|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Capcom||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Capcom||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 23, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Matt Cabral
From the smiling senior citizens in those silly Brain Age ads to the Mario Kart-cruising diehards, everyone seems to be embracing Nintendo's hand-held behemoth. In fact, hardly a day goes by where the Internet isn't buzzing with news of the Nintendo DS selling another gazillion units, continuing its number-one-hardware-sales streak.
With all the hype surrounding the portable powerhouse it's easy to forget the DS's struggling salad days, and the folks--including the star of this review, spiky-haired defense attorney Phoenix Wright--that helped separate it from the portable-play pack. Before the pixilated puppies of Nintendogs helped put the DS on the map, its library consisted of a pretty lean and lame line-up. Anyone remember Ping Pals or Sprung? You're not alone. But on the paws...er...heels of Nintendogs, the fledgling dual-screen, touch-screen, voice-recognizing gizmo began to blossom as innovative offerings, like Trauma Center: Under the Knife and Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, proved the DS had more to offer than cookie-cutter puzzlers and weak console ports. Between removing tumors with its stylus to yelling "objection" into its microphone, the DS quickly became the go-to platform for fresh gaming experiences. Now, just two years--and countless litters of Nintendogs--later, the very experiences that made the DS seem so fresh are, ironically, beginning to feel a bit stale. Case in point: the latest effort from our favorite digital defense attorney.
Don't misunderstand; Phoenix Wright, Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations is by no means a bad game. On the contrary, it retains most of what we loved so much about Phoenix's DS debut which, by the way, like all games in the series, is a translation of a popular Japanese title. But, what seemed so refreshing two years ago now feels a bit tired and rehashed. That said, if you liked the last two entries, and are a bit of a Phoenix fanboy, then you'll definitely enjoy this one; albeit with less enthusiasm and sense of wonder than the original might have inspired in you. On the other hand, if you're new to the Phoenix franchise then we highly recommend you start with the first title. More on that in a bit.
Like the original, and early 2007's Justice for All, you play as the titular defense attorney through a text-driven (expect to do lots of reading) adventure separated into two distinct gameplay modes: investigation and court room. The first phase has you gathering evidence and questioning witnesses, while the second has you utilizing that obtained intel to cross examine a long line-up of quirky, lying, deceiving, but most of all, amusing characters. In fact, much of the enjoyment derived from Trials and Tribulations--as with the first two titles--is its sense of humor, charm, and over-the-top attitude. If you've never played a Phoenix game before, be prepared for a surreal journey; one character actually wears a visor reminiscent of the one LeVar Burton sported in Star Trek.