Chronicles of The Great Ace Attorney on Switch
The Ace Attorney series has become a household name in the visual novel genre at this point; Regardless of whether you’ve played them yourself, chances are you’re at least somewhat familiar with their iconic lines and idiosyncrasies. His characters bang on the desk when they have something to do, and point an unsuspecting finger at their opponent and yell “Objection!” when it’s time for a debate.
Phoenix Wright and Miles Edgeworth have become icons in their own right within the video game world, so it was nothing short of surprising when Capcom announced a few years ago that they were making a new Ace Attorney game set in a completely new time period. different with an entirely new cast of characters.
The Great Ace Attorney is a period piece set in 19th century Japan, with Phoenix’s own ancestor as the main protagonist. It’s a sharp turn to the left for the series, one that left me skeptical when it was first announced, but this game duology manages to retain the essence of Ace Attorney as it boldly moves into new territory. He’s so confident, self-assured, and more importantly, the story knows where it wants to go, resulting in one of the strongest story arcs we’ve seen on the series.
Players take control of Ryunosuke Naruhodo, a university student in Japan who decides to continue studying law after being caught in a murder case in which he is nearly found guilty of the crime. After that initial setup, he embarks on a field trip to Britain to learn more about its judicial system with his close friend Kazuma.
Ryunosuke is accompanied by Susato, his judicial assistant, and has frequent run-ins with a famous English detective Herlock Sholmes, who is by no means a reference to another famous detective in the media. The structure of the game is what you would expect from a typical Ace Attorney game; the story is divided into a few chapters, you will carry out an investigation, collect evidence and then present it in court to try to acquit the accused.
However, The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles tries to counter this trend by experimenting with a new mechanic, and both games are stronger for it.
As someone who has become so used to the investigation-trial structure of games, I was surprised to find a very small handful of chapters that did not include official court trials. A chapter early in the first game takes place entirely on a steamboat, where Ryunosuke and Susato are forced to get to the bottom of a murder in a short amount of time, using all the resources and information they can find on the ship.
To keep things fresh and prevent you from trying to click on things and read about them, The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles introduces a new investigation mechanic: the Dance of Deduction.
Sholmes is an incredibly observant detective who can make inferences simply by observing a person and studying their behavior. After doing so, he presents his deductions and theories, but he will soon discover that while he is capable of largely identifying each time a person is caught in a lie, his theories are often misplaced, and it is up to Ryunosuke to guide him. on the correct deduction.
After Sholmes presents his theories, you will have the opportunity to go over his thought process one more time and correct course as necessary. This involves studying the witness from all angles, finding crucial evidence that contradicts what they said, and making a new deduction based on that. All of this is coupled with thrilling detective music as Sholmes and Ryunosuke turn, snap their fingers, and cast omniscient glances at their witnesses as a dramatic spotlight from the stage shines upon them.
This is undoubtedly one of the greatest delights of the game. In truth, there is nothing more entertaining than watching these two himbos go around smugly when they know they have caught their witness in a lie. It’s silly, over-the-top fun that fits the tone of the show perfectly, and it never failed to make me smile.
That is not to say that the official courtroom stuff is not good; While Edgeworth will always stand out as the best prosecutor the series has ever seen, Great Ace Attorney’s Lord van Zieks is also not far behind. In fact, van Zieks embodies all the arrogance and conceit that we see in Edgeworth and takes it to another level.
He is utterly relentless when it comes to shutting down Ryunosuke’s arguments, finishing it off with immaculate animations of him pouring and spinning a glass of wine before crushing it in his hand in a fit of rage. The animations are all on point in this duology, adding a lot of flavor to each individual character.
Trials in the courtroom also introduce a jury system, which throws a key into the already difficult cases that Ryunosuke is forced to solve. Every trial in Britain has six jurors, all of whom can tip toward a guilty verdict if you keep pressuring witnesses during questioning and don’t get any useful information. If the jury decides that the defendant is guilty, you will be able to take a summary examination in which you will have the opportunity to change the opinion of the jurors.
The summary examination works quite similarly to cross-examination in that it must point out inconsistencies or contradictions between the statements of two jurors and then confront each other. Put enough doubts about your trial and you can convince the jury to change their position and prolong the trial. While this breaks the predictable structure of a test, the sum tests can sometimes feel like filler and generally don’t really add anything meaningful to the game other than throwing another hurdle in Ryunosuke’s path to make things more difficult and more complicated. outside. However, at least all the jurors come with unique animations. They are always fun to watch.
But of course, it’s not just trials and investigations that players look for in an Ace Attorney game; history matters too. And in that department, The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles really shines.
Since both games take place mainly in Great Britain, Ryunosuke and Susato immediately feel like fish out of water. Having lived in Japan all his life, visiting Britain in its Victorian days feels awe-inspiring, and a sense of intimidation permeates all games, even in the designs of various characters like van Zieks and Lord Stronghart.
Perhaps most surprising, however, was the fact that the games continued to draw attention to our main protagonists as outsiders. The first game establishes that Japan and Great Britain have just entered into a new alliance, and the English characters never stop beating up our protagonists or at least pointing out their ‘otherness’ in one way or another.
Some characters don’t even bother to hide their arrogance and openly state that Japanese people are still backward and uneducated compared to Westerners. I certainly didn’t expect to experience that kind of xenophobia in an Ace Attorney game, of all things, but the game manages to avoid stepping on awkward territory and instead uses Ryunosuke and Susato’s otherness to establish a poignant sense of camaraderie. in which you will feel committed over time.
Throughout the games, the idea of Eastern versus Western feelings is brought up over and over again, before finally reaching a harmonious conclusion in which the characters learn that the two can peacefully coexist. This theme serves as a common thread for all the cases in The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles, creating an overall story that feels well written and well thought out.
In a series that’s known for filler cases that don’t really matter, this is The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles’ greatest strength. In most games, only the first and last cases really have any narrative impact, but in this duology, they all serve to complete the big picture. There are less important cases, yes, but none of them really feel like filler or filler, and that’s an impressive feat for a couple of very long games.
The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles may just be a departure from the main series exploring a whimsical time period with the opportunity to experiment with different ideas, but in the end, I found myself completely and utterly attached to its cast of characters. The chemistry between the main characters is electric, and pacing issues aside, there’s no denying the storytelling strength of both games as a complete package. Even with the absence of Phoenix Wright, The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles is a bold step forward for the series and a crystallization of what makes it so special.
Reviewer: Zhiqing Wan | Grant: Editor’s pick | Copy provided by the publisher.
- The new characters are adorable and have great chemistry.
- No filler cases. As a result, the story feels well written.
- Dance of Deduction should be in every Ace Attorney game from now on.
- Character animations add an overall touch to the game.
- The jury system can feel like filler at times.
July 27, 2021
PS4, switch, PC