by Keaton Arksey
reviewed on NDS
Breaking the Mold
If the DS can be recognized for anything, it is creating some of the most original and groundbreaking titles in a long time. From Scribblenauts to Nintendogs, the little handheld that could has redesigned the wheel when it comes to what a game can be. One of the first companies to prove this point was Capcom, who in 2005 released the first Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney game in North America (the series originally began on the Gameboy in 2001 in Japan). While not exceedingly successful, a group of loyal fans on this side of the globe resulted in the two sequels also being translated and ported to the DS, all in which the defence attorney Phoenix Wright fights for the innocence of his defendants in court in a quest to find the truth. Most often on the other side of the court is Miles Edgeworth, the cocky prosecutor and childhood friend of Wright. Over the course of the Phoenix Wright saga Edgeworth became a fan favourite, eventually culminating in the release of Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgworth.
Heavy on the story
For those who may not be familiar with the Ace Attorney series, they are very similar to a visual novel/adventure game. Players search crime scenes for clues and talk to witnesses for information. When the time comes the scene moves to the court room, where the player must present evidence and find flaws in the witnesses testimony to prove their defendant innocent. If you present evidence at the wrong time or do not follow a direction (like not pressing for information in a testimony), a life bar at the top of the screen is decreased. If it is emptied, the game is over. Where Investigations differs however is that there is no formal court case in the game. Instead the action occurs entirely over investigations. The scene is still combed for details, and witnesses are talked to, but rebuttals are made to witnesses testimony as opposed to cross examinations. What is different from the first four games is that the player now has control of Miles Edgeworth himself. Before, players would be presented with a static image through which they would select areas to look at, but now you actually move through the area.
A complement to its predecessors
It would not be wrong to consider Investigations a side-story to the main Ace Attorney series. Where as the fourth game had players control Apollo Justice, a newcomer to the world of the legal system, Investigations occurs somewhere between the third and fourth games in the series. Miles Edgeworth, more humble after the events of previous games, returns from an overseas flight and immediately finds himself investigating a string of murders, all of which have a common thread that is revealed in the end. There is a bit of jumping between cases, with the fourth case preceding all others, and the second and third cases occurring before the first. All concern an international smuggling ring and the identity of the mysterious Great Thief Yatagarasu, who seeks to steal evidence and prevent it to the public to uncover the smuggling ring. Accompanying Edgeworth is returning Detective Gumshoe and the mysterious Kay Faraday, who claims to be the Yatagarasu herself. Opposing him is international crime scene investigator Shi-Long Lang, who harbours a grudge against prosecutors for reasons unknown. Some familiar faces show up along the way, and all are welcome. That being said, none of the new characters match up to some of the past greats.
An innovative addition
Aside from the new setting, the most noticeable addition to Ace Attorney Investigations is the Logic system. Throughout a case, bits of information will come to light, but they won't be enough to come to a conclusion or reveal a new possibility. By using logic, Miles can combine bits of information to come to new conclusions and blow the doors right off a case. Aside from that, the game plays much the same as previous titles. While that might be considered a bad thing, for a series that is so story focused and has such great writing it's more than acceptable to reuse old elements. If it ain't broke, why fix it?
Probably the most serious complaint is the last case, which goes on for far, far too long. It's expected that a case that closes out a game should be long, but the final stretch goes on forever. Thankfully the rest of the cases follow a logical path and there aren't any major nonsensical moments.
A welcome addition
The sprites are basically the same as the previous games, but they definitely have an added level of crispness. The music, as always, is catchy and matches the flow of a rebuttal perfectly. Repeated playthroughs benefit if you don't replay it right away, as it loses most of the challenge if you know the answers going in.
In summation, Ace Attorney Investigations gives one of the Ace Attorney series' most beloved characters a game that is quite worthy of his stature. Though the supporting characters do not match the vast heights of previous games, the same basic gameplay works as well as ever and will have you using the most of your logic and deductive skills to uncover the truth. It's always nice to see a series that isn't about shooting Nazis or rescuing a princess getting its due, and Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth is fine follow-up.
Great writing, Miles Edgeworth finally gets his own game
A bit too similar to the older games, supporting characters don\'t match heights of previous instalments