The first Phoenix Wright was a pleasant surprise, a bizarre, over the top and humourous combination of courtroom drama and classic murder mystery in manga/anime style. Given its originality, it was always going to be difficult to top, seemingly proved by the disappointing sequel (Justice For All).
However, Trials and Tribulations is a brilliant return to form for the series, answering nearly every criticism that I had of the second game. The cases shake things up a little instead of relying on some of the same old situations and the over-reliance on returning characters is jettisoned, reinjecting some of the whodunnit mystery. The Mask de Masque case was particularly enjoyable, as was the thread flowing through the various cases.
However, the downside is that the gameplay doesn't move on a great deal. There aren't any new features and the puzzles still amount to clicking on everything during the investigation phase and then presenting the correct piece of evidence at the right time, although the logic of presenting evidence here is mostly stronger than the previous two games. However, the game is really all about the reading, the humour, the characters and the mystery. Trials and Tribulations is tightly plotted, contains some of the series' most memorable characters and is a hoot, packing a huge amount of entertainment into one DS cartridge.