The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles Preview: No objections here

Let's step back in time...

Of the many announcements made in the lead up to E3 2021, perhaps one of the more surprising for those in the know was Capcom finally confirming that The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles was finally coming to English markets. The Chronicles collection contains two games originally released for the 3DS in Japan only: The Great Ace Attorney: Adventures, and The Great Ace Attorney 2: Resolve, released in 2015 and 2017 respectively.

Despite the widespread popularity of the Ace Attorney series in international markets, a local release for these two games was never announced for non-Japanese players. All that is set to change in a month’s time however, as the Chronicles collection arrives for Playstation 4, Nintendo Switch and PC players on July 27. The good folks at Capcom have given us early hands-on access to a few of the cases in Adventures, to assist in your investigations before putting the game on trial yourself this July. No objections? Very well, let’s proceed.

Stepping away from the modern-day setting of the main Ace Attorney titles, these games take us back to the turn of the 20th century, during Japan’s Meiji era (a time that coincides with the Victorian age in England). Jumping back a century means a whole new cast, with new protagonist Ryunosuke Naruhodo, an ancestor of the main series’ Phoenix Wright, taking the reins.  Starting off as a rookie lawyer, Ryunosuke expands his confidence and skills as he defends his clients in the new legal world of Victorian London.

In the time we spent with The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles, we were able to experience gameplay from a few cases in the original Adventures title. Starting in Japan, the first case sees Ryunosuke defending himself after being accused of killing a professor from his university – this case reintroduces the basics of the Ace Attorney games, with players learning alongside Ryunosuke the core skills of the courtroom – investigating evidence, cross-examining witness’ testimonies for flaws and drawing conclusions to further your case.

As the game’s story progresses to London a new complication is added to proceedings, with the introduction of a panel of jurors. Where previous games in the series tasked you with convincing the judge of your client’s innocence, later cases in the games have a panel of six jury members who need to be swayed to your side.

Over the course of the hearing, jurors can cast their vote for a guilty or not guilty verdict until a unanimous decision is reached. This part of the process is pretty straightforward, but it wouldn’t be a true Japanese visual novel without some spectacle – perhaps casting their votes by shooting personal fireballs at a set of scales, to physically weigh the defendant’s innocence? Yes, that’s just how they did it in 19th century England.

The visual remaster from the game’s original 3DS release also makes playing this game on a TV an absolute joy. Character models are crisp and vibrant, with smooth animations full of character. A particular favourite was watching the very nervous Ryunosuke try to imitate the other legal professionals in the room, pointing dramatically or thumping the desk with their fists. As he tries to mimic them, there’s an animation used where he too thumps on his desk, but very softly – before proceeding to his next line of dialogue, he glances awkwardly at his hands for their less-than-imposing volume. It’s a small moment of characterisation that really helps endear you to the game’s lead.

The game is full of these moments that endear you to its story and cast, which is to its benefit – because if there’s one thing that has not changed throughout the series, it’s  v e r y   s l o w   t e x t. While the game’s script isn’t voiced, the rollout of the text boxes is carefully timed to match the intended tone; a reluctant stamen will appear slowly, letter by letter, while an enthusiastic statement will rush on to the screen.

I appreciate the effort here – and the option to turn on autoplay of the text boxes, including the ability to shorten or lengthen the pause before moving on to the next line – because as a person who reads pretty quickly, it’s still a bit arduous as it is. From the moment the first line popped up to announce the date and location of the very first scene, punched out to the sound of a typewriter, I was reminded of how much of a challenge to enjoyment this had posed since my first time with the series back on the DS. It’s definitely not a dealbreaker by any means, but be prepared that this is a game you will need to set aside time for decent play sessions to get through.

All in all, I had a great time with The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles – it’s a great mystery game that’s had a gorgeous glow-up for its 2021 release. I had a lot of fun trying to guess the solution to each case’s mysteries, reforming my theory as new evidence and testimony were added each time. The game is great at slowly drip-feeding the solution to you, without any Monkey Island-esque nonsense logic to trip you up.

We here at Stevivor are looking forward to checking out The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles when it arrives 27 July on Windows PC, PS4 and Switch in Australia.

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About the author

Matt Gosper

aka Ponk – a Melburnian gay gamer who works with snail mail. Enthusiastically keeping a finger in every pie of the games industry. I'll beat you at Mario Kart, and lose to you in any shooter you can name.