First released in 2015 in Japan, The Great Ace Attorney and the Great Ace Attorney 2: Resolve come together as one complete package for the first time out West as The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles, and its a rather fitting scenario. Whereas ‘local’ fans haven’t seen the series outside of an original trilogy remaster for Phoenix Wright over the last few years, Capcom’s home country had the pleasure of venturing into new territory with a Victorian era London setting and an important take on one of the most critical times in Japanese history. Now, finally, we get the chance to discover this new era for the much loved series, but has the wait been worth it?
As its newest protagonist and Wright ancestor, Ryunosuke Naruhodo embarks on a new journey from unknown student to legitimate lawyer in a far off land, just as Japan itself journeys into the unknown, striking an accord with England at the dawn of the 20th Century. We’re introduced to Ryunosuke before his own trial, charged with the murder of an English professor at a local eatery, where he’s given the difficult task of defending himself in court. If you’ve played any Ace Attorney games at all, you’ll feel right at home as the game doesn’t waste too much time before stepping into the courthouse. If you haven’t, you’ll link the correct evidence to key situations when prompted and question those on the witness stand to try and break them, as classic lines from the franchise are thrown left and right and witnesses fall about themselves to prove you wrong in true Anime fashion.
Elementary, My Dear...
That first case sets the scene and the general rules of engagement before Ryunosuke and his assistant Susato head to England and its much fancier courthouses. It’s here where you’ll meet with a certain famous detective, Herlock Sholmes (that’s not a spelling mistake) who is just as eccentric as his namesake. Herlock’s introduction brings with it the Dance of Deduction, one of two major techniques added to the existing Ace Attorney framework that has the detective claiming his solution to a particular scene. Despite his intelligence, Herlock isn’t exactly right all the time, and you’ll need to correct his deductions by investigating the scene and revealing the truth. These scenes appear at certain points during both games within the package and are a nice diversion from the usual court routine, with a clever sense of humour and some interesting story beats, but ultimately they don’t hold a candle to the bigger courtroom drama the franchise is known for.
Once you reach Old Bailey courthouse at the heart of London, you’re again thrown in the deep end to take on a new case that’s seemingly unwinnable. It’s here that the second and arguably more interesting new gameplay feature appears in the form of a Summation Examination. Where as previous games largely focus on the prosecution, defence and the witness stand, Great Ace Attorney has you also fighting for the approval of six jury members who can decide the fate of your defence. On a few occasions, where it seems like the jury is on the verge of calling things against you, you’ll have the chance to use the Summation Examination and pit jury members against each other to weaken their position and change their decision in your favour, securing a not guilty call and extending the case. It’s equally enjoyable to watch the jury squirm and alter their thoughts as it is the witnesses who can’t believe they’ve been found out, and it’s a welcome new addition that keeps things fresh and engaging.
The setting is a breath of fresh air for the series too, one that was indeed worth waiting for after an initial reluctance by Capcom to translate it. As a fan, I’m genuinely glad they change their minds, and hopefully this is a sign of even more to come.
✔️Wonderful cast of memorable characters.
✔️AThe court cases are as engaging and enjoyable as ever.
✔️Plenty of content for the price of admission.
❌Deductions aren’t as fun as the courtroom drama.
❌Shame about the lack of true voice acting.
However, there were a number of situations where I knew who did it long before the end, leaving me with a lot of dialogue to get through and extra twists to drag things out before I could finally get to the point. Not every case is as easy to master (especially towards the end of both games), but on a few occasions it was just so obvious what the means and motive are that having to wade through the story did feel a little awkward, despite the best and amusing intentions of said narrative. The franchise, though, is always at its best when it throws you for a complete loop, whether through its colourfully weird cast or leaping down an absurd yet hilarious narrative path. Thankfully the same can be said here, and it’s as good an Ace Attorney experience as it ever has been. Gripes aside, the twists and turns will largely play out well and there’s plenty of heart to the story too, as Ryunosuke and Susato do all that they can to defend their clients to the end. Seeing both characters grow from uncertain students to strong and confident defence attorney’s is enjoyable to follow, along with the many allies and adversaries they make along the way, specifically the adorable ‘Grim Reaper’ Barok van Zieks who reminded me of the great Miles Edgeworth.
Capcom has also done a wonderful job in continuing to evolve the presentation side of Ace Attorney, with far more detailed 3D character designs compared to the original 2D sprite models of the Nintendo DS era along with detailed, almost painted background scenes. Dialogue clicks along nicely thanks some clever use of pacing and animation, coupled with clever musical cues and sound effects that emphasise the reactions and musings of every character. It’s a shame the series hasn’t found a chance to develop a full voice cast after all these years, but that’s such a minor issue when the games are as enjoyable as this.
The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles is a well priced package, coupling two enjoyable games and plenty of bonus content and quests to extend the gameplay experience even further. The second game does get a little weirder compared to the first, but overall the journey of Ryunosuke and Susato is an engaging and enjoyable one that proves the franchise still has plenty legs. The setting is a breath of fresh air for the series too, one that was indeed worth waiting for after an initial reluctance by Capcom to translate it. As a fan, I’m genuinely glad they change their minds, and hopefully this is a sign of even more to come.
The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles is a duology collection of The Great Ace Attorney: Adventures and The Great Ace Attorney 2: Resolve, announced April 21st, 2021 for the Nintendo Switch, Steam, and PlayStation 4.
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