Discovering this game was quite the surprise. Just when I thought I exhausted every single Ace Attorney game in the franchise, Nintendo Life posted that this Japan-only release finally receives a full 3DS fan translation! Based on my readings, there is currently no plans to release this game in the West, but the people from Scarlet Study have slowly tried to translate it through the years and on March 30, 2019, they finally managed to finish the full game. So of course, I knew I had to get this.
Dai Gyakuten Saiban: Naruhodō Ryūnosuke no Bōken (lit. Great Turnabout Trial: The Adventures of Ryūnosuke Naruhodō) or more popularly called “The Great Ace Attorney” is the ninth title in the cult game franchise by Capcom. This is a prequel of sorts to the Ace Attorney game series and takes place near the end of Japan’s Meiji Era. The main character of this game was Ryūnosuke Naruhodō, an ancestor of Phoenix Wright, the star of most of the games in this series. He is joined by Susato Mikotoba, his legal assistant, as well as other colorful characters that they will meet, as they venture through Japan and London.
So far, I have only finished the first two cases and I gotta say: I am loving it. I am living for the soundtrack – which is great, as always – and the character designs pop. This takes place in the early years so the design leans on the vintage side, which is appealing to me. However, though I really enjoyed the interface and my initial peeks as to how the game is supposed to be played, there were a couple of things that I noted regarding gameplay that I felt a bit weird about as an avid fan of the series. First off, the technology. Because of the time period to which this game is on, forensic science is still young and, thus, investigative procedures are still dated. Basic forensic procedures like fingerprinting and luminol tests are not yet available. The crime scene photos are in black and white. Even the basic determination of the accurate cause of death is hard. It’s a bit frustrating at times. But on the upside, this is truly an exercise of critical thinking since you only have to rely on logic, reasoning and observation skills most of the time. There were also instances when the crime scenes were tampered for purposes of investigation, which made me a bit uncomfortable considering it is a no-no in the previous games in the series.
On the other hand, I can generally understand why this game was never officially translated. First and foremost, the copyright of Sherlock Holmes. While I am really a fan of the art for Sherlock in this game, I’m not particularly sure whether the fandom (or at least the general public) would interpret well the caricature that they made out of the iconic detective. Though naturally eccentric, he comes off here as some sort of a comical device with deductions that are, in most times (if not all), inaccurate and needs fixing by none other than our main character. Secondly, there’re obvious commentaries on social, race, and class discrimination. The obvious racism for the Japanese is a little bit triggering at times and it might feel awkward and may make other culture uncomfortable, if they’re sensitive to those topics. Obviously, this is a Japanese game made entirely for Japanese fans. But I can overlook all of that because of my deep love for this series.
***Mild spoilers ahead!***
EPISODE 1: The Adventure of the Great Departure
This is the traditional initiating case of the game – where they introduce the controls and the rules. A quintessential murder mystery, set in Japan – with the defendant none other than Ryūnosuke Naruhodō himself. A familiar name pops up (i.e., Dr. John H. Watson), as well as a familiar face in the prosecutor for this trial namely, Taketsuchi Auchi (which I’m guessing is a descendant of the Prosecutor Payne in the previous games). A critical character was also introduced, namely Kazuma Asōgi,
Naruhodō’s bestfriend. Honestly speaking, it was the most complicated and longest first trial in my whole Ace Attorney experience, which was composed of three trial segments (!). But it was fun. Again, the scoring in this series is topnotch.
EPISODE 2: The Adventure of the Unbreakable Speckled Band
With a surprising death, this episode kicked off again with Naruhodō accused of yet another murder. This is also when the main protagonist first met with the world-famous consulting detective, Sherlock Holmes. I am a fan of Arthur Conan Doyle’s original Sherlock so seeing the various references to the canon made my fangirl heart so giddy (e.g., the writing in the floor reminded me of the “rache” scene in A Study in Scarlet; and the initial circumstances of the crime was reminiscent of the setup in the The Adventure of the Speckled Band). And indeed, this case was a direct homage to that story. I was preparing to be disappointed at first because, you know, having read that story before, the ending would be a bit predictable (at least, relatively). Holmes even managed to deduce the original story’s conclusion before Naruhodō pointed out the flaws in it. Though it was slow at first, the way the story panned out was pretty exciting. This episode also consisted of investigations only, without any formal trial – which is unusual. Overall: tragic, but satisfying.
***Mild spoilers end here.***
All in all, initial impressions are pretty positive. As mentioned, I am already in the middle of the third episode (i.e., The Adventure of the Runaway Room) and I am enjoying the unique elements that are being introduced. I like how it’s already the middle of the series and I am still being surprised. This game requires so much time, but I’m glad the payoff is still worth it. I am really excited to push through the rest of this game. 🙂