Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy Hands-On Impressions

Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy Hands-On Impressions

By  Bex Prouse - 22nd Jan 2024

Want to play Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy? Find out what we thought of it here and whether you should check it out!

Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy Hands-On Impressions

Following Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy, Capcom released Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy, a follow-up trilogy that follows the next three games in the series. Now, for those aware, you’ll know that these are remasters, but they’ve given new fans a chance to try out Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies, and Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Spirit of Justice.

But what should you look forward to? Well, the good news is that I don’t think you need to have the comprehensive lore of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy to enjoy them. However, I think that knowledge can help, especially regarding Dual Destinies and Spirit of Justice.

Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney

After all, the trilogy begins seven years after the events of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Trials and Tribulations. In those years, Phoenix Wright has lost his defence attorney badge and no longer works as a lawyer — to complicate matters, he’s been accused of the murder of a man while working as a pianist at the Borscht Bowl. Called in to defend Phoenix is the 22-year-old Apollo Justice, who works for the Gavin & Co. Law Offices.

Due to the events in the first episode, Apollo finds himself out of the job and is invited to work for the Wright Anything Agency. However, he’s the only lawyer working for them, seeing as Phoenix is now a pianist (albeit a poor one), and Phoenix’s daughter, Trucy, is a magician. While working for the Wright Anything Agency, Apollo finds himself involved in several cases, and I think that Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney is the one game in the Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy that is the most similar to the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy when it comes to gameplay mechanics.

Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Gameplay

Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Gameplay

Overall, the gameplay mechanics of Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney are pretty simple. The best way I can describe how to play the game is to just pay attention. You need to prove your client’s innocence in a court of law, and to do that, you need to find any evidence that contradicts what the prosecution is saying.

If you get anything wrong in court, that’s a penalty for you, but the good news is that I’m accustomed to saving the games a lot from my experience with Phoenix Wright. I didn’t want to risk going back too far, and I knew from Phoenix Wright, Ace Attorney, that I would be sent back to my most recent save. Thankfully, you can save as often as you want, and because I keep bluffing my way out of everything, that works perfectly.

Of course, if you’ve never played any of the games before, you might be uncertain of how to find evidence. Well, some of the evidence you’ll get in court, while other bits of evidence you’ll need to find while running around the crime scene and wherever your witnesses lead to.

You can examine the surroundings, and you’ll know when you’ve not checked somewhere by a red circle where your hand cursor is. Thankfully, you can also use forensic science, and it’s treated a lot like a minigame. You can dust fingerprints, make plastic moulds of footprints to compare, use a mixer to identify separate instruments and voices, use luminol to remove bloodstains, and so much more.

Generally, the gameplay is a lot of fun, and one major gameplay feature is Apollo’s perception bracelet. Using his bracelet, Apollo can tell when a witness is lying, and it’s up to you to find a tell to press for more information about why they’re so uncomfortable. This offers a fun challenge because you need to identify where in the testimony they’re uncomfortable to uncover the truth.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies

A year after the events of Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney is Dual Destinies, and it’s also the first of the games to feature voice-acted anime cutscenes and 3D models. So, it does feel considerably different from Apollo Justice, as I found that one encompassed the 2D style in the previous games. If you aren’t used to 3D graphics, you can see the change here.

Apollo takes on a more mentor-like role, as he is injured in the first episode of Dual Destinies during a bombing, but there’s something wrong, and he calls in Phoenix Wright to take his place. In the year since Phoenix has his badge back, the Wright Anything Agency has even hired a new junior lawyer, the 18-year-old Athena Cykes.

Athena is here to defend a friend of hers, Juniper Woods, who came to watch the trial and was then accused of the bombing. It’s revealed that earlier (or later in the game), she was falsely accused of murder and would thus have a motive. However, Athena firmly believes in her childhood friend, and she and Apollo find themselves connected much more than they realise.

The cases are much more personal for both Apollo and Athena, and I have to say it’s one of the more emotionally charged games in the franchise. In prior games, I wondered about the emotional implications that come with being affected by the crimes, but Dual Destinies more than makes up for it. Overall, it makes a lot of sense, especially as the new focus of psychology in the courtroom, courtesy of Athena Cykes and the prosecutor, Simon Blackquill.

Dual Destinies Gameplay 

Dual Destinies Gameplay 

Speaking of psychology, let’s talk more about what Athena brings to the dock. See, Athena specialises in analytical psychology, and she has incredibly good hearing, which allows her to hear the emotions in a client’s voice. As part of this, she has the Mood Matrix, which is connected to her necklace, Widget. Using Widget, Athena can analyse the emotions of a witness and point out any contradictions, such as when they feel happy when they should be feeling sad. She can then probe where they are having doubts in a testimony, which allows her to see through lies.

It’s a really interesting mechanic brought into the game. However, I did find that Dual Destinies was easy compared to the rest of the trilogy. You can now check a To-Do List in the Court Record to find out where to go next. It also makes it easier to travel between locations, as you don’t have to walk through one area to get to another. However, you can only examine areas that prompt you to do so; examining the crime scene is also more thorough, as you can change your vantage point.

Another useful element introduced is getting rid of useless evidence. Anything no longer related to the case could be removed by Trucy or anyone else. Plus, you could even retry your cases from the scene you’re on if you lose the penalties and regain them all. 

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Spirit of Justice

Another year following the events of Dual Destinies is Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Spirit of Justice. Throughout this game, you’ll play as all three lawyers of the Wright Anything Agency: Apollo, Athena, and Phoenix. Plus, your time will be spent divided between the Kingdom of Khura’in and America.

While Phoenix is away visiting Maya Fey in the Kingdom of Khura’in, his tour guide, a young boy named Ahlbi Ur’gaid, is accused of murder. However, unlike in America, there are no lawyers left in Khura’in due to the Defence Culpability Act, a law in which the defence attorney will be charged with the same crime as their client should they be found guilty. Phoenix, believing in Ahlbi’s innocence, defends him in court and learns about the Divination Séance, which allows the High Priestess of Khura’in to show the victim’s final moments.

Admittedly, it’s an extension of the Dark Age of the Law, but it’s an interesting one. While in America, both Apollo and Athena are looking after the Wright Anything Agency, which brings them face-to-face with the Khura’in prosecutor, Nahyuta Sadhmahdi. It also reveals why Apollo wanted to become a defence attorney and his childhood prior to the events of both Dual Destinies and Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney.

Spirit of Justice Gameplay

Spirit of Justice Gameplay

A key mechanic of a trial in Khura’in is the Divination Séance, where the High Priestess can view the final moments of a victim’s life for the court to see. Much like a video recording, you can view the contradicting insights and those that the victim sees by examining the evidence you possess in the Court Record.

Best of all, you can skip the tutorials if you’ve ever used the previous mechanics before. Considering I played this immediately after Dual Destinies, I was incredibly grateful. Unlike Dual Destinies, you can go back to examining the crime scenes whenever you want, but it’s still easy to move around and view a To-Do List if you get lost. You can also worry less about saving the game repeatedly, as Spirit of Justice keeps the penalty system and revival screen from Dual Destinies.

Spirit of Justice also allows you to use all the available mechanics in your arsenal, such as Apollo’s perception bracelet, Phoenix’s Magatama, and Athena’s Mood Matrix, as you get to play as all three of them. With the return of Detective Ema Skye as well, you can enjoy the forensics at your disposal (notably when playing as Apollo), as Phoenix doesn’t have access to anything but Luminol when he’s in Khura’in. Thus, you can enjoy some particularly fun investigations here.

As you can see, there’s a lot to look forward to in Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy. All three games have been kept as close to their original releases as possible, so whether you want to play them for yourselves once more for nostalgia or experience them for the first time, you can do so here. You can even enjoy the Special Episodes in Dual Destinies and Spirit of Justice, which means you have two extra cases to enjoy, so why not try out the cases for yourself?

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