presence despite ostensibly having no experience as a prosecutor. He is rarely seen without a coffee mug in his hands, and is able to conjure one seemingly out of nowhere. In court, he will often resort to strange coffee metaphors to get his point across that sound profound on the surface, but mainly succeed in mystifying everyone who listens to them.

The first thing most people would notice about him is his unique character design. Artist Tatsuro Iwamoto based Godot off of Roy Batty, the main antagonist of Ridley Scott’s 1982 film Blade Runner as portrayed by Rutger Hauer. To accent his hard-boiled image, he was originally conceived drinking bourbon whiskey and smoking. The team realized that this may be a bad influence on children, so they changed his beverage of choice to coffee instead. Because fellow developer Hideki Kamiya had joined Capcom around the same time as Mr. Takumi, the two had desks near each other. Around the time Justice for All was being produced, Mr. Kamiya asked Mr. Takumi for a voice role. Eventually, the latter gave him the role of Godot. When told of Godot’s hard-boiled image, Mr. Kamiya decided to shout “Objection, baby!” during his take. Though Mr. Takumi complimented him, the in-game graphics only said “Objection”, and thus the take could not be used.

On top of his character design, Godot stands out from Phoenix’s opposition in that practically nothing is known about him. This is reinforced if you look in the list of profiles only to discover that Godot’s age is not listed, adding to his mystique. Coupled with the odd mask he wears, one could be forgiven for questioning if he’s even human.

Where do I stand when it comes to assessing his character? To be honest, I think he’s a little overrated.  To fully explain how I formed my opinion, we have to go back to Justice for All. I had a fair share of problems with this game’s direct predecessor, but a minor one was that the humor relied a little too heavily on slapstick. Franziska von Karma would often substitute yelling “Objection!” with whipping the protagonist and even the judge on occasion. Though the series was never too serious, it tended to make things overly cartoonish for their own good. What ultimately helped mitigate this was that she ended up getting flustered very easily, balancing out the times she lashed out at her opposition. Moreover, it was revealed at the end of the game that these behavioral patterns were the result of her harboring a superiority complex due to feeling overshadowed by her father and adopted brother.

Godot doesn’t really have any of this going for him; his comments toward Phoenix are genuinely spiteful, and I found them to be more annoying than funny. Conflict is important for any work, and I will admit the writers never really go too far with his antagonism of Phoenix, but after a while, it does get grating. To make matters worse, that he is invariably coolheaded means there’s less of a sense of satisfaction when unpeeling his witnesses’ testimonies. He’s also every bit as prone to slapstick as Franziska was, as during the few times Phoenix manages to anger him, he lobs a scalding mug of coffee at him. Such antics are par for the course for the series, but I would argue that such behavior doesn’t really meld well with his overall persona.

At the end of the day, this is a minor slight that ultimately doesn’t detract from a solid experience. If somebody fresh off of Justice for All was convinced the writing staff had run out of ideas, playing through “The Stolen Turnabout” will prove them wrong. Phoenix manages to acquit Ron DeLite of grand larceny by showing to the court that he was somewhere else when the thief stole the urn. Unfortunately for them, the police find the corpse of a security firm owner in his office’s safe. This is where the defendant happened be at the time, making him the prime suspect for his murder. This goes to show how far Mr. Takumi and his team were willing to go to avoid creating a token sequel. A twist like this wouldn’t have felt out of place in the finale of either of the previous two games. In Trials and Tribulations, it occurs in the second episode, signposting to the player that things have just gotten started.

“Recipe for Turnabout”, which is the third episode of this game, is notable for being the case that Mr. Takumi and his team excised from Justice for All due to memory constraints. Luckily, it’s woven into the overall narrative to the extent that nobody would know this unless they set out to research this game’s development. It too begins in an unorthodox fashion – with Phoenix Wright losing a case before the player is even given control. An enraged Dick Gumshoe confronts him about his shoddy performance in court a month later, as it led to the incarceration of Maggey Byrde, an ex-policewoman he has a crush on. Phoenix insists that he had never heard of the case in question, but agrees to request a retrial.

An expert programmer, Glen Elg, had been poisoned in a French restaurant owned by one Jean Armstrong. Keeping in mind that Justice for All established the third-episode jinx, “Recipe for Turnabout” does a good job when to comes to avoiding it. It has an overall better cast with a far more intriguing plot involving mobsters. A loan shark, Furio Tigre, who coincidentally looks a lot like Phoenix, poisoned Glen so he could steal a computer virus the latter created. Furio needed the money obtained from selling the virus to pay for a hospital bill he had been stuck with for injuring a powerful mob boss’s granddaughter. Posing as Phoenix Wright, he then intentionally lost Maggey Byrde’s trial so she would be found guilty of murder in his stead. What I like about this case is that it almost seems like an apology for “Turnabout Big Top”. That is, it shares many of the same elements, being a largely self-contained episode which furthers the rivalry between Phoenix and the main prosecutor. When Furio is made to appear in court, the system that penalizes Phoenix for wasting the court’s time returns, but it’s much more tolerable this time around. This is primarily because despite coming up with a truly impressive murder plot, Furio is a terrible liar, making it easy to utterly destroy his testimony.

The next two episodes, “Turnabout Beginnings” and “Bridge to the Turnabout”, establish the central conflict driving the plot of the entire game. The first is a second flashback – this time to Mia Fey’s first trial. Here, she and a fellow attorney Diego Armando come to the defense of Terry Fawles, an escaped convict falsely accused of murdering policewoman Valerie Hawthorne. Terry had been sentenced to death five years prior to the events of this episode for kidnapping and murder. In the first episode, which takes place one year later, you are told that Mia’s first case was a traumatic experience for her. In case you thought there was still a slim chance you would obtain a “Not Guilty” verdict, any hope is dashed the second you’re introduced to her opponent: Miles Edgeworth.

Returning fans know that Edgeworth would suffer his first defeat at the hands of Phoenix Wright in the original game. This knowledge hangs over your head the entire time you unravel this case, lending an uneasy feeling. It only gets worse when the prosecutor calls his main witness: Dahlia Hawthorne. She initially uses an alias, but it has no chance of fooling the player, and with every new page of dialogue, you are likely waiting for the moment when things go wrong and Terry is declared “Guilty”. What happens next almost makes you wish that was the outcome. It’s clear that Terry Fawles is a mentally challenged man who was used by Valerie and Dahlia. The goal was to pretend to kidnap Dahlia to make their father, a rich jeweler, pay a ransom in the form of a diamond worth two-million dollars. The exchange was to take place on a precarious suspension bridge. From there, they would split the money among themselves. However, Valerie betrayed Terry, shooting him in the arm, and Dahlia jumped into the river below. When Terry came to, he was arrested for murdering Dahlia.

Having a change of heart, Valerie intended to confess her wrongdoings when she learned of Terry’s escape and agreed to meet him on the bridge. Before she had the chance, Dahlia murdered her to ensure her silence. To make things even more tragic, Dahlia had been in a relationship with Terry, and they agreed to a pact. If one lost faith in the other, that person would consume the poison in Dahlia’s bottle pendant. Partly due to Mia proving Dahlia’s culpability in court, he does just that, perishing on the witness stand. This is without a doubt the best episode in the entire series that lacks an investigation phase. It establishes the extent of Dahlia’s depravity, as it’s clear she had no intent on uphold the pact she made with Terry, and ends in a way guaranteed to catch the player off-guard the first time around.

With four episodes cleared, all that remains is the grand finale: “Bridge to the Turnabout”. Roughly a month Maggey Byrde’s trial, Maya and Pearl Fey invite Phoenix to take a trip with them to Hazakura Temple, a location of great importance to the Fey family. Though he initially refuses, he reconsiders once he sees a picture of a shrine maiden who looks exactly like his ex-girlfriend, Dahlia Hawthorne. Naturally, after spending two episodes learning what a horrible person she was and ensuring she would lose her freedom when she killed a college student, the player is left wondering how she managed to escape jail.

When they arrive at the temple, they are greeted by a kind nun named Bikini while the maiden introduces herself as Iris. Upon seeing her for the first time, a savvy player might take the first step towards solving the mystery to check the profile list when Iris makes her first appearance. Sure enough, her age is listed as 25, which makes her the same age as Dahlia Hawthorne. To add another level of intrigue, right after Phoenix asks Iris if they ever met, Psyche-Locks appear, indicating she’s actively hiding something.

Overnight, Maya is to undergo a “Special Course” in order to train her spirit channeling technique in the Inner Temple. The edifice is on the other side of Dusky Bridge – the same place the staged kidnapping took place eleven years prior. That night, Phoenix awakens to a scream. Heading outside, he is horrified to discover the dead body of Elise Deauxnim, a famous children’s book author who was also staying at the temple. Realizing he did not bring his cell phone, he decided to run to the booth near Dusky Bridge. There, he is shocked to see the bridge ablaze. He attempts to cross the bridge in order to rescue Maya, but it crumbles, and he plunges into the river below.

His friend, Larry Butz, who witnessed this happen, calls Miles Edgeworth, telling him that Phoenix is in danger. Edgeworth immediately charters a private jet to come to Phoenix’s aid. Fortunately, he survived, only needing two days of bed rest. When Edgeworth visits his friend at the hospital, Phoenix gives him his attorney’s badge and magatama. Iris was arrested for Elise’s murder, and Phoenix implies that he wants Edgeworth to act as her defense attorney. That’s right, for the first time in the series, you play from Edgeworth’s perspective, which I can imagine is one of the reasons why this episode a firm favorite among fans. The best part is that I don’t get the feeling this was a gimmick meant to capitalize on the character’s popularity. It helps develop his character further, and I especially enjoyed watching the humorous interactions between him and Gumshoe.

When Mr. Takumi said that the grand finale would wrap everything up, he wasn’t bluffing. The father of Miles Edgeworth, an esteemed defense attorney named Gregory, was murdered seventeen years prior to the events of this game in what became known as the DL-6 Incident. His final trial had him face Manfred von Karma, a legendary prosecutor who had gone undefeated in his twenty-five-year career. Though he failed to defeat Manfred, he did something that resulted in him receiving a penalty. |He proved that Manfred and the lead detective, Rip Lacer, forced a confession out of the defendant.| This black mark on his record led the prosecutor to take revenge on Gregory by murdering him when the opportunity presented itself.

In the ensuing trial, a bailiff named Yanni Yogi was the prime suspect due to being the only person present at the crime scene aside from Miles Edgeworth. In an unprecedented move, the police called upon Misty Fey, the mother of Mia and Maya, to channel Gregory so he could tell them who killed him. As Gregory was unconscious when he lost his life, he naturally believed Yanni killed him. The bailiff was eventually found “Not Guilty” due to a temporary insanity plea. This discredited the Fey family, and Misty Fey left the public eye never to be seen again. At the time, her sister, Morgan, was married to a wealthy jeweler. A combination of the ramifications brought about by Yanni’s trial and learning that Morgan had less spiritual power than her younger sister led to the couple divorcing, taking with him the twin daughters they had together.

The jeweler remarried to a woman who already had a daughter named Valerie. One twin found the other to be a nuisance, so she convinced her father to send her to Hazakura Temple where she became a shrine maiden. What I really enjoy about this divulgation is that the entire scenario leading up to it is tailor-made to mess with the heads of any longtime fans. A woman who is the spitting image of Dahlia is being accused of murder, and it’s up to Edgeworth and Phoenix to exonerate her. Anyone fresh off of Justice for All is going to have flashbacks to its final episode, “Farewell, My Turnabout”, wherein Matt Engarde, the episode’s defendant, was guilty of the crime with which he had been charged. This parallel was reinforced earlier when Phoenix asked Iris if they met only for five Psyche-Locks to appear. This was the same number of locks that manifested when Phoenix learned of Matt’s true nature. You are likely to beat yourself over the head with the hypothesis that Iris and Dahlia are the same person, and coming to her defense would ensure her victory only for the game to reveal it’s not quite true.

When Edgeworth passes the torch to Phoenix, the latter discovers that Elise Deauxnim is actually Misty Fey. Morgan wanted to kill her sister due to her superior channeling abilities, and have her own daughter, Pearl, rule the family one day. To do this, she conspired with another person to kill Dr. Turner Grey in Justice for All. When Phoenix exposed her culpability, she was incarnated, and from there, she concocted another plan to eliminate Maya, this time involving two of her daughters. Misty was killed because she channeled the spirit of the recently executed Dahlia Hawthorne, who wanted revenge on Mia from beyond the grave by killing Maya. In order to foil Morgan’s scheme, Maya then channels Dahlia herself, and the latter proceeds to testify under Iris’s name.

This leads to a moment few other works can claim to have: a cross-examination of a dead person followed by an exorcism in court. It’s every bit as incredible as it sounds.

The sole complaint I have about this finale is that I think the writers overreached slightly in the final sequences. Those who had paying close attention will have noticed that during the first day, Godot was inexplicably missing. It would be easy to chalk up his unwillingness to appear in court to Phoenix not taking the case at first, but he really is nowhere to be found. At the very end of the case, you learn that Godot was the one who murdered Misty Fey. As one may have deduced by now, Godot is actually Diego Armando, and the reason for his vendetta stemmed from him being angry at Phoenix for failing to protect Mia while he was in a coma brought on by Dahlia’s attempt to poison him – a plot point mentioned in the first episode. Even when Phoenix tells him that the people responsible for Mia’s murder were already long dealt with, he couldn’t accept the reality. In the end, it was his hubris that directly led to the end of Misty Fey’s life.

What I disliked about this is that the narrative paints Godot as a tragic, fallen hero when it doesn’t quite work in practice. It plays the moment when he’s finally caught, which is admittedly one of the most memorable moments in the series, as an all-around tragedy. It is, but probably not in the way the writers intended. To their credit, they don’t sugarcoat his crime, and he does face a life sentence for his actions. However, considering he caught wind of Morgan’s plan, and a lot of what allowed these events to spiral out of control resulted from his refusing to inform Phoenix, it becomes difficult to sympathize with him. It is absolutely not a deal-breaking flaw, and the finale succeeds in providing closure for the series’ lingering plot threads |with one exception that’s easy to miss|.

Drawing a Conclusion


  • Much more cohesive story
  • Flashbacks provide a lot of development
  • Likable leads
  • Overall more effort put into scenario
  • Excellent music
  • Simple, yet effective presentation
  • Unique gameplay
  • Good sense of pacing
  • Credibility bar refills more frequently
  • |Incredible finale|

  • Somewhat short
  • Humor relies a little too much on slapstick
  • No new game mechanics
  • |Main antagonist is less sympathetic than intended|

With Trials and Tribulations, the Ace Attorney series deftly avoided falling victim to the supposed curse involving the third installment in a trilogy. I wouldn’t say this game has held up quite as well as the original, but the goodwill from what Trials and Tribulations does right outweighs any of its shortcomings. Justice for All was something of a misstep, and by taking cues from Phoenix Wright by featuring a more cohesive plot, it’s a stronger effort. In fact, a lot of the series’ best trends can be traced back to this installment from making the tutorial episode relevant in the overarching plot to flashbacks that provide extra context.

As with the two installments before it, this is a recommended title for any visual novel fan. In fact, for those who haven’t been won over by visual novels, these three games would be excellent gateway titles. They combine everything that was great about classic adventure games while excising all of their worst aspects, featuring not a single dead-end situation or unreasonably obtuse puzzle. Anyone interested in getting into the series would do well to download the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy compilation. The first game proved to be a sleeper hit in the West and the positive reception Trials and Tribulations received proved it wasn’t an accident.

Final Score: 7.5/10

5 thoughts on “Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Trials and Tribulations

  1. I haven’t even played the entirety of the first Phoenix Wright game, but the series always intrigued me. I also always wondered why everyone seemed to love ‘the guy with the visor’, so thanks for explaining that, too, haha.

    Interesting insights on this, though. If this is the title I’m remembering properly, I remember folks really pushing to make sure this one came out over here. Reading this, I may have to try to venture through the first game again soon, since it sounds like the series has been pretty good overall?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I don’t particularly dislike Godot, but I think he’s a little bit more flash than substance (though not nearly as bad as other examples I could think of). He’s somewhat interesting, but I would argue that this game is good despite him rather than because of him.

      I did hear that this game was in localization limbo for quite some time. Fans even translated the first episode before the localization was announced. The series has had its ups and downs over the years, but I’d say it’s worth experiencing from beginning to end.


  2. I think Trials and Tribulations might be my favorite in the series. I’d put it a bit above the original. It just seems much more willing to be creative and play with the established formula, which is something I really appreciate. As you mentioned, you can tell from the second case onward that a lot more was put into this game than was in the second one.

    Of course, gien that they all basically work off of the same mechanics, it’s a little hard to compare them against each other. They’re just all so alike in character, design, etc. It all comes down to the quality of writing. Which is really the case with most visual novels, anyways.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have to admit that there was one day in which I myself would’ve considered Trials and Tribulations the best game in the series (it was a close call between it and the original). However, after playing two future installments, I don’t think that’s quite the case anymore. It’s a solid game to be sure, but those two managed to surpass it in my mind.

      It’s interesting judging these games based on their scenarios rather than their gameplay mechanics, but given the presentation, it makes sense.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: 150th Review Special, Part 3: Green Means Go! | Extra Life

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