Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney − Trials and Tribulations, known as Gyakuten Saiban 3 in Japan, is a visual novel adventure video game developed and published by Capcom. It was originally released for the Game Boy Advance in 2004 in Japan, and has since been released for several platforms, including a Nintendo DS version that was released in 2007 in Japan and North America and in 2008 in Europe. It is the third game in the Ace Attorney series.
The story follows defense attorneys Phoenix Wright and Mia Fey, who defend their clients in five episodes. Among other characters are Phoenix's assistant and Mia's sister Maya Fey, her cousin Pearl, and prosecutor Godot. The gameplay is split into courtroom sections, where the player cross-examines witnesses and tries to discover contradictions in their testimonies, and investigations, where they gather evidence and talk to witnesses.
The game was re-released as part of the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy game for the 3DS in 2014.
Trials and Tribulations is a visual novel adventure game in which the player takes the roles of Phoenix Wright and Mia Fey, defense attorneys who defend their clients in five different episodes. The gameplay remains unchanged from Justice for All, the previous title in the series.
From the start, only one episode is available to play; when the player completes an episode, a new one is unlocked. The episodes are divided into chapters, which consist of investigations and courtroom sessions. During investigation sections, the player aims to find evidence for use in the courtroom sessions; the game moves on to the next chapter within the episode when the player has gathered enough evidence. The player moves and performs actions through a menu with four options: "examine", which lets them move a cursor over the environment and examine items; "move", which shows a menu with locations the player can move to; talk, which shows a list of topics the player can discuss with witnesses in the area; and present, which lets the player show evidence or character profiles to a witness. Some witnesses do not want to discuss certain subjects, leading to a lock symbol appearing over the subject. By showing the witness a magatama, the player is able to see the secret they are trying to hide in the form of locks, called a "Psyche-Lock"; by presenting correct evidence or character profiles, the player can break the locks and be able to discuss the subject.
During the courtroom sections, the player defends their client and cross-examines the witnesses. They can move back and forth between the statements in each testimony; if they find a contradiction between a statement and the evidence, they can point out the contradiction by presenting a relevant piece of evidence or character profile. The player can also choose to question a statement, which sometimes leads to changes in the testimony. A life bar, representing the judge's patience, is shown in the upper right corner of the screen. If the player presents incorrect evidence or profiles, the bar will decrease; if it reaches zero, the player loses and their client is declared guilty. The bar will also decrease if the player makes mistakes while trying to break psyche-locks; however, the player can not lose while trying to break psyche-locks. 50% of the life bar gets restored when the player manages to break a psyche-lock, and it gets fully restored when the player completes an episode.
- Phoenix Wright
- Miles Edgeworth
- Dick Gumshoe
- Maya Fey
- Pearl Fey
- Franziska von Karma
- Mia Fey
- The judge
- Dahlia Hawthorne - Wright's former girlfriend.
- Winston Payne - a smug prosecutor who starts his cases with the upper hand on his side, but easily falls once a hole is blown.
Episode 1: Turnabout Memories - Mia Fey's second case as a defense attorney, in which she defends Phoenix, a University student at that time, for the death of another student. The prosecutor for this case is Winston Payne.
Episode 2: The Stolen Turnabout - Phoenix defends Ron DeLite, accused of being a famous thief, and later for the murder of Kane Bullard, the CEO of KB Security. It is also in this case where Phoenix meets Godot, who is the prosecutor, for the first time.
Episode 3: Recipe for Turnabout - Phoenix defends Maggey Byrde once more, this time for the murder of a client at the restaurant where she works. Prosecutor for the case is Godot, but Payne was the prosecutor for the trial that occured on the month before.
Episode 4: Turnabout Beginnings - Phoenix looks up a file that follows Mia Fey's first case, in which she faces Miles Edgeworth in his first case as prosecutor. It is chronologically the earliest playable case in the series. Terry Fawles spends five years in prison for the murder of a woman who faked her own death. Mia Fey defends Terry Fawles for being accused of Valerie Hawthorne's death after escaping from prison. Diego Armando is also present her as Mia Fey's partner in court.
Episode 5: Bridge to the Turnabout - Miles Edgeworth and Phoenix defend the mysterious nun, Iris, for the death of the enigmatic Elise Deauxnim, a children's picture book author. Prosecutor for the case is Franziska von Karma on the first day, then Godot on the second.
Six years before the events of the game, Phoenix Wright, then a young university student, is charged with the murder of his classmate Doug Swallow. Mia Fey, acting as his lawyer, exposes one of the prosecution's witnesses, Phoenix's girlfriend Dahlia Hawthorne, as the real murderer, revealing that she used Phoenix to hide evidence tying her to the poisoning case of Mia's former partner Diego Armando and then planned to kill him as well. For her efforts, Dahlia is arrested, convicted, and sentenced to death. Out of gratitude, Phoenix tells Mia that her defense of him inspired him to switch majors and to study to become an attorney, wanting to seek out an old friend of his.
Several years later, in the present, Phoenix, representing alleged thief Ron DeLite in court, faces off against rookie prosecutor, Godot. Though Phoenix is able to get Ron acquitted, he is subsequently arrested for the murder of his former boss Kane Bullard, based on evidence Phoenix presented in his defense. At the very last second, he manages to identify Luke Atmey, a corrupt private investigator standing trial for theft, as the true culprit, having realized that Atmey framed Ron so he could use double jeopardy to escape punishment.
A few months later, Phoenix's reputation takes a hit when it is said that he failed to properly defend a former client, Maggey Byrde, against accusations that she poisoned a talented programmer, Glen Elg. Convinced that someone impersonated him, Phoenix secures a retrial and conducts his own investigation. He discovers that Elg was developing a computer virus on behalf of loan shark Furio Tigre, and that Tigre, needing money to repay a large debt, killed him to steal it, then arranged for Maggey to take the fall. With no conclusive evidence, Phoenix manages to get Tigre arrested by making him say something only the real killer would know.
The fourth case takes place during the beginning of the fifth, with an injured Phoenix reviewing Mia's first case five years earlier, in which she and Armando worked to defend death row inmate Terry Fawles, who was under suspicion of murdering policewoman Valerie Hawthorne during an escape attempt. Mia's persistence pays off when she learns the truth: Years earlier, Terry, Valerie, and her younger sister Dahlia staged a kidnapping to steal a large jewel from her family. Dahlia then faked her death, leaving Terry to be convicted of murder based on Valerie's testimony. Terry had escaped in the hopes of learning the truth, but unbeknownst to him, Dahlia had already killed Valerie and planted the body in his car. Before judgement can be passed, Terry commits suicide by swallowing poison, forcing a mistrial and freeing Dahlia. After learning that Armando had been investigating her further, Dahlia also poisoned him and gave the bottle to Phoenix, ensuring that they would both cross paths with Mia.
In the fifth and final case, Phoenix is visiting a mountain retreat with his assistants Maya and Pearl when a fellow guest, Elise Deauxnim, is murdered. While looking for Maya, he falls into a river and becomes ill, forcing Miles Edgeworth and Franziska to temporarily fill in as attorney and prosecutor respectivly to keep his client, a nun named Iris, from being found guilty. When Phoenix returns, he explains that Elise is really Maya and Mia's long-lost mother, Misty Fey, and that her death was the result of a plan engineered by her sister Morgan to kill Maya with the help of the now deceased Dahlia, who turns out to be Iris's twin sister. Through cross-examination, Phoenix reveals that not only is Dahlia impersonating Iris, she is using Maya's body to do so. With Mia's help, Dahlia is exorcised from Maya and Iris is declared innocent. Godot is revealed as the one responsible for killing Misty to protect Maya, leading to the discovery of his true identity: Diego Armando. Having spent many years blaming Phoenix for Mia's death, he sought revenge, but concedes that Phoenix has done more to continue her legacy than him. Iris also reveals that she posed as Dahlia while Phoenix was attending college to protect him, and ended up falling in love with him, and that she regrets her failure to stop her sister from becoming a criminal. Reuniting with his friends, Phoenix celebrates finally being free of his past.
Trials and Tribulations was written and directed by Shu Takumi, with art by Tatsuro Iwamoto and music by Noriyuki Iwadare. After development of the original Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney was finished, Takumi's boss, Shinji Mikami, told him that they should make an Ace Attorney trilogy, with a grand finale in the third game's last case. As Takumi wanted the three first Ace Attorney games to be parts of a larger work, he avoided making a lot of changes: art for main characters such as Phoenix, Maya and Edgeworth was reused from the first game, to avoid having the previous games look outdated in comparison to newer games in the series; and no new gameplay mechanics were added for Trials and Tribulations, as Takumi was happy with the gameplay after having added the psyche-lock mechanic for Justice for All. He wanted the series to end with Trials and Tribulations, as he had explored Phoenix's character fully and wanted to avoid the series becoming "a shadow of its former self", saying that he thinks it is important to know when to end a story.
Because the dialogue-integrated tutorial in the first game had been well received, it was considered a major point for future games in the series. In the first game, Takumi had Phoenix being guided through his first trial by the judge and Mia, and for the second game, he had Phoenix suffer from amnesia; when writing the third game, Takumi did not know what to do, as it would not seem credible if Phoenix had amnesia a second time. Eventually he came up with the idea of using a flashback to a case where Mia had just become an attorney; he developed this idea further, and ended up using flashbacks as a major theme for the game's story. He decided that he wanted to include a case where Mia faces off against Edgeworth back when he was a rookie prosecutor, but encountered a problem: both characters had previously been established as never having lost a single case. Trying to come up with a way for a case in the past to work with neither of them winning or losing, he came up with the story for Terry Fawles, who dies during the trial. The game's main theme was "not everything is always what it seems on the surface".
As Edgeworth had been a popular character ever since start of the series, Takumi found it difficult to come up with a way to bring him back without having him, a supposedly great prosecutor, always lose to Phoenix. While he was writing the story for the game's final case, he thought of the idea to have Edgeworth become a player character; he liked this idea so much that he immediately started to rewrite the case. In order to allow Edgeworth to be the player character, the first thing he did was to "get rid of" Phoenix by having him fall from a bridge into an icy river. He enjoyed writing from another character's perspective, who thought differently from Phoenix; he also used the case to explore the relationship between Edgeworth and Gumshoe. One of the game's episodes had originally been written for Justice for All: it had been intended as the fourth episode of Justice for All, but was cut due to memory limiations, and ended up being reused as the third episode of Trials and Tribulations. In addition, Takumi had originally wanted to use the outline of the last episode of Justice For All as the basis for the final episode of Trials and Tribulations. He felt that the theme of "What are lawyers really supposed to protect?" would’ve made for a good story to end the series on.
Hardware limitations and art direction
The development team had troubles fitting the entire game on a single Game Boy Advance cartridge: while they had the same amount of memory available as when they made the first Ace Attorney game, Trials and Tribulations was 2.3 times as large content-wise. To accomplish this, they made use of "tricks and workarounds" they had figured out since working on the first game: for instance, they worked to create better structures for storing data efficiently, better compression of the graphical data, and good sounds that only use little data. Takumi found these constraints fun, as it was a chance to improve the team's abilities and a source of inspiration for doing as much as possible within the memory limitations. They still ended up having to cut or change several features: along with the art of the younger Mia, Phoenix and Edgeworth in the flashback episodes, they had planned to have new art assets for a younger Gumshoe, with his tie tied tightly and with only one hair spike, but had to settle for giving him a new coat. The character Oldbag from the first game was first cut, then included as a cameo at the end when they realized that they had just enough space for her; Takumi wanted to have her wear a lei as she would have just come back from a Hawaii trip, but was unable to due to memory limitations. Due to miscalculations of the game asset size, they had to make the character Bikini shorter in order to save some memory.
After all text was written, the development team decided which scenes should have illustrations made for them; Takumi drew rough sketches of these. He also drew the storyboards for the episodes' openings. While episode openings in previous Ace Attorney games consisted of series of illustrations, the development team decided to change to make use of a "more animated and dramatic presentation" in Trials and Tribulations: by using moving graphics on top of still images, they were still able to limit the amount of data used. The first opening they did was for episode 2; it used animation a lot, and was liked by the development team, inspiring Takumi to make even better openings for the rest of the episodes and leading the team to think of movie effects that could be used. For one opening, they gave it a "vintage movie feel": by setting the color palette to monochrome, they were able to limit the color data
The character Grossberg's design was changed for Trials and Tribulations, with his brown suit changed to a red one: this was because the Game Boy Advance system's screen made his previous design blend in too much with the brown courtroom. Iwamoto based the design of Godot on Rutger Hauer's role in Blade Runner. He was originally going to be depicted as drinking bourbon whiskey and smoking, as part of his "hard-boiled" image; when the development team realized that this could have a bad influence on children, they made him drink coffee instead. As Takumi and Hideki Kamiya had joined Capcom around the same time and had desks near each other, Kamiya had asked Takumi for a voice role ever since the development of Justice for All; eventually, Takumi gave him the role of Godot. Takumi explained the role as a hard-boiled guy, so Kamiya decided to adapt the dialogue and shout "Objection, baby!". Takumi said that it was a good take, but that the in-game graphics just say "Objection!", so it could not be used.
The localization of Trials and Tribulations was directed by Janet Hsu, with editing help from fellow localization director Andrew Alfonso. They changed several character names for the localization: Dahlia Hawthorne's English name came from the X Japan 1996 album Dahlia, which Hsu was listening to at the time of the localization, as well as the short story "Rappaccini's Daughter". Her nickname, Dollie, was a reference to an attempted fan translation of Trials and Tribulations, in which she was named Dolly. Among the initial ideas for Diego Armando's name were Joseph Cuppa, Xavier Barstucks, and William Havamug. Luke Atmey's catchphrase, rendered as "Zuvari" (ズヴァリ) in the Japanese version, was going to be changed to "Schwing!" at one point; Hsu eventually changed it to "Zvarri!", as she found it "catchy and eccentric like Atmey himself". Because Alfonso, who is from Canada, wanted to "show his Maple Pride", it was decided to make the judge's brother a Canadian.
The localization team faced some issues when localizing the character Jean Armstrong: in the Japanese version, he is portrayed as an okama character, which at the time of the game's development was a general word for effeminate men, often implying homosexuality, but also used for biologically male persons who do drag or speak like women, regardless of their sexuality and gender, and even including trans women. Because of this, they only had a vague concept of "gay", and had to make it understandable for English-speaking players. Hsu looked through all information that is given about Jean in the game, and came to the conclusion that he is a gay cis man who likes to perform non-passing drag. Looking back at the game in 2014, Hsu said that she still thought Jean caused confusion due to the general public having a less informed and nuanced understanding of gender and sexuality at the time of the game's release.
One of the other challenges the team faced was with the word puzzle involving Pearl in the final episode. In the English version, she gets "gravely" and "(to) roast" mixed up with "gravy" and "(meat) roast", and thus she used the gravy for the pot roast that was served for dinner. The reason Hsu chose to go with “gravy” for the word play was because the team couldn’t change the color of the sauce, so they had to pick a brown sauce and go from there. Hsu also searched for phrasings that would work with things like steak sauce and onion soup.Cite error: The opening
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The game was originally released for the Game Boy Advance on January 23, 2004 in Japan; a Microsoft Windows version followed on March 31, 2006, also in Japan. A Nintendo DS version was released on August 23, 2007 in Japan, on October 23, 2007 in North America, and on October 3, 2008 in Europe. It was released for the Wii via WiiWare on February 23, 2010 in Japan, on May 10, 2010 in North America, and on May 21, 2010 in Europe.
A high-definition version of the first three Ace Attorney games, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy HD, was released for iOS and Android in Japan on February 7, 2012, and for iOS in the West on May 30, 2013. Another collection of the first three games, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy, was released for the Nintendo 3DS in Japan on April 17, 2014, in North America on December 9, 2014, and in Europe on December 11, 2014. The collection was later released for PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One and Steam in 2019.
Trials and Tribulations has received generally favorable reviews, with reviewers liking the story, writing, character designs and music, but with some criticizing the lack of new gameplay mechanics as well as any DS-exclusive mechanics or extra episode like the first installment have. Additionally, the Wii version was criticized for using resized graphics from the Nintendo DS version, without any modifications to make them appear better on a larger screen. The Nintendo DS version was a commercial success in North America, with pre-orders being more than double the amount Capcom had estimated.
- The second episode, "The Stolen Turnabout", contains a self-reference early on; when Luke Atmey introduces himself as "Luke Atmey: Ace Detective", Phoenix Wright introduces himself as "Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney" (Maya also introduces herself as "Maya Fey: Ace Spirit Medium", while Pearl is an "Ace Apprentice"). This also marks the first time that Phoenix Wright is referred to as an Ace Attorney.
- The fourth episode, "Turnabout Beginnings", is the first one in the series to have no investigation gameplay, only a trial. The second one is "Turnabout Storyteller" in Spirit of Justice.
- Coincidentally, both cases are the fourth case in their respective games, both have a female protagonist, both take place in Courtroom No. 4, and in both Phoenix Wright lacks a major role.
- Capcom Unity: Shu Takumi's Trials and Tribulations
- Capcom Unity: Ace Attorney: Grave Wordplay Localizations and Their Gravy Consequences