Operation Backlog Completion 2024
May 312023

Today is the final day of Celebrating All Things Mysterious 2023, and what better game to celebrate with than one we’ve been talking about since the earliest days of this blog?

Gyakuten Kenji 2, or Ace Attorney Investigations 2, came out in 2011. It is now the only game in the Ace Attorney series to not have an official release outside of Japan.

It did, however, receive a fan translation. I’ve spent over a decade now holding out hope for an official localization and have more hope for it in the aftermath of The Great Ace Attorney’s localization that I had in years, but last year I decided that if the year ended with no sign of further Ace Attorney ports, I would finally play the Ace Attorney Investigations 2 fan translation.

I wanted a copy anyway, just to have every Ace Attorney game, so I imported a Japanese copy of Gyakuten Kenji 2 from Play-Asia.

And when May came, I began the process of learning how one actually plays a DS game fan translation, which was a bit like jumping into the deep end since the closest I’ve come to anything of the kind was playing the fan translation of Chaos;Head, a PC game I could simply buy, download, and apply the patch to. So actually figuring out how to play Investigations 2 (particularly since I wanted it on a flash cart so I could play it on my 3DS without hacking it) took much longer than I expected.

But at last, I was able to play Investigations 2 with its fan translation.

Picking up after the events of the first Investigations, Investigations 2 once again puts you in the shoes of Miles Edgeworth as he investigates a new series of cases. If you’ve never played Investigations, it plays a bit differently than the main Ace Attorney series. For investigations, you actually walk around as an Edgeworth sprite to inspect areas in the environment. You also confront people directly, hearing their testimonies and presenting evidence against them, instead of having that occur in a trial. They are essentially investigation-only cases, but with mechanics made to adapt Ace Attorney’s regular style to that format.

Investigations 2 also adds two new gameplay features, Logic and Logic Chess. In addition to evidence, you’ll also receive clues that you can then connect to one another through the “Logic” mechanic. This is usually fairly simple, but it was fine.

Logic Chess, meanwhile, puts you in a confrontation with a character who won’t reveal their secrets. It has little to do with actual chess and is essentially a timed series of dialogue choices to break through a character’s resistance, while chess pieces float on the screen to represent the character’s defenses. There are times when you need to pick the option to wait without saying anything, so it becomes a game of judging from the character’s responses whether you should speak or not. Sometimes it felt a bit too arbitrary, but overall I found Logic Chess to be a fun mechanic.

Moving on to the story, it was easy to forget I was playing a fan translation. It feels like Ace Attorney writing. Occasionally I found the game’s questions to be worded in a confusing way so that I wasn’t quite sure what it was asking me for, but I’m not sure if that’s because of the translation or the original writing.

Anyway, it brings back returning characters while also introducing several new ones. Most of the new characters were fairly likeable, with one in particular getting such a character arc that I have to admire the writers for making my opinion of a character change so dramatically over the course of the game. And while I unfortunately got spoiled on the main antagonist’s identity ahead of time, the reveal still gave me chills.

There’s plenty of Ace Attorney humor, as well, although I didn’t find it to be as funny as some of them are. It also has a lot of callbacks to the previous Ace Attorney games, much more than I expected. That was a fun surprise.

As for the story itself, I’m going to need some time to think everything over. You see, Investigations 2 has an overarching story, but the way things come together don’t become apparent until near the end. Each individual case has its highs and lows, but once I started to see how events were connected, I found myself wanting to go back and see them again with new context. And the character writing was so good that a few key moments alone made me love the game so much more.

I only have three real criticisms of the story. First, I felt the pacing dragged on a bit. Most cases felt a little longer than they had to be. My other two criticisms are spoilers, so I’ll explain them behind spoiler tags.

Click for Ace Attorney Investigations 2 spoilers
This is partly on me, but for all this time since Investigations 2 came out, I mistakenly believed we’d play as Gregory in the trial against Von Karma that led to the DL-6 incident. Going through the investigation but having the trial summarized by Ray in the present disappointed me and feels like a missed opportunity. Actually playing through that trial would have elevated that case by so much for me.

Finally, I wish the mastermind had just a slightly greater presence in the story. Just enough to make it feel like more of a betrayal.

Overall, I greatly enjoyed my time with Ace Attorney Investigations 2. While I need some time to let the story think in to determine where it sits in my Ace Attorney rankings, I definitely had a good time with it.

You might think that this lessens my desire for an official translation… but you’d be wrong! No, I want Investigations 2 to get a port and localization more than ever now! I want more people to play it. I want to be able to recommend it to friends without a list of instructions on how to play it! The fan translation is great, so maybe Capcom could work out a deal to use it as a base for an official release, like what happened with the Crossbell games. Playing it just cemented how much I not only want the remaining mainline games to be ported to modern platforms, but the Investigations duology as well.

So I’m still hoping for an Ace Attorney Investigations 2 localization after all this time. The sole other time I’ve played a game’s fan translation, localization was announced five months later, so maybe that same magic will occur again!

Gyakuten Kenji 2 can still be found out there, but being a Japan-exclusive DS game makes it among the most difficult Ace Attorney games to play. Here’s hoping Capcom remembers it and gives Investigations another chance.

And that brings this year’s mystery game celebration to a close! You have until the end of tonight to leave comments for the contest, so join in the conversation with your thoughts on Ace Attorney Investigations 2 and all the other games we’ve discussed this month!

If you want posts like this delivered straight to your inbox, enter your email in the box below to subscribe!

May 292023

Process of Elimination came out earlier this year for the Switch and PS4, so it seemed fitting to make it part of our mystery game month.

You play as Wato Hojo, an aspiring detective who ends up joining a group of detectives from the Detective Alliance as they attempt to investigate the identity of the serial killer known as the Quartering Duke. However, they soon find themselves trapped together, with the knowledge that the Quartering Duke might be among them…

It is one of several games coming out this year that I refer to casually as “Danganronpa-likes.” As members of the group are killed, it’s up to you to investigate and determine who the culprit is in each case.

Process of Elimination is primarily a visual novel. By far the vast majority of your time will be spent reading.

However, investigations are handled in a unique format for this sort of game. During these segments, the area you’ve investigating is presented as a grid the characters can walk around on. You need to make use of their stats in order to inspect suspicious areas, analyze evidence, and draw conclusions about the crime.

When I played the demo, it left me confused about what different terms meant and what actions should be used at different times. However, a bit of trial and error made it click for me, and I ended up enjoying these parts after all (aside from one segment that also included invisible enemies, which was too frustrating to be enjoyable).

Once you’ve gathered all the evidence you need, you return to the visual novel format and have to answer a series of questions to show who the culprit is, what evidence proves it, etc. This was the other aspect the demo left me uncertain about, so I was pleased to see that those sections do expect the player to pay attention to the clues and see how they all fit together.

As for its story, I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected to at first. I grew attached to the characters, and several points had me invested in seeing what would happen next. It feels like there’s potential for a sequel, and I wouldn’t at all mind seeing these characters again.

Process of Elimination took me by surprise. I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. Overall, I found it to be an interesting detective story with a good cast of characters, with unique investigation segments that proved to be a fun change of pace.

Only three days remain in this year’s Celebrating All Things Mysterious event and contest, so be sure to look back at all the relevant posts to see what games we’ve discussed so far this month and join in by leaving a comment on anything that grabs your attention!

If you want posts like this delivered straight to your inbox, enter your email in the box below to subscribe!

May 262023

The Innsmouth Case is a short interactive fiction story about a detective hired to investigate the disappearance of a little girl in Innsmouth.

Now, I love H.P. Lovecraft’s stories, games based on them, and detective stories, and this one is also a comedy, so I had high hopes.

I finally added an “interactive fiction” tag for this one, because while it does have some visuals, it’s primarily text-based and is even presented as the pages of a book. Scenery and characters appear at the top of the page, while the text appears to tell the story and present you with choices.

These choices have a variety of effects, with some leading to major branches while others can influence things later down the line, which means there’s a lot of variability.

When you reach an ending, you can easily reload a previous chapter if you don’t want to start over from the beginning. You can also skip through text to reach the next choice. This is good, since there’s a lot of trial and error involved. While some choices expect you to reason through what a smart reaction would be, others can’t be predicted (and finding the lost girl requires more guesswork than detective work).

However, I didn’t feel compelled to seek out all the endings or try to see all the branching paths, because it just didn’t have the heart I was hoping for.

Like I mentioned above, The Innsmouth Case is a comedy, despite being based on Lovecraftian horror. Its store page describes it as “the first scary-comedy-text-adventure of its kind,” but I wouldn’t go that far. As far as horror goes, The Innsmouth Case isn’t particularly scary, although it does have a ton of little nods to H.P. Lovecraft’s work. And when it comes to comedy… well, comedy is subjective, but it didn’t do it for me.

It certainly has an irreverent tone and a goofy approach to its situation, especially if you pick some of the more questionable choices. There were only a few moments that actually made me laugh, though.

In short, The Innsmouth Case isn’t the game to play if you’re looking for horror, a serious detective story, or a hilarious adventure, but if you want a short piece of interactive fiction with many branching paths and nods to Lovecraft, maybe you’ll get more out of it than I did.

We’re nearing the end of our Celebrating All Things Mysterious celebration, but there’s still plenty of time to join in the conversation about any of the games we’ve discussed so far! I’m hoping to end on a high note, so stay tuned for the upcoming reviews next week!

If you want posts like this delivered straight to your inbox, enter your email in the box below to subscribe!