How the Great Ace Attorney Finally Went Abroad

Shu Takumi is probably best well-known as the creator of Capcom’s hit Ace Attorney franchise, a series of detective-adventure games which casts players in the role of truth-seeking lawyers. Less well-known, perhaps, is his hobby as an stage magician or illusionist – a craft that serves him well in the field of both magic and mysteries.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/3aq54w/how-the-great-ace-attorney-finally-went-abroad

Shu Takumi is an illusionist? … Of course he is. That just makes sense. Also explains why magicians and stage artists star so frequently in the AA series, lmao.

Edit: Lots of good tidbits in this article. Takumi talking about his attention to text flow and sound effects are great and part of what makes the games so much fun to read. I’ve played many visual novels and most are really monotonous to read, even when the stories are interesting. Meanwhile, some AA cases may be bad but they’re always a breeze. Must be a lot of work for the writers, producers and localizers to implement but it makes such a difference.

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I am very much looking forward to Great Ace Attorney Chronicles in just a couple of weeks! Over the past month, I’ve been replaying the series from the beginning, and am delighted to find that I’ve forgotten almost all the details of the cases minus a few big ones, so it’s almost (but not quite) like playing the games again for the first time.

I’m currently on Apollo Justice, and am enjoying much more than my memories of that game led me to believe. But still that original trilogy of GBA games really is an incredible achievement. The end of Trials and Tribulations blew me away in terms of the skill at plotting across three games, and even all the loose threads coming together within Trials and Tribulations itself.

My expectations are pretty high on Great Ace Attorney, but I’ve heard mostly good things about them so I hope they can be met!

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This is what makes the games stand out to me the most and I feel like not enough designers understand. Just because you are presenting text does not mean it needs to just be text. The speed of the text, the sound effects of the text as it displays, it all contributes into a much more impressive and charming experience.

Think about Runescape for example, the thing that will always sticks into my mind is the goofy text formatting everyone was doing. That’s part of why I liked that game in middle school was the silly rainbow wavy text going across the screen.

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Oh, The Great Ace Attorney. If I ignore Investigations 2, the first TGA is tied for me with Trials and Tribulations for the best Ace Attorney by a long shot and the second game is supposed be better than the first in every regard. I can’t wait. And my lord, the soundtrack is nothing short of phenomenal!

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Played the first case last night and wow was it long. It took about 3-4 hours and my partner and I figured it out after the two hours or so, so the rest of it was unbearably slow. I’m hoping this is just the case since it was a tutorial. Usually the games do a better job of characters picking up on inconsistencies within a few minutes of the player noticing them, but this time it was a solid two hours between us noticing the steaks were swapped and the player character noticing.

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Hah, well deduced. I got that more or less when the story wanted me to, shortly before the characters realized. But I agree that the first case was slowly paced, even if I liked it.

The music is fantastic so far and I love the localization work, not just with names and text but also the interface details.

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I also thought the first game’s introductory case was weirdly long. I figured the opening would be longer than usual given the completely different setting but I definitely wasn’t expecting the trial being split in 3 parts especially when you can pick up on what the big twist is pretty early on. They drop a lot of hints that the steak will eventually be The Thing but I don’t think I figured it out until I noticed the one you examine had huge bite marks in it.

Something that’s been bugging me outside of that is some of the names. One of the more memorable aspects of the Ace Attorney games has been the wordplay in the character names, especially the one-off characters that don’t show up outside of a single case. If I’m being honest, those are some of my favorite things about the series’ sense of humor. (Shoutsouts to the bomb defusal expert named Ted Tonate from Dual Destinies and the guy that’s named after Romaine Lettuce in Apollo Justice, by the way.)

For as much as I’m tickled by the pun names, there’s something about the way the Japanese witnesses in that first case are named that’s a little… off to me. They remind me of the Khura’inese names from Spirit of Justice in that there are names that are so clearly meant to be jokes and that there are names that are meant to be just normal, unassuming names. The Khura’inese names are a little different since it’s a fictional country that is rather obviously based on various South Asian countries but it’s so weird seeing faux-Japanese names that are in line with the style of names used for the localizations next to the original Japanese names where the wordplay is less apparent if you’re unfamiliar with the language.

Not sure if I have a hard stance on it but like I said this particular localization choice has given me a little bit of pause. Curious to know y’all think or you’ve had a similar reaction or not.

In any case, I know people hype up this duology quite a bit and I’m glad I can finally get a chance to play them both! I’ll also say I really like the package the collection comes in too. I always thought these games translated exceptionally well to 3D and just can’t get over how nice the models and animations look. The behind the scenes, bonus and gallery stuff in the collection also looked pretty neat from the little bit that I saw of it! I’d really love it if the second trilogy got a collection like this one too…

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So does the game pick up after the first trial? I’ve spent two play sessions slogging through it (still not done) and it’s honestly been kind of tedious.

This is my first AA game. I’ve enjoyed similar games like Famicom Detective Club and Aviary Attorney, so I figured this would be up my alley. But the pacing feels off, with a lot of time spent explaining the obvious and going in circles.

I find the setting/art/music really appealing, so I hope it ends up clicking for me.

While I enjoyed my time with The Great Ace Attorney, I don’t think it represents the overall pacing and quality of the mainline AA games. I found all the stuff in between trials in TGAA tedious as well (and even some of the newer trial mechanics arent as fun imo).

You really can’t go wrong with original trilogy.

The original trilogy are some of the best games I’ve ever played, no cap.

But you know, I think I realized something as I slogged through 1-2 yesterday (Adventure of the Unbreakable Speckled Band). Part of the enjoyment for me (an enjoyment that extended to Investigations and Apollo Justice) was getting to play it sitting on my sofa, or in bed with the lights off. Having the DS in my hands gave the game a very different feeling from sitting at my desk after a long day of telecommuting. The latter sort of made the game feel like work.

Some of this is to blame on 1-2, which is all investigation, no trial (trials are the best part of AA, don’t @ me). Eventually I was worried I’d get carpal tunnel and turned on autoscroll, and the game dragged me through such a long linear dialogue tree (stick?) that my monitor turned off. I’m not talking about cutscenes, I talking about the portion of the game that is ostensibly gameplay.

And listen, I’m not complaining that *AA *is too much a visual novel. Two of the best games I’ve ever played, and my favorites, are Suzerain and Disco Elysium. I don’t demand visual flair from my hyperlink fiction. But where GAA differs from, say, Batman is Screaming, is that the latter lets you engage at your own pace. Suzerain and DE both let you do that. All good visual novels should, unless they are insisting upon fully taking control from you, like in a cutscene.

With GAA we lose the snappiness of the sprites in the original trilogy. Even if you click through dialogue so that you don’t have to watch each letter type into the text box, there’s still this weird… lag, I guess. It hangs for half a second before you try to click through to the next, and I blame this on the animations of the 3D models. GAA looks good, there’s no doubt about that–but I also don’t know that it looks significantly better than the wicked sprite work in AA. And if they look roughly the same in terms of quality, then the only remaining factor is how they complement the experience.

GAA never lets you feel breathless in the way that AA’s snappier spritework and more responsive skip button did. It has the same issues of worn-down shoe leather as AA, but AA at least made it easy enough to speed through the parts where Phoenix looks at the murder weapon and goes “This looks familiar, but I can’t quite put my finger on why…” and you go “Because it’s the murder weapon” and your supporting character goes “Hey Phoenix, doesn’t this remind you of something? Go into the court record and see if there’s any E V I D E N C E to jog your memory.”

I don’t know, I might have to see if I can get it to play on my laptop. If I’m curled up under a blanket with a cup of coffee I might enjoy it more.

It’s odd. Ace Attorney has always been a series that I’ve kind of loved in spite of itself. I’m generally not a fan of cartoonishness, the puns don’t land for me, and the highly shonen tone has often created a bit of a dissonance with what’s actually going on in the plot (putting aside the fact that I’m not a fan of shonen in general). Thus far (maybe five or six hours in), I have felt that GAA insists on itself in a way that AA did not. Herlock’s dance of deduction is cute but I loathe the fact that it has to play out in exhaustive entirety before you can even begin to amend it, and that before you can amend it Ryusuke has to stop and check in with Susato so she can remind him that she thinks Herlock is a great detective, but maybe he needs to tweak it here and there. Yes, as I said, it is a game that too often insists on itself.

Not to get too off topic, but should I play Aviary Attorney? I’m very intrigued but I’ve heard that it has hard-lock lose states in a way that AA doesn’t.

Aviary Attorney is short and the mysteries are much simpler than in AA, but it’s very charming! It’s not really lose states, but you can lose a trial and the story continues to the next chapter with some degree of consequences for your failures. There are branching paths and different conclusions depending on your results ; it’s a neat idea, though a bit limited in the execution.

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Having now finished the second case in the first game in the collection, the game’s pace as a whole seems positively glacial compared to all the other Ace Attorney games.

At a very basic level, I feel like the text just populates on the screen at a much slower pace that’s unlike any of the other games. I would assume this cadence is a deliberate choice since these games are pretty particular about that sort of thing (it wouldn’t surprise me if certain characters ‘spoke’ slower to imply that they’re speaking in a second language, for example) but not being able to quickly advance system level stuff like evidence being added to the court record was driving me up a wall. So I went dug into the options and turned ‘Text Skip’ (it’s under Gameplay in the menu) on, which immediately helped with that issue! The option makes it so that you can advance through text more quickly or hold down a button to skip through stuff you might’ve already read.

Structurally, it’s felt really weird to go into the third case of an Ace Attorney game without feeling like the game has properly started. For me that mostly comes from not being inside the familiar flow the typically begins with each game’s second case of Investigation → Trial → Investigation… and so on. I really enjoyed the presentation of Sholmes’ flashy Dance of Deduction but it really feels like a conciliatory halfway point between the functionality of something like Apollo’s Bracelet or Athena’s Mood Matrix which are mechanics that aid you in bringing the truth to light plus the standard trial mechanics of using evidence to expose contradictions.

Both parts function well enough and narratively it makes total sense why you only do that for the whole case but I was still a little underwhelmed with it process itself is so simple once you get into it. I could see the Dance working way more for me when it isn’t the sole vehicle you use for solving a case. Outside of any other pure mechanical stuff, I’m really looking forward to starting the third case now because I feel like the game is, both narratively and mechanically, about to begin in earnest.

I’ll also admit that I was a little skeptical if this first game was gonna hit or not based on what I’d seen of it… but I was seconds away from bursting into tears when I was wrapping up the second case. So, uh, looking forward to getting completely owned (emotionally) as I make my way through both games!

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So, unfortunately, I’ve done the third case and it is another more limited tutorial one, introducing some peculiarities of the British court system. It also feels a bit like a retread of old ground having played the original trilogy. I still enjoyed it, it definitely has some tricks up its sleeve that I wasn’t expecting, but I like the experience of going from investigation to trial and was disappointed that I’m only getting it in the fourth case. Definitely a game I’m having to be patient with, in a lot of ways.

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I’m mid-third case and I’ll echo that the game is paced slowly compared to many other entries in the series (especially the first trilogy). Nonetheless, I’m really enjoying my time with it. There’s a lot of setup and a for the series heavy emphasis on character development. I’m curious to see how this will pay off either in the first game or across the duology.

There’s also a playful relation to the Sherlock Holmes’ stories that I really enjoy. Not just in Sholmes but in how certain aspects play out in the AA puzzle mold.

I wrapped up GAA2 yesterday. I agree with a lot of the criticisms of pacing of the first game raised here. For what it’s worth, the pacing of the sequel is like night and day - I enjoyed every case.

I suspect some of the issues in the first game may be tied to the fact that this was the first AA game marketed as a “two-parter” (rather than more isolated, episodic entries). I also think they were messing with the “investigation” phases a lot more in the first game, whereas the second has a much more conventional AA structure.

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I’m at the start of case 2 of Resolve and having a great time so far. As others have said, my biggest criticism is how long-winded some sections were but I personally didn’t mind the shakeup in the structure of the first game. It’s been a while since I played the original trilogy but the cases so far felt more grounded, which I prefer as well (we’re not taking testimonies from parrots… at least not yet). And man, Natsume Soseki showing up was a really inspired idea.

If anyone’s interested in behind-the-scenes stuff about this game, I recommend checking out the official blog as they’re putting out a lot of interesting posts about the production, localization, dub etc, and some pretty candid tidbits as well.

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