As a huge Ace Attorney fan, the Great Ace Attorney has always eluded me. I could never quite be bothered to give the fan translations a try, but I did know that the original series creator and director continued to work on Great Ace Attorney rather than the fifth and sixth Ace Attorney games. Having waited for over five years, I’d given up on the idea that either of the games was ever leaving Japan.
Now, both Great Ace Attorney games are finally making the jump to English after oh-so-long. Packaged together as The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles, I’ve had some considerable time with the first game in the package and have been taken aback by not only how well it plays with so little modification but also by how much of a distinctly unique experience it is compared to the other Ace Attorney games.
Rather than spoil each case I’ve had time with in a blow-by-blow account, here are the four major things I’ve noticed about The Great Ace Attorney that make it well worth your time after being provided some early hands-on access with the game.
EVERY CASE IS STRUCTURED (AND PACED) DIFFERENTLY
While I adore the Ace Attorney games, it’s hard to deny that there are a few cases that felt too drawn out or just too boring to sustain my attention across the typical case structure. Turnabout Big Top, I’m looking at you. But the thing I really am enjoying about The Great Ace Attorney is that the structure isn’t set in stone. There are some cases that take place largely within the courts and others that are solely investigated.
While this sounds a bit limiting, I’m actually really enjoying it thus far. The stories that are told in each of the cases can now be told properly – and not stretched out or unnecessarily lengthened for the sake of having a predetermined number of investigations and trials. I was a bit nervous that this meant some cases would be better than others or that a case of sole investigations and no courtroom drama would be boring. But they’re so far all playing to their strengths well.
YOU’LL HAVE TO DEAL WITH A JURY THIS TIME TOO
While this isn’t completely new – the idea of a jury was played around with the witch mobs in Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright – it’s better realised in The Great Ace Attorney. In each trial, you’ll still have the opportunity to listen to witness accounts of a crime and present evidence to combat contradictions, and come out with the almighty “not guilty” verdict.
But the jury themselves will each have opinions on the case and be quick to throw in their own verdict to the judge. During these moments, you’ll be able to listen to each individual juror and come to understand how they came to their conclusion before either contradicting them or pitting them against each other if there are inconsistencies. It’s structurally similar to cross-examining from previous games but dynamic enough of a change to keep things interesting.
THE DANCE OF DEDUCTION SPICES UP THE INVESTIGATIONS
Arguably the star of the show here is Herlock Sholmes, a bumbling but well-meaning detective who is quite obviously based on Sherlock Holmes. Copyright infringement aside, Herlock acts as Great Ace Attorney’s version of Detective Gumshoe, investigating and providing your team with the evidence they need to solve the cases they’re investigating. But every so often, Herlock will enter a “dance of deduction” to spice things up.
Presented as almost a literal dance, with Ghost Trick-esque spotlighting and posturing, Herlock will dance around a crime scene while using the facts to make a deduction. Following this, you are given the opportunity to poke holes in Herlock’s logic to offer a better picture of what has happened. It’s an incredibly engaging way to summarise events that have transpired so far and does a great job at bringing the drama to the investigation sequences, which I’ve, until now, often preferred less to the courtroom.
THE STORIES ARE STILL AS COMPELLING AS EVER
Ace Attorney as a franchise has been around for years now. It’s lied dormant for some time and had much more time between each instalment than other Capcom franchises but there was also the potential for the series to err into the kooky and whacky to the point where it might not have been interesting anymore. Thankfully, in The Great Ace Attorney, that doesn’t seem to be the case so far.
Perhaps most importantly, The Great Ace Attorney feels fresh despite being a game that’s well over five years old. I’ve not yet moved on to the second game in the series but given what’s transpired in the three cases that this preview covers, I’m beyond keen to see how things play out. The localisation is top-notch too – filled to the brim with some really funny references and quick-witted writing.
Even now, having to take a break to put together some thoughts for this preview, I can’t wait to get back to my Switch to continue investigating.
The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles releases digitally in Australia for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and PC on July 27th, 2021.