Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth Comic-Con 2009 PreviewBy Sterling McGarvey - Posted Jul 24, 2009
Phoenix Wright's notorious archnemesis gets his own adventure.
Ardent fans of the Ace Attorney series already knew that Miles Edgeworth had his own game. After all, the fanfare surrounding it at last year's Tokyo Game Show made cosplayers across America squeal with glee. Thankfully, unlike Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, Capcom is wise to the popularity of these text-driven mystery games now, and has a far faster localization process in play for the newest game of the franchise, Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth. Considering the number of fans that descend upon Comic-Con -- I played my demo next to a Prosecutor Godot cosplayer -- it's no wonder that Capcom made San Diego ground zero for the first English language demo.
I sampled roughly fifteen minutes of "Turnabout Visitor," the first case of AAI. In this case, a murder occurs in Edgeworth's office. Fans of Phoenix Wright will recognize his digs and all of his eccentric possessions. Since Ace Attorney games are so heavily plot-driven, I'll refrain from revealing too many spoilers. It's fascinating to see just how well the series conventions graft onto uncharted territory. Previous games focused on first-person detective work and a rather simple design approach. This one's a full-on adventure game.
Whether fans notice or not, there are certain trademark elements of the Ace Attorney games, not least of which is the sidekick. Although you take on the role of one character, there's always some comic relief, whether it's a young psychic-in-training, a would-be teen detective, or a youthful magician, there's always simpler-minded character around to dispense nonsensical advice. In this case, it's everyone's favorite foil, Detective Dick Gumshoe. In past games, Gumshoe indicates that he works alongside Edgeworth, and in this game, you get to see the dynamic at work. As you can probably guess, they're as compatible as oil and water.
That's one of the elements that feels familiar in a game that deviates from the usual formula. Since Edgeworth is a prosecutor, his investigations differ from Phoenix Wright's tactics. Instead, Edgeworth uses logic to link together clues. And those clues manifest in a more obvious form than past games. It seems that the Capcom team has streamlined the process of piecing together a crime. Whenever Edgeworth finds a clue, it pops up as crime scene information and poses a question. When he finds a few clues, he can find a logical link between the two things. It manifests on the touch screen as you tap two pieces of evidence and click on a "logic" icon. If the two are connected, Edgeworth uses them to continue investigating. If they don't match, it's as nasty as presenting the wrong evidence in court.
Fans will also notice that the dialogue has changed. Past games only featured one character talking at once. This new game resembles Fire Emblem, and other Japanese RPGs, as two characters float in from either side of the screen. As a result, you can see both characters having a dialogue, which feels more natural than past games' monolithic approach. Also, because the characters have moved from first-person chit-chat to third-person movement, the controls have changed. When it's time to move Edgeworth around a crime scene, you'll see a small square icon pop up. When you move the stylus in that quadrant, it moves Edgeworth around the crime scene.
As I began to piece clues to the murder scene together, I noticed familiar elements that translated into this adventure game. Much like Phoenix Wright, Edgeworth uses the same stylus-based point and click adventure style to examine crime scenes up close. Also, at the end of my demo, I got to test out Edgeworth's cross-examination skills, which seem to be similar to court interrogations, minus the simpleton in the judge's robes.
Overall, Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth really captures many of the essentials from the prior games while implenting a fresh approach to the series. The idea of implementing point and click adventure mechanics into this proven formula is a bold one, but so far, it works. Part of that seems due to fan service, but also due to some sound gameplay mechanics. Capcom confirmed a November 16th release date for this one, but even that feels far too long away. I can't wait to see the verdict on this one.