Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release: July 27, 2021 (for Switch)
Price: $40 USD
The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles is a compilation of The Great Ace Attorney: Adventures and The Great Ace Attorney 2: Resolve in one bundle, localized into English for the first time. Also, everything has been remastered and upscaled into HD – these were previously 3DS Japan-only games. Unlike other games in the Ace Attorney series, this game takes place in the setting of Victorian England and Meiji-era Japan at the turn of the 20th century (around the year 1900 or so).
Plot: The main character of these two games is Ryunosuke Naruhodo, a student at Imperial Yumei University and an ancestor of Phoenix Wright (who is featured on most Ace Attorney games). Your best friend and promising lawyer Kazuma Asogi is found dead on the ship that you were to accompany him to England with, and you have to take his place solving many mysterious cases in England. Alongside you is judicial assistant Susato Mikotoba and detective Herlock Sholmes, as well as his adoptive daughter Iris Wilson, who help you solve cases and find clues. The two games are essentially two halves of one game, as the second game continues right from where the first one leaves off. Both games have a variety of interesting cases to solve, which gradually become entwined with each other, leading to a grand conspiracy and payoff at the end of the second game.
Gameplay: This is an investigative visual novel, meaning in addition to reading text, there are places to investigate and find clues before a trial and people to interrogate. During the trial, you are required to use the clues you found to show to witnesses or to expose a contradiction in their statements. You can press witnesses to help expose lies or further their statements. In addition there is the Dance of Deduction and Summation Examinations. During certain investigations, Herlock Sholmes will perform a “Logic and Reasoning Spectacular”, in which he will come up with a flawed theory based on observations of the scene and the behavior of witnesses. You will then have to examine the scene and witnesses carefully in order to correct Herlock’s mistakes and reach a more logical conclusion. Summation Examinations take place during trials in which the jury, an aspect of trials in England, will unanimously decide on a guilty verdict. At these points, you have to convince a majority of the jury to change their verdict so that the trial may proceed. You accomplish this by comparing statements from two different jurors that contradict or otherwise prove strongly relevant to each other. This often requires you to press each juror and present evidence in order to change their statement.
There are quite a bit more gameplay elements compared to the typical visual novel.
Graphics: Great Ace Attorney uses the typical anime style art, which works for this game. Sometimes there will be some animations as well.
Music: In general the mood of the music matches the mood of the historical context. There is some music reminiscent of the late 19th century and early 20th century. There is good ambience in the quieter scenes and in the more suspenseful scenes the music goes up a notch to fit the vibe.
Conclusion: 9/10. I’ve never played an Ace Attorney game before, but this game quickly taught me the basics well. Once I started playing the first game, I couldn’t put it down. Not only is the setting interesting – the historical setting of Meiji-era Japan and Victorian England is very unique and there are often cases and scenes that revolve around historical objects like the music box and stereoscope.
Also, the translations are absolutely fantastically done – the translations keep some of the historical words that some of the people back then might use – but it’s not so archaic as to be unreadable by modern audiences – it’s a good middle ground. In addition, this game has a lot of humor, snide remarks made by Holmes, Ryunoske or Susato often made me laugh out loud sometimes.
The actual cases themselves are very intriguing and sucked me in, especially as some of the later cases are very tied to previous ones. There’s also a lot of ‘a-ha’ moments I experienced in this game as well. The grand payoff at the end is worth spending your time on this considerably lengthy game.
My only issues with this game that prevents it from getting a perfect score is that the cast of characters seem to be quite limited and even on a jury you might see some of the same characters you saw before, which is unrealistic as there’s no way a person would have jury duty two trials in a row. Another thing is sometimes the piece of evidence that the judge is looking for is very specific and not that obvious, and sometimes required a lot of guesswork. This happened in only a few instances though, and generally the piece of evidence wouldn’t take more than a few minutes of thought. Overall, this is probably my favorite investigative visual novel yet, I also like the Danganronpa series but it’s also so different so can’t really compare. Thank god this was finally localized – I don’t see why it wasn’t done earlier!