Power Of Attorney
HIGH A truly remarkable job by the localization team at Capcom
LOW A little too much Herlock Sholmes
WTF …Still waiting on that Ace Attorney Investigations 2 western release
As I’ve mentioned in other Ace Attorney related reviews on this website, getting an entry in this franchise localized is more a sigh of relief rather than the joyous occasion it should be. These titles tend to hit the West years after they do in Japan, and when they do, it’s often digital-only and without much fanfare.
Not counting the Trilogy compilation, there hasn’t been a localization since Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Spirit of Justice in 2016, and Capcom hasn’t created a new entry since 2017’s The Great Ace Attorney 2: Resolve. I didn’t sweat never playing it (or its predecessor, 2015’s The Great Ace Attorney Adventures) because I was dead certain Capcom would never release them. As such, the Western release of The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles (a collection of these two games) is quite surprising.
Capcom’s localization team has always been one of the best in the industry, but even for them, translating these two games was a monumental task. For those who are not aware, the Great Ace Attorney offshoot of the Phoenix Wright series takes place in Meiji-era Japan (and, later, Victorian-era England) and stars Ryunosuke Naruhodo, ancestor of Ryuichi Naruhodo (Phoenix Wright’s Japanese name). While it follows the same structure of the other Wright games, these were very clearly made with Japanese players in mind. These are period dramas created for this specific audience, and that audience probably isn’t reading this review.
With that said, the localization team needs to be showered with praise for successfully bringing this game to English speakers while also cleverly writing around the knowledge gaps that people in the West are bound to have. For example, Americans don’t know that Japanese students have their names etched on the back of their school pins, so being able to change dialogue around situations like this while still getting Western players to the same conclusion is incredibly impressive. There are also situations where Japanese people are in England speaking English, then speaking Japanese to their Japanese counterparts, and the way this is portrayed in the text is seamless.
I cannot stress how difficult translating these titles must have been, and I cannot stress how hard Capcom knocked it out of the park. On top of all the hoops they had to jump through to make this content comprehensible, they’ve also maintained the franchise’s high standards for humorous, witty dialogue along the way.
While the setting and characters have changed, this is still very much an Ace Attorney game in that it’s a visual novel with light point-and-click adventure mechanics featuring a selection of whodunnit murder mysteries where players investigate crime scenes… because apparently in Japan lawyers are also kinda detectives? Protagonist Ryunosuke then takes the evidence to the to the courtroom where he cross-examines witnesses until they crack in hilarious ways. The greatest strength of the Ace Attorney franchise is that there is truly nothing else like it, so even if it’s fairly derivative of the franchise it presides in, nobody else is dancing to this jig and it’s always a good time when a new one comes out.
There are new gameplay wrinkles to spice things up, though — the biggest of which is the addition of jurors to the courtroom. Now, instead of just convincing a judge, players have to convince jurors and sometimes even cross-examine them, which I don’t think happens in any courtroom on earth? But, it adds a lot to the courtroom proceedings, which now make up the majority of playtime.
In other installments, the content had a rough 60/40 split in favor of outside-the-courtroom investigative sections, but now it’s the other way around. Time spent at the scene of crimes is now less about collecting evidence and more about observing and deducing what happened with the help of known copyright evader Herlock Sholmes, who accompanies Ryunosuke to crime scenes. Occasionally Mr. Sholmes goes into a “Logic and Reasoning Spectacular” where he gives a lavish description of the crime, and the player has to find the one mistake in his deduction. While I think Herlock is a little too on-the-nose and not as cool as the rest of the cast, these changes in the formula do a lot to help make The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles distinct.
Capcom also (thankfully!) added some long-needed quality-of-life improvements to the formula, namely the ability to skip through dialogue for fast readers. Longtime Wright fans will recognize this for the godsend that it is, even if it doesn’t sound particularly impressive. There are other new wrinkles as well, such as the option to change the wait time for auto-play to cycle the next line of dialogue. Lastly, if pixel-prodding and finding clues isn’t particularly interesting, there’s a story mode where players can just kick back and watch the game unfold. For a title such as this, I find that a perfectly reasonable way to enjoy it.
The previous Ace Attorney compilation I reviewed was a rather bare-bones affair without many extra features, but in this area Ace Attorney Chronicles shines thanks to worthwhile bonus content. There are eight mini-scenarios called “escapades” thrown in for more gameplay, and there’s also the kind of character art and developer commentary one would be accustomed to seeing in a larger collection. These do a lot to show that this pair of titles got some extra TLC on their way Westward, and it makes this package feel like a celebration of two titles rather than simply another release.
Writing a review of The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles is something I never thought I’d get to do, but I am so glad that Capcom decided to take a chance in bringing these two exceptional stories to the West. Despite its status as an offshoot from the main franchise and a heavy reliance on very specific settings, it might even represent the best opportunity to delve into this wonderfully quirky and original series thanks to excellent quality-of-life improvements and slick presentation. Longtime fans have surely bought it already, but The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles is a fantastic pickup for anyone looking for a good yarn coming from a series filled with them.
Disclosures: This game is developed and published by Capcom. It is currently available on Switch, PC and PS4/5. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on Switch. Approximately 46 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and both games were completed. There are no multiplayer modes.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated T and features Violence and Blood. The game primarily focuses on and is centered around a bunch of murders, so there are splashes of blood periodically. As long as that’s acceptable, a parent should have little little worry handing a pre-teen this game. Plus there’s a lot of reading involved, which the kid probably doesn’t do enough of anyway.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: The game’s story is told entirely through text that is large and very readable, but there are no sizing or color options for it. There are also no noticeable audio cues. Being a visual novel, I would consider this a fully accessible title.
Remappable Controls: This game’s controls are not remappable. There is no control diagram, but available button prompts are visible on-screen at all times. Due to the Visual Novel nature of the game, fast reflexes are never needed. Controls require mostly moving a cursor around the screen and pressing confirm/cancel buttons.