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Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy Review

Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy Review

I got into the Ace Attorney games later than most, and I’ve been excited to get my hands on Apollo Justice Ace Attorney Trilogy as I never played them on the DS. However, I have played the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy and was all too happy to throw my hat into the ring to give this my best shot. After all, my knowledge of the later Ace Attorney games solely comes from memes, and so I thought it would be a good time to give it a shot.

Now, let me explain what you can expect from Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy. In the trilogy, there are three games: Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies, and Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Spirit of Justice. The first game is set seven years after Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Trials and Tribulations, and the other games following it have less of a time skip. So, allow me to go into some detail about each game and how they feel with no knowledge of the previous games.

Why does no one leave Apollo's hair alone?

Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney contains four episodes and introduces our protagonist, the eponymous Apollo Justice. He’s a 22-year-old defence attorney who works for the Gavin & Co. Law Offices and is also the lawyer who has the case of defending Phoenix Wright, the former ace attorney who lost his badge seven years earlier.

In charge of the Gavin & Co. Law Offices is the renowned defence attorney Kristoph Gavin, who has been a friend of Phoenix for the past seven years. Phoenix was said to have murdered a traveller, Shadi Smith, following a game of poker gone wrong. Truthfully, Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney has to have my favourite version of Wright, and it’s absolutely due to his cryptic behaviour and his casual outfit. He’s just an enigma, which is hilarious after playing as him in the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy.

Phoenix Wright in AJ:AA

I would say that Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney is the closest to the previous trilogy, both due to the style and gameplay mechanics. While the cases themselves are as chaotic as to be expected, I felt like I wanted to play the original trilogy again as I played it. Apollo reminded me of a young Phoenix, and his cases involved the likes of a stolen noodle stand that was involved with a murder, a panty thief, the yakuza, a Borginian musician, and Interpol.

While I can’t talk about the final episode as I would give too much away, I appreciated the amount of work it took to get through the first game. Admittedly, it brought back one of my least favourite mechanics, as I always found it frustrating to travel from one area to get to another, but the return of Ema Skye and her forensics more than made up for it.

Forensics in AJ: AA

The use of forensic science in Ace Attorney has always kept me interested, and I love dusting for fingerprints and making plastic moulds to get footprints. They always feel like fun little minigames, and while some elements can be frustrating, I never struggled too much. However, I found one significant challenge was using Apollo’s bracelet to perceive the actions of the person he’s cross-examining.

To use the bracelet, you need to press “the top face button” when prompted, and then you have a small hole to look through to zoom into any nervous actions. These aren’t always clear, and it can take a while to get through to them. You need to find these at the right time, and because of that, I struggled a fair bit. I’m not the most observant; sometimes, I can solve a logic puzzle with (a little bit of) ease, but monitoring the actions of a witness? Much more of a challenge.

Apollo's Bracelet powers

I especially loved the appearance of Klavier Gavin; he’s the younger brother of Kristoph, and he’s also the lead singer of The Gavinners. He spoke in random German phrases and constantly got on Apollo’s nerves, and he was one of my favourite characters in the game. His dynamic with Ema was a lot of fun, and his description as a “glimmerous fop” made his interactions with the detective much funnier. However, while the prosecution is purely antagonistic most of the time, Klavier is actually willing to help out more often than not, and it makes his rivalry with Apollo even better.

With Klavier’s history as a musician, you can also use a Mixer when doing a music-based case, as you do in Turnabout Serenade. When defending Machi, a Borginian child who plays the piano for Lamiroir, you can use the Mixer to identify any issues where someone may have lost their concentration when performing. As someone who used to play the guitar, I just found it a lot of fun, and I wish we could have seen more of it.

Klavier is the Best2

Plus, I particularly enjoyed the hints left that expanded on Phoenix’s daughter, Trucy. After all, it’s only been seven years; how could Phoenix have a 15-year-old child? The answer is it’s complicated, and you can learn a little bit more when you meet her uncle, Valant. While I won’t go into too much detail here, all four episodes make a lot more sense when you add them all together.

Personally, my favourite was the final episode, but I can’t reveal too much. However, in terms of the writing for the overall game, I thought there were some inconsistencies with the story that didn’t make much sense to me. Notably, elements where the Judge would have remembered Phoenix but didn’t seem to know how he lost his badge. Admittedly, the Judge does have a failing memory, but he can remember most things.

Truthfully, the challenges felt a lot more difficult here, but I think it’s because instead of an introduction to the Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy, it felt like a finale to the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy.

Athena Cykes

But what do I mean when I say Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney felt like the finale to the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy? Well, allow me to explain. In Dual Destinies, we are introduced to a new lawyer working for the Wright Anything Agency: Athena Cykes, an 18-year-old who is more of a central character than Apollo is in this game. We also have a lot less of Trucy, despite the fact that she’s here, and Phoenix has come back to the courtroom, but he seemed to behave as he did in the original Phoenix Wright Trilogy.

Jumping into Dual Destinies was a pretty jarring experience. Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney has the same 2D style as the Phoenix Wright Trilogy, but this is the first game that actually uses 3D models and has voice-acted anime cutscenes. While I love the cutscenes, it felt different from what I was used to, and it took me a while to wrap my head around it.

However, interestingly, Dual Destinies starts smack bam in the middle of the story, and we have to go back to understand how everything connects.

Mood Matrix

There’s something going on with Apollo, and Athena can tell. How? Like Apollo has his powers of perception, she has the ability to analyse the emotions of witnesses using the Mood Matrix. To do this, she just needs to find any contradictions between their feelings and their testimony. It’s a fun little part of the game, and I did find it more fun and less frustrating than our protagonist’s bracelet. As she can hear the discord in the hearts of those around her, she can tell something is wrong with him, and it’s not only because of the courtroom bombing that they were caught in on the first case.

We know that Apollo wasn’t always like this, as Athena and Apollo became fast friends during their first case when they investigated the murder of the Alderman of Nine Tails Vale. The crime was heavily Yōkai-based, and the two were able to enjoy the case together while they also faced off against the new prosecutor, Simon Blackquill.

I’ll be honest: Simon Blackquill may have been my favourite part of this game. Admittedly, I said how much I loved Klavier Gavin as well, and personally, I just always enjoy the dynamic with the prosecution, but Blackquill was interesting. As a convicted murderer, Blackquill is also a prosecutor, and he acts like a samurai.

Simon Blackquill Quotes

But where was I before my Blackquill tangent? Ah yes, Apollo and Athena’s first case. Due to the psychological element that Blackquill also utilises, Athena was instrumental in solving the case by conducting a therapy session to identify what troubled a witness. However, I have to admit, it was also a little too easy. An example of this is when you lost all your lives in the courtroom, only to be given the option to return to that scene and try again — with full lives. I could at least say goodbye to having to save repeatedly, but it made the game too simple.

Now, this is an issue that can be said for the whole game: it was a lot simpler than the first game of the collection, Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney. The movement was made much easier, as you no longer had to travel between areas to get to where you needed to go. However, you also had a to-do list in the court record that told you where to go next. Likewise, you couldn’t examine every crime scene you came across, which meant that you were basically led to the evidence. It did feel like Dual Destinies was holding your hand through it, and it also lacked a lot of the evidence-based investigations I enjoyed.

Bobby Fulbright

Basically, I missed Ema and her forensics. Instead, we were given Bobby Fulbright, who, despite being a fun character, didn’t have the same impact as the previous detectives. However, that could be blamed on the level of angst and the fairly simple overall plot of this game.

In Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, we were introduced to the concept of lawyers falsifying evidence, but it’s now become a significant theme. In fact, the Dark Age of the Law is constantly shadowing our protagonists and one character in particular: Apollo Justice. However, not in the way that you would expect. The Wright Anything Agency can even see how it’s affecting up-and-coming lawyers at the Themis Legal Academy, where one of the professors actively encourages their students to win a case at whatever the cost. It is a complete clash of ideals, but it becomes clearer in the fourth case.

Apollo, for example, is particularly affected, and it’s why he has such a drastic personality shift in the beginning and why he seeks answers of his own. It appears that he no longer trusts the criminal justice system, and for some reason, it connects them all. However, it’s hard to be invested in Apollo’s sub-story, as prior to this, we had never met the victim before, and by the first time we encountered him, it was already too late.

Despite how emotionally charged the story was, it almost felt too extreme. After all, the game was far too easy for a narrative that was so angst-ridden. But it wasn’t just the angst that was excessive. I mentioned how all the episodes tie in together, didn’t I? Well, the overall plot for Dual Destinies was just a little too convoluted. In fact, I would say that playing the whole game made it difficult for me to go into the Special Episode afterwards, despite how funny it would be to cross-examine a whale.

You thought this was a joke, didn't you?

Finally, let’s talk about Spirit of Justice. I admit, after Dual Destinies, I struggled with the idea of what Spirit of Justice would be like. After all, I wasn’t too impressed by the second game. But the third game would be fun, right? And right I was.

I’m not saying that Dual Destinies was a bad game; it gave me a lot of mechanics that I enjoyed. Plus, I got my evidence-based forensics back when I played as Apollo, so I was incredibly happy, and with the plus of not having to travel to and fro to get to my destination? Yeah, I have to admit, I felt like Spirit of Justice gave us the best of both worlds.

It was also the game that made me think that Apollo Justice just couldn’t catch a break. While Phoenix is visiting his old assistant, Maya Fey, in the Kingdom of Khura’in, Apollo and Athena are looking after the office back at home. However, Phoenix is not just enjoying a little holiday, as he finds himself defending his guide, Ahlbi Ur’gaid, from being charged with murder. But why? You may be asking yourself, as surely a lawyer from Khura’in could do so?


Well, lawyers aren’t especially popular in Khura’in. In the kingdom, you’ll find that there are almost no lawyers left due to the Defence Culpability Act. Now, if that sounds bad, you would be absolutely correct. A defence attorney is equally as guilty as their client should they fail to defend them, and due to the High Priestess’s Divination Séance, the accused is always considered guilty. It’s been 23 years since anyone has been declared not guilty, and Phoenix is the first one to get one.

Divination Seance

But what is a Divination Séance? Well, a Divination Séance is a ritual performed by the High Priestess, Princess Rayfa, who channels the spirit of the deceased in their final moments. By using this ritual, everyone in the court can then see what the victim saw and what they could hear, feel, and smell at that moment. So, you basically need to find the inconsistency in Rayfa’s insight, which is almost akin to blasphemy in this day and age.

As Phoenix is turning the courts of Khura’in on their heads by accident, Apollo and Athena find themselves defending Trucy on the charge of the murder of Mr. Reus, a magician who used to work with Trucy’s family, Troupe Gramarye. With this trial, you’ll find that the forensics are even more advanced, and you can even compare recorded footage due to Trucy’s case happening on camera! Admittedly, this was one of my favourite cases throughout the trilogy, also because of how much of a banger Mr. Reus’s theme was. However, I did think that this would have been more suitable as the fourth episode than the second.

Despite being the penultimate case, the fourth episode was also the shortest of all the other Turnabouts. It consisted solely of one day of trials, and while I loved it because it gave us the Simon Blackquill and Athena Cykes alliance dynamic, it had no investigation. Apparently, the reason it was Athena's solo case was due to Trucy and Apollo doing a magic show, and it felt again that this could have fit in equally well in the second episode, as it would naturally lead into The Magical Turnabout. With how it was placed, Turnabout Storyteller felt like a filler episode, which explains why it may have been so out of place.

Simon Blackquill Filler

Honestly, the third episode was one of the most fun cases. It also meant that Ema could work with Phoenix again, and Maya would be accused of murder. Again. It explored more of the Defence Culpability Act, and we got to learn more about the rebels: The Defiant Dragons. Plus, we learned what the connection is between the Khura’in prosecutor, Nahyuta Sahdmahdi and Apollo, and how they both happen to know the rebel leader, Dhurke.

Admittedly, I did find the Divination Séance a little bit finicky here, and I did spot a few typos that were clearer in this episode than some of the others. However, I thought that the idea of someone being framed to protect someone from being charged due to the Defence Culpability Act was interesting, and it made a lot of sense.

Overall, Spirit of Justice was a lot stronger than Dual Destinies and felt like a satisfying ending to Apollo’s storyline. I got to better understand Apollo’s character, and we got to see how far he’d grown since the first game in the trilogy. Even Phoenix’s character seemed a lot stronger here, and his actions appeared to show how he had grown while also throwing back to the original trilogy.

Altogether, I thought that the Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy was just a rollercoaster of a ride. While it lost itself in the middle, I would recommend you try it for yourself and see how you find each game. However, feel free to pace yourself as you play them because playing each game straight after the other is an experience.


7.50/10 7½

Apollo Justice Ace Attorney Trilogy (Reviewed on Nintendo Switch)

This game is good, with a few negatives.

While it can be jarring jumping from 2D animation into 3D, all three games tie into each other pretty well and offer a fun experience for both old and new fans.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Bex Prouse

Bex Prouse

Staff Writer

Writing about all sorts like a liquorice allsort

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Thejakman - 09:34am, 23rd January 2024

I absolutely adored Apollo Justice! It was so jarring seeing him all edged up in Dual Destinies. Did you have a definite favourite out of the three?

Bexapher - 01:04pm, 25th January 2024 Author

See, it's a difficult one because I'm tied between Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney and Spirit of Justice. But, if I had to pick one, I think Spirit of Justice would win just because I enjoyed the plot, and it had all of my favourite mechanics as well! (I just really like forensics).