Western fans of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - and anyone who thinks they could have made a great lawyer if only they hadn't spent their school years playing video games instead of studying - can start celebrating. After six years, The Great Ace Attorney: Adventures and The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles 2: Resolve are coming to Nintendo Switch, PS4 and PC. The games were previously only available on 3DS in Japanese, and later iOS and Android, but on July 27 will be released as a bundle titled The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles.
If you've been slacking off when it comes to Phoenix Wright family history, the game tells the story of Wright's ancestor and Ryunosuke Naruhodo, a student during the Victorian era. He's been accused of the murder of a professor over a steak dinner, and finds himself forced to defend himself against the accusation in court. To make things all the more complicated, the professor was English and the situation is tricky politically, and various nefarious forces are working to pervert the course of justice. Aren't they always? To win, you'll need to prove yourself to the judge, and take on the prosection, all in a time before CCTV, DNA evidence, or phone records.
Evidence and people connected with the case are stored in a menu and can be checked and presented during the court case. Witnesses can be shown to be lying by presenting the right evidence, or pressed to try and reveal a crucial detail. Some evidence, like medical reports, can be manipulated and studied so they can be examined more closely for details that could have a crucial bearing on the case. The first case, "The Adventure of the Great Departure" is really a tutorial designed to set up Ryunosuke as a complete law noob forced to defend himself, his BFF Kazuma as a steely legal genius who is on hand to guide you through the process, and give you the basics on cross-examining witnesses and presenting evidence. You're not going to feel like a genius for figuring out anything here, as any key elements are signposted so clearly they may as well have a neon arrow pointing in their exact direction. I mean, one key clue is discovered because a witness scribbled it on the back of his own business card, thus revealing their secret identity. Moriarty has nothing to worry about.
Stick with it though, and soon things move to London, where there's less hand-holding and more chances to embarrass yourself in front of the court. You can observe witnesses even when they're not speaking to catch them out, and battle with juries who toss balls of flames into the scales of justice to decide the fate of the defendant. I don't remember that particular lesson in the history of British law, but it certainly makes for a more interesting scene than the average episode of Judge Judy. You might get to investigate an actual crime scene, and will be faced with the "Reaper of the Old Bailey", a formidable if distractingly dapper prosecutor.
Slow wheels of justice
The Ace Attorney games have always played through their courtroom scenes at a leisurely stroll, and from the first few cases, these are no different. If you can learn to adjust your needs for instant gratification, you're rewarded with a detective story packed with personality, but if you're more of a wham, bam, shoot the murderer with a shotgun type, you're going to struggle with the heavy reading between moments when you're expected to act. It's easy to get frustrated too, when you think you've spotted a key fact in the trial, but need to wait for the story to catch up so you can present it. That frustration is usually balanced out by the storytelling and appealing characters around you, but this isn't a game you can speedrun through. Even with the text speed set to maximum, there's plenty of time to make a sandwich between key scenes while the story chugs along. Be warned, you can't get too invested in hunting in the fridge for your mayonnaise, as you might miss a key piece of information if you look away too long. The only way to play is to sit down in an imposing-looking chair, put on your detective hat, grab a pipe and settle in for the journey.
From what we got a chance to play, fans of Ace Attorney who have been eying the Japanese version jealously for six years will be thrilled to have a new reason to shout Objection. Newer players might find the gentle pace of the game's visual novel style a little frustrating, but give it a chance and the charm will win convince you to find it not guilty of wasting your time.