Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney − Trials and Tribulations (JP) is a visual novel adventure video game developed and published by Capcom and is the third installment in the Ace Attorney series. It was originally released for the Game Boy Advance in Japan, including a Nintendo DS version that was released Japan, North America, and Europe.
One episode is available to play at the start; when the player finishes the episode, another one is unlocked. The episodes are split into chapters, which are made up of investigations and courtroom sessions. During investigation sections, the player attempts to find evidence for use in the courtroom sessions; then the game moves to the next chapter within the episode when the player has collected enough evidence.
The player can makes actions with four different options: "examine", which lets them move a cursor over the environment and examine items; "move", which displays a menu with locations the player can move to; talk, which shows a list of topics the player can discuss with witnesses within the area; and "present", which lets the player show evidence or character profiles to a witness.
By showing the witness a magatama, the player is then able to see the secret they are hiding 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. A life bar, representing the judge's patience, is shown in the upper right corner of the screen. Each time the player presents false evidence or profiles, the bar will decrease; if it reaches zero, the player loses and their client is declared guilty.
Phoenix Wright, a young university student is charged with the murder of his classmate Doug Swallow. Mia, posing as his lawyer, exposes one of the prosecution's witnesses. Phoenix's girlfriend Dahlia Hawthorne, as the true murderer, revealing that she took advantage of Phoenix to conceal evidence tying her to the poisoning case of Mia's former partner Diego Armando and then planned to murder him as well. Due to her actions, Dahlia is arrested and sentenced to death.
Threee months later, Phoenix fails to defend a former client, Maggey Byrde, against accusations that she poisoned a well-talented programmer, Glen Elg. Phoenix later finds out that Elg was creating a computer virus on behalf of loan shark Furio Tigre, and that Tigre, needing money to repay a large debt. With no conclusive evidence, Phoenix manages to get Tigre arrested by making him say something only the real killer would know.
Phoenix reviewing Mia's first case five years earlier, in which she and Armando teamed up to defend a death row inmate Terry Fawles, who was under suspicion of killing a policewoman Valerie Hawthorne during an escape attempt. Mia laters discovers the truth, when Years earlier; Terry, Valerie, and her younger sister Dahlia faked a kidnapping to steal a large jewel from her family, leaving Terry to be accused of murder based on Valerie's testimony. Terry later kills himself by swallowing poison, forcing a mistrial and freeing Dahlia. After finding out that Armando was been investigating her further, Dahlia also poisoned him and gave the bottle to Phoenix, ensuring that they would both meet up again with Mia.
Phoenix visits a mountain retreat with Maya and Pearl when a fellow guest, Elise Deauxnim, is killed. When Phoenix returns, he explains that Elise is really Maya'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.
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 for 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, ended up falling in love with him. Reuniting with his friends, Phoenix celebrates finally being free of his past.
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.
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, 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.
Trials and Tribulations has received a score of 81/100 based on 45 reviews from Metacritic; meanwhile, the Wii version received a Metacritic score of 67/100 based on 9 reviews, indicating mixed or average reviews. Critics appreciated the more connected plot and great humor in the dialogue and overall writing
- Hideki Kamiya, best known as the game director of Devil May Cry, voiced Godot in the Japanese version of Trials and Tribulations.
Ace Attorney series Main Games Phoenix Wright • Justice For All • Trials & Tribulations • Apollo Justice • Dual Destinies • Spirit of Justice • Trilogy Spin-offs Ace Attorney Investigations • Ace Attorney Investigations 2 • Professor Layton Vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney • Dai Gyakuten Saiban • Dai Gyakuten Saiban 2