681816_largerAce Attorney: Phoenix Wright started out life on the Gameboy Advance system in Japan in 2001 and since then has seen multiple sequels, re-releases and even a spin-off. The original game has also seen a straight port to iPhone from the Nintendo DS. So, what makes this version so special, I hear you ask in your Barry White tone (okay, Betty White, in my case)?

Well! Ace Attorney: Phoenix Wright Trilogy HD [Free], as well as being a mouthful, marks the spikey-haired lawyer's first encounter with the Retina display and what's more, every case and trial from the original three games are available via IAP. You can even play one-handed in portrait mode, according to the official blurb. Though, try doing this on an iPad and you'll either need a grotesquely giant hand or tentacles.

If you've been living under a rock for the last decade or so, the Ace Attorney games see you taking on the persona of a quirky, noob lawyer named Phoenix, who sports a hairstyle not unlike Sonic the Hedgehog's and sweats a lot in an odd, manga fashion.

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The games present your blustering barrister with several cases that need to be solved by a mix of good, old-fashioned point and click adventuring and intense courtroom battles, where you get to display your investigative prowess by pressing witnesses for information, uncovering lies by detecting contradictions in their statements, and presenting damning evidence.

The adventure aspect of the game is your typical point and click affair in which you can question persons of interest, examine locations and collate evidence for later use in the trials themselves. The investigative segments are seen through the eyes of Phoenix, whereas the courtroom sessions are viewed from the third-person perspective.

The meat and potatoes of the game happens inside the courtroom during the trials, where you find yourself defending a variety of quirky characters. The bulk of these sections are played by, well, to be honest, reading... a lot of reading. It's here that you really need to take notice of what every witness has to say and compare that information to data collected in various forms which is stored in your inventory, or in the case of this game, the courtroom notes.

murder_vertIf you're not a fan of exercising the old eyeballs, Phoenix Wright may not be for you but for those of us old enough to remember text adventures on the Commodore 64, or even anyone who likes a bit of "choose your own adventure", you're in for a bit of a treat. The stories are entertaining, the characters interesting and the puzzles well thought out. At times you'll get stuck but nothing is straight out of left field... a bit of logic will get you through the toughest parts and see you laughing in the face of that smarmy prosecutor.

As for the Retina renewal of this hit series, unfortunately it isn't much of an improvement. On my iPad 4 the game doesn't make use of the entire screen area, leaving a black border around the edges as if it's an iPhone-only game running in 2x mode. What's more is that there isn't support for the widescreen of the iPhone 5 either. It's not a huge issue, it's just a bit odd. Also, I find the art a bit lacking. The backgrounds are simple and well painted but the characters all look a little rushed, with very basic shading in the way of obvious digital paintbrushes and wavy lines (again, the lack of true iPad Retina support becomes apparent).

This iteration screams "slightly above average indie title", not Capcom quality. It's not ugly to look at, by any means, I just feel it has lost a little of its character from the pixelated goodness that graced the screens of the DS (and even the original iPhone port of said game). As for the gameplay, it has been well-preserved from the original versions and rightly so. It's a challenging brain-teaser that reeks of individuality, sports an intuitive user interface and the free content alone makes this one worth downloading.

Included in the free download are the first two original cases from the inaugural episode in the trilogy. The first case is only a single courtroom segment which acts as a glorified tutorial and it does its job well. Here you see yourself defending your childhood friend, Larry Butz (no, the names don't get any less childish), who has been accused of murdering his girlfriend. Following on from that, well, I can't say too much without revealing spoilers, as it is tied in with the first case but suffice to say, it's another murder mystery. This second case, "Turnabout Sisters", throws in the investigation segments and brings the game into the realm of a true adventure. After the completion of the Turnabout Sisters, you'll need to part with some greenbacks if you want to continue on your adventures.

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Seeing as you get the first two trials in game one free, the full version is cheaper to unlock than episodes two and three and will set you back $5.99. The sequels weigh in at $6.99 each, or you can obtain the entire collection for $16.99.

Ace Attorney: Phoenix Wright Trilogy HD is an excellent adventure experience all-round. Sure, the lack of true iPad Retina or widescreen support is a bit of a letdown, but it's hardly a deal-breaker. The intuitive interface, originality and grin-inducing gameplay has all been preserved and will keep even the best adventurers entertained for hours... days, if they opt for the IAP extensions. However, the iOS version is great simply due to the source material being great, and it's a shame that Capcom couldn't put more effort into this remake to create a truly ultimate version to own.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • KevinLlama

    The lack of retina and widescreen would normally not be a deal breaker, but the game costs $17. Which is a far price for a rare game but for $17 it should be able to do my taxes.

    • Will Buckingham

      It's not $17 for "a" game, it's $17 for three full sized games that will take several hours to get through each of the bigger cases, particularly if it's your first time through. I would estimate that $17 to be at least 30 hours of gameplay, if not more. When these games first came out I played them non-stop until beating them. It still took me several days after work until sleeping to clear all the cases each time, and I'm a fairly fast reader. Please, give the game a try if you haven't already, the first two cases are free so you have nothing to lose but a download. The length of the second case is a good indicator of how long most of the cases will be in the games (beyond the first which is always a courtroom "tutorial" type case for new players). There are 5 cases total in the first game and 4 in each of the other two. Some of them are far longer than the second case in the first game as well. I cannot recommend it enough as a series.

      • KevinLlama

        I've played the first one, not two and three. I know it is three games in one it is cleverly labeled trilogy. I plan on buying this someday. It is just shows that capcom is not trying if it does not have retina. Retina is old in the ios world and the game should be up to par. The game is called "HD" and it is clearly not.

        Your argument reminds of hard it was to convince people to buy the Orange Box used for $10.

    • http://twitter.com/Inaba_kun Inaba-kun

      I'm sick to the back teeth of the pathetic fake outrage people have about an iOS game that isn't so cheap it's essentially free.

      Go and buy all three Phoenix Wright games on the DS and see how much they cost you. It takes money to make high quality games, and staff quite like getting paid. I dare say that will come as a surprise to you.

      • Brandon Blokzijl

        Those are atleast, properly catered to the DS and thus worth the money. Lack of retina/widescreen support in this day of age is just lazy, especially for the asking price in comparison to other good apps/games.

      • KevinLlama

        I'm sick to the back teeth of people trying to be take the high ground. We were having a nice discussion then you come in with your "pathetic outrage". If you read my comments I said I know they are rare and I would be lucky to get each for $20. The game were released years ago so the original staff are not getting paid for this. This is an 8 years later port. The people that are getting paid for it are the people handling the port, which the author of this article said it was a sloppy port, and capcom. No surprises here. The thing games depreciate in value over time. I bought marvel vs capcom 2 for $60 at retail. When it came to XBLA it was a superior version for $15. So this port of the Phoenix trilogy is not taken advantage of normal things of iOS hardware. And if you read my first post I'm still planning on buying it. But I don't have to walk in with blind faith because it is Phoenix Wright.

      • Biowhere

        I don't think the argument ever is about staff being paid over time for the games they make, it's that developers need to make a sufficient return on investment in order to justify certain games being made (or certain business models such as premium vs. freemium, etc). It's this long term ROI that enables publishers to keep developers on hand and continue to pay them.

        Games do depreciate over time however, and this isn't simply a downloadable release for 3DS, it's a port to a different device with a different architecture and operating system. At a certain point, making the game appear full screen on retina would require completely re-doing all of the core assets, models, etc. which turn this from a simple port to what would essentially be a new game.

        Personally I'm glad to have the opportunity to play these great titles for $6 each, and while the lack of retina/full screen is somewhat disappointing, for me the positives far outweigh the negatives.

  • Matthew White

    Very confused about the direction TA has taken lately. Angry birds games are apparently still flawless, and Phoenix Wright gets critique for the graphics? Interesting approach to say the least.

    • Illuminerdy

      Different reviewers, different criteria. Each reviewer is a unique human after all.

    • Will Buckingham

      To be honest, I don't much like the style they went with either, but I think the games hold up well enough on their stories to merit overlooking it. I wish they had seriously redrawn the art completely, perhaps in the higher resolution pixel art style of the fourth game, which debuted on the DS instead of the GameBoy Advance. I was hoping they'd fix up the oddly bold lines prior ever since seeing the initial screenshots, but it looks like it was not to be.

    • MidianGTX

      I completely agree with the review. The gameplay earns it five starts, minus one for being a bit rushed and not supporting iPad/iPhone screens properly. If you can't knock a star off for that then your expectations of a multi-million dollar company are remarkably low.

    • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

      Where do you get the idea that Angry Birds games are flawless?

      It's a fair criticism of this game. It took them 2 years to "remake" it for iOS and they didn't even include basic features, like native screen ratio support. Not even like a pretty border or something.

      They are still amazing games, everybody should still play them. But what a disappointment.

      • Ryan

        I think he's referring to the fact that every Angry Birds game except seasons has received a five star rating (i.e flawless) on here.

      • TheFrost

        Was going to write the same comment for Angry Birds

      • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

        Well, 5 stars doesn't mean flawless. I can't really help somebody making up a stupid assumption like that. Or making a comparison between two entirely different games and situations. Some people like to be "clever" with their TA bashing no matter how little sense they make to get to the punchline.

      • Biowhere

        It'd be great if TA used the entire star rating scale instead of grouping scores in the upper third of the scale.

        I just checked TA's ratings on metacritic. Your average rating over 1499 games reviewed is 76%. This is not to single out TA specifically, as there are 105 other publications whose average game score is higher than TA.

      • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

        The reason for that is because reviewing bad games is a waste of everyone's time. We do give poor ratings to big name releases that are bad because there's a possibility that someone might be apt to purchase a game based on brand alone. For example, if a new Madden game was terrible, you'd want to let people know they should skip it instead of just buy it sight unseen because it's Madden.

        But there are dozens of games that come out every day on the App Store. There are more good games than there are people to write reviews for them, so by having somebody spend time reviewing a bad game they are taking time away that they could be using to review a good game. Personally I'd rather visit a website where I know that pretty much every game they post about is worth checking out, rather than visiting a site to see a bunch of games I would never consider downloading.

    • homosaur

      I love these games but the graphics are what they are... Cool but limited stills. And most characters have maybe two emotion poses.

  • XCool

    How is it possible that this game, having lacked iPhone 5 support, was actually approved by Apple after the May 1st deadline?

  • Earth Vs. Me

    I'm still not clear on how games like this and FF Dimensions work, as far as purchased content goes. When I upgrape my iPhone, will I need to re-buy all the IAP I paid for, or will iTunes realize I bought the games already and let me download them again for free?

    • Harti

      As long as you're using the same Apple ID and the game is universal you'll be fine.
      Issues would only emerge when you bought IAPs in a "HD" game specifically designed only for the iPad (like PvZ) and then tried to restore purchases in the iPhone version (that'd fail). Phoenix Wright being universal though you're all good to go.

    • lavenders2

      Games like this have a restore purchases button, so any IAP that your purchase can be restored when you switch devices on the same account.

      • Will Buckingham

        This, and in fact this particular game asks the first time you load it if you would like to check your purchase history right away so it can sign in and find any games you've already paid for. I downloaded it first on my iPhone, bought the games in the options menu, and when I put it on my iPad it checked my history and unlocked all the games immediately.

    • Ryan

      What I really want to know is how I can upgrape my iPhone..

  • Doctorossi

    I thought the end of May was supposed to herald the Apple-mandated end of non-iPhone 5-optimized App Store releases. Aside from the question of how on Earth Capcom can have the stones and lack of shame to be releasing one now, how are they even allowed to?

    • MantaNZ

      I believe it's simply a language translation update to the Japanese app, so technically not a new release. Still, a bit slack!

      • Doctorossi

        Yes, but according to an Apple notification a few weeks ago, updates were no longer going to be passed without iPhone 5 support after May 1st.

        Did they rescind the deadline? Did they give Capcom a pass for some reason?

      • Ciarán Doherty

        Our best chance of getting it fixed is awaring Apple and hopefully they will pull it or demand Capcom update it, otherwise a company like Capcom is likely to flog as many as they can now and then just sack everyone involved and pretend it doesn't exist anymore.

      • MantaNZ

        Yeah, money talks, I guess, and Apple know this game will bring some in...

  • http://matt-curtis.me/ Matt Curtis

    Why is this article judging my tentacles?

  • http://www.friv250.friv200.com/ friv250

    Your content is excellent and contains tons of great information. Your perceptions on this topic are interesting, profound and different. I agree with a lot of this material.

  • Rothgarr

    It doesn't surprise me about the lack of full screen iPad retina, full screen iPhone 5, etc. I've been pointing out for some time now that all screenshots that have been posted are all 960x640 (iPhone 4/4s resolution).

    • Will Buckingham

      The screen resolution is not the part that bothers me either. On the iPhone, the bolded lines that look so ugly on the iPad practically disappear. What bothers me is the weird UI. For whatever reason they've decided to make an extremely tiny "next line" button when in vertical mode, and every time you hit it, the UI disappears until the next line of text has finished typing out. This results in the UI flashing a lot in conversations with small lines of text. I can't believe someone saw this and didn't realize almost immediately that it would be annoying as hell. The game certainly doesn't do this on the DS version. I really hope Capcom comes back to this and makes a few tweaks, because the game deserves a great digital release, and this one is just "good".

  • Flare_TM

    Its fine on my 4s, sorry for the ipad/iphone 5 owners

  • Ciarán Doherty

    I have submitted a legal complaint to Apple for Capcom breaching the May 1st deadline Apple set that requires all new content include support for new aspect ratios, mainly because I am getting a bit sick of the arrogance and laziness shown by a lot of the big Japanese publishers to the iOS platform..

    If you agree you can also file a complaint here: http://www.apple.com/legal/internet-services/itunes/appstorenotices/

  • Bernd Kilga

    Maybe the initial commit was done much earlier and the final release could have been an update.

  • mike

    Here is what I think happened Capcom being lazy as they are said the game would be released by Fall 2012 but due to something unknown to us all they began delay it several times. Apple announces May 1st deadline, Capcom says holy crap we will have to submit it now instead of July or we will be required to add Iphone 5 support. Capcom thinks "Screw it just submit it by April 31and never update it that is how we will get around this." So yea they probably got through on a technicality but still I think it such a d*ck move.

  • Martymcsly

    I'll wait for an update (which could be never) to fix some of the issues before i bite! I played the original ace attorney on the gba, it's a good game, but didn't really suck me in at the time. Funny characters, yes but the pace seemed a little slow and failing a case would just mean mashing the next button until you got to the point you failed at previously! This got old when you failed as much as I did! I have memories of left-field/ambiguous puzzles/logic too but perhaps I am just stupid. If you're into this kind of game, I think Ghost Trick is a better purchase at this time!

  • Doctorossi

    I appreciate the sentiment and effort, but I'm pretty sure it's Apple's responsibility whether or not an App update passes Apple's certification testing.

    • Ciarán Doherty

      It sure is, but stuff slips by and that's why they have the report function. Obviously it's not usually giant publishers that get caught out but it really really annoys me when they pull crap like this so meh, it's worth a shot.

      • Doctorossi

        Seems odd to me to complain to Apple about Capcom over a problem Apple caused, but maybe it'll bring some attention to the issue.

  • ndre

    Having completed all three on the DS, I don't think I will get this. However, I hope it will do well and they will port the Miles Edgeworth spin-off as well (haven't played that one).
    Don't do the mistake of buying individual cases. These games are insanely addicting and you'll want more.

Ace Attorney: Phoenix Wright Trilogy HD Reviewed by Karl Burnett on . Rating: 4