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Archive for March 26, 2010

Ronin’s Reviews: Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth

Ronin’s Review #5


Ace Attorney Investigations

Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth

Available on the Nintendo DS

Notable Tropes:

Bunny Ears Lawyer

Continuity Porn

Deadpan Snarker

So begins Part One of a multi-part series called… “Gaming March Madness: When Everyone Decides to Release Their Games At the Same Time”. Sure it’s a long title, but then again so is the game I’m about to review. For those of you who do not know, Ace Attorney Investigations is a spin-off from the core Ace Attorney games, with protagonist prosecutor Miles Edgeworth. After getting swept up into events all concerning a particular smuggling ring, he and a couple of helping hand, leave the courtroom in order to do a little detective work.

A little history lesson is in order. The first game in the core series, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, was released as Gyakuten Saiban on the Game Boy Advance back in 2001.It didn’t get an English release until it was remade for the DS in 2005. The first three Ace Attorney games centered around defense attorney Phoenix Wright, while the fourth centered around his successor of sorts, Apollo Justice. A fifth Ace Attorney game is currently in the works, though the only fact known about it is in fact that it exists. There’s no word on whether it will continue the Phoenix Wright or Apollo Justice saga, or feature some new protagonist. But after the fourth Ace Attorney game was released it was announced that Miles Edgeworth, probably the most popular side-character in the series, was getting his own game.  Edgeworth entered the series as the rival for Wright. Edgeworth starts out as the cold, perfection-driven prosecutor interested only in getting a guilty verdict, but as time goes on and the story progresses, Phoenix ends up making a dramatic influence on his behavior. By the time his own game rolls around, he keeps his regal presence and can still be rather harsh to his subordinates , but he now values the absolute truth over any sort of verdict.

The Ace Attorney games are a series of text-adventure games that emphasis critical thinking and logic while telling stories that are welcomed in both dramatic and humorous circles. The universe that the series takes place in is rather peculiar. The games generally take place somewhere around 10 years in the future, yet everyone still uses VHS tapes. The American justice system has evolved into one without a jury of your peers, instead defendants are guilty until proven innocent, and trials must conclude within three days because of laws passed to expedite trial proceedings. The American populace has suddenly become more influenced by Japanese culture, so I can only assume they have become the leading world power. Though this world may seem strange and confusing, it only stands to help the design of the game. One of the series’ most notable features has been its rather unorthodox cast of characters. The design and dialogue have been a high point of the games since the beginning and still carry through in Ace Attorney Investigations. Which is good since, well, dialogue takes up quite a lot of a game that is advanced primarily through text. It takes a certain kind of skill to make me laugh out loud when playing a game, and the Ace Attorney games deliver, especially Investigations.

While the original Ace Attorney games split up the action between investigation stages and courtroom stages, Miles Edgeworth spends all of his time in the field in his game. But he still takes a bit of the courtroom with him. When information needs extraction from a witness, it is taken in a process practically identical to previous courtroom interrogations. Listen to the person’s testimony, press where more information is needed, and present evidence when a contradiction is seen. The main difference between Investigations and the core series, lies in the ability to actually control a character. In the core series the gameplay amounted to examining crime scenes as static screens. In Investigations Edgeworth moves around within the scene and physically interacts with his surroundings. When a particular area needs closer inspection, it shifts to a static screen similar to that of previous games.

You might be saying, “it seems like you’ve spent more time talking about the older games than actually reviewing this one.” Well, I guess that is true. The gameplay is good. As is the story, sound, and presentation. The problem is that the only way I can describe this game is by comparing it with the ones that preceded it, and I can’t guarantee everyone has played those. There are many parts of this game that can only be fully enjoyed if the player has experienced the Ace Attorney games.  I’d say that this is a game for Ace Attorney fans, except even Ace Attorney games are for Ace Attorney fans.  But everyone I talk to that has experienced the series  enjoys it, so there really isn’t a reason to not be an Ace Attorney fan after playing the series. While I can’t necessarily recommend this game to anyone who hasn’t played the Ace Attorney games, I can recommend anyone who hasn’t played them to give them a try. And then I can recommend this game. With five games in all, the series is certain to supply anyone with a DS with hours upon hours of enjoyment. Even those who do not own a DS can get the first three Ace Attorney games on the Wii thanks to the WiiWare downloads.

Verdict: This isn’t a game that I think everyone should play, it is in fact a series that I think everyone should play. This game improved and expanded upon its predecessor, just as that one did with its predecessor. The only way to enjoy the experience in its entirety is to seek out the original, and follow the lineage. Phoenix Wright : Ace Attorney, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Justice for All, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations, Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth. With than many colons and subtitles, you know a series is on the up and up.