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Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy review

Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy is the best way to play a very messy series of games

The Ace Attorney series has been around for over 20 years (good lord) but it’s been a hot minute since there was actually a new game. Instead, since the release of Spirit of Justice, Capcom’s been keeping the series alive by remastering and re-releasing its games, starting with the original Phoenix Wright Trilogy, and then moving onto The Great Ace Attorney. Now, it’s the Apollo Justice trilogy’s turn – although the name is a bit of a misnomer – with an HD remaster on PC, Switch, Xbox, and PS4.

So, Apollo Justice, huh? Let’s talk about the man. Apollo is the new lawyer on the block after Phoenix’s fall from grace at the end of Trials and Tribulations. He’s a rookie, like Phoenix was once upon a time, but he’s definitely way more confident than Phoenix ever was, and honestly a far more competent lawyer, too. He’s a good character… or he would be, if he was allowed to breathe.

So here’s the thing about this specific trio of games — Apollo Justice, Dual Destinies, and Spirit of Justice: they’re very messy. Apollo Justice is less messy than the other two, but messy nonetheless, and what could have been a fantastic trio of games about the next wave of ethical lawyers in a world filled with corrupt legal systems instead finds a way to bring back Phoenix and throw its other characters to the sidewalk at every opportunity. Athena Cykes, introduced in Dual Destinies, definitely gets the worst of it too, with no real character development and a lot of very silly characterization decisions.

Apollo Justice pointing in Apollo Justice Ace Attorney Trilogy

Apollo Justice is the better of the three games in terms of storytelling and visuals

And that’s why the name isn’t quite right, too. Apollo Justice is the main, playable character for maybe 40% of this trilogy, and for the rest of it, you’re either playing as Phoenix or talking about Phoenix, or playing as Athena with the weird, annoying decisions made there. It’s frustrating, especially coming off the Phoenix Wright trilogy and The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles, but it’s forgivable given the wonderful gameplay.

If you haven’t played an Ace Attorney game before, first of all, what are you doing reading this review? This is not the place to start your Ace Attorney journey. But just in case, it’s basically split into two parts: a point-and-click hidden object game where you gather evidence, and a logic puzzle where you present that evidence in court and push back on witness testimony. It’s a very satisfying gameplay loop, and one that’s remained largely unchanged in 20 years for good reason.

As you’d expect, too, that gameplay loop has been converted from the dual-screen systems on which the games originated to a single-screen experience very well. It’s not any surprise, this is the third remaster collection and all of these games have been single-screen in the past with their mobile releases, so with a little bit of controller implementation, there wasn’t far to go. Throw in some quality-of-life additions, a chapter select, and a very cute music player, and you’ve got a pretty serviceable port of some pretty decent games.

The music player in Apollo Justice Ace Attorney Trilogy

The music player is very cute

Unfortunately, having played these games on PC, there are some slight pain points when playing with mouse and keyboard. Menu elements tend not to recognize when they’re being moused over, so if I wanted to hover over it, I’d often have to use the scroll wheel on the mouse or the arrow keys. Sometimes, too, I’d click on something and the game would instead select the thing that was highlighted instead of the thing I’d clicked on. It’s easy to plug in a controller, though, so it’s not that big of a deal, and most players will likely be on console or using a controller anyway, so the impact will be minimal. Still, it’s a bit of a bummer.

One last thing, though, before we wrap up: the visuals. I’m very pleased to say that Apollo Justice’s new remastered visuals are very nice to look at, and a huge step up from the original Ace Attorney Trilogy. All of the 2D character sprites look sharp and vibrant, and while the upscaled backdrops aren’t quite up to scratch in the same way, it’s still overall a very pleasant viewing experience.

Athena in Apollo Justice Ace Attorney Trilogy

3D models do look a bit dated in Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy

Dual Destinies and Spirit of Justice are a little rougher, by virtue of still using the same 3D models that were in use back on the 3DS in 2013 and 2016, respectively. They’re fine to look at, but can be weirdly boxy in places, and don’t quite have the visual flair of Apollo Justice’s 2D sprites. That’s how the game was made, though, and even if the models haven’t been updated very much at all, they get the job done.

Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy is a mostly solid port of a trilogy of games that are at best messy and at worst frustrating for all the wrong reasons. The series’ signature gameplay has been preserved very well, and the three games in the collection are a lot of fun to play, as long as you don’t mind the characters being all over the place. A bit more care could have been put into the PC port, but the complaints I have with the port are minor at best.

Score: 7/10

  • Presentation: 7/10
  • Story: 5/10
  • Gameplay: 9/10
  • Music: 10/10

Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy technical performance

Aside from the slightly dodgy mouse and keyboard support mentioned above, there have been next to no performance or technical issues in my time with Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy. I tested it on my big, beefy gaming PC and my Steam Deck-level laptop and both ran the game at 1080p60 with no drops. It’s safe to say that playing this on just about any hardware will be entirely possible, be it PC or console, without any major worries.