Ace Attorney games are a lot like weekly television procedurals in that they don’t need to try many new things to hold a grip on their audience. We all know how it goes, and most are happy with new situations through which they can steer their snappily-dressed protagonist. With the latest in Capcom’s long running series, however, the developer is actually switching things up a bit, and so far it’s working out nicely.
Once again we find ourselves without former lead Phoenix Wright, with whom the Gyakuten Saiban series will likely forever be associated regardless of his status. Taking his place this time is prosecutor and infamous Wright rival Miles Edgeworth, whose sharp wardrobe is only bested by his keen powers of deduction. Of course, said powers are only as quick-witted as the player once they’re in control, and Investigations does a good job of occasionally making you feel like a dolt.
That’s how it works for me at least; it always has. Whether Edgeworth or Wright is in the spotlight, I’ll inevitably spend at least one portion of a lengthy case having my energy chopped away by foolish guesswork. If you wanna party with the big dogs, you gotta think like one, but the cases are always full of such ridiculous characters that it’s tough not to be distracted by quirky animations and absurd dialogue.
This is sounding like familiar territory, I’m sure, but Investigations is more of a “game” than its predecessors, at least by a few degrees. First of all, courtroom capers have been scrapped in favor of crime scene investigation, known to cool people across the globe as “CSI” or “CSI Miami.” Better yet, you can actually control Edgeworth—like, as in move him around rather than staring at static screens—running him about the area in hopes of turning up some hot evidence.
With the charmingly oafish detective Dick Gumshoe literally right by your side the entire time, further fueling the most unwanted of many fanfic fantasies, a back and forth (I’ll stop now) over the current case at hand develops to further fuel or douse any particular suspicions you may have. The Logic System pockets some of the more useful information, pieces of which can later be connected to one another, successfully deducing major points of the case.
My time with the game was spent playing the first couple of chapters, which I’ll be loose with considering that ninety percent of the fun is unraveling the mystery for yourself. It all starts when Edgeworth returns to his office from vacation, only to discover a shrouded killer with a loaded gun pointed right at his back. The man quickly dashes off, leaving behind one dead body, a messy office and a hell of a mystery. It’s up to Edgeworth (and all of us) to get to the bottom of this tragedy as quickly as possible.
The series is looking better than ever here, and so far it retains the same level of charm and humor it’s known for. At this point, just like those TV procedural dramas, there’s something comforting about the expected musical cues and the colorful cast of regulars we’ve come to know and love. We’ll find out if this carries on throughout the projected fifteen or so hours of crime-solvin’ in the final product, but I’m going to go ahead and use my Logic skills to deduce that this will please many would-be ace attorneys out there.
System: Nintendo DS
Available: February 16, 2010