No, Capcom did not learn from the mistakes it made with other half-assed Phoenix Wii ports. Besides the first entry, of course, Trials and Tribulations is the best game in the lawyer adventure series. It would be nice to see it get the treatment it deserves, but if Capcom hasn’t fixed its DS-to-WiiWare methodology by now, don’t expect much from this series’ appearance on the big screen.
Trials and Tribulations is the third Ace Attorney game, originally released in Japan for the Game Boy Advance (why does it always take so long for awesome to travel overseas?) as Gyakuten Saiban 3 (literally, Turnabout Trial 3). Like its predecessors, it defies genre standards but falls somewhere between visual novel and point-and-click adventure. It’s also the last game to star Phoenix Wright, lawyer with a heart of gold, replaced in later games by Apollo Justice and Miles Edgeworth, respectively.
Trials and Tribulations doesn’t significantly evolve game mechanics the way that Phoenix’s second game, Justice For All, did with the inclusion of secret-keeping Psyche-Locks. What it does achieve is mastery over previously implemented mechanics, a greater task than simply adding more ingredients to a palatable dish. Both the trial and investigation segments operate more smoothly than they ever have before.
The five cases occasionally take you backwards in time, allowing you to play as a younger version of Phoenix’s mentor, Mia Fey, snappy prosecutor Miles Edgeworth, and, of course, Phoenix himself. It also introduces one of the more memorable characters in the series, coffee-swilling, Geordi La Forge visor-wearing, mystery prosecutor Godot. How he connects to Phoenix’s crew is best left to you to figure out. You will be surprised, and you will enjoy the journey.
Too bad, then, that the game looks terrible on the Wii. Like the other Phoenix WiiWare ports, it’s pixilated, ugly, and low-res to the point of distraction. It’s nice that we don’t have to pay extra for the final case, as with the Wii port of the first game, but considering the game’s shoddy appearance and the loss of DS interactivity without any effort to make any Wii-friendly replacements (you know, besides waggle), this is far from the definitive version of the game and an insult to earnest fans.
This is a difficult game to score: how to rate a 3/10 interpretation of a 9/10 title? I’ll leave you with a mediocre score and the following advice: Hop on eBay, find a used DS copy, and enjoy the game the way it was meant to be played; while, of course, having fun. By withholding your Wii Points, together we can tell Capcom that Phoenix and Phriends deserve better. My only caveat to this statement is if you’re hard up for cash and have yet to experience the series. You’ll save money by picking up the Wii version instead, but at the expense of quality and a worthwhile investment for your collection.