Elementary Dear Gumshoe!
January 14, 2010 – Though already having released in Japan back in May 2009, the rest of the world is nearly set for localized versions of Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth. This latest adventure in the quirky Ace Attorney series from Capcom brings all the puzzling gameplay fans have come to love and further evolves a ton of well-known characters.
If you’re a fan of the Ace Attorney series, you might be hesitant to pick up Ace Attorney Investigations at first glance, due to the fact it features Miles Edgeworth as the protagonist. You remember Miles: the cheesy, annoying antagonist prosecutor from the original Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. Maybe that’s just me. Apparently, not everyone feels the same way as I do about the character. In fact, the game’s designers were originally going to base this title on the exploits of Ema Skye, but fans clamored for the devs to further flesh out the story of Miles Edgeworth. Capcom obliged and turned Miles into less of a ruthless, win-at-any-cost prosecutor and into more of a truth-seeker and paragon of justice.
Regardless of the turn of personality, an interesting, eccentric narrative promises to unfold in this latest Ace Attorney spin-off. Divided into five separate cases, players will get familiar with the new Miles Edgeworth and his impressive deductive abilities, as well as become reacquainted with a number of recurring characters from previous entries in the series. Additionally, new personalities such as the thief Kay Faraday and agent Shi-Long Lang will provide comic relief and antagonistic fuel, respectively. Along the way, players will solve crime after crime, as death seems to follow Miles wherever he goes; even prompting the gaze of suspicion to fall upon Miles Edgeworth himself. Like all Ace Attorney games, players will get sucked in by the wacky happenings and decidedly Japanese storytelling.
If you’ve never played an Ace Attorney game, know that you’re getting into a point-and-click adventure. However, this time around, Miles Edgeworth uses specific investigative mechanics to resolve the puzzling cases and move the plot forward. Players will examine crime scenes, collect evidence, and correlate clues to one another in order to draw conclusions. Bringing all the evidence together into a hypothesis is done via the Logic system. Logic is representative of Miles’ deductive reasoning. Players will scan their environments for clues and then have to correctly associate one clue or thought to another. If done successfully, the truth of the matter will be uncovered. If you are unable to make the appropriate connections, you’ll head down the wrong path, eventually leading to game over.
Additionally, dialogue and conversational confrontations crop up throughout the game. Similar to the courtroom cross-examinations found in previous titles, investigations will employ a rebuttal system that allows you to interject into conversations in order to present your reasoning. Sound logical arguments will help uncover new elements of the case or even cause guilty parties to slip up.
While action is not part of the game, the excellent localization means you’ll be treated to a lot of engaging, funny dialogue. Moreover, the interesting plot and cultivation of existing and new characters’ personalities means series fans and newcomers alike will enjoy the yarn being spun. Of course, the Ace Attorney franchise never takes itself too seriously, so don’t expect an epic, cautionary tale. Instead, humor and goofiness mixed with clever puzzles will have you chuckling to yourself and scratching your head.
Presentation appears to be par for the Ace Attorney course. Set piece environments are nicely detailed with elaborate pixel art; it is easy to pinpoint points of investigative interest at a glance. Character designs are manga-like, and the over-the-top gestures and postures add to the overly-dramatic feel of the title. Close-ups of characters and crime scenes reveal even more care, and the series-defining catch-phrases of “Hold it!” and “Objection!” will still flash across the screen regularly. Sound also has an extremely familiar vibe. The catchy tunes seem to bring home the kitsch feel of the title, nicely accompanying the action, almost bringing the mostly-still images to life. Unfortunately, the strident text beeps found in all the Ace Attorney titles are ever-present here as well, which always detracts from any game in which they are present as far as I’m concerned. Of course, core fans will probably be glad things haven’t changed too much.
Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth has gone gold and is ready for production. Judging by the bit we’ve played, this will be yet another satisfying entry in the series. The few changes that have been made should be enough to give the game a mild twist without reinventing the wheel and turning off long-time fans. Check back in a few weeks for our full review when Miles Edgeworth, Dick Gumshoe, and Kay Faraday bless the DS with another mind-bending, peculiar adventure.