A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy is a downloadable text-driven legal drama that combines three older games into one. It stars a young, clever lawyer who relies on his smarts rather his fists and truly wants to see justice served. Cases frequently deal with murder and show depictions of dead bodies and bloodied murder weapons, but it's all presented in bright cartoon colors. As a result, the violence isn't nearly as grisly or dark as most TV and movie courtroom dramas. The game encourages kids to read thoroughly and critically, lest they risk making mistakes and being forced to restart trials, which can be frustrating. Some characters occasionally smoke. Some female characters dress revealingly, and there's a bit of sexual innuendo.
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What's it about?
PHOENIX WRIGHT: ACE ATTORNEY TRILOGY is a compilation that collects the first three adventures of Capcom's clever, sharply dressed lawyer into a single game that offers 15 cases spanning nearly 50 hours of playtime. Players take on the role of a young attorney defending wrongly accused (though not always squeaky-clean) defendants in lengthy murder trials presented almost entirely in the form of text dialogue. Players examine crime scenes and search for evidence. Then they head into the courtroom, where they question witnesses, pressing them for more information and calling out contradictions in testimonies. Meanwhile, star prosecutors do their best to drum up evidence and witnesses of their own in an effort to put Phoenix's clients behind bars. This new anthology includes an improved visual presentation, as well as the original Japanese version of the game.
Is it any good?
Aside from spruced-up graphics, there's nothing too surprising to be found in this collection of text-driven games, the oldest of which dates back to 2005 (or 2001 in the series' native Japan). The characters and storytelling still have that distinctive Japanese flavor that most Western players either quickly or never warm to, and legal cases play out the same way they always have. That limits this game's appeal to older players who've already worked through them and those who grow easily frustrated with the trial-and-error nature of these games' courtroom conversations.
But it could prove a delight for older tweens and teens who were too young to have played the original Phoenix Wright games when they first arrived. The courtroom battles remain dramatic and interesting, and methods that Phoenix comes up with to prove his cases remain as clever and satisfying as they ever were -- as long as you don't mind indulging the shenanigans he often gets away with, such as surprise witnesses and unexpected physical evidence. Still, there's no denying that the series remains an island of intellect in a sea of games that continue to rely primarily on combat and violence to solve protagonists' problems. Plus, the chance to get three games for the price of one is enticing.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the impact of violence in games. Is the impact of murder lessened here because it's presented in cartoon form? How did these criminal mysteries make you feel as you unraveled them? Did you see similarities with crimes in the real world?
Do you think Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney accurately represents the job of lawyers? Do you think you might have what it takes to be an attorney? What makes being a lawyer seem fun? What doesn’t appeal to you?
- Platforms: Nintendo 3DS
- Subjects: Language & Reading: reading, reading comprehension, text analysis
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: analyzing evidence, asking questions, deduction, thinking critically
- Price: $29.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Capcom
- Release date: December 9, 2014
- Genre: Adventure
- Topics: Great Boy Role Models
- ESRB rating: T for Violence, Blood, Suggestive Themes, Use of Tobacco
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.