The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles – Nintendo Switch
RRP $ 40.00
“The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles is a must for fans of the series and anyone interested in visual novels.”
Dynamic new characters
Excellent new mechanic mechanic
Some legal proceedings drag on
Sometimes too familiar
When it comes to visual novels, Capcom’s Ace Attorney range is superior to the rest. The series started with the first entry, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney on the Gameboy Advance. Its popularity has ushered it into a new age, and after being a Japanese exclusive for six years, The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles series has finally found its way west.
The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles bundles the two titles of the prequel spin-off series. These games take everything that made previous entries so great and mix them up with a new time and place – late 19th century Meiji-era Japan and Victorian Britain. This archaic setting offers new avenues for solving legal proceedings and new barriers for returning fans of the series eager to pass judgment.
While the first game in this duology sometimes felt almost too familiar and others even felt a little unfulfilled (as this is a special Ace Attorney title where the story is not in its own right and is expanded further in 2), both titles can be played back back solves this problem. The bundle offer, along with the great additions to the series, makes the long wait for The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles well worth it.
The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles begins on very familiar territory and evolves into a unique story that receives an identity that sets it apart from the modern day stories of the Mainline Ace Attorney series. For certain fans, this breakup can feel like a burden as the first title is almost too similar to the previous episodes. Thankfully, the amazing characters and charming writing keep things interesting. I found myself very invested in the direction things were going to go next.
The first entry begins in Japan with Phoenix Wright’s ancestor and protagonist Ryunosuke Naruhodo, who after his alleged murder of university professor Dr. John H. Wilson is on trial. In this first trial, Ryunosuke’s best friend, who is a law student, Kazuma Asogi, represents him in court.
After Ryunosuke’s innocence is proven and his legal awakening, the two travel to the UK, where Asogi will graduate and make his debut in court. This journey starts a series of events that push Ryunosuke further into his legal calling with his new partner Susato Mikotoba and the English detective Herlock Sholmes at his side.
These characters and their interactions really make this spin-off so valuable. They all feel unique and can even rival the charms of older characters in the main entries. I fell in love with Asogi straight away, as I expect many will. He and Ryunosuke’s courtroom dynamism quickly made them my favorite duo on the show.
These characters and their interactions really make this spin-off so valuable.
As with every game in the series, there will be various lawsuits throughout the story and players will uncover more secrets that appear along the way. As far as I can speak of the story. The narrative twists and turns are what make Ace Attorney so special. So the fewer players who know how to get in, the better.
As with previous games in the series, gameplay is the typical investigative and experimental formula. However, some twists have been introduced to better reflect the period, with the tests seeing the most noticeable changes.
The new mechanic of the dance of deduction is a remarkable addition. Whenever Herlock Sholmes begins to put the facts and arguments together, it is up to Ryunosuke to point out the contradictions in his quick bursts of logic. To do this, players must carefully look at all of their evidence. This literally means that said evidence is turned upside down to find clues Herlock may have missed, which may lead to a different conclusion.
The test segments now differ significantly from the main series. You’re a little closer to the witch trials in the crossover title Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. Players will still be battling the series’ usual penal system while pressuring a witness and producing evidence to find contradictions in testimony, but players may have to cross-examine multiple witnesses at the same time this time around. Another mechanism taken straight from Professor Layton’s crossover is the ability to interrupt a witness’s dialogue in order to conduct further investigation and get closer to the desired truth and judgment.
Once the players reach the English court system, another twist is made predominantly with the addition of jurors who, together with the judge, decide on a final verdict. Throughout the trial, these jurors can change their minds based on how they think about the case at hand, each with their own thoughts. Players will reach out to the jury and can even use the testimony of one judge to find a contradiction in someone else’s testimony.
A great new feature in the courtroom is the summation check. The new mechanic shows up whenever the jury agrees on a guilty verdict. If it happens, players can ask for a summation and try to dissuade the jury from their guilty vote.
These fresh gimmicks have made these two spin-offs my favorites on the series.
All of this appeal makes it clear that this court system is nothing like what veterans of Ace Attorney have ever played. As in Professor Layton’s crossover, the court is much more archaic. Players will not use technology or surefire evidence to reach a desired judgment, but will have to come up with logical explanations while finding flaws in those of others in order to succeed.
These fresh gimmicks have made these two spin-offs my favorites on the series. They make the games so unique and more dynamic than ever. Trust me when I say that your first moment with Sholmes’ conclusions will change your life. These new mechanics are brilliant and I hope they return in some form with the next main series entry.
A little too familiar
While the games offer a lot of new ideas, the first game has some familiarity issues. This first half of the Chronicle’s story feels a lot like the plot of the original Phoenix Wright trilogy, which sometimes left me disinterested other than how the characters interact and grow. It quickly became clear that this first entry was mostly just a setup to lead into the more unique sequel.
The slow pace of this first half was further fueled by a series of legal proceedings that felt they were taking too long. Although I enjoyed it, starting with the first case, I thought, “Wow, are we going with this case?” I feel like this is a by-product of the environment the title is placed in, and this one Spin-off was originally very experimental.
The environment itself is another weak point in the first entry. The Great Ace Attorney doesn’t really take advantage of the setting and its limitations. There were points at which I felt the same things could have been accomplished with another modern day ace attorney instead of going the 19th century path.
It quickly became clear that this first entry was mostly just a setup to lead into the more unique sequel.
Certain highlights, new mechanics and the superior sequel complete the package. The second game improves on the first in almost every way, including the use of the settings – although some of the game’s modern technology tools feel like a cheat.
I found The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles more than worthy of the long running series, with both games quickly becoming two of my favorite posts. It can be a bit of a chore at first, but this spin-off quickly finds its own unique voice and takes full advantage of its individuality.
The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles is a must-have for fans of the Ace Attorney franchise and the visual novel genre at large. It’s a perfect entry point for anyone interested in the genre or series. Although it has some slow points, strong writing and charming characters are enough to make up for its weaknesses. Thanks to those strengths and the very fun new mechanics, I wanted more.
How long it will take?
Since both titles run for around 30 hours each, the entire package should take around 60 hours. However, due to the nature of visual novels, there isn’t much replayability.
Is there an alternative?
Some players who want a darker and more active experience can enjoy the popular Danganronpa series. It’s one that I would highly recommend investing time in after you’ve enjoyed your time with an Ace Attorney, and vice versa.
Should you buy it?
Yes. This double pack is an easy recommendation for anyone looking for a good visual novel to empathize with.