Genre: Adventure, Visual Novel | Players: 1 | Developer: Capcom
Trials and Tribulations concludes the Phoenix Arc of the Ace Attorney series with aplomb and miles of grace to spare. In terms of gameplay, it is as similar to Justice For All as Silent Hill 2 is to Silent Hill 3. I.e., completely, functionally identical. It is worth noting that the introductory trial is actually part of the main storyline this time and the two stand-alone trials organically contain elements and themes present in that central narrative. They also house what are without question my two favorite one-off characters in the franchise. On top of all that, you actually get to play as two attorneys whose names aren’t Phoenix Wright, in three of the five(!) trials.
Because more of the Fey family’s story is presented in Justice than the first game, T&T works in a number of brief flashback-esque monologues about those events, throughout the proceedings. I have been told by a fellow Nut author—who has only played T&T—that this summarizing is effective and didn’t make him feel chided for not having experienced the other games. Good show.
Looking back on Justice For All from the finish line, this time, it’s clear that it derives its unique personality in the canon from a profound sense of tragedy. There’s nothing wrong with that. This game, however, is imbued with something outreaching of the humor to counterbalance the damage it wreaks upon its cast. There’s an almost shining aura of joy and life surrounding all involved, even the ancillary villain characters. For the central cast, redemption and release radiate beyond even the deepest shadows cast.
Trials and Tribulations simply feels like the most complete package of the trilogy in terms of presentation, content, and resolution. Like Final Fantasy VI, it exists in a space transcendent of its genre and overarching lineage of games. It is one of the most resoundingly successful, humanity-affirming pieces of fiction I have personally experienced and I unabashedly adore it.
Buyer's Guide: As usual, it was originally a Japanese GBA game that was ported to the DS, PC, and eventually the Wii (as WiiWare). It's also on iOS and the 3DS eShop.
5 Refreshingly Bitter Blends out of 5