So, you’ve finished the Ace Attorney Trilogy for the first time and you’re hungry for more high-octane courtroom action. Well, don’t worry because there’s plenty more of Ace Attorney to cover. The original trilogy is just the beginning of a long and exciting journey full of over-the-top legal battles. Today, we’ll be covering the second trilogy of games: Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, Phoenix Wright: Dual Destinies and Phoenix Wright: Spirit of Justice.
Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney is the fourth entry in the main series and the start of a new chapter in the story. Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney is considered to be the most divisive entry in the series. It’s a fairly drastic change from the tone of the first three games and also introduces a brand new protagonist, Apollo.
While this game is a departure from the series’ roots, it’s also the last main series game that Ace Attorney creator Shu Takumi was involved in. That by itself makes Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney worth playing, and there are many moments in the game that makes it feel like a true entry in the Ace Attorney franchise.
What keeps me coming back to this title is the humor. Apollo is very sarcastic and has a cynical outlook on life. Somehow, he manages to be funnier than Wright, who had plenty of great lines. While I think all Ace Attorney games have great lines, Apollo Justice is one of the few that made me laugh out loud while playing.
Things start to get a little weird with this next entry. After Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, the main series went silent for several years. After six years, Phoenix Wright: Dual Destinies, the next entry in the series, launched on the Nintendo 3DS. Some fans thought that we would get another Apollo Justice game; however, Capcom decided to rely on the iconic name of Phoenix Wright. This game also introduces another new character, Athena Cykes. She’s a student of psychology and law who “revolutionizes courtroom procedures." You’ll have to play the game to find out what that means.
In many ways, Dual Destinies is a soft reboot of the franchise. With a new director and a new vision, this game revitalizes the series and feels like the first part of an overarching story. It's a shame that it abandons the plot threads introduced by Apollo Justice, but it was a good move in the end. You might also begin to miss the involvement of Shu Takumi. Dual Destinies is a solid entry, but it lacks the charm and wit of older titles. On the other hand, this game makes plenty of improvements in the interface and other quality-of-life changes. It feels like a more refined and polished product despite not having the heart of the original trilogy.
To round out the trilogy, we have the sixth main series game, Phoenix Wright: Spirit of Justice. Once again this maintains the Phoenix Wright name, and it’s a fitting choice. This is the definitive game of the second trilogy and is a mix of both old and new ideas. As good of a game as this is, it also features the worst prosecutor/rival in the entire franchise: Nahyuta Sahdmadhi. Thankfully, the other characters do a great job of carrying the game without his help.
Spirit of Justice also reveals one of the major problems with the second trilogy. It’s not as cohesive as the first one in terms of overall plot and themes. With the first three games, you have a satisfying conclusion that wraps up the character arc of Phoenix Wright. It feels like a proper story, with a logical beginning, middle and end. Despite this, all three games from the second trilogy are still fun and you should play them in the correct order.
Something the newer games all do very well is the music. While the chiptunes had a unique charm, it’s always refreshing to see the music evolve. The use of an orchestral soundtrack was a great choice for the tone of the newer games. They are certainly much grander and larger in nature than previous entries. This is one aspect which you can always look forward to in an Ace Attorney game.
Accessibility of these games is another problem. All three games are available on the Nintendo 3DS or mobile devices. This can be a problem, since not everyone wants to buy a 3DS in 2019 and some might not enjoy gaming on their smartphones. There’s no indication of these games coming to modern consoles at the moment. It seems inevitable, but Capcom works in strange ways.
The best way to play the second trilogy is on smartphones as they are available on both iOS and Android. This way you get the beautiful HD resolutions. Since Dual Destinies and Spirit of Justice use 3D models, they actually look better on smartphones than on the 3DS. Regardless of which version you play, the games are basically identical. So, it's all about which platform is more convenient.
That wraps up our guide for the second set of Ace Attorney games. The structure of this trio may be a little weird, and the tone is different. However, the core aspects of the franchise are still here. You’ll meet a wonderful cast of colorful and unique characters as well as some old favorites. Phoenix Wright is still a total goofball and the music is fantastic.
Be sure to stay tuned for our next entry which will introduce a particular pair of spin-off games.