Developed and Published By: Capcom Categories: Visual Novel Release Date: 07.27.21
Six years. Six long years for Capcom to hold hostage The Great Ace Attorney, which would be the most recent two games that original director to the series Shu Takumi would work on after the crossover Professor Layton vs. While that game too had it’s own long wait, the wait for The Great Ace Attorney seemed like torture. Admittedly, I did not like the direction the mainline Ace Attorney games we did get were going. People can complain about how the Switch is a port machine. But if this is how we’ll get two long Japan exclusive (region locked!) 3DS games, I’ll take it.
The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles is actually two games. The Great Ace Attorney Adventures and TGAA2: Resolve. It’s better to consider this one long game as opposed to two separate games in a series. A part 1 and part 2, if you will. While the games are still pun-tastic with names, it’s worth noting that it doesn’t shy away from the fact the games are in Japan like previous games.
ACE ATTORNEY ORIGINS
It’s nearing the end of the 19th Century, the Meiji and Victoria are blossoming, in addition to Japan-Great Britain relations. You play as the young Ryunosuke Naruhodo, ancestor to the series’ namesake, Phoenix Wright. In Japanese releases, his name is Ryuji Naruhodo. These two men are an awful alike, lovable dorks, but I find how Ryunosuke acts a little more appropriate. This is the pro of having a brand new character, you can have them act clueless and uninformed when it comes to the first, tutorial chapter. It should be noted that when the game takes place, the idea of the lawyers and judicial system is rather new. In games like Dual Destinies, Phoenix acting like a rookie, ESPECIALLY after his character development in Apollo Justice was terrible. It seemed just to give a reason to have their new character make him look bad.
This is no normal Ace Attorney however, it’s a bit of an international affair, with Ryunosuke going across the globe to Great Britain. Eventually meeting up with She-Herlock Sholmes and his adoptive daughter Iris Wats-Wilson. Like in every other Ace Attorney, the cast is absolutely wonderful. Their designs are great, their personalities are bombastic, and the first chapter prosecutor is definitely going to be familiar to fans of the series.
Without spoiling anything, don’t just approach cases like you would in modern times, so many modern advances simply don’t exist yet.
New and Improved
If you’ve played an Ace Attorney game, you’ll probably know how they work, if not, lets explain. For the most part, you have a visual novel, but you’ll also have courtroom segments and investigation segments. The courtroom segments are the most famous. You, a defense attorney need to find contradictions and use evidence to make the prosecution’s arguments fall apart. Returning from Professor Layton Vs. is the mechanic of having multiple witnesses at once. During this group cross examination, you might need to push one witness or interrupt if things seem fishy to get another to fess up.
Back after some time being absent, and more expanded is the jury system. This props up when you hit the second chapter, outside of Japan. Much like those wider cross examinations, you’ll need to find contradictions in the statements of the jury. The Jury ultimately can decide and win or a loss, so this is important.
Investigations have you looking around the area and talking to people, collecting evidence and learning more about the going-ons surrounding the looming trial. New is the “Dance of Deduction”. Consider this an examination of a person of interest from all angles. Sholmes will have deductions, but his logic is often a bit…off, at least in the context of the game. He knows what he’s talking about, but often in the wrong way.
Changes like this feel great to spice up a nearly 20 year old series. Instead of just swerving away to make a “new” game, it shakes up established mechanics, building and making them more than what the original games could do. The series is slow to really bring changes that are meaningful, but both of Shu Takumi’s recent releases Professor Layton Vs. and this game accomplish this.
Is It Really a Side Game?
As a whole, The Great Ace Attorney feels more like Shu Takumi making a mechanical sequel to Professor Layton Vs, his previous game at the time. The larger, multi-witness cross examination, the Great Britain feel. Both games have a rather similar look and feel. It says a whole lot about the artstyle of both games, since TGAA transfers VERY well to HD consoles from the 3DS. You could have told me this was naturally a game on Switch or PS4 and I’d very well believe you.
Another step up from previous games is the localization. Not that games before had poor localizations, but as mentioned earlier, they always tip toe around the Japanese origins. With The Great Ace Attorney there is no possible way they can, it’s story related. So this time, they don’t. Original surnames (unless it’s something related to a certain estate), on screen text is intact with subtitles for it, and there’s even dual audio for the voice acting the game occasionally has. A favorite part of the localization I noticed was rather early with the interrogation of a young English woman, her testimony is all in English. Something majority of the audience to the trial will not know, so it’s sloppy handwriting in text until translated.
ACE ATTORNEY IS BACK
My biggest issue with The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles is honestly how the text scrolls. By default, it’s rather slow, but if you choose the option to be able to skip text, you’ll often just accidentally skip over more text if you hold down the proceed button. This is a better time than ever to mention “Story Mode” however. This mode makes proceeding in the title automatic, as if you’re getting a book read to you. While there’s a auto mode just for text, Story will even solve all gameplay segments for you. On a personal level do not recommend story mode, as I like figuring out everything in the investigation or courtroom sessions. I can however see the value in this, for people playing Ace Attorney games purely for the writing.
As a package, The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles is a step above most games in the Ace Attorney series. Two games, lots of extra bonus content like a museum of art, music, and voices called the Exhibition. Short side stories that happen outside of the main story named Escapades and large collection of “Moving Picture” animations. If you’re starting up Resolve, you can even choose new outfits for your cast of characters, giving another culture’s look to the character, swapping Japan or Britain.
While the Ace Attorney series is always hitting it out of the park with music, it was at another level with Professor Layton Vs. TGAAC while not quite as good as that game has another stellar soundtrack. I’d love if Capcom USA released a Soundbox release for this series.
For an American, it feels great to finally play these games, especially with their own physical release, which would be THE FIRST since Professor Layton Vs, which was a Nintendo/Level 5 published game, not Capcom. Almost a decade ago. I’ve seen people call The Great Ace Attorney a Yakuza 0 moment for the franchise, where a prequel propels a series back into the public eye and mainstream. I pray this is the case. I want Capcom USA to take this series more seriously, I want Shu Takumi to continue directing games. Buy. This. Game.
Buy Now: $39.99
*Game Download Code graciously supplied for the purpose of review