The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles

released on Jul 26, 2021
by Capcom

This bundle is "The Great Ace Attorney: Adventures" and "The Great Ace Attorney 2: Resolve" in one package.

Play as Ryunosuke Naruhodo, ancestor of Phoenix Wright, to solve mysteries and defend clients with the ace detective Herlock Sholmes across both England and Japan.

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A much more substantial package after 2019’s trilogy release, it makes me so happy. Trilogy 2019 may have had the excuse of being Ace Attorney’s first step into the big leagues of the console and PC market, but this compilation right here showcases why the series should stay. Not only is this a remarkable localization of two of the series’ previously forbidden titles (ones that I myself thought would never see the light of day!), but the amount of extras that accompany it make this a worthwhile purchase even for someone who already played these games through fan-translated material like myself.

Even if I considered the games themselves to be little more than landfill material, I would still commend how inclusions like the bonus Randst Magazine episodes from the first game and the alternate costumes for the second are provided free of charge, and how the sheer amount of concept art & music on display signal how much care was put into what this product could offer players. This game even has in-game achievements for Switch players, which is a welcome addition along with being one I hadn’t considered.

Taking this on its strengths as a compilation separate from the games themselves, it is a great precedent for the rest of the series’ ports and future games to look to as an example of how substantive the content for these games can be. The score is only 4 stars as of now because of there being pre-order content. I don’t like that practice, I think the way it was executed was also pretty weird in this case, and I’ll only budge if that material is eventually able to be bought by others.

Como alguém cuja adoração pela série Ace Attorney foi gradualmente sumindo depois do terceiro jogo, devo dizer que The Great Ace Attorney surpreendeu bastante, mesmo depois de ouvir seus louvores de fãs que antes imploravam para o jogo ser importado.

O que me vem a cabeça primeiro é a estrutura de casos, e como ela se difere dos jogos antigos: ao invés de casos quase separados que variam de qualidade entre si, o jogo opta por uma narrativa que liga todos os casos entre os dois jogos da coletânea e cria uma experiência muito mais consistente em sua qualidade. Embora há sim casos melhores que outros, o tradicional "caso filler" não existe aqui: todos revelam uma peça importante do quebra cabeça que se desenrola no final. Só achei que esse ritmo peca um pouco no começo do segundo jogo, mas não se engane - ao jogar os dois jogos da coletânea, julgo que a melhor experiência é aproveitá-los como um só jogo. Tenha a certeza de que os casos seguintes mais do que compensam.

Vou além de dizer que é o melhor Ace Attorney como também digo que era isso que a série precisava. Após duas décadas de jogos focando nos mesmos personagens, era de se esperar que os casos fossem ficando mais e mais desnecessariamente complicados. Great Ace Attorney também vem com o bônus de se passar no passado, uma época onde a ciência forense ainda estava em seu berço, ume época longe de conceitos que se tornaram padrões na série, como análise de impressões digitais, que traz consigo seus próprios tipos de enigmas, simples em contexto mas equivalendo ao ápice da franquia desde Trials and Tribulations.

Easily a contender for my absolute favorite game in the franchise. I group both games in this together, because the entirety of the first game is very obviously pure set-up for the brilliance of the second game, and I feel it's a bit unfair to separate the two. Nonetheless, the first game can definitely sometimes feel like a slog to get through, which is quite literally the only reason why I don't give this game a full 5 stars. However, the second game ALONE is SO fucking GOOD that it singlehandedly carries the complete overwhelming adoration I have for DGS. Still, though I completely understand why it felt this way (like I said, completely set-up for the second game), I wish the first game was more interesting and didn't bore me out of my mind so many times, because it nearly set me off from completing the entire series quite a few times. I'm glad I persevered through instead of shelving it because the second game was everything I could ever want in an AA game, but I think the first game could've been improved to feel a lot less stale and terribly slow to get through. From what I've seen, I feel like it prevents a lot of people from getting through the entire series and realizing how amazing it is, which is why I wish it was better and more engaging. It obviously was never going to be as good as the second game since that's where all the real action and pay-off is, but it still could've been a /better/ set-up game, yknow what I mean? Regardless, an utterly phenomenal staple in the AA franchise, and a must-play for anyone with interest in AA. I'll love it with my entire heart forever.

This review contains spoilers

The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles is a massive leap in the right direction. One of the biggest problems with the Ace Attorney franchise is its lack of proper entry points in the series. This is a series that has 6 main games that should be played in chronological order. Despite this, Capcom has required a “no spoiler rule” of sorts for recent entries that completely stops the franchise from achieving any proper continuity or overarching story. TGAAC does its best to circumvent this.

Having next to no formal relation with the main series is one of the duology’s biggest strengths. It allows the new characters to have their proper moment in the spotlight and the world doesn’t have to bend to the realities of the main series.

Gameplay mechanics are at their peak in these titles. The examination of evidence as 3D models has finally been fully realized and allows players to discover clues on their own. Having multiple witnesses feels natural. Summation examinations are very fun pace breakers. None of these mechanics feel gimmicky or require any sort of suspension of disbelief, like previous gimmicks such as psyche locks. Investigation sections also get their own new minigame in the form of course corrections. The streamlining to the Ace Attorney formula works very well here and I have no problems with any of it.

Unfortunately, I found the soundtrack to be kinda mid. The pursuit and summation exam themes were cool, I guess, but I found overall way less tracks that I held onto. In this regard, Apollo Justice set a precedent that the rest of the series has yet to reach again. I think I was Stockholm syndromed into liking the TGAA cross examination themes, but they feel so silly and out of place. Like even during the final chapter, when the topic of conversation was super intense, you were hearing this clockwork-sounding march.

Because TGAAC could make great use out of its status as a standalone duology, it has a fresh story on its bones. There’s a lot to enjoy, but I do have a fair amount of complaints.

1-1: The Adventure of the Great Departure

This case was fine, it just felt way too long. If I’m not mistaken, I believe it’s the longest opening case in the series? It took way too long to get to the point. I didn’t find the mystery too interesting at all. I do like how Jezaille Brett was portrayed. The fonts when she spoke were especially creative and it’s disappointing that they never returned in that way.

1-2: The Adventure of the Unbreakable Speckled Band

I think some of the worst content in the duology is when the writers desperately try to link events of the game to real Sherlock Holmes mysteries. Not only are these chapter’s events incredibly stupid but the chapter is incomplete, containing no trial. The investigation isn’t sufficient on it’s own either. At the very least, this chapter could have used some rebuttals like in the Investigations games. When you find out that Sholmes faked the events of this chapter in the second game, it felt even weaker. And the excuse he gave about Nikolina Pavlova was cheap.

1-3: The Adventure of the Runaway Room

At first, I was lukewarm to this chapter due to there being no formal investigation section. I mean, we’re halfway through the game’s chapters and we still haven’t gotten the full experience yet? But I have grown on this case a ton. Examination of evidence is a big part of the mystery, as the evidence literally changes halfway through the trial. It’s the first time you go up against van Zieks and McGilded was a very cool villain. Definitely left a strong impression.

1-4: The Adventure of the Clouded Kokoro

Similarly to how I think that some of the worst content is when too much effort is made to include Sherlock Holmes material, the same applies to real life people. Soseki Natsume is a real human being, and the excessive effort to tell a story of a character that is restrained to his personality in real life makes the overall experience suffer. This is also the least relevant case in the duology. The method of murder assault is too silly. For being the first fully complete case, it feels like it shouldn’t need to exist. Also the fact that Natsume survived the Reaper makes the entire Reaper plotline feel less powerful. At the time, you think McGilded was killed by the Reaper as well so this outcome kinda lessens that impact.

1-5: The Adventure of the Unspeakable Story

This is my favorite case in the entire duology. It brings back and develops my favorite character in the whole story, Gina Lestrade. Pop Windibank gets a good amount of screentime before he dies, too. What I love about this case is that it is the culmination of all of the features in the game. Examining evidence has never been more important. There’s an underlying secret to the evidence that will prove Gina’s innocence. There are multiple summation examinations as well. In terms of the message of this case, I think it’s very well done, especially in contrast to 2-5. Gina Lestrade is a poor orphan diver, who was caught up as an accomplice for McGilded. She feared for her life, and likewise couldn’t resist the threats made against her. When McGilded died, Gina went to claim his items but was thwarted by the culprit, Ashley Graydon. He wanted a certain metal disk, but Inspector Gregson took it from him. Gina returns to the pawnbrokery at night in order to check if Iris’ story regarding the Professor case was still there, but was unfortunately implicated for Windibank’s murder in the process. Using the investigative powers at our disposal, we determine that Graydon was present at the scene, and he was after a second disk and music box in order to decipher a morse code message containing government secrets. He did, in fact, obtain the disk that night. It turns out that Inspector Gregson was covering for Graydon the whole time, so he could get the disk in exchange for information that could fake Graydon’s alibi. In what is one of the most genius application of the game’s mechanics ever, Ryunosuke not only spots Graydon and Gregson conspiring on the witness stand, but notices when Gregson plants the disk on one of the Skulkin brothers right before he consents to a body search. This is an incredibly creative way to apply the game’s mechanics and the outcome is fruitful. With both discs finally in hand, Ryunosuke threatens to play the music box out loud for everyone in the court in order to make Gregson confess that he was in cahoots with the real culprit. When the message starts playing, Gregson confesses to what he did in a panic. A high ranking police officer was completely prepared to throw an impoverished teenage girl under the bus to protect his own skin. It’s an unfortunate truth about corrupt policing and I think the commentary was very well done here. You don’t know this at the time, but van Zieks helps you because he is suspicious of Gregson being a part of the Reaper conspiracy (and he is correct). You also find out in the second game that the actual contents of the disk detail the assassin exchange between Britain and Japan. It’s a case that gets even better with age for those reasons. The only other case in Ace Attorney that redefines the parameters of what the player needs to do in a final showdown are in Justice For All’s final case (and debatably Turnabout Succession). Rather than just pointing out the bad guy, you need to come up with a way to end de Killer’s contract. In this case, you need to make Gregson tell the truth by outwardly threatening his status as the Reaper (which you aren’t aware of at the time). It’s a satisfying way to take out a villain in a position of power. Gina’s character is excellent in this case and it’s super vindicating to point out how she was treated like a scapegoat, just as Ryunosuke was in his first case against Brett. More final cases need to redefine the methods/reasoning for taking down a bad guy like this case (and Farewell, My Turnabout) does.

2-1: The Adventure of the Blossoming Attorney

This case has way less narrative significance than 1-1, but I still think it’s better. I like that we get some time to play as Susato and see more of Yujin. The actual details of the case are way more interesting than the steak dinner in the first game. It also really benefits from a shorter runtime. That being said, a random journalist killing Brett didn’t feel as connected to the story as it should be. Menimemo knew Jigoku, or at least somebody in the government, was conspiring to protect Brett…but that’s about it. He was just an outsider looking in and Rei Membami was arrested simply because he couldn’t own up to what he did. In 1-1, Jigoku knew the entire truth behind the murder because it was part of the assassin exchange that he co-opted. Ryunosuke was an intentional scapegoat. Membami served no such relevance (and her huge place on the game’s boxart plus her name made me think she would be way more relevant then she was!). Brett dying doesn’t have any impact on the story given that she already had killed John Wilson at that point. That being said, it still felt more enjoyable to play.

2-2: The Memoirs of the Clouded Kokoro

In my opinion, this case is marginally better than 1-4. I would still argue that it doesn’t leave filler territory, as the Baskerville collar was the only item of plot relevance and we basically just saw one model of it. The collar never actually appeared in the final chapter nor did it end up being a key piece of evidence like I suspected. Collar aside, this case did feel more satisfying and interesting to play. Shamspeare was the victim, but also the villain, in a way. Olive Green was genuinely a great surprise culprit and her plan to put poison on the gas pipe was pretty genius. The amount of Natsume content we’re getting feels way excessive given how unimportant he is, but whatever. The tea coins were also a really cool aspect of the case.

2-3: The Return of the Great Departed Soul

For all of the love that I see this case getting, it kinda underwhelmed me. It felt extremely bloated and felt like (maybe is) the longest case in the game. Harebrayne was legit one of the most annoying defendants in the entire series. And yes, he apologizes at the end, but that doesn't change the fact that he fought against you in court and had an extreme lack of sympathy. For all of the hate that Max Galactica gets, at least he never downright sabotages you during a trial. The other aspects of the trial, I’m more mixed on. I think there was a lot of info dumped in this case that contributed to the overwhelming feelings of the whole thing. The wax sculptor had a model of The Professor and Drebber stole it to get revenge on the victim, who ruined his life through a newspaper by publicizing the fact that Drebber was the grave digger who saw Genshin Asogi crawl out of his grave before getting shot. Drebber threatened the coroner by using the waxwork of Genshin because he knew she faked his report. The big twist at the end was that the coroner also had her own motives to kill the victim (a case of extortion that was so out of the blue and irrelevant) and that she was actually the killer despite being thought to be an accomplice. The investigation section in Drebber’s hideout was really cool but otherwise this was kind of a drag. Kazuma’s reveal at the end was kinda crazy but nothing we didn’t expect from earlier. The whole teleportation mechanism was dumb because you knew it was a sham from the start and whenever you actually tried to uncover what actually happened, your defendant got upset at you. Oh well, at least the little German boy crying was really funny.

2-4: Twisted Karma and His Last Bow

Okay side note but I audibly cheered when I found out Gregson died LMAO. Anyways, I feel like this mystery itself was very well paced and I think this portion of the case has very little wrong with it. Uncovering the revelation that Gregson was a hand of the Reaper is an interesting twist within itself. Most of my problems with my case are when things escalate in the final chapter. Seeing all of the connections unravel with Daley, the coroner, and Iris is presented very well. And there’s a great dance of deduction. I don’t like that Stronghart took the stand as the judge this early. And I especially don’t like that the core mechanic of the jury was completely removed from the last 2 chapters. And the fact that Jigoku isn’t exposed as the killer in this chapter but the final one. Now that I think about it, I really just like this case on principle. Kazuma being the final prosecutor is a great sight to see, and discovering that he was the assassin to kill Gregson was cool. It’s just that these facts are intrinsically linked with everything I don’t like from the final chapter.

2-5: The Resolve of Ryunosuke Naruhodo

Let me quickly list off the things I like about this chapter. Gina, like always, is great. Her outburst was very heartfelt and the desperation she showed before finally facing the truth was heavy. I like the final dance of deduction. I think having a judge being revealed as the killer was cool, albeit kinda obvious (I suspected him as soon as they gave him a name, and I was basically certain once the group photo was added to the court record). I was suspicious of Gregson since the beginning, and seeing his truth finally being aired out was satisfying and affirming for me. The best twist here was finding out that Klint was the Professor and Iris’ father.
Now let me get to the things I don’t like. Obviously, like I mentioned before, I don’t like that this chapter was split in two. In fact, I’m not even sure why they did it. I’m okay with the writers being more flexible with how they assemble and fill Ace Attorney episodes – it’s just that this game didn’t do a good job with this. And I say that both in reference to 2-4/2-5, and 1-2. It was odd just switching out of the blue to this last chapter and I fail to see why it couldn’t be just one big 2-4. I think hiding the key piece of evidence in the sword was a little lame. A huge gripe that ties in with the ending is that multiple agents of change are completely faceless and only appear for convenience. Queen Victoria and members of the judiciary in the gallery that chant “Testify! Testify!” are never actually shown or established in the story in any major way. Stronghart being the final villain was so painfully obvious and they didn’t even try to hide it. This was hinted to several times before multiple chapters prior. Having an obvious villain isn’t necessarily a bad thing. This chapter shares many similarities with 4-4, but I will go to bat for that chapter, and I have in my Apollo Justice review. But 2-5 isn’t sequel setup, unlike 4-4. Wright big braining the entire case has implications for his character that suggest he is more morally ambiguous than what the player thought. This was hinted at throughout the game, when he forged the bloody ace, and spoke to Apollo about how the current justice system was unable to punish criminals without hard evidence. Sholmes fills a similar role in this case. He miraculously, along with Yujin Mikotoba, gathers every key witness in the lobby so Stronghart doesn’t stop the trial. He has a holographic device (that was never shown before this) that he presents at the very end to announce that Queen Victoria saw the entire thing (we have also never seen Queen Victoria). I’ve seen discussion as to whether this (and the jurist system reveal at the end of 4-4) fit the Deus Ex Machina literary trope. My personal take is that it doesn’t matter whether they fit this distinction or not. See, Stronghart essentially orchestrated every single major act of large scale injustice in London for the past 10 years. He blackmailed Klint, used Barok, and took advantage of his position of power to create the Reaper. The assassin exchange he orchestrated was done to cover up any final traces of blood on his hands from the Professor murders, and Jigoku was forced into it through foreign policy pressures. So when Sholmes announces that a person in an even higher position of power witnesses the entire thing, and that’s the person who exacts punishment, it’s lame. Deus Ex Machina or not, I don’t care. It’s fucking lame and the narrative takeaway is incredibly weak as a result. Compare the moral takeaways from 1-5 and 2-5. Like I mentioned in that recap, 1-5 has you defending a poor urchin, one who covered up a previous murder, because you have faith in your client and her innocence. You won’t stop at anything to do what’s right and defend her, even if that means exposing government secrets. The police force (basically just Gregson lol) is exposed for using a poor girl as a scapegoat for what we later learn to be messages about the assassin exchange. It’s about defending people who are helpless. Gameplay wise, it also makes great use of the mechanics. There are two high stakes summation examinations, and multiple points where witness behavior during testimonies is relevant to the case. 2-5 completely takes away these new mechanics. The big bad can be traced back to one single person in a position of power. To take him out, what do you do…find a loophole?...vigilante justice?...authority from the people in the gallery? Nah, we’ll just have someone in a higher position of power who we’ve never seen before do the hard part for us! One of Kazuma’s biggest goals coming to London was to reform the British legal system. Yet the only change made here was to take out one man in power who conveniently was the source of every problem. Having the solution to the problem being another figure of power undermines the themes of corrupt authority that are present, and it’s why I believe 1-5 deals with these themes in a much better way.

Regarding some other thoughts I had: one of the most infuriating plot points was Ryunosuke’s and Susato’s reluctance to talk about Jezaille Brett. I was practically screaming Brett’s name at the screen every single time they had a conversation with Iris. This plot point was sat on for literally the entire game and I think it’s annoying as hell when protagonists wilfully withhold information that would progress the story. A similar example would be in Justice For All when Phoenix refused to talk about Edgeworth for a majority of the game, leaving the player in the dark.
Sholmes and Iris felt shallow to me. Both characters were primarily comic relief that had moments of profundity to make them seem significant. Sholmes has many similarities with Beanix in the fact that they both masterminded the defeat of a final villain. Like I mentioned earlier, Sholmes doesn’t have the same background reputation, moral greyness, or sequel potential that Phoenix has. Neither Sholmes nor Iris have actual arcs (you could argue Iris does regarding her family but all of the characters refuse to tell her that Klint is her dad so it remains unsatisfying in the end). They were by no means unenjoyable to have around, but they fell flat as dynamic characters.
Susato also felt like untapped potential. It was nice that she was more mature and that her actual job was a judicial assistant. I liked her connection as a Mikotoba and she was fun to play as in 2-1. But she also felt incomplete. 1-5 had her running away after secretly using the cat flap machine, because she kept it a secret and felt unworthy and useless. First of all, this is the exact same character writing that Maya got in Turnabout Goodbyes. Second of all, just like Maya, this was never expanded upon in the sequel!
Kazuma was cool, but it felt weird how he was super intense when he was brought back in the second game. And Ryunosuke and Susato pointed this out, but it never felt like he truly changed back to the kind person he was. For the rest of the game, he seemed kinda edgy and scary, and distanced himself from his friends despite having no reason to. After all, Ryunosuke wasn’t connected to the greater story/Professor case in literally any way. If there was anyone that Kazuma could act normal around, it would be him.
I loved Gina Lestrade and I thought Ryunosuke was a good protagonist.

I would like to make a point about how racism is portrayed in this game. I’m a white guy, so keep that in mind, but I just want to make my stance known whether it matters or not. I saw a couple videos on YouTube recently, one titled “Racism In The Great Ace Attorney” and the other titled “Now people are offended by Ace Attorney lol”. Both videos attack a certain strawman argument that people are upset that racism is portrayed in TGAAC. Let me just be clear that I think it’s incredibly important that racism was portrayed in these games. Xenophobia in Britain is still extremely prevalent nowadays (see Brexit), so you can only imagine how bad it was during the late 1800s/early 1900s when the game takes place. It’s imperative that the struggles of foreigners and POC are not erased and I would never be upset at its inclusion. These videos are specifically attacking the viewpoint that “woke people” don’t like seeing racism in these games because it makes them upset. The second video I mentioned cited a tweet which cited a Wikipedia article which cited two reviews that supposedly had this viewpoint: a Kotaku review and a ”First Post” article. I didn’t read either of these - I would rather watch paint dry than read a Kotaku article and I don’t even know what First Post is. (Edit: I later found out that this channel, Hero Hei, basically makes his entire career out of low effort “anti-woke” content. As soon as a single person expresses their opinion, he victimizes his own viewpoints in his videos and his fanbase overwhelmingly agrees with what he says, which is ironic.) The problem with racism in TGAAC is not that it exists ingame, but how it’s portrayed. More specifically, how the main characters don’t react to it. There are several characters who engage in casual racism towards the player and Susato. Van Zieks has it as a part of his arc and I don’t have that much to say about his writing, but when he or a juror engages in blatantly racist remarks towards the player and Ryunosuke doesn’t even react…yeah, it feels a bit weird. Soseki Natsume was actually written the best in this regard. The othering of him as a Japanese person was one of the reasons he hated his time in London and went back home. It’s just a shame that Natsume was poorly written into the story and he remains largely irrelevant to the plot at large. He was deeply affected by his poor treatment in London, so it’s all the more odd that Ryunosuke and Susato have practically nothing to say about this. The British justice system from the start was prejudiced against Japanese people. Many jurors along with the prosecutor were quick to display their prejudices. I noted before that Kazuma’s wish to change the justice system never really followed through, with the story instead opting to pin all of its problems on a single person. I think that plot failure reflects in the lackluster amount of attention that racism in the justice system got. It’s important, but was still treated as irrelevant.

Anyways…The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles gives me new hope for the franchise. Having it be an independent set of stories was one of the best directions for the series to go in. I don’t want a TGAA3, I think it can be put to rest and we can move on to another cool new concept. It has some major problems that I won’t overlook, but it provides one of the most interconnected overarching plots along with the most refined gameplay the series has to offer. I highly recommend it.

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