Although we're big fans of point-and-tap whodunit games like the Phoenix Wright series, we can't quite get behind private detective Jake Hunter. Detective Chronicles has a ton of potential, but ham-handed presentation and "so simple a baby could do it" hand-holding make this gumshoe seem more like a goofball.
There are three cases for you to play through, all of which involve you going to a crime scene, talking to everyone until you learn the needed clues, and then going back to your office and puffing down cancer sticks and reviewing the day's events (via a neat quiz-style game in which you recall the details) until the facts become clear. This is literally true - Jake thinks when he smokes, so he's at his most brilliant when his alveoli are crying for mercy.
That would all still be fine, but there are some big strikes against Jake Hunter: Detective Chronicles. The first is its rigid insistence on helping you play. Once you've entered an important location, the game won't let you leave until you've found every clue to be had there. And if you make a mistake, it tells you right away so you can make reparations. This kills the suspense, removes any sense of freedom, and makes you feel like you're watching instead of playing.
Second is the story itself. The cases aren't terribly creative and the dialogue is often flat and poorly translated from the original Japanese. You'll also likely love or hate the atmosphere - Jake is the stereotypical gritty, film noir-type private eye, with all the trenchcoats, dames, and languidly rising smoke that entails. Cliché, or classic? You decide.
Our favorite part of the game was the soundtrack, which is totally unique. It's full of the kind of slowly burning jazz that detective movies always have playing in dark nightclubs, but with a chiptunes-y style that makes it sound all chirpy and videogame-like. The visual portion of the game isn't quite as compelling or unique - okay, it's just plain bland, and the characters' expressions never seem to change - but it gets the job done. Do you need this game? Maybe, if you just can't wait for the next Ace Attorney. Just be aware that Jake isn't as flashy, quirky, lovable, or cool.
Jun 24, 2008