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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Ace Attorney Investigations 2 (逆転検事2)

I was interested in many things before I discovered the way of the Jhipster and one of my favorite authors growing up was Agatha Christie (MUCH better than Hardy Boys, in fact let's pretend that chapter in my childhood never happened). I still remember the delightful shock and utter disbelief during my impressionable youth when I finished The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. It may not seem so special now but you have to remember that she was one of the FIRST to come up with such brilliant plot devices. Yes, it's all been done before and SHE was the one who did it.

It only took over a decade for me to experience the same kind of sensation: the goosebumps, the chills, and utter jaw-dropping moment. It was with a little DS title from Capcom called Gyakuten Kenji 2, otherwise known to non-Jhipsters as the never localized sequel to Ace Attorney Investigations.

The game itself is not voiced (popopo) and music not orchestral but it totally should be.

To start off, if you haven't played the original Ace Attorney trilogy, what are you waiting for? It's available on the DS, the 3DS (region-locked barf), and on the phone. You pretty much have no excuse... unless you're saving the Japanese version for your eventual evolution to Jhipster-dom. You don't have to play the entire original trilogy but this game builds on the story of at least the first Ace Attorney and (obviously) Ace Attorney Investigations so you'll want to play those first to prepare yourself for the masterpiece that is Gyakuten Kenji 2.

While Ace Attorney 4 and 5 were fun games, they kinda broke Naruhodo's sense of consistency and just overall togetherness as a character. It's kind of obvious that his continued presence was more of a marketing choice over the objections of the original writer Shu Takumi who considered Naruhodo's story complete with the original trilogy. I mean it was kinda cool he came in all bad-ass in AA4 but then... back to normal in AA5??

However, Gyakuten Kenji  2 feels like a perfect expansion of the Ace Attorney universe as it fits perfectly into the story of the first game. So much so, it's hard to believe that it wasn't written by Shu Takumi. You meet so many of the same beloved characters from the original trilogy and amazingly not in any forced way. It's so natural, it's like you're seeing an old friend at the grocery store instead of an awkward school reunion.

Missle is BACK! (just the left one though unfortunately)

Gyakuten Kenji 2 is not just a fun trip down fan service lane, it's also one of the best mystery stories I've ever read and certainly the best on a video game platform. Now, I'm not a mystery expert besides having read pretty much every Hercule Poirot and most of Agatha Christie's other books as well (Marple is meh IMO). However, while I loved the original Ace Attorney trilogy, using supernatural plot devices in a mystery totally counts as cheating in my book. It's not really an issue most of the time as it has no part in the actual crime but merely as a device to help educate the player. However, it gets really bad by the 3rd game and while I like the game itself, the rampant cheating was definitely a let-down.

The first Gyakuten Kenji was also not a bad game but not exactly the best in its class. The villians kinda show up as you progress in the game and there is no "holy shit" moment nor is there a deeply complex overall story like the original trilogy. However, I consider Gyakuten Kenji as more of a setup to the glory of the sequel, as it establishes arguably the cutest and best Watson in the entire series: Ichijou Mikumo (though admittedly it's hard to choose among so many cuties). While Itonokogiri is a fine character and works as a Watson, it's just not an Ace Attorney game unless Watson is a cute and infectiously cheerful girl (with what I imagine to be just a TINY, TINY bit of sexual tension?).

Mikumo taking a selfie in 2011 before it was "cool". So hipster.
So far all I've done is talk about basically every OTHER game in the series because I really don't want to give away too many details on just what makes this game so great. But if you've played Ace Attorney Investigation, the sequel has pretty much the same gameplay elements except they added logic chess where you have to pick the correct dialogue responses on a time limit. The ability to walk around the scene and investigate is just so much better than just picking out spots on an image that I'm kinda shocked that Ace Attorney 5 didn't incorporate any of the superior gameplay elements from the Investigation series. I am not that hopeful for anything like this in the next Ace Attorney title.

I dunno why you can't walk around in later AA games??
The music is as good as you can hope for the DS. There is a wonderful orchestral arrangement of the sound track that was released later that I have listened to for like a million times now. It's 2015, can't we get this kind of music in the game itself??

You know some law shit is gonna go DOWN when you hear this

Score: 5 just fucking play this game NOW!! out of 5

Gyakuten Kenji 2 is one of my favorite games of all time and personally, the best game in the entire Ace Attorney series so far (Great Ace Attorney coming out next month). The gameplay retains all the fun of Ace Attorney Investigation but adds just an incredible story on top of it. Without getting into any spoilers, the character progression is top-notch, the villains brilliantly sinister and complex, the mysteries just mind-blowing, and the climax just one of the best moments in gaming. It really is crazy that this is the ONLY AA game that has yet to be localized to English. Non-Jhipsters can buy the Japanese version and play the fan translated rom on a flashcart or something.

0 - Awful
1 - Bad and not worth your time
2 - Has some flaws but still enjoyable
3 - An average enjoyable experience
4 - A great game
5 - Masterpiece of a caliber only found very rarely


  1. i want to play this but i heard fan translation was horrible ahahaha

    1. That's funny, I heard it was the best fan translation of all time.