I’ll never forget my first time playing an Ace Attorney game. It was first ever import and it took almost a month to arrive, but there were no plans to bring the game to PAL territories at the time. Eventually this brand new DS game arrived through my letterbox. Then my next few days were spent with Phoenix, Maya and Edgeworth defending innocent people from the full brunt of the law. For a while it looked like The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles might not make it over here either. But finally the latest two courtroom dramas are available for a western audience.
New Protagonist Ryunosuke Naruhodo is a humble student of law in ancient Japan. Suddenly, an accusation of murder thrusts him into the courtroom sooner than he’d like. His unexpected success then sees him and his friends travelling to Victorian London, to learn from the most advanced judicial system in the world. I was actually slightly concerned that the historical setting of these games wouldn’t be to my taste. But the foggy streets of London make for a great backdrop to the criminal activity.
The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles: Grizzly murders
Despite a regular helping of grizzly murders to investigate, don’t go into The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles expecting a serious tone. The adventures of Ryunosuke are for the most part incredibly silly. This is generally due to the outlandish characters you meet along the way. Whether it’s due to the mad posing of an elderly Japanese gentleman or the fearsome fish and chip eating London bobby, talking to the charming residents of Ace Attorney never ceases to bring a smile.
You’ll spend much of your time in the game at the courtroom of the Old Bailey, defending the innocent from a swift sentencing. To do this you’ll need to pay close attention to what different witnesses say. Then you have to spot any contractions in their testimony. With the right piece of evidence you’ll be able to prove they aren’t telling the truth (intentionally or not) and find the real culprit of a heinous act. Each case is packed full of twists and turns. And only by paying close attention to each piece of evidence will you be able to defend your client successfully.
A jury of your “peers”
New for the series is the addition of a jury. These six upstanding citizens of London bring their personal opinion to the courtroom. At any time they can vote if the defendant is guilty or not by throwing a coloured flame into the scales of justice. It sounds complex, but all that really matters is when all 6 members think your client is guilty. When this happens you’ll have one last chance to change their minds during a “Summation Examination”. Here, you’ll need to listen to why each member believes they’re guilty, and spot if these statements contradict each other. Once pitted against their fellow juror, they’ll probably realise it makes sense to hear more testimony before damming the defendant and you can keep hunting for the truth.
Another series first sees you questioning multiple witnesses at the same time. And this doesn’t just mean even more ridiculous characters at once. It also gives you the opportunity to catch out a witness if they’re behaving oddly while the other is talking. These “tells” usually mean they disagree or are worried about what’s being said. And if you call them out on it you might get even more precious information. It feels incredible when you get fully invested in a case. Then, using one new sliver of information, you spot a contradiction and flip the whole trial on its head.
The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles: accessible to all
If you’re struggling, or if all this logical thinking sounds too much for you, there’s a new Story Mode option in Great Ace Attorney which allows you to enjoy the whole game without having to present evidence or make tough decisions. If you’d prefer to just spend hours watching a the narrative unfold, that’s a completely valid option that’s fully catered for.
Our legal hero doesn’t spend all his hours in the courtroom spotting contradictions. Plenty of time is spent exploring the delightful streets of Old London town. When you are given a new case, you’ll usually have time to investigate the crime scenes and talk to witnesses to prepare for the upcoming verbal tennis against the prosecution. This means going from place to place and examining anything interesting you find. You’ll also get plenty of information from witnesses and the defendant themselves, especially if you help jog their memory by showing them any evidence you’ve unearthed.
In Ace Attorney games I’d usually say that the sections outside of court are less enthralling than the tense legal battles in court. This time around though, my favourite character “Herlock Sholmes” brings with him a fantastic new style of gameplay. Often when you arrive at a new location you’ll find Sholmes investigating. Then, with a trademark flourish he’ll start one of his Great Deductions.
Your literary friend will spot several things around the crime scene. He’ll use his superior deductive skills to discover something new about the incident. Unfortunately Sholmes isn’t as brilliant as his stories make him out to be. Every time he says something ludicrous it’ll be your job to explore the 3D scene in front of you to replace his bizarre deduction with something more credible. In the end you’ll find out something new, and Sholmes will take most of the credit and adoration.
A huge package
Despite spanning two games (originally released on 3DS in 2015 and 2017 in Japan) The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles has characters and incidents who span across multiple cases and even both games. People like Sholmes and Inspector Gregson will, of course, greet you in the majority of cases. But there’s also an overarching story involving tenuous relations between England and Japan that ties everything together. Each case will tell a thoroughly engaging self contained story, but the whole 40+ hour package is interconnected, which makes experiencing it even more enjoyable.
If weeks of enjoyable courtroom content isn’t quite enough for you, there’s more. The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles comes with some bonus content to indulge on, too. There are 8 side stories you can play at any time. These take place at different points in the overall story. These fun little distractions are generally a bit lighter than the main game. They let you see a fun new side of the game’s characters. There are also alternate costumes, videos and art to enjoy at your leisure, which I appreciated.
On a technical level, the game runs absolutely perfectly on the Switch. The new vibrant 3D character models have just as much character and charm as the 2D ones did. In fact, although I didn’t expect to, I actually prefer them. Alongside the great aesthetics, there’s also a delightful soundtrack full of themes that fit certain characters and situations. Although maybe not entirely made up of exciting tunes I’d listen to on a hike, for the courtroom there’s nothing better.
I had very little to complain about during my time with The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles. Occasionally I’d struggle to spot a contradiction or how to advance an investigation, but never to the point of frustration. The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles is simply the best game in a series I adore. There’s a huge amount of content, and it has the most memorable & charming characters out there. Anybody with even a passing interest in adventure games or visual novels needs to play this game.
Courtroom antics are more enthralling than ever
The cast of characters are consistently delightful
So much content
New 3d models are gorgeous
Sometimes it's hard to figure out what to do next.