It’s a nervous start for rookie defence attorney Apollo Justice who, despite his repeated assurances, is not fine. Panicked with sweaty palms, he’s about to defend his first client, Phoenix Wright, who stands accused of murdering a customer at the Borscht Bowl Club with a bottle of grape juice.
Set seven years after Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Trials and Tribulations, Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney came as an unexpected surprise seeing as series creator Shu Takumi had not wanted to return to the courtroom. With Phoenix Wright’s story now told, the eventual decision to make the fourth game saw Takumi desire to have it star a new character. And so, we came to know the young and passionate Apollo Justice and his Chords of Steel.
Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney was originally launched for Nintendo DS in 2008, but Capcom has now chosen to port it to Nintendo 3DS – a choice that means that all mainline Ace Attorney games can now be played on the plucky portable. Now with upgraded 3D graphics and even the surprise inclusion of the Japanese version of the game that has visual differences, this can easily be seen as the definitive way to experience Apollo’s early career as a defence attorney.
After reaching the dramatic conclusion to his first case, Apollo joins Phoenix Wright and works alongside the disbarred attorney’s adopted daughter Trucy – a gifted magician – at the Wright Anything Agency. With your early cases seeing you investigate a hit and run incident, the theft of a noodle cart, and retrieving a pair of magic panties that have been stolen, Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney remains to be just as quirky as before and it has become a fan favourite, somewhat, thanks to its pun-ridden dialogue.
The player continues to move between locations, examine their surroundings, and gather information from those at the scene of the crime, but Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney also has you using forensic science to test for traces of blood or to dust for fingerprints as well as rotating evidence in the Court Record in your search for the truth. And then, when you confront veteran prosecutor and ex-Gavinners frontman Klavier Gavin in the courtroom in each case, you can use Apollo’s magical bracelet to see to help detect lies in witness testimonies.
Given the game’s origins on Nintendo DS, it won’t come as a surprise that Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney heavily relies on the Nintendo 3DS touchscreen for these mechanics, and, as before, they have been implemented well to deduce new clues that can soon sway an otherwise insurmountable case back in your favour. That leaves you to gawp at the unexpected twists and turns that have become a signature of the Ace Attorney series, as you look to defend your client at all costs.
That isn’t to say that Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney necessarily perfects Capcom’s take on courtroom drama, especially compared to the advancements that have been made in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies and Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice. There is a linearity to solving each crime that, even if you have already deduced what the solution is, will still require that you recover all evidence or press to unearth a certain line of testimony. It can feel unnatural in many ways, but it is a problem that the series has had since its conception.
For those that have yet to witness his early career, it is still hard to deny that the return of Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney on Nintendo 3DS is the perfect chance to experience it for the first time. It’s slightly more expensive than Capcom’s port to smart devices, but, stylus in hand, there’s no better way to defend those in need.