The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles Review (Switch)
I have to be a bit honest here. I never actually owned my own copy of an Ace Attorney game. A Layton game, sure, but sadly not Ace Attorney. And the last Ace Attorney game released (and localized) was a digital only title and at the time I didn’t have internet to actually get it. But, I was able to borrow a game and two from a friend that did and man, did I like it. It might have started my love for detective games (which I guess you can make an argument that they’re not, but close enough). So when The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles was announced, it was a hard game to resist. Which you can see that I did not win against. Let’s get into what TGAAC has to offer!
Following Pheonix Wright’s ancestor, you play as Ryunosuke Naruhodo whose beginning strikes a familiar chord if you know how Wright started out. Considering how important Ryunosuke will turn out to be, and how of an amazing defense attorney he will become, he didn’t actually start out as a student studying law. He was studying English with his friend Kazuma Asogi was the one studying law and got to have the great honor of being chosen to study abroad in Victorian London. Before the steamship heading to London was planned to send off, Ryunosuke actually got accused for murdering a visiting British professor. He decides to be his own representation, mainly so he can shield Kazuma from losing his chance at studying abroad, and after a long (almost feeling like it was too long) trial he proved his innocence despite the bad luck Ryunosuke found himself in. As well as awakening his interest in maybe becoming a defense attorney. Kazuma right then decides to invite Ryunosuke to go to London with him to study law… except he will have to hide. The terms only says him and his judicial assistant, so he kind of has to be smuggled there. And it was going to work until Kazuma (spoilers for Case 2) was found dead and the murder was once again pointed to Ryunosuke as the door was locked when Kazuma’s body was discovered. And of course, you were the only one there with a terrible alibi of being asleep. Of course, you manage to prove your innocence and while Kazuma’s death was still being mourned, Ryunosuke decides to take up Kazuma’s place to honor him.
And from then on, you’ll be interacting with many characters and get acquainted with the ones that are reoccurring. But trust me, the vast majority of them are a delight to interact with as you grow as a defense attorney alongside Ryunosuke and see his growth from a nervous, new lawyer to one that is confident. Kazuma’s, and now your, judicial assistant is Susato Mikotoba who is knowledgeable, proving a particular help to Ryunosuke as he isn’t as familiar with law or specifically British law, but does not hesitant in stopping someone in their line of thought or doing her signature Susato Takedown. You also meet the great detective Herlock Sholmes (which never gets old in saying) who is known for his great deductions that solved many cases; as well as a young girl named Iris who he cares for while she assists him with his cases, invents inventions, brews the perfect tea for the occasion, and writes The Adventures of Herlock Sholmes series that everyone that is anyone reads. There’s also Detective Gregson who you’ll often have to deal with, and his infinite fish and chips, as he is part of Scotland Yard. And lastly, the prosecutor Barok van Zieks who at first you may expect to be like Edgewoth, except with vampire mixed in, but you soon learn that he wants the truth to come out and he won’t deal with lies or witnesses trying to weasel their way out of testifying the truth. And if the truth means working with Ryunosuke, he will do it without hesitation. Honestly, my favorite parts of the trials was when he more or less bounces off of you (as well as what I like to dub as his “Heel of Justice” animation). Barok van Zieks was a great change of pace from prosecutors that were corrupt and really surprised me (especially since I grew to love him by the end and so upset he didn’t see me off).
While these are the characters you’ll be interacting with the most, aside from the judges of course, all of the characters have nice quirks to them that make them enjoyable to interact with. You’ll be interacting with a lot of characters, even more so with one of the new additions added in for TGAA, and well Ace Attorney is known for its characters. Each character has their own quirks and animations (each character with a bowing animation is even unique from one another), unique design, and personality. Even bringing in some more humor when needed (when the main reoccurring cast isn’t set to). While there will be a a dud or two in here, based on personal preference, I don’t suspect you’ll just get tired of the characters. I even found myself wanting to talk to a lot of them more, but it was time to move on.
There are two different phases that each case chapter has, with them being separated as parts so you can get a good break point so you’re not leaving in the middle of something. One of them in Investigation where you’ll, of course, be investigating a case you came across or assigned to. This will lead you to going to the various locations, examining them for any spots that catches Ryunosuke’s interest, and talking with characters to see what they have to say. And all of it goes into your court files or your (and Susato’s) mind for later when the trial comes. One feature here (which I learn was introduced with Apollo Justice) is examining evidence (that is, evidence that aren’t just documents and photos) where you can actually view a 3D model of and examine with Susato (or Sholmes), which will update the summary of the item if it’s significant.
But the new mechanic that has a chance of taking place is the Dance of Deduction, featuring Herlock Sholmes. In certain situations, Herlock Sholmes will start a Dance of Deduction where the name perfectly describes what it is. Sholmes will give out his ever famous deductions, with someone in the background reacting to his words. However, you (and the person reacting to it) notices that half of his deductions are wrong and thus causes Sholmes to go to the wrong conclusion. Good thing you’re here though, as it will turn to you to do a course correct, letting you look around for hidden items to steer it into the right direction and thus to what really happened. While it is a bit annoying that it replays the full deduction (though you can argue it’s so you can have full context and there are moments where it changes), having Ryunosuke play off of Sholmes (and vice versa) was so nice to play through. And especially the rare moments where you don’t have the usual Ryunosuke and Sholmes pairing (with the last Dance of Deduction having me dying of laughter).
For being a great detective, he sure gets half of his deductions wrong… unless of course you subscribe to the theory that he’s doing it on purpose to teach Ryunosuke.
One the trial rolls around, mainly after you get to investigate all current leads, it’s time to put your new knowledge forward in court. If you played an Ace Attorney game before, this will also be familiar with a few changes to freshen it up (which it does successfully). Here, you’ll have to try and prove your defendant’s innocence against the prosecutor, which is often Borok van Zieks. Witnesses will take the stands, this time having multiple witnesses take the stand at once, to hear their testimony. Often times, there will be two or more witnesses on the stand which will share the same testimony chain. You, of course, will cross examine them where you’ll be able to press any statements for more information. Pressing statements not only will get the witness to amend their statement, but can also get the other person on the stand to react, which you can pursue them to find out why. If you notice any suspicious statements that don’t add up to the evidence in the court record, you can present it and tear it down. There will also be various points where you’ll have to choose a choice or present evidence to prove your statement as a fact rather than speculation. For the most part, it’s pretty easy to figure out what you need to do, but there are a few moments where it is hard to figure out what you need to do/ the line of logic the game wants you to go down.
A big addition to The Great Ace Attorney is the Summation Examination. Unlike the other Ace Attorney games, and Japan’s court system, you’ll have six jurors to deal with in addition to the judge. Unlike before, where you just have to deal with the judge and his ruling, you have to deal with six randomly selected (hmmhmm sure) jurors. Instead of the judge deciding the verdict, the jurors have to by unanimous vote. They can declare their vote at any time, with them voting with a ball of fire that will fly to the scale of justice presiding over everyone, and they can even stop the trial early if they all agree (which is usually guilty of course). Not really a great system if the verdict is based on their feelings than facts. Luckily, there is an old rule that a defense attorney can call for a Summation Examination so they can have a chance at not having the trial end early (and of course, Ryunosuke is the first one in a long while to request this right to be honored). This will have the jurors themselves give statements to justify their verdict and you can press their statements to get more information (or to get an actual reason if they seem to not care) and then present a contradiction that will hopefully turn at least four of them to vote Innocent so the trial can continue. This can be pitting two contradicting statements against one another or presenting evidence that contradicts their justification. These were so wonderful to go through as it does bring in some needed spice into the trials and it gives us even more characters to be introduced to that we can interact with. Or bring in previous characters so we can see them again.
I have to also mention that I absolutely love how this doesn’t have one of my pet peeves for mystery stories where you won’t be able to guess what happened due to someone or something being hidden until the very end. While there are items and events that won’t make sense by itself until you get more context around it, you can even speculate what happened based on what you know. And you have a high chance of being right when you take everything into account. I loved guessing what possibly happened and then being able to see that I was (mostly) right or completely right. Unless the characters themselves are hiding something, you won’t be blind to a character or a piece of evidence until the very end to arrive at a conclusion that you have no way of guessing. Of course, you’ll have to wait until Ryunosuke can point it out (and there is a trial where you can’t point out the obvious), but I love that you can figure it out yourself.
In addition, there are some special features you can check out. You can switch out Ryunosuke, Susato, and Sholmes’ costumes in the second game if you want to; you can check out concept art, music (including unused pieces), voice lines (with the animations tied to them), special videos that were made to advertise the game when it originally released, and extra short episodes.
Considering that I was hesitant to pick this up until I completed some other visual novels in my backlog, I’m really glad I picked up The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles anyway. I liked the few Ace Attorney games I was able to borrow, but I loved The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles. So much so that I didn’t want it to end and extended my time with it (ruining my original plan of completing this a couple months earlier in the meantime). All of the characters (bar one or two, based on personal preference) were a delight to interact with, the journey was so fun and crazy, the cases were interesting, the humor is brought in at the perfect times, and the music has no right to be this good (both being good by themselves and coming in at the perfect time). I barely have any complaints towards The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles and I highly recommend picking this up if this interests you (and this is the perfect game to start if you haven’t played any Ace Attorney games yet)!
It’s really a shame that this didn’t get the original trilogy plan (which you can tell where the second game would have ended and it would have solved some issues like the tight Susato timeline in the second game and would have given more time to develop characters), but I will hold hope for the possibility of another TGAA game. I absolutely loved the characters, I cried at the end of both games, and I want more interactions with them. All the characters were lovely to talk to, especially the recurring ones, and I loved the dynamic Ryunosuke and Lord van Zieks were developing in Resolve. But all good things must come to an end.
Here’s hoping we also get more Ace Attorney re-releases (preferably in collections if possible), another Great Ace Attorney game if the team wants to too, new localizations (cough the Miles Edgeworth side games cough), and new Ace Attorney games (if the team want to do more that is).