Ace Attorney Investigations: A Different Take on the Series

By Ishaan . February 28, 2010 . 6:30pm It certainly took long enough, but a year after its Japanese release, Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth is finally out. Was the long, painful wait for the return of the original cast worth it? Since the series is known for being extremely story-driven, the extent to which you’ve invested yourself in these characters and their world, and your expectations of the game will be what decides how much you get out of it.


Ace Attorney Investigations game starts out rather slow, and admittedly, is a little lacking in the humour department. Edgeworth stood out in the Ace Attorney games because he was such a contrast to the other lunatics you would often find yourself associating with. Getting to play as him in the final case of Trials & Tribulations was a real treat because he really couldn’t be any more different from Phoenix, and watching him swoop down out of nowhere onto a case that he wasn’t even monitoring from the very beginning and work his wonders was incredible.


In Ace Attorney Investigations, however, you’ll be hearing a lot of his eloquent monologues and they aren’t quite as funny as Nick’s daft-yet-somehow-insightful observations. Gumshoe’s own idiotic brand of humour is getting a little old, too, and you’re so used to his antics by now, they tend not to surprise you anymore. Also, since the game doesn’t take place in the courtroom and your opponents’ theatrics aren’t nearly as outrageous as in the original trilogy, Ace Attorney Investigation’s humour can feel a little dry. To the game’s credit, however, it does have its hilarious moments.


Right off the bat, the first case makes one thing very clear: the logic in Ace Attorney Investigations is far more down-to-earth than that of the previous games. On the one hand, this can feel like a real boon when you’re at a loss for what to do. On the other, as some of our Japanese brethren pointed out, it makes each case feel like less of a "turnabout." But more on this shortly. Ace Attorney Investigations introduces what is called the Logic system. As you walk around the environments and examine things, Edgeworth "etches the facts into the forefront of his mind" (his words, not mine). These facts are then accessible via a Logic button, which allows you to connect different facts together to form a hypothesis. If you connect the correct facts, a hypothesis is formed. If you connect the wrong facts, Edgeworth’s lifebar goes "ker-bash!", complete with his "Ack!" animation.


Once you conclude your investigation of the current scene, you move onto interrogating the other people involved in the case. This — and, surprisingly, not the investigation aspect — is where the game gives you a taste of its real potential.


Ace Attorney Investigations does some interesting things with the interrogation system. Even though you’re investigating the crime scene, sometimes, it feels like you’re the one being interrogated. Perhaps this is because, in every case, at least one of your dealings is with cutthroat individuals who bear some sort of grudge against you. This is particularly prominent in case two, where Edgeworth is framed for murder, and before you can make any progress whatsoever, you must first clear his name.


Even more interesting, sometimes, the cross-examination can be very different, emotionally, from anything previously seen in Ace Attorney. This is because, sometimes, you actually find yourself caring for the person you’re examining. The thing is, Edgeworth himself is extremely professional. Not cold, not without concern…just very professional. Much more so than you or I (or Nick) would be inclined to be in a similar situation. Watching him cut through testimonies like warm butter can feel quite uncomfortable when you, as the player, want to be more sensitive. At certain points, the irony of the situation is conveyed brilliantly through the music, and it really made me feel Ace Attorney Investigations, as its own series, has a lot of potential to be something the original trilogy couldn’t.


Case two — possibly my favourite — is also where the game really picks up. The series’ trademark humour makes a comeback, and there’s a wide enough variety of crazy characters to serve as a contrast to Edgeworth’s personality. Miles himself stands out much better, too. He’s different from Nick, and you can tell. He’s far more sure of himself, always keeps track of the bigger picture, and doesn’t loose his cool. It doesn’t make you feel like you’re fighting a constant uphill battle up until the point of the "turnabout," which takes away some of the tension, but on the plus side, it also makes you feel more in control of cases. On the emotional and characterization front, case two adds its own unique twist to the Ace Attorney formula — being paired up with a partner whose methods you don’t agree with. In the past, you had to compete directly with a prosecutor, but for part of case 2, you’re teamed up with Franziska von Karma, whose methods are far more brutal than even Edgeworth’s, and Miles makes it known that he doesn’t approve. It’s an interesting dynamic, and yet another sign of what Ace Attorney Investigations could be, dramatically, were the series to continue.


By case three, admittedly, the game starts to feel really outlandish. Sometimes, you feel like it’s stretching itself out longer than it needs to. Furthermore, cases 2, 3 and 4 delve further and further back into Edgeworth’s past (before the last case brings it all together), and each one is chock full of sometimes unnecessary character cameos. This aspect can feel a little tacked on. Perhaps the reason, as someone in our Amazon Curve pointed out, is that Takumi Shuu, the regular series director, wasn’t involved with the game. Before we wrap up, something I want to touch upon briefly is Kay. I’d like to point out that, personally, I feel Kay is the perfect partner to Edgeworth. I’m not going to get into how or why, for fear of spoilers…she just "clicks" on multiple levels. She’s got her emotional moments, but she’s also so perfectly the opposite of Miles, you can’t help but think, "Hell yes. He finally got his own assistant."


The one thing the game does really well is demonstrate how being in the shoes of a prosecutor is very different. While Nick and his pals often got up to all kinds of tomfoolery, Edgeworth’s life and line of work are far more serious. The constant barrage of crimes; competing investigative organizations; the egos of cops working the same case as you; the fact that the game questions the true meaning of “law.” The prosecutor’s office is nothing like "Wright and Co."


Ace Attorney Investigations is a different game from the original trilogy. Not vastly different, but there are enough morsels of fantastic narrative decisions and depth that really got me thinking. It has potential to do more — to be a bit of a more mature take on the franchise, because it draws out emotions and reactions that Ace Attorney never did. And really, isn’t that what we love about story-driven media? That it makes you think.


Food for thought:


1. The small sprites don’t do as good a job of conveying the personality of the characters as the larger portraits. The "chibi" style is a little jarring, considering that Ace Attorney Investigations is a bit of a more serious game and that the characters look kind of ridiculous when chibi’d down.


2. Watching a merciless Edgeworth and Franziska interrogate the judge is one of the all-time highlights of the series.


3. Edgeworth carries a spare cravat with him, which he promptly produces when Kay decides to blow her nose on his.


4. Case five, hands down, has the best cameos, and the best jokes.


5. AAI has the best "Announce the Truth" theme of the entire series, and it’s part of the reason it feels like a more serious game. It suits Miles and his legacy so perfectly.

  • this game is just great, edgeworth’s personality is just exactly as i felt from the phoenix wright’s saga, is an investigation in a whole new level, since edgeworth is more sharp and prepared than our loved phoenix, who mostly got out of trouble thanks to his luck (and i love when that happens), while edgeworth is always analizing every aspect carefully.
    Cameos of the char was just funny as hell, also the other thing that made me laught the most is watching little franziska xD, im on the last case now, and im hoping for a phoenix appearence somewhere T_T (plz dont spoil me)
    Anyway this is just what i expected from ace attorney’s series, great localization, great characters, great cases, too bad they release this games so slowly, though i think this is what makes them more precious

  • Vino (Tim N)

    Theres quite a bit of spoilers in this, I skimmed thru it since I’m not done, but will come back to it!

  • cocytusx

    I’m glad they dropped much of the internet memes that plagued the earlier titles and went with more professional and subtle references like the X-Files one in Case Five.

    The music is stellar and while it’s not always funny, they did leave out any paranormal stuff like medium summoning that made some of the earlier cases completely retarded.

  • I’m currently on the 4th case. So far, it feels as if the game is missing those high energy, climatic moments associated with the court sessions.

    I’m really enjoying Kay though. Gumshoe on the other hand, is falling into “Homer Simpson Syndrome.” I’ve noticed the character development for him has really taken a dive as the series progresses.

    • One thing I did like about Gumshoe is that he seems just a tiny little bit smarter in this one. Obviously, it’s because Miles is a far better influence on him than Nick and Maya… :P

  • I enjoyed the characters, but I wish there would be more “investigation”. I wanted more CSI-type stuff, (even Ema just showed up only briefly) and the ability to move to different rooms. I felt sometimes they were forcing you to find a specific clue, and won’t let you leave until you do. While this is helpful, it almost makes the game too easy for me. The contradictions were easy for me to see, but maybe that’s because I’ve played the other games in the series.

    • cocytusx

      If you could move to other rooms then we’d get the same tedious sequences we had in the previous Attorney games where you’d have to constantly wander around before finding one tiny detail then check all rooms again to see if something new popped up. That was tedious as hell.

    • The forcing you to look part is kind of a mixed blessing. While it makes it feel like a crutch, it also isn’t as harsh as games like Deja Vu where they would let you wonder in these open environments and you have no idea where you’re going.

  • Every time I play one of these games, I just want more. I might have to go re-locate a copy of Apollo Justice. I never, ever, ever thought I’d say that. But I need more relaxing games like these, these days.

    Enough stress in real life! I don’t need to come home to more! =P

  • Zeik56

    “Gumshoe’s own idiotic brand of humour is getting a little old”

    Lies and slander.

  • Trotmeister

    Edgeworth is awesome.

  • heartless141

    it was a bit disappoiinting for me until the last chap.
    it’s all Kay’s effort that i played till the end. she’s the best assistant in the whole franchise. :P

    the last chapter is epic.

  • Simon

    i found this game to be much easier than the other 4 games, and I find that they tried to make Edgeworth more like Phoenix, Kay more like Maya, and this time Gumshoe shares info on purpose instead of by accident. This time around I feel that its much easier to detect who the real culprits are than the other 4 games and its just taking them down was the longest part. Like case 5 last person, he just wouldnt give up and is driving me crazy when he keeps coming back with more arguments, overall not a bad game, would be nice if they announce another ace attorney soon

    • Aoshi00

      The old man general drove me nuts too, it seems it’s always the case w/ the last act because it needs to tie everything together. The extra 5th case for the first DS game was like that too, very long.

      I want my GS5 to be on Wii, seeing how cool the Wiiware ports play.

  • It’s an awesome game, though I only got to try the first case. I was surprised how long each case is though! I was watching a friend play through part of the second one the other day, and it just seemed to keep going! It took at least an hour to get through what seemed like half of it.

  • I never finished any of the other Ace Attorny games except for the first.. they just lacked something for me somehow… but I totally, wholeheartedly love this one. It has so much of a point and click adventure but is still so different. I like how this game is more reasonable than the others, it may have been rather easy at times, but at others what you needed wasn’t so obvious but still you’d be able to figure it out sooner or later. And oh hell yeah, I love Kay. She and Edgeworth make such an awesome pair.. I’d love to see those two investigating together again. Oh well.. I still have a bit of them left.. since I’m not done with the last case yet (and I can’t really motivate myself to finish it… I mean.. that would mean the game would end… nooo! D:). I hope there’ll be a continuation some day.

    • Aoshi00

      I actually had the same problem, I finished Act 1 to Act 4 rather quickly, but couldn’t bring myself to finish the 5th for a long time (at one time I was worried if I couldn’t finish it before the US ver comes out), one was because it was kind of dragging (the old man puffing up and shrinking), two was I didn’t want the game to end. I like Kay, but I also like Trucy, it was only Apollo I didn’t like. Wonder if they would shine the spotlight on Phoenix again in GS5 based on fans’ feedback, I want it to be on the Wii too w/ awesome 2D sprites and partial voice acting like featured in the trailers..

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