Home Lates The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles offers a captivating blend of historical education and entertainment, leaning more towards a lesson in history rather than a comedy

The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles offers a captivating blend of historical education and entertainment, leaning more towards a lesson in history rather than a comedy

The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles offers a captivating blend of historical education and entertainment, leaning more towards a lesson in history rather than a comedy

The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles takes a more somber stance towards Ace Attorney’s legal fights. While it retains its colorful cast of characters and unconventional strategies, the game seems considerably different overall, in both positive and negative ways. The Great Ace Attorney’s premise seems like a joke you have to explain to people because of Ace Attorney’s excellent localization: Ryunosuke Naruhodo, your protagonist, is meant to be an ancestor of Phoenix Wright, who was originally called Ryuichi Naruhodo. The renaming highlights an issue that, until recently, was frequent in Japanese media: the notion that the cultural overtones of a Japanese work may overwhelm or confound Western listeners if they were adopted as something else. It’s also the rationale for the refusal to localize several Yakuza and Shin Megami Tensei titles.

While The Great Ace Attorney is a very Japanese duology (some characters have still been renamed for that extra bit of punny sweetness), Ace Attorney was transformed into its own cultural product in the west thanks to the localization, which upped the hilarity with punny names and allusions to western culture. The games are set during the Meiji period in Japan and the Victorian era in Britain, which were significant periods in history for both nations. Rather than being a series of ever more dramatic court cases, I see both games as commentary on both historical periods.

Due to the first case’s circumstances, the unfortunate Ryunosuke found himself in the spotlight and had to appear in court to defend himself. You get familiar with all of the gameplay features from earlier Ace Attorney games as you hear witness testimony and then face cross-examination. You may urge witnesses to provide more details on a statement they made during the cross-examination, which may allow you to get fresh information. All of your current evidence is included in your court record, and you may raise an objection to any remark that you believe to be at odds with the evidence by using your well-known “Objection!” cry.

Very nothing is objectionable at first from Ryunosuke, who starts off as a lawyer by yelling “yes!” and clumsily raising his hand before becoming more certain with time. After a terrible incident, he finds himself traveling to England on a steamboat to complete his fast-track legal school. There, he meets the legendary consulting detective Herlock Holmes. Because of the jury system used in English courts, Ryunosuke must persuade both the jury and the judge in order for the proceedings to go as planned. This notion doesn’t really contribute much to the gameplay. Every trial will culminate with a Summation Examination when the jury finds the defendant guilty by a unanimous vote. Every juror is required to explain their choice, and you are tasked with putting people who have different opinions against one another in order to break the jury’s consensus and allow the trial to proceed.

While it seems like a good concept in theory, it always ends up the same way—that is, it just makes each really lengthy case longer. The concept of cross-examining many witnesses while they are testifying is also applicable, as it was in Professor Layton v. Phoenix Wright. When you question one witness, the other could flinch or exclaim, “Aha!” in a loud voice, revealing a contradiction in the most visible way possible—a somewhat clumsy approach to learn new information.

But Herlock Holmes’ Dance of Deduction, the third new element, has me kind of smitten. You see, The Great Ace Attorney games aren’t only historical parody; they’re also openly fanfiction about Sherlock Holmes. There are several minor allusions to the original, in addition to the presence of several characters from Arthur Conan Doyle’s writings. Of all of them, this one has to be the best; Sherlock Holmes and a few other characters have been renamed in the localized version since the Doyle Estate still owns the rights to several Sherlock Holmes novels.

Herlock is a prick who shows up out of nowhere to claim to have solved the case, but unlike the real Sherlock Holmes, he often makes shocking mistakes. This is where you come in; you have to correct Herlock once he has made his calculation. The correction itself is rather straightforward: you examine a tiny area of the picture and choose one of a very small number of options to replace an earlier piece of information that Herlock used to draw his conclusion. However, the show! It’s kind of a dance, masterfully animated, giving an otherwise very static series some amazing camera work and giving the moment a real feeling of exhilaration at winning the case instead of the desperation of the courtroom.

Though The Great Ace Attorney games play similarly to Ace Attorney in many areas, I believe it’s vital to note that they have a distinct narrative aim. This may frustrate longtime fans of the series, but it also provides an option for those who find Ace Attorney to be too silly. The first Ace Attorney was more about exposing outrageously over-the-top villains than it was about being in court; you could tell who had done something just by clapping your eyes over specific characters.

Ace Attorney was primarily concerned with “how,” not “if,” and the how had to be extraordinary to the point where it may be difficult to play the game; challenging answers are entertaining for spectators but not so much for engaged players. The Great Ace Attorney is much more attentive to court procedures and the nuances of justice, as well as much more helpful. Susato Mikotoba, the judicial assistant, is always at your side and may provide guidance on where to search for hints during an inquiry or in court. However, I was inherently limited in my alternatives, so I seldom got sunk in. Crimes are much less absurd, and even when they are a touch exaggerated, your logic flows quite easily, which is excellent writing, in my opinion. As (S)Holmes would remark, “Whatever remains after you eliminate the impossible must be the truth.”

This is a game about the relationship between Japan and Great Britain, not courtroom bombs at the last minute. It is easier to appreciate if you have some prior information, so here it is: A few years after Commodore Perry secured Japan’s opening and thereby cleared the path for diplomatic ties between Japan and various western nations, GAA takes place in the Meiji era. The British monarchy served as a partial basis for the now-revoked constitution of the Empire of Japan.

Essentially, Britain was one of the nations who considered Japan as basically inferior because of their determination on retaining parts of their own customs and their disinterest towards Christianity, but the Japanese felt Great Britain was great and even attempted to follow its methods of colonization. The central conflict, which you don’t hear much about until the very last few cases, depicts a group of Japanese people torn between wanting to fit into this new idea of Japaneseness and violently rejecting it for the sake of their own cultural identity. The game depicts a lot of the casual, smarmy racism of the time. It’s a delicate balancing act, and one that could cause people to misinterpret the game as imperialist, but it’s surprisingly relevant even today, in a Japan plagued by the notion that dealing with the West and losing to Western powers during World War II cost Japan its honor, and that some things are simply too Japanese for Westerners to comprehend.

Though unevenly divided over two games—especially since those games primarily use a cast of unlikeable characters to illustrate that conflict—it’s all extremely intriguing. Not my favorite Ace Attorney character, but intriguing nevertheless when you consider the game’s historical context. Several cases include well-known novelist Natsume Soseki. In contrast to Ace Attorney, where you had to defend friends and learn a little bit about each cast member with each case, a lot of the content seems disconnected here. Since Ryunosuke just has Herlock and Susato to play off of, you don’t get to know him very well. He also seems kind of passive since he isn’t even involved in the game’s amazing twist. I just wish Ace Attorney’s spinoff had better characters since I like Ace Attorney’s cast of characters.

Like many spinoffs, The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles is a charming package that falls short of the original that you instantly compare it to. Whatever the case, there’s a lot to admire about this game: it attempts some new things in terms of gameplay and scenario, it makes fun allusions, and Shu Takumi’s writing is always delightful, regardless of what else he releases. Many people may find the historical setting to be a bit of a niche interest, but rather than twisting the truth to say that this is exactly like the Ace Attorney you know and love, or that it’s a prequel or an excellent place to start the series, which it isn’t, I’d rather tell you straight up: do you enjoy period dramas? Go ahead and do it.


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