Preserving all of the charm, humor, and melodrama the franchise is known for, the Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy is here to round out Capcom’s remastering of its flagship courtroom battle visual novels for modern consoles. Over the past few years, Capcom has been on a spree of Ace Attorney re-releases, which have been well-received thanks to the studio’s careful preservation of the original games while also fixing up some of the quirks of the franchise’s previous mobile ports and the Apollo Justice Trilogy is no different. With a meaty set of stories and smart quality-of-life adjustments for modern audience and enough extras and bonus features to satisfy series veterans, Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy is a no-brainer for fans of the series.
For those who have never experienced an Ace Attorney game, the franchise is a unique blend of intense courtroom dramas filled with plenty of goofs and gags while also being a detective sim where the player’s deductive reasoning skills are put to the test. While it could be an overwhelming pitch for newcomers to dive in at the sequel trilogy, the Apollo Justice Trilogy does a solid job of letting players ease into the ongoing story and mechanics of the games without needing any prior experience with the franchise. Most of these stories are self-contained, relying minimally on the events of previous entries and with plenty of exposition should players not be aware of what happened in the past. This is a solid starting point for the franchise if players would like to hop right in.
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The Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy features three mainline Ace Attorney games: Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Dual Destinies, and Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Spirit of Justice. Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney is the oldest of the bunch, released in 2007 on the Nintendo DS, while the other two were released on the 3DS in 2013 and 2016, respectively. With that background, it may seem odd that this re-release makes the rookie Apollo Justice the headlining character of this trilogy despite his name only being on the box for two of these games, but when taking in this trilogy as a whole, it ends up making a lot of sense.
Despite leading characters Phoenix Wright and Athena Cykes taking up a good chunk of playtime across these three games, Apollo Justice stands out as the character with the most development throughout this trilogy. The iconic Phoenix Wright told his own satisfying story in his own trilogy many years before the original Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney game, leaving him as a sort of mentor in the sequel trilogy with a rather static arc. Meanwhile, Athena may be a charming and entertaining central character, but her story throughout these games leaves her feeling like there may be bigger plans for her later on.
Instead, it is Apollo who goes from being a shaky, greenhorn attorney in the first Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney to a sort of ronin of the legal profession in Dual Destinies. His story ultimately leads him to become a true Ace Attorney in Spirit of Justice as he takes on Phoenix Wright himself, culminating in a satisfying character arc across three games despite his weak start. Repackaging this whole trilogy with Apollo Justice as the main character despite not being the leading man all the time makes sense now that the franchise has slightly shifted itself from making Phoenix Wright the face of the series.
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In terms of how these games hold up in 2024, the Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy’s set of stories is still as thrilling and engrossing as ever, with a few drawbacks that Capcom is aware of. Since these are older games from a different era, there are a handful of jokes and visual gags that may not sit too well with some current fans; however, they are still preserved without rewriting the original material and with a disclaimer at start-up as a fair warning. In retrospect – and without the fatiguing deluge of Ace Attorney games and spin-offs throughout the 2000s and early 2010s – time has been kind to the trilogy of stories that Apollo Justice found himself in, despite being considered the black sheep of the series by some fans. They’re as much of a blast now as they have ever been. When paired with the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy and 2021’s Great Ace Attorney Chronicles, it all comes together to make a solid Ace Attorney complete collection.
Seeing how Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy is a rework and remastering of Nintendo DS and Nintendo 3DS games, some needed changes were made to each game to cater to new and drastically different platforms. More minor changes, like Apollo’s “perceive” system, are now streamlined intuitively as visual cues highlighted with the analog sticks during court cases, while the previously-microphone-based system of dusting for fingerprints has been transposed into a button-tapping mini-game instead of blowing into a microphone. Capcom’s reworking of DS and 3DS contingent systems are integrated smoothly enough that most players likely wouldn’t even notice that this isn’t how the original games operated.
Visually, the Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy is a handsome package overall. All the main character sprites for the first Apollo Justice look excellent on modern screens, but some of the backdrops still seem a bit blurry, as if they were blown up to HD standards and then redrawn. The end result is a slight watercolor painting look that is charming but undoubtedly dated. In action, they’re hardly distracting and give a nice retro vibe to Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney. Meanwhile, Dual Destinies and Spirit of Justice’s 3D sprites look fantastic in their new HD renderings, holding up remarkably well despite being a decade old. In the case of backgrounds, they still look a tad blurry, but due to their recency on the higher-resolution 3DS, they get an edge when held up to scrutiny.
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However, Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy knocks it out of the park regarding quality-of-life adjustments and extra content, putting it over previous re-releases of Ace Attorney games. One of the most significant quality-of-life changes is how players can jump right into any episode in any chapter of each of these three games whenever they like. Hardcore fans have likely already completed these games multiple times over, so including an option to start anywhere just to replay the hits makes this trilogy an excellent package to come back to over and over again.
Additionally, this re-release includes a “Story Mode” setting that lets players experience the game as a full-on visual novel if they prefer to take in the story in that way. The Story Mode option is a nice inclusion for whenever a player feels stuck during an investigation or trial and wants to move things along at the click of a button. Some of these games can have their pace slowed to a halt by a lot of trial and error when the dots don’t connect the way the game intends, so bypassing that problem altogether with the Story Mode option is a great optional addition.
The cherry on top of the Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy, though, is its deep set of bonus features in the Museum. For fans who love to make all sorts of Ace Attorney memes and whatnot for the internet, an included Animation Studio lets players go wild with its complete suite of characters, animations, sounds, and backgrounds to make whatever their hearts desire. There is even a green screen background included to create all sorts of scenarios and roleplay situations for mega-fans. When paired with the Museum’s massive Orchestra Hall featuring every song in all three games plus the even more massive Art Library, there is a lot to love here in terms of extras and things to appreciate and come back to.
Time has been kind to Apollo Justice, but Capcom has been especially kind to the re-release efforts of the Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy. Much like The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles and the Phoenix Wright Trilogy before it, the Apollo Justice Trilogy is another fantastic effort by Capcom in updating and re-releasing its legacy courtroom battle games for modern audiences and with a few fixes and tweaks to make it more fitting for this day in age. Returning fans will be able to jump right into their most nostalgic moments with the series whenever they like and with plenty to come back to, while new fans can experience Apollo’s story in its best form yet.
Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy
First released in 2001, the Ace Attorney series gave birth to the Courtroom Battle genre of text adventure games. Phoenix Wright passes the torch on to Apollo Justice in this collection of 3 games, which traces Apollo’s growth as a lawyer as he navigates the Dark Age of the Law.
- Great preservation of the original games
- Excellent quality of life adjustments
- Good set of extras and bonus content
- Backgrounds not always up to par with sprites
- Can get bogged down by long instances of trial and error
Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy is available January 25, 2024, for PC, PS4, Switch, and Xbox One. Game Rant was provided a PC copy for the purposes of this review.