Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth

Introduction

When Nintendo launched the console to succeed their long-running Game Boy product line, the Nintendo DS, Capcom decided to create ports of Shu Takumi’s Turnabout Trial trilogy. As they were being created, the company elected to localize the three games, bringing them to North America and Europe. To Capcom’s surprise, the series, dubbed Ace Attorney, became a sleeper hit abroad. While working on the DS port of the original trilogy’s final installment, Trials and Tribulations, producer Motohide Eshiro had an idea. They could make a spinoff series, casting a major character from Ace Attorney in the lead role. He met up with Takeshi Yamazaki, who had worked as a planner for the bonus episode that would be included with the debut installment’s rerelease. To his delight, Mr. Yamazaki agreed to work on it. Mr. Eshiro would later describe the meeting in his blog on the official Ace Attorney website as a “reckless suggestion with an inspiring, reckless response”. Regardless, they began meeting daily soon thereafter.

Mr. Eshiro and Mr. Yamazaki quickly decided to have this hypothetical spinoff series take place on the crime scene rather than in a courtroom. Many points of contention arose from these “endless discussions”, including searching for contradictions in a crime scene, being able to play as multiple characters, and how they could possibly retain the spirit of the series without featuring a single courtroom battle. Mr. Yamazaki originally wanted to create a detective game starring Ema Skye, a character who had debuted in the bonus episode he worked on. Mr. Eshiro instead pictured Miles Edgeworth, protagonist Phoenix Wright’s rival and friend, as the main character. Fan feedback had demonstrated over the years that his popularity matched Phoenix Wright’s, and thus the decision was made. This game was to be developed as both a spinoff and follow-up to the original trilogy.

In March of 2008, the official Ace Attorney developer’s blog hinted toward the game’s existence. It referred to the game as a “NEW Turnabout, NOT Trial”. It was also stated that more information about the project would be released during an orchestral concert playing music from the series. At that time, the developers showcased a trailer revealing the game along with a new central character. Seconds after the revelation, an official website was launched. During the Tokyo Game Show of 2008, the gameplay was demonstrated, confirming that various characters from the main series such as Franziska von Karma were slated to return. Announcing the game was halfway finished by that point, they even allowed visitors to play a demo of the first episode. According to a poll conducted by Famitsu magazine, this presentation received more attention than that of any other portable game featured at the show. The game eventually saw its release under the name Turnabout Prosecutor in May of 2009.

Shortly before its domestic release, Capcom trademarked “Ace Attorney Investigations” as the game’s English title. Similar to how they showcased the game to the Japanese public, a playable demo was made available at Comic-Con in July of 2009. In North America, Europe, and Australia, the game was titled Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth. The game was released in those regions in February of 2010. Due to the comparatively low sales of the series’ previous installment, Apollo Justice, Ace Attorney Investigations was not translated into any other languages beyond English, much to the chagrin of many international fans. Ace Attorney Investigations has the distinction of being the first entry in the series made without it input from its creator, Shu Takumi. Did Mr. Eshiro and Mr. Yamazaki create something worthy of bearing the franchise’s banner?

Analyzing the Experience

WARNING: The following review will contain spoilers for Ace Attorney Investigations and the entire series thus far.

Around 1:16 AM, two men got into a heated argument in an office at the local Prosecutor’s Building. One said that a prosecutor’s job is to find the accused guilty without fail. The other questioned why he would go through such lengths to achieve this goal. The first responded that he should use any means necessary to achieve a guilty verdict, punctuating his point by gunning down the man in front of him.

He then declared himself to be a prosecuting prodigy.

Shortly after 2:00 AM, esteemed prosecutor Miles Edgeworth returns to his office after a month abroad. Noticing his office door was unlocked, he looked inside only to discover a dead body slumped near the bookshelves.

He is then threatened at gunpoint by a shadowy figure. After the figure shoots the wall, Edgeworth warns the assailant that no one would get away with murder in his office. Oddly, the shooter merely leaves the office without a word.

At 2:56 AM, with the police now on the scene, Dick Gumshoe, Miles Edgeworth’s acquaintance at the local precinct, insists they begin investigating straight away. Edgeworth agrees, vowing to not let the culprit get away with what he had done. His first order of business is to gather information.

When you’re given proper control of the game, you will notice the many differences between this spinoff and a typical Ace Attorney installment right off the bat. Though the game casts Miles Edgeworth as the main character, it is not played from a first-person perspective. Conversations have all relevant participants visible onscreen, and areas are presented in a third-person perspective similar to many classic adventure games. As such, characters all have smaller sprites in addition to the more detailed ones used for important conversations.

Whether it’s conversing with others, picking up important items, or examining a certain section of a room, all of these actions are executed in the exact same way. All you need to do is guide Edgeworth to the point of interest and press the action button when the prompt appears. Investigation phases in this game have a similar goal to corresponding sections in the main series. You are still made to look over every single nook and cranny of a crime scene to find all the evidence required to deduce the culprit’s identity.

Because Edgeworth arrives shortly after the murder takes place, his conclusions of how the victim died come from him having personally examined the corpse rather than by reading about it in an autopsy report.

As this game features no courtroom sessions, evidence is added to an Organizer rather than a court record. It is functionally identical, however, storing all of the evidence that you can examine at any time along with having a list of profiles of the episode’s cast. The ability to examine objects in closer detail introduced in the first game’s bonus episode is retained as well. It has even been improved slightly in that you can rotate objects using the shoulder buttons rather than by having to tap the screen.

Though your overall goal is the same, you will soon discover that achieving it takes quite a bit more effort. Finding evidence goes beyond merely looking at every object in the room; as Edgeworth gathers more pieces of information, he can make logical deductions to reinterpret the crime scene, creating a path that will lead him the truth. Whenever Edgeworth learns of an important fact, it will be written on a small window and added to the Logic screen. If you think he has two facts that are connected somehow, you can access it at any time. Here, all of the important facts Edgeworth knows are displayed. By highlighting two of them and choosing the “Connect” prompt, he will know their true significance, which can lead to another relevant fact being added to the Logic screen, a new piece of evidence being added to the Organizer, or an already existing piece of evidence being updated to reflect the new information.

Furthermore, when examining certain sections of an area, you get a detailed close-up. Similar to examining backdrops in the core series, you can use the cursor to examine these sections. Highlighting a hotspot will have Edgeworth and whoever else is present comment on the point of interest. Pieces of evidence and facts are added whenever appropriate. Similar to how you’re asked to pinpoint sections of a photograph in the main series, you might see another option present in these screens: “Deduce”. By bringing your cursor to a suspicious spot and using this option, the list of evidence will be brought up. Presenting a piece of evidence that contradicts what you see is vital to learning more about the case.

Though differing from a typical Ace Attorney installment in that you have to walk to people to converse with them, your options for interaction are the same. By hearing everything a witness has to say, you can unlock new talking points that will allow you to get closer to unmasking the true culprit. As usual, you can present pieces of evidence to them to hear what they have to say. This is often necessary to unlock new talking points. Finally, if you are unsure how to proceed, Edgeworth can speak with his partner. When one is present, their photograph will appear in a window. He can speak to them on a variety of subjects and you can present evidence to them just like with any other witness.

One thing to keep in mind is that brute forcing your way to the end will prove ineffective. Incorrect deductions at the crime scene or logical failures will result in a penalty of sorts. Edgeworth has a truth bar in the stead of the meter measuring Phoenix’s credibility. The only substantial difference between the two lies in how they’re contextualized. Otherwise, they serve the same purpose: punishing incorrect solutions. A loss will result if it’s completely drained and half of the meter is restored upon concluding an investigation. The game will only proceed when you have everything you need, so you do not have to worry about being trapped in an unwinnable situation.

After concluding the first investigation phase, Miles Edgeworth will formally come face-to-face with Jacques Portsman. The victim is Buddy Faith, Jacques’s investigative partner. He accuses Edgeworth of the murder, though it falls flat when it’s pointed out that he entered the office long after Buddy was killed. In any case, the audience knows that Jacques is the murderer because he was depicted as such in the introductory cutscene. This isn’t an elaborate ploy on the writers’ part to mislead the player, either; he really is guilty.

Though Jacques’s guilt is apparent, Edgeworth himself obviously has no idea that he is the culprit. This isn’t a game where you can break the fourth wall and tell Edgeworth who the killer is, so the only way to extract the truth from the crocked prosecutor is to match wits with him. Edgeworth questions suspects at the crime scene in the exact same manner Phoenix cross-examines witnesses in court. Suspects and other witnesses will give their testimony, which is subsequently broken up into multiple smaller statements. Your goal in these portions is to present a piece of evidence that contradicts a witness’s statement. These contradictions don’t necessarily have to result from a witness concealing the truth; they could have merely interpreted certain events incorrectly. In any event, when a witness’s testimony does not match up with the facts, your method of resolving the issue is exactly the same. You must bring up the statement, select the conflicting piece of evidence, and present it, exposing the falsehood for what it is.

In the future, don’t expect contradictions to be this obvious. If there is no obvious lie or incorrect conclusion to be found, Edgeworth must press the witnesses for more information. As Phoenix Wright’s mentor, Mia Fey, so aptly put it, “lies beget more lies”, so if a witness is deceitful, they’re inevitably going to stumble when asked to elaborate. If a relevant statement is made during this disclosure, it will be amended to the testimony. On rare occasions, you will encounter an airtight testimony. In these instances, the only thing he can do is press every statement. After doing that, the plot will advance on its own.

The main purpose of opening episodes in Ace Attorney is to introduce the basic mechanics and ease players into the experience. It stands to reason, for any installment in the series could potentially be someone’s first exposure to the series. As far as overall structure goes, “Turnabout Visitor” is essentially this spinoff’s equivalent to “The First Turnabout” – right down the fact that the murderer’s identity is revealed before it begins in earnest. However, acknowledging that most players have likely played the four games in the core series before this one, catching the culprit in “Turnabout Visitor” is a much more involved process than exposing the pitifully feeble lies of Frank Sahwit. In a particularly entertaining change of pace, Edgeworth is the one who teaches the game mechanics. Rather than having you play as a clueless or inexperienced character for others to exposit towards, Edgeworth explains to Dick Gumshoe, who has a reputation for being quite dense, how logic works. The best part is that even after a detailed summary, the latter still doesn’t understand.

The episode also successfully foreshadows the lengths you have to go to expose the culprit. While catching Jacques isn’t particularly taxing for a veteran player, the process is quite a bit different without any court sessions. With Phoenix’s investigations phases and courtroom battles, it’s clear when one ends and the other begins. Meanwhile, Edgeworth’s investigation and questioning phases are seamlessly woven into each other. Short investigation phases could be followed up with brief periods of questioning witnesses, necessitating you to only break one or two testimonies. As if to reflect this, while each installment in the main series had two tempos at which their respective cross-examination themes played, moderate and allegro, Ace Attorney Investigations boasts a third: presto. This variation is exclusively used when you’re confronting a killer who is cornered and making their final stand.

Thematically, Jacques Portsman is the perfect first opponent for Miles Edgeworth to take down. Shortly after committing the crime, he declares himself a prodigy and that all prosecutors must do whatever they can to achieve a guilty verdict. In other words, he is the exact kind of attorney Edgeworth used to be before meeting Phoenix Wright in court. Admittedly, Jacques is a rather generic villain in the grand scheme of things, but it was to the writers’ credit that they put this much thought into the opening episode and who the first culprit should be.

Interestingly, the second episode, “Turnabout Airlines”, takes before the events of “Turnabout Visitor”. Though flashback episodes were nothing new to the series at the time, having been extensively featured in Trials and Tribulations, “Turnabout Airlines” only jumps back two days. It begins in an unusual fashion as well. Miles Edgeworth is a passenger on Flight I-390 of iFly Airlines. An air pocket resulted in turbulence, causing the prosecutor to lose consciousness. Ever since a traumatic childhood experience that resulted in his father’s untimely death, he has had an immense fear of earthquakes, and the turbulence was enough to rekindle the painful memories.

Upon awakening, he finds himself on the lounge on the airplane’s first floor. Pushing the button for the elevator in an attempt to conquer his fears, he is shocked when the doors open to reveal a dead body of a man. Blood is on the back of his neck with money all around him. At that exact moment, chief flight attendant Rhoda Teneiro appears and concludes Edgeworth must have killed him. Back in First Class, Rhoda attempts to calm the passengers after they hear of the murder. Edgeworth insists he is innocent, but the flight attendant is certain she has the evidence necessary to arrest him.

If “Turnabout Visitor” could be seen as the Ace Attorney Investigations answer to “The First Turnabout”, “Turnabout Airlines” distinctly parallels “Turnabout Sisters” as well. With only a scant few facts to help him along, Miles Edgeworth must prove his own innocence. In an ironic twist, when Phoenix Wright successfully defended himself in court two years earlier, it was the first time the two of them had clashed in court. The argument itself is rather easy to debunk, but I like how the game isn’t hesitant to throw you into the thick of things. In the core series, you know that no matter how hard you try, you will not prove your client innocent outside of court. You also know your chances of proving them innocent on the first day are all but nonexistent. This is not the case with Ace Attorney Investigations, as the second episode demonstrates all too well. If nothing else, it’s a great way of keeping players on their toes. They would only be able to gauge how much progress they’ve made based on following new leads rather than by reading the core series’ more rigid format.

Other than that, “Turnabout Airlines” is a fairly middle-of-the-road episode. It’s only slightly more advanced than the one that directly preceded it with multiple people to question and a culprit who isn’t as obvious. Having said that, it does have one aspect I admire. Shortly after Edgeworth acquits himself and is allowed to conduct a thorough investigation of his own, he meets another flight attendant by the name of Cammy Meele. Even for a series that has had no shortage of quirky characters, Cammy stands out as particularly ditzy, seemingly unaware of anything going on around her. This is made more apparent when Cammy becomes Edgeworth’s investigative partner for a brief time. You can ask her for information and present evidence to her just like with Dick Gumshoe, but she generally isn’t helpful. When she’s revealed to be the real culprit, it casts her actions in a completely different light. What you doubtlessly dismissed as the ramblings of a ditz were calculated attempts on the killer’s part to throw suspicion off of her.

The brilliant part is that Cammy’s brief tenure as Edgeworth’s investigative partner is made official by her portrait appearing in the appropriate spot on the touch screen. In other words, the game introduces the mechanic wherein you can ask your partner help only to deconstruct it immediately in the next episode. “Turnabout Airlines” may not be one of the better episodes in the series, but just like “Turnabout Visitor”, it secretly showcases the sheer amount of potential possessed by this new team.

The third episode “The Kidnapped Turnabout” has Miles Edgeworth meet up with an old associate of his by the name of Ernest Amano. His son, Lance, has been kidnapped and is being held for ransom. Only by paying one million dollars will Lance’s safety be assured. Arriving at the entrance to the local amusement park, Gatewater Land, the kidnapper contacts Edgeworth via his cell phone. Using voice alteration to disguise their voice, they instruct Edgeworth to go to the stadium. Shortly after he arrives, he is then told to go into the haunted house. In the attraction, they tell Edgeworth to leave the money on the table and leave. Despite this, Edgeworth decides to remain in the house and wait for police backup to arrive.

The decision proves costly as an unknown assailant sneaks up behind him and strikes him down with his sword.

Edgeworth awakens in a storage room tied to a pillar. Before he can do anything, a young girl taunts him as she leaps down from the room’s sole window. When Edgeworth asks her if she is one of the kidnappers, she replies that she would not participate in such petty crimes. She introduces herself as Kay Faraday, the Great Thief Yatagarasu. Freeing Edgeworth from his prison, he asks her some questions. Though claiming to be the Great Thief, she is apparently the second Yatagarasu, having inherited her title from somebody else. As the door is locked and the window is too high to reach, the two of them must find some way out of this room.

Kay Faraday was one of most heavily promoted characters in Capcom’s marketing campaign. I can imagine, especially back in 2009, that longtime fans dismissed Kay as a transparent carbon copy of Maya Fey. This criticism isn’t entirely unfounded; fundamentally, she is to Edgeworth what Maya Fey was to Phoenix Wright – an exuberant young girl who serves as both an assistant and foil to the straight-man protagonist. However, similar though these two relationships may be, the interactions between Edgeworth and Kay are quite a bit different from those of Phoenix and Maya.

Unlike Edgeworth, Phoenix began the series a personable character, and he met Maya Fey knowing that she was the sister of her late mentor. This caused the relationship to begin more amicably, and though they had wildly different approaches to conducting investigations, you could count on them to be on the same page when push came to shove. Edgeworth, on the other hand, is more solitary than his friend, leading to him to be somewhat flustered in the face of this sudden team-up. This means that the first few interactions between the two characters involve them getting used to each other before they can be truly effective.

As the game continues, it’s clear these two characters provide effective foils to each other not only with their personalities, but their overall philosophies as well. Though both are virtuous people overall, their methods of punishing the wicked vary quite a bit. Edgeworth believes that the law should be used to place the guilty in prison, relying on a good defense attorney to keep the innocent out. Conversely, Kay doesn’t let something as trivial as the law get in the way of her endeavors to promote goodwill, resorting to thievery when faced with a person who has escaped justice. These philosophical clashes constitute the most interesting part of the game, and allow Edgeworth’s character to develop further. Along those lines, the fact that he’s even willing to entertain what Kay has to say demonstrates how much Edgeworth’s character has changed since he first fought Phoenix in court.

Moreover, Kay’s presence forms the basis for a new mechanic. When a witness’s testimony doesn’t prove to be very helpful, she reveals a secret weapon: Little Thief. Her device has the ability to transform the surrounding area into a perfect recreation of the crime scene based on the information witnesses provide. With this, Edgeworth can examine scene as though the participants were there. This adds another layer of depth to the investigation phases. It manages to put a new spin on the act of breaking these testimonies as you address visual contradictions rather than just verbal ones.

The core Ace Attorney installments all featured a main prosecutor who served as an antagonistic foil to defense attorney protagonist. Because the protagonist is a prosecutor this time around, the writing staff had to find some other method to introduce meaningful conflict to the proceedings. The first episode addressed this issue by having the main culprit act in that role, but because it ends with his arrest, they obviously couldn’t use the character a second time – even if the next two episodes are set chronologically earlier. “Turnabout Airlines” saw the return of Edgeworth’s adopted sister of sorts, Franziska von Karma, who fancies herself his rival, but it’s not until “The Kidnapped Turnabout” that a true analogue manifests in the form of Shi-Long Lang.

This Interpol agent hails from the small Asian nation of Zheng Fa, and though he commands a lot of respect from his subordinates, he himself has none for prosecutors. Using his lofty position, he interferes with Edgeworth’s investigation, telling him to stay in the courtroom and that the case didn’t need a prosecutor at the crime scene to distort the truth. When the dead body of Ernest Amano’s butler, Oliver Deacon is discovered, Lang is placed in charge of the case, forcing Dick Gumshoe to report to him instead.

Undeterred, Edgeworth and Kay continue their investigation in secret – away from the prying eyes of Lang’s company. Because of these extreme actions, a question running throughout most players’ heads is exactly what caused Lang to despise prosecutors so much. One touch I find interesting is that the hypothetical inquiry is never directly answered. In fact, even after the two of them learn to respect each other, Lang still says he isn’t willing to forgive prosecutors. |Considering what the SS-5 Incident did to his family, it’s impossible to blame him for holding those views.|

The kidnapping plot turns out to have been concocted by Lance himself, who needed one-million dollars to clear a debt to a loan shark. Knowing his butler, Oliver Deacon, whose real name was Colin Devorae, was really a fugitive on the run, he coerced him into participating in the staged plot. Colin also happened to be the father of Lance’s girlfriend. When he realized that Lance’s willingness to blackmail him meant he was a serious threat to his daughter’s life, he attacked him in the haunted house. The altercation ended when Lance gunned Colin down. Because Ernest used his resources to buy the attraction in which the crime took place in an effort to impede the police’s investigation, he is arrested along with his son.

When the case is solved, Kay asks Edgeworth and Dick Gumshoe if they recognize her. She then becomes annoyed when neither of them do, calling the latter “Gummy”. Giving Edgeworth a piece of cloth, she tells him she promised to give it to him some time ago. The minute he sees it, Edgeworth remembers that day, for it was when he first met Dick Gumshoe and Kay Faraday.

Seven years ago, a notorious criminal, Mack Rell, was being charged with murder. He quickly admitted to murdering Deid Mann, a staff member of the nearby Cohdopian embassy. However, before a verdict could be rendered, Rell claimed that the Yatagarasu ordered him to commit the murder. He then accused the prosecutor, Byrne Faraday, of being the great thief. In light of these accusations, the judge requested that Prosecutor Faraday be replaced. His substitute happened to be Miles Edgeworth. Before his impressive winning streak started, he was newcomer ready to take everything he learned from his mentor, Manfred von Karma, to crush the defendant’s lies in court.

The murder case was dubbed the “second KG-8 Incident”. The original KG-8 Incident was a scandal involving the Amano Group in which Colin Devorae had been arrested for his alleged smuggling activities. A witness by the name of Cece Yew had been an employee of the group the time, and was the sole witness. However, she was killed before she had a chance to testify. Manny Coachen was tried for murder, but insufficient evidence led to his wrongful acquittal. On the face of it, Deid Mann was clearly silenced for similar reasons.

Those who have played through “Turnabout Beginnings” know that Edgeworth will not be making his debut courtroom appearance in this episode. Sure enough, it doesn’t take long for the situation to go awry. As Edgeworth and Manfred stand at the prosecutor’s bench, a detective burst into the courtroom with terrible news. Byrne Faraday and Mack Rell were both dead. From here, Edgeworth met the daughter of the late prosecutor and the detective she had befriended: Kay Faraday and Dick Gumshoe. In the events that followed, Dick Gumshoe wound up being the primary suspect, and it was up to Edgeworth to investigate the courthouse and find the culprit.

Despite the fact that the Ace Attorney series had extensively explored the ramifications of the DL-6 Incident, this is only Manfred von Karma’s second appearance in the series – set five years before his crushing defeat at the hands of Phoenix Wright. Though there is no hiding his malevolent persona, it was an interesting direction to take his character. Without context, and ignoring the fact that he dresses like an evil overlord, the less savvy be led to believe he was nothing more than Edgeworth’s strict mentor. The façade does crack whenever he talks about Byrne Faraday, as it’s clear he has little respect for him – even after his demise. Then again, it is pretty amusing when he attempts to help the young Kay Faraday only for her to hide behind Edgeworth. His subsequent reaction suggests his feelings were actually hurt.

The rest of the episode is well-done, though it’s a bit strange how Edgeworth has many of his post-character-development traits five years before “Turnabout Sisters”. A lot of this can be chalked up to Shu Takumi originally intending Edgeworth to be a tragic, yet unlikable character before he decided give him an actual arc. Nonetheless, I like that the episode depicts how he and Dick Gumshoe first met. Watching the two characters interact to this extent wasn’t possible when the series focused on Phoenix Wright.

I can imagine some people readers have been surprised by the relative lack of criticisms I’ve lodged toward this game when I tend to not pull any punches – even with works I enjoy. That’s because a majority of the problems I have with Ace Attorney Investigations arise when it comes time to parse the experience as a cohesive whole and therefore wouldn’t make any sense if I were to lay them out straight away. The first major problem I have with the game concerns the episodes’ chronological order. As you may have noticed, the first episode was followed up with a flashback to two days earlier. Within this flashback, Edgeworth reminiscences about an incident that occurred seven years prior. This means only the finale is set after the first episode.

Trials and Tribulations creatively set its two flashback episodes in reverse chronological order, but it served to accentuate the emotional impact in the second. Indeed, the suicide of Terry Fawles would not have been as effective had it occurred in the first episode. More importantly, the episodes set in the present were in the correct order, allowing players to easily comprehend the plot. Though I wouldn’t call Ace Attorney Investigations incomprehensible, its anachronic order doesn’t serve much of a purpose. The writers seemed to defy Freytag’s analysis of dramatic structure by littering varying degrees of rising action throughout the first four episodes only to have the plot hastily go through the remaining three components, the climax, falling action, and denouncement, in the fifth.

I think a lot of this has to do with how the series historically handled its finales. “Turnabout Succession” notwithstanding, Ace Attorney games were well known for their strong finishes. It’s to the point where even the otherwise bland Justice for All managed to save face with the excellent “Farewell, My Turnabout”. I get the feeling this new team of writers only perceived that the final episode of a given game tends to be the strongest without fully grasping what made them so memorable. It’s not just that the finales are greater in scope than the ones that preceded them, they took a rising conflict, resolved it, and tied everything in together in a nice package. “Turnabout Ablaze” doesn’t do this. A majority of the game’s most important plot points are made known to the player within the final two episodes. This means the lingering plot threads barely have a chance to settle in our minds before they’re resolved almost immediately, removing any potential pathos from these revelations.

The main antagonist of this game is Quercus Alba, an ambassador from the country of Allebahst – one of the two countries that Cohdopia split into after the second KG-8 Incident. One thing I do like about this reveal is that his counterpart from the other country, Colias Palaeno, is portrayed as exceedingly nice. This would mislead some savvy players into believing he’s the main antagonist and that his politeness is a façade. I do like that, for once, the overtly good person is the genuine article. The writers did a good job making him seem like an obvious suspect without making Alba too suspicious for those who called the writers’ bluff. This was also a triumph for the localization team, the members of which realized that Alba’s Japanese name, Carnage Onred, would have alerted English speakers to his villainous status immediately.

Unfortunately, as far as Ace Attorney villains go, he ranks among the weaker ones. I will say in his defense that I do like how the smuggling ring he leads is portrayed as monstrously ruthless. They’re willing to eliminate anyone who could be perceived as a threat, and thanks to Amano’s resources, they know how to cheat the law to avoid justice. This causes Edgeworth to present a dubious piece of evidence to take them down, showing just how much he has moved past being Manfred von Karma’s star pupil.

Having said that, Alba himself has the opposite problem his direct predecessor had. While the confrontation with Kristoph Gavin was horribly anti-climactic due to your decisive piece of evidence getting dismissed immediately, catching Quercus Alba is a ridiculously drawn-out process wherein he either flaunts his diplomatic immunity or comes up with a new alibi just when you think you have him cornered. Indeed, I remember marveling at the sheer amount of evidence Edgeworth was handed, and it seemed like the opportune moments to present each piece resulted in several paragraphs of dialogue. While getting Alba to confess to his crime lends a sense of satisfaction defeating Kristoph Gavin lacked, I believe the writers tried too hard to make the episode epic.

In a series that has been hit-or-miss when it comes to episodes not relevant to the overarching plot, I can respect a villain who is behind every murder in the game. However, I think this aspect fell flat in the end. The most glaring problem with it is that it seems contrived how all of these events happen in the span of four days. Considering the main culprit of “Turnabout Reminiscence” attempted to kill Edgeworth at the end of the episode, it’s strange that she only became relevant when her presence was necessary to the plot. She apparently wasn’t an issue that ever weighed on his mind at any point beforehand. I can believe she disappeared without a trace for seven years, as Alba’s smuggling ring almost certainly covered for her, but it’s curious that a group willing to do anything to accomplish their goals doesn’t actively hinder Edgeworth until it’s far too late. It’s no less incredible when Edgeworth takes them down, but getting there is an exhausting journey.

Drawing a Conclusion

Pros:

  • Introduces several new mechanics
  • Provides interesting, alternative take on series’ formula
  • Excellent music
  • Great cast of characters
  • Allowed Mile Edgeworth’s character to develop
  • Good variety in episode premises
Cons:

  • Anachronic order gets a little confusing
  • Certain minor characters are quite irritating
  • Overarching plot is somewhat contrived
  • |Underwhelming antagonist|
  • |Ridiculously drawn-out ending|

The best thing about Ace Attorney Investigations is that it was a step in the right direction after the ambitious, yet ultimately directionless Apollo Justice. I would argue that setting the episodes at the actual crime scenes rather than in the courtroom allows the scope of conflict to resonate with players to a greater degree. The fear that the killer could get away or an innocent person might be found guilty in their stead is no less real even when the courtroom is taken out of the equation. Furthermore, casting Miles Edgeworth in the lead role was a brilliant move. Not only did it please fans, it also allowed the writers to explore his character in more nuanced ways, continuing what was already a very intriguing arc.

That being said, while Justice for All and Apollo Justice each featured one disproportionally bad episode which rank as some of the worst in the series, Ace Attorney Investigations has the opposite problem. The episodes leading up to the finale only barely stand out. Meanwhile, when the finale does stand out, it’s usually for the wrong reasons. There are plenty interesting story beats throughout the narrative, but this new team didn’t find a way of connecting them without making the overall plot come across as one big coincidence. As such, my recommendation of this game also comes with the condition that you should follow it up with its sequel shortly thereafter. The writers clearly had potential and they knew what makes the series so appealing, yet they would need a little more experience under their belt before they could achieve true greatness.

Final Score: 6/10

3 thoughts on “Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth

  1. Yeah, I’d have to agree. Trials and Tribulations had a lot of individual moments that were great, quite a few bits of really strong writing and perception twisting, but as a whole, the work didn’t come together well, and was somewhat less than the sum of its parts.

    I think the pacing was a bit problematic. The long courtroom scenes in most of the games really drove the pace upwards and injected a lot of excitement to the work as a whole. Investigations still has something similar, but it’s interspersed throughout the slower paced investigation scenes, and you don’t really get nearly so many moments feeding into each other, so it kind of flounders. My favorite times in most of the Phoenix Wright games are when you’re presenting evidence and points rapid-fire, the music’s kicking up, and there’s a lot of point/counterpoint with the prosecutors. They get incredibly intense for games where you’re reading most of the time. Investigations didn’t really have that.

    But it did have a lot of smart writing, as you pointed out. I don’t think it really came together in a cohesive whole, however, and that keeps the game from being as great as it otherwise could have been.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think a major reason why there’s so little cohesion has to with the fact that the episodes are in such a jumbled order. When they did that with Trials and Tribulations, it was really effective. Here, it feels like they did it just because. It’s actually a lot like Beyond: Two Souls that way – rife with great moments but not much to actually meaningfully connect them.

      I didn’t really have much of a problem with the pacing of the episodes because the most impactful rebuttals were their own thing much like the extensive courtroom battles, but I can see where you’re coming from. Nonetheless, I can agree their deviation from the series’ formula meant a few of the strongest aspects from the core series didn’t translate well. I maintain that catching Alba at the end was immensely satisfying – a feeling that catching Kristoph Gavin lacked – but getting that far was beyond tedious.

      I’ll save most of my opinions for the next review, but I will say right now that they bounced back big time with the sequel.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: April 2018 in Summary | Extra Life

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