Ace Attorney fans have been left waiting since 2015 for a way to play both of The Great Ace Attorney titles, a pair of spinoffs set during Japan's Meiji Period or England's Victorian Era, in which you play as an ancestor of series protagonist Phoenix Wright. Now, six years after the first of the two games were released, we've been given both at once, slapped with a new lick of paint for the Nintendo Switch, PC, and PS4, in one package titled The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles. How do the two games stack up to the rest of the series, and to the other spinoffs? Were they worth the wait? Let's find out.
Between the two games there is a charming main cast, consisting of protagonist Ryunosuke Naruhodo, his assistant Susato, his best friend Kazuma, the detective duo of Herlock Sholmes and Iris Wilson (based on Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson) and the prosecutor Barok van Zieks. There is also a selection of recurring memorable characters, some more central to the overarching plot between the two games than others. The Ace Attorney series is known for its memorable, comical cast, and these two games are no different in this regard, with their animations being better than ever due to the use of motion capture.
Like all Ace Attorney games, the two titles that make up The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles are very story-heavy, with a huge amount of dialogue. The stories in both games are linear, requiring the player to investigate, question, examine, cross-examine, and make decisions to progress. In terms of mechanics the two games are identical, and share a lot with the main series games - cross-examination returns with the multiple-witness mechanics present in Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney as well, and examining evidence is more important than in previous titles, requiring you to rotate and zoom in on individual objects to discover secrets.
Joint Reasoning is a new mechanic present in investigations, in which Naruhodo works with Sholmes to jog the detective's deductions, allowing for the truth to become clear.
As the games are story-heavy, it's difficult to review them without spoilers. As such, my comments will be general. It's worth noting that these games can be played without having played any of the other games in the series, though due to the interconnected nature of the two games' stories, it is highly recommended you play through the entirety of The Great Ace Attorney: Adventures before starting The Great Ace Attorney: Resolve.
The first of the two titles, The Great Ace Attorney: Adventures follows the earlier part of Naruhodo's career as an attorney, including his odd debut in Japanese court and his first adventures in London. The second continues directly on from that, although there is some non-chronological story-telling which can be a little confusing.
The player is eased into the mechanics gently, being offered a tutorial, and the contradictions you're expected to spot are straightforward. The difficulty ramps up as the game goes on, though I never experienced a game over - I'm familiar with the series, however, so newer players may have a different experience. Both games also have a setting allowing for the game to progress automatically, selecting evidence and such for you if you get stuck.
Similar to the Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth games, each case in the game contributes to a larger overarching plot, but unlike those two titles, this goes for both games combined. There are many loose ends left at the conclusion of Adventures which are (fittingly) resolved in Resolve. There is a superb payoff for your time investment, though it does take a while. The games work best as a package like they are now - it can be imagined that players would be left annoyed when finishing the original release of the first game and being left with so many unanswered questions!
Though the games work best when considering them as one larger title, it's worth noting that the early cases in Resolve feature a significant amount of returning minor characters. Whilst this makes sense plot-wise, it can feel odd for the player, especially when coupled with a significant amount of returning music and locations. The music and graphics are exceptional, however, with some of the best orchestral arrangements the series has had - only Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is close - and the most vividly displayed backgrounds, though some textures aren't of the highest resolution.
Overall, was The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles worth the wait? Compared to the other games in the series, it offers an entirely unique setting, and an entirely self-contained story, spanning ten chapters across two games rather than four (or five) chapters across one, though the original trilogy of games did have a general overarching narrative. It's perfect for new players due to its self-contained story, but series veterans can experience something fresh as well.