Dark and Bittersweet, Like My 17th Mug of Coffee.
Trials And Tribulations is the third game in the Ace Attorney series, and gives us another peek into the world of the Wright & Co Law Offices. It's a courtroom drama like no other, where every case is a murder of highly suspect circumstance, the courts are decided without Jury on a penalty system and you; Phoenix Wright, have at your disposal helpers with psychic powers. The games are divided into two segments, a courtroom portion where the defense does legal battle with the prosecution, and the point and click adventure sections when investigating crime scenes.
The Ace Attorney games were originally popular in Japan when they were first released on the GameBoy Advance, but they were never translated into English until they finally saw a re-release on the Nintendo DS. This means that the series, though on the DS, were a slave to GBA hardware when they were made. They're an extremely formulaic experience that hasn't changed much since the first game, and it's been so long now that I struggle to remember that feeling that got me hooked on the series in the first place.
That's how the first two acts felt, the 10th and 11th cases in the series and by this point it's easy to find yourself too used to the game logic to associate it with real logic anymore. Automatically you press every statement in a witness' testimony, automatically you examine every loose scrap of paper. I had forgotten what really drove me to the series in the first place; the unbridled joy of pointing thine finger, calling some filthy liar out on his ungodly bullshit.
But it all came back to me. Trials And Tribulations has some of the best characters of the series, and their plots will intermingle in ways you'd never expect. It keeps you guessing right to the last, and succeeds in captivating the audience with its unique stories. By the third case, it all comes back, and suddenly you care again. There will always be a murderer up on the stand, tstifying against your client, and you will want to nail them.
The gameplay barely differs from the previous game, it still has Psyche-Locks but as there's no new DS-exclusive cases there are none of the wacky CSI touchscreen tools from case 5 of the remade first game. The new characters though may be the best yet, particularly your new arch-rival; Prosecutor Godot, a maskwearing coffee-freak with a mysterious past. There are numerous cameos from previous games too, some of which may well surprise you.
At the end of the day, this is still an Ace Attorney game, and the forumla is definitely beginning to stale. The game does however retain all of the positive attributes of the series; the charm, the characters the story, it's so hard not to love it. The second half of the game is the digital equivalent of an exciting summer page-turner, if you're a fan of the series you owe it to yourself to investigate this game.