Phoenix Wright Trials & Tribulations / Gyakuten Saiban 3
Adventure - Nintendo DS
Battery Backup - 1 save, 1 quicksave
The third game in the series is also the best yet. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed with the 2nd game. But this one not only ties up the overall storyline, it also has the best individual cases too.
There are no surprises in terms of gameplay. No new mechanics are introduced here, but you get the psyche-locks and the ability to present people's profiles as evidence from the previous game. The writing is also no surprise, with an interesting script and references to pop culture.
But there are a few differences from Justice for All. For one thing, pacing is much tighter. Justice for All had very long courtroom and investigation sequences that dragged out for all three court dates. In Trials & Tribulations, there are short trials, medium length ones and a long one. The variation is a much needed improvement because the monotony of the second game made it easy to get bored. Also, the cases in this third game are less out there and more in line with real criminal cases. And luckily, this one sports an awesome soundtrack composed by Iwadare Noriyuki of Lunar/Grandia/Growlanser fame. It doesn't have the same catchiness as the first game, but it's probably the most listenable soundtrack of the three.
One thing about the series that shines is the cast, and this one's no different. People from both previous games make appearances here. New ones introduced in Trials & Tribulations are just as memorable, if not more so. In particular, one of the characters is so evil that you couldn't forget even if you wanted to.
But for all I liked about this third outing, the last case left a bad taste in my mouth. Most people feel that the last case of this game is the best in the series. Without treading into spoiler territory, I found it to be the most contrived case of all, with a lot of unnecessary connections, overuse of certain members of the cast, and twists that are very hard to believe. It felt like a forced conclusion to everything, and is the opposite of everything I loved about Case 4, which is definitely my pick of the series.
Nevertheless, the game as a whole exceeds all expectations and is a necessary addition to anyone who has been following the series, or even those who were numbed by the 2nd game. Gyakuten Saiban 4 has a new cast for the most part, so it will be interesting to see what direction the series takes. At the very least, the DS-only features should make the cases more interactive than they have been. I'm looking forward to it.