The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles on Switch
The Ace Attorney series has become a household name in the visual novel genre at this point; Whether you’ve played them yourself or not, chances are you are at least somewhat familiar with its iconic lines and idiosyncrasies. Its characters slam the desk when they have a point to make, and they point a confident finger at their opponent and shout “Objection!” When the time comes for a debate.
Phoenix Wright and Miles Edgeworth have become icons in their own right in the video game world, so it was nothing short of surprising when Capcom announced a few years ago that they were creating a new Ace Attorney game set in a completely different time with a whole new cast of characters.
The Great Ace Attorney is a period play set in 19th-century Japan, featuring Phoenix’s ancestor as the main protagonist. It’s a sharp left turn for the series – which left me skeptical when it was first announced – but this gaming duology manages to retain the essence of Ace Attorney while boldly stepping into new territory. It’s so confident, self-assured, and most importantly, the story knows where it wants to go, resulting in one of the strongest story arcs we’ve ever seen in the series.
The players take control of Ryunosuke Naruhodo, a university student in Japan who decides to pursue a law school after being caught in a murder case where he was almost convicted of the crime. After this initial setup, he leaves for Britain on a study trip to learn more about their legal system with his close friend Kazuma.
Ryunosuke is accompanied by Susato, his legal assistant, and has frequent run-ins with famous English detective Herlock Sholmes, who is absolutely not a reference to another famous detective in the mainstream media. The structure of the game is in line with what you would expect from your typical Ace Attorney game; the story is divided into a few chapters, you will conduct an investigation, collect evidence, and then present it in a trial to try to acquit the accused.
However, The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles is trying to counter this trend by experimenting with a new mechanic, and both games are stronger for it.
As someone who got so used to the games’ investigative and trial structure, I was surprised to find a very small handful of chapters that did not involve any formal courtroom trials at all. . A chapter at the start of 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 period of time, using whatever resources and information they can find. on the ship.
To keep things fresh and not just a matter of clicking on things and reading about them, The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles introduces a new investigative mechanic: the dance of deduction.
Sholmes is an incredibly observant sleuth who can make inferences just by observing a person and studying their behavior. After that, he then presents his deductions and theories, but you will soon find that while he is largely able to determine whenever a person is caught in a lie, his theories are often wrong and it is to Ryunosuke to guide him. in the correct deduction.
Once Sholmes has presented his theories, you will then have the opportunity to review his thought process and correct the course if necessary. It involves studying the witness from all angles, finding one crucial piece of evidence that contradicts everything he said, and making a new inference on that basis. It all ties into some gripping detective music as Sholmes and Ryunosuke circle around, snapping their fingers and throwing omniscient glances at their witnesses when a dramatic stage spotlight shines on them.
This is easily one of the greatest delights in the game. Truly, there is nothing more fun than watching these two himbos twirl smugly when they know they have caught their witness having fun. lie. It’s silly, over the top fun that fits the tone of the show perfectly, and it has never failed to put a smile on my face.
That’s not to say the official courtroom stuff isn’t great; While Edgeworth will always stand out as the best prosecutor the series has ever seen, Lord van Zieks of Great Ace Attorney is no slouch either. In fact, van Zieks embodies all the arrogance and smugness we see in Edgeworth and takes them to another level.
He’s absolutely relentless when it comes to silencing Ryunosuke’s arguments, and he tops it off with immaculate animations of him pouring and swirling 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.
Courtroom trials also introduce a jury system, which throws a wrench into the already difficult cases Ryunosuke is forced to resolve. Every trial in Britain has six jurors, all of whom can tip towards a guilty verdict if you continue to pressure witnesses during cross-examination and fail to find useful information. If the jury decides the accused is guilty, you can take a summons exam where you have a chance to change the jury’s mind.
The summons review works quite similar to cross-examination in that it involves identifying any inconsistencies or contradictions between the statements of two jurors and then opposing them. Cast enough doubt on their judgment and you can convince the jury to change their position and prolong the trial. While this breaks the predictable structure of a trial, summons exams can feel like padding at times and overall they don’t add anything meaningful to the game other than throwing another hurdle in Ryunosuke’s path. to make things more difficult and more drawn. outside. At least the jurors all come with unique animations, though. These are always fun to watch.
But of course, it’s not just lawsuits and investigations that gamers look for in an Ace Attorney game; history matters too. And in this department, The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles really shines.
With both games being largely set in Britain, Ryunosuke and Susato immediately feel like fish out of water. Having lived in Japan their entire life, visiting Britain during the Victorian era seems imposing, and a sense of intimidation permeates throughout the games, even in the designs of various characters like van Zieks and Lord Stronghart.
Perhaps the most surprising thing, however, was the fact that the games kept drawing attention to our main protagonists being aliens. The first game establishes that Japan and Britain have just entered into a new alliance, and the English characters never fail to pique our protagonists or at least emphasize 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 feel that kind of xenophobia in an Ace Attorney game, but the game manages to avoid stepping into uncomfortable territory and instead uses Ryunosuke and Susato’s otherness to establish a heartwarming sense of camaraderie in which you will feel invested over time.
Throughout the games, the idea of eastern feelings versus western feelings is brought up over and over again, before finally reaching a harmonious conclusion where the characters learn that the two can indeed coexist peacefully. This theme serves as a common thread through all cases of The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles, creating an overall story that feels well written and well thought out.
In a series known for its filler stuff that doesn’t really matter, this is The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles’ greatest strength. In most games, only the first and last cases really have a 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 look like padding or padding, and that’s an impressive feat for a few really long games.
The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles might just be a departure from the main series which explores a fantasy period with the possibility of experimenting with different ideas, but in the end I found myself completely and utterly committed to its cast of characters. The chemistry between the main characters is electric, and pacing issues aside, there’s no denying the narrative strength of both games as a complete package. Even in 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.
- The new characters are adorable and have great chemistry.
- No filling boxes. The story therefore seems well written.
- Deduction dancing should now be a part of all Ace Attorney games.
- Character animations add an overall flavor to the game.
- The jury system can sometimes feel like it’s stuffed.