When it comes to giving fans what they want, Capcom seems to be doing a great job at the moment, by revisiting its past. From the myriad of Monster Hunter games to the revival of Resident Evil as a force to be reckoned with, it makes perfect sense for the Japanese gaming giant to continue in that vein, with The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles, an excellent bundle containing both The Great Ace Attorney: Adventures and The Great Ace Attorney Adventures 2: Resolve.
Similar to the Phoenix Wright trilogy, The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles packs plenty of the trademark drama and outrageous flair fans have come to know and love of the courtroom drama. Any twists that you can think of, the backstabbing, tragic backstories, and reversal of fortunes, and more exist to amp up the melodrama of the visual novel series, even if it is a tad predictable at this point. However, it takes little away from the enjoyment of this unique niche carved out by Capcom.
A Different Case
The biggest differentiating factor here is that, despite having all the hallmarks of a game that should grab your attention from start to finish, is that this compilation falters by not paying enough attention to the core pillars of investigating and mystery-solving outside of the courtroom.
As the young Japanese lawyer Ryūnosuke Naruhodō and his ever-helpful legal assistant Susato Mikotoba, the pair dives into a gauntlet of dramatic courtroom tussles with a whole cast of zany characters. Chief among them is Herlock Sholmes, the eccentric detective that adds more than just his brand of comedic weirdness to the game and investigations.
While players go about collecting witness statements and pieces of evidence in between courtroom sessions, Sholmes’ deductions come into play with a brand new mini-game in the form of the incredulously named, Logic and Reasoning Spectacular. In essence, Sholmes throws out a bunch of interesting but less-than-accurate deductions, and the player is tasked to correct him by finding clues and checking out the environment.
There is certainly merit to this addition, which helps to spice things up when it comes to investigation. Rather than a flat image presented to the player, you will be able to navigate through a 3D environment to do your thing. Yet, the fact that these deductions more or less spoil the surprises ahead dampens the spirit behind these games. Much of the enjoyment of figuring out where each piece of evidence fits into the overall trials is lost, and the dramatic build-up to the conclusion is cut short, which is a big shame.
Be prepared for head-scratching conclusions as well, with unbelievable explanations often the solution to an already convoluted case. It can be fun for a stretch, but a more well-constructed plot for some of the cases would have done even more good.
The Power Of The People
That said, the characters and settings of The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles do provide an exciting breath of fresh air. Although Naruhodō is Phoenix Wright’s 19th-century ancestor, there are no pre-existing connections that players need to be aware of. Moving the action to London also provides a brand new slate to kick things off.
This is vital to the overall feel of The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles, bringing to focus not just the hilarious caricatures of British society, but also the seemingly overbearing nature in which the judicial system is viewed. For our hero, trying to make sense of the perspective of this system and the demoralising crimes that still occur forms the crux of his narrative development. Needless to say, this allows a deeper introspection into the series than ever before, and it bodes well for the future if the creators can maintain such a nuanced hold on the direction.
As for the supporting cast, there is little to be disappointed about. Susato is a brilliant foil for Naruhodō, a soft-spoken but still-feisty legal assistant that comes to the rescue more than once. Herlock Sholmes obviously does his thing with trademark eccentricity and the prosecution is headed up by Baron van Zieks, the Grim Reaper of the Old Bailey, who continues the tradition of memorable and distinct opposition for the player.
Translating the series from its Japanese origins to a new culture is no mean feat, but within The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles lies some uneasy interactions that may be too much for certain players to take. The British are typically portrayed as arrogant and imperialistic, valuing superficial beliefs more than the truth at times, and when faced with our Japanese characters, there is a pervading sense of disapproval and animosity. While that may prove to be true for the time and place The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles is set in, it can make for a difficult tonal adjustment especially when you are in it for the zaniness.
As for the courtroom battles, the collection brings with it a new set of challenges and a thematic feel. No longer is it just the lawyers, witnesses, and a judge that decides all. Now you will need to prove the innocence of your client to a jury made up of six individuals, each with their own opinions and personalities that require further cross-examination. There is less of the monotonous cycle that usually presents itself for longer trials in previous games, and that is a good thing.
To further stamp its mark, The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles also introduces the mechanic of multiple witnesses providing testimony simultaneously. They are not isolated either, reacting to each other’s words and players will have to pay closer attention to resolve any conflict or doubt.
As a whole package, the entire trial process in The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles has set a new bar for Capcom’s legal visual novel. The entire circus of searching for evidence, challenging prosecutors, cross-examining a bevvy of witnesses, and saving a life is entertaining most of the time, and has expanded upon what has become a dependable formula.
For fans of the series, there is much to love about the Great Ace Attorney Chronicles. The characters and the new culture carries much of the weight, but the crucial element of mystery is found wanting throughout the adventure. Melodrama may be fun, but it is best experienced together with the trademark intrigue and involvement that Capcom has perfected but failed to include substantially this time around.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
Outrageousness reigns over logical deductions and mystery-solving, The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles delivers a mixed bag despite its promise.
Gameplay - 7/10
Story - 7/10
Presentation - 8/10
Value - 7/10