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Wednesday 29/03/2017: Clockwork Tales: Of Glass and Ink

March 24, 2017

Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney (Part 4)

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Part 1 Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5
Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney - Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4 – Part 5

The big final case of this game! And much like how Case 4 of Phoenix’s first game combined two cases that seemed unrelated at first, the final case of Apollo’s first game also combines two seemingly-unrelated cases. Let’s jump into it!

Magicians shooting each other on a stage. A teenage girl fainting behind a witness stand. An uninviting studio. The poker game from Case 1. These images flash as we are presented the MASON system, a strange machine that allows one to view both the present case, and a past case that happened… you guessed it, seven years prior. I actually like the contrast. The first game ended with two cases, separated by fifteen years, which both had Miles Edgeworth as a central character. The difference here is that Phoenix Wright is perfectly able to investigate the case in both eras of his “career”, and amass the evidence to solve not one, but two mysteries at once.

Oh, and while Apollo still does quite a bit, he’s relegated to deuteragonist. Second main character… in the final case of the game that bears his name. Shame. Anyway, the MASON system was put in place to help people make their mind about this case, so that they can weigh in on whether the defendant of the current case is guilty or not. I’d better not waste any time.

"Hey, remember that part in the previous case where I
was basically implying that I was on a mission to change
the system? Well now I am involving you into my
mission to change the system, even if it will change
for only one case in the entire franchise and never again."
At Wright Anything Agency, Trucy is watching TV. We’re announcing a new magic show from Troupe Gramarye! Yep, with Trucy’s real uncle Valant Gramarye and all. Then Phoenix shows up, to finally explain his secret mission – and to involve Apollo in it. See, for a while now, Phoenix has been working behind the scenes on something called the Jurist System. It should be Juror System, but nobody at the localization team bothered to verify. The plan is to set up a jury – basically, much like the real-life American system of 12 jurors who will discuss the information revealed in court and come to an agreement on the punishment for the guilty party. In the American Ace Attorney games, they speak of reviving the system – in the original Japanese titles as well, though, it had vanished for a long time. Ah, so that's why prosecutors had such inflated egos in the first game! Looking at you, von Karma! The system being put in place by Phoenix will have only six jurors, and they’ll pick a case “at random”, after which it’ll be Apollo’s job to, well, do his job. Oh, Phoenix says it’s a simulation, but you won’t catch me in the simulation-is-not-actually-a-simulation trick twice! I saw Ender’s Game, you know!

"......? Okay, starting now, I'm calling you Six-Dots.
You father was either very creative, or uncreative.
Okay Six-Dots, tell me your version of the story."
And of course, the “easy case” he picks is a murder, of which the defendant has almost all the chances of being guilty. Oh, goodie. The defendant? Vera Misham, a very shy young adult, who is barely able to say anything. We learn most things about her through a business card. We also learn that she’s from Drew Studio, which we visit… and where we learn the the victim, her father: Drew Misham. Ema Skye shows up again (I swear if this keeps up I’m gonna start shipping her and Apollo) and explains that Misham died from poisoning. There was residue of atroquinine, a poison that exists in the franchise (it’s implied to be the poison created from Borginian cocoons, see Case 3 about those). It apparently takes 15 minutes for this poison to kill the one who ingested it.

Drew Misham was giving his first interview when he died, with a weird reporter named Spark Brushel. I say weird, that might be understatement. Spraying poison detector all around the room, we find traces of it in a tiny tiny picture frame on a desk. We also learn to use an X-ray machine that lets us view through envelopes without having to open them. The letter inside an envelope in the studio reads that someone deposited 100,000$ in Misham’s account, with the second page asking to send back the envelope with an accompanying postal stamp.

Yup, and then Valant waited seven years after Zak
disappeared, to snatch the rights to the trick.
Is it me or that's a particularly dickish thing to do?
Unable to move ahead (Vera Misham is resting at the detention center, not feeling very well), we go to Sunshine Coliseum where we meet Valant Gramarye. From there, we learn that he dedicates the show to Zak Gramarye’s memory. As for why he had to wait seven years: His mentor, Magnifi Gramarye, had performance rights on the amazing tricks he performed, and it was part of an intellectual property law (AKA copyright) meaning that his followers, or any other magician, couldn’t perform his unique tricks for seven years after his death. And now, we are seven years after Magnifi’s death, so Valant puts on the show. Seven years, huh? An awful lot of things tie back into that event from that time...

Zak, Trucy’s dad, inherited the rights to the trick, but since Zak disappeared, and it takes seven years to officially declare dead a person gone missing, and since Zak is considered dead now, Valant was the one to inherit Magnifi’s tricks. Oh, and Valant did see Brushel, but the reporter kept asking about the Misham case. Guess we'll see him at the Detention Center,

One of the better pictures I could take of the weirdo.
Eh, he's weird, but he's effective.
Yep, Brushel's there, and what an odd guy. I mean, I have no problem with odd, as long as it isn’t murderously odd. This guy is a cornucopia of nervous ticks. Hilarious... but kinda sad too, since he lives that way… “Weird Reporter Becomes Small Internet Meme For Character Tics, Bizarre Personality And Appearance”, end quote! He reveals nothing on how he got the interview with Drew Misham or what they spoke about, but he ends up mentioning a stolen painting… Let me guess, is it Angel Opening A Door? Is… Is the Hotel Dusk: Room 215 world leaking into the Ace Attorney series? I do find it funny that I'm discussing a second visual novel on the DS, a second plot about a stolen painting… a plot about the illegal creation of copies, too!

Back with Ema at Drew Studio, she explains that Misham made money with forgeries, AKA, making fakes. His talent was used to copy famous paintings, and sell them as the real ones, as some artists do. Yep, crime. Say whatever you want about victims in this game, aside from LeTouse, they all had some pretty major secrets and crimes to their names Heck, there was a stolen painting in here, and Drew was copying it! The sketches under the paintings in the studio? Men playing poker, a dead man pulling a stand, and a guitarist on fire on top of a raised platform… Holy shit! Somehow, Drew Misham knew about the three previous cases covered by Apollo!

Even the guy's shock expression is weird beyond words.
It's actually kinda creepy.
Time to untangle this mess in court. Remember, it’s the test of the Jurist System (Dammit, it’s Juror, guys! Ju-Ror!), so everybody has to behave. It starts off as tricky, since Brushel’s testimony changes based on what you ask him, so you need to know what you want him to testify about. Brushel says that Drew fell right after a sip – but since Atroquinine acts 15 minutes after ingestion, then the sip wasn’t what did Drew in. Brushel takes a step back, to say Misham was writing a letter and promptly packed it in a yellow envelope when the weird reporter showed up. Except… the envelope found was red, and the text inside was addressing Drew, so why would he mail a letter back to himself? Well, Misham did send off a envelope - a yellow one.

Why, thanks game, I really wanted to
have to inspect this guy's armpits.
When Brushel mentions Misham’s talent, Apollo perceives him sweating profusely – at the armpits, no less, thanks game for asking me to check this. With evidence, we prove that Brushel actually knew about the forgery business held by that man. And, as it turns out, Misham started forging evidence to turn the tide of various criminal investigations and trials. Brushel can say that nothing left the studio after he left, but what about the envelope in the mail? Well, turns out, the envelope needed a postal stamp – and what if that was what had been poisoned? And Drew ingested the poison by licking it? And then left traces of that poison on the coffee mug! Sounds impossible, but we’ve seen even less probable in this very game.

Proof that the stamp was poisoned? The tiny frame on the desk, which the poison detector spray reacted to! And of course, the stamp came in with the letter about the 100.000$ sent in Misham’s bank account. The letter that demands that Misham uses the stamp sent with it! And how to prove that it was sent with the original letter? Ema shows up, because of course she does, to guide us into using the poison detector, because of course we needed her for that, and residue of poison appears on the letter, because of course it does.

But it still doesn’t make sense, why would Drew Misham lick the stamp after seven years, since he knew its secret? From there, Apollo deducts that Drew wasn’t the forger at all… His daughter Vera was the forger! Brought to the stand, Vera confirms the theory, but is unusually stressed when seeing Klavier Gavin. After a break where Vera finally confesses to Apollo, we’re back in court, and she testifies. If at least she could stop doing her nails… with all the stress she suffers, and all the times she relieves said stress by biting them, I’m surprised she still has nails at all!

It looks pretty nice. Could you make a better
drawing of it? This one is kinda blurry.
She testifies that her father saw her talent, and eventually created his business of making forged evidence. After Vera’s first fake evidence creation, the family received the letter in the mail, and Vera asked to keep the commemorative stamp since it featured her favorite group of magicians… Troupe Gramarye. Hearing the name, Klavier is then the one to freak out and demand what was the evidence she forged. She says, “a single page in a book”, like a diary. And so Klavier further freaks out. Geez, I’d expect that sort of reaction from von Karma, not the cool Klavier. And we’re back to talking about how Phoenix Wright was disbarred, seven years prior, by presenting a forged evidence in court. That same page Vera just talked about. Klavier knows; he was the prosecutor when it happened.

Well, gee, I did hear it was unhealthy to bite your nails,
but I didn't think it would be deadly!

Apollo asks Vera who the client was, but she’s back to biting her nails. And before she can reply, she falls backwards and faints. Like in the flashes at the beginning. The doctors say Atroquinine poisoning is what happened. Just under the deadly limit, so she’s okay for now… but at risk of death in the long run. And thus we’re brought back to the trial that happened, seven years ago, when Phoenix and Klavier faced in court.

Aw, Trucy, it's so cute, you're about to ruin a man's
entire career. and almost, life! But you do it in such
an adorable pink magician uniform.
We indeed cut back to seven years ago, in the middle of the trial where Phoenix committed his blunder and used the faked evidence. Phoenix meets Shadi Enigmar, better known as Zak Gramarye, accompanied of a very young and very adorable Trucy. She received from someone in the hall a diary page, which she was told to give to Phoenix, and she does give it to him.

I should mention now that they made a rather dumb mistake in the original DS version of this game. The characters from the original trilogy still have their sprites from those games, causing quite a contrast with the DS-quality sprites of Klavier or Shadi. The Judge is the most obvious, though Phoenix in these trial sequences also bears this noticeable style clash. And so does Dick Gumshoe. They corrected it in later versions, thankfully.

I could have sworn I've seen this guy before. Was it a
year ago? ...No, wait, maybe two weeks ago.

Shadi Enigmar, the defendant, says that the court won't be able to declare him guilty. He is put on trial for the death of Magnifi Gramarye, his mentor. First we talk with Gumshoe, and we learn that the victim had chronic diabetes and cancer. Magnifi ordered his own death, through a letter addressed to his disciples Zak and Valant Gramarye, asking for a bullet in the forehead. In the picture, we see a clown doll also shot in the forehead. The pistol was a prop in the magic show, and shot real bullets. Or rather, it can contain only one bullet, so Shadi Enigmar couldn’t have shot it twice – had he shot the doll, he couldn’t have used the gun on his master.

Everyone knows that when a magician is cornered, all
of their trick sleeves suddenly reveal what they hide!
It's Stage Magic in Fiction 101!
Talking to his client during the break, Phoenix learns that there were two stage guns, and Zak left with the one he used to shoot the clown rather than his master. Trial resumes, and the next witness is Valant Gramarye. It appears Valant received the same letter, though he was asked to come to Magnifi’s room 15 minutes after Zak. The ballistic markings of the gun that was still in the bedroom match the ones on the bullet in Magnifi’s head. Seems we got our culprit already. That was quick! Phoenix goes off from Valant knowing the color of the IV bag, and theorizes that Valant knew because he messed with it to misdirect doctors about Magnifi’s time of death.

.....too late.
Klavier reveals a diary with a final missing page, one that states that Magnifi hoped he’d write in it some more. The last page of the diary is ripped off. To which we reveal the final piece of evidence: The diary page received from Trucy. By the way, you get no penalty for presenting the wrong evidence, and there’s no moving forward until you reveal the forged piece of evidence that destroys Phoenix’s career. Klavier brings Drew Misham as a witness, and he testifies to making that fake page. It’s a trap. You knew it was coming, and you had to fall in it. The game forced you to. From Phoenix’s mistake, Zak Gramarye is declared guilty. Or rather he would be… but before it can happen, he vanishes from the courtroom, into the nature, and all attempts to find him are in vain. If anything, the magician made himself disappear.

And thus Phoenix loses his badge, and Shadi Enigmar is never to be seen again. Well, until seven years later, under an alias, but he didn’t stay around for very long.

Seven years later, this mystery of the past combines itself with the case of the present. By the way, if you liked this trial part with Phoenix, be happy, you’ll see him again. A lot. And Apollo? Forgotten until the next trial section. Yeah, it’s as I said. The game with his name on the cover puts him aside for a while.

The MASON system is now turned on, and will let the jurors of the present case shuffle through the past and the present, to discover the elements that are still missing in the murders of Magnifi Gramarye and Drew Misham. Which… unfortunately, will be in Part 5.

March 20, 2017

Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney (Part 3)

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Part 1 Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5
Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney - Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4 – Part 5

Please stop, Lamiroir, you're making me feel hungry with
all those symbols of goats and fish!
I could do without the cockroach, though.
Two cases complete, and we’re now on the third one. Location: Sunshine Coliseum. It’s a concert by the Gavinners, Klavier Gavin’s rock band. Oh good, because calling a band by the name of its frontman is totally not a sign of egotism. I suppose Law Enforcers was too on-the-nose? I mean, Gavin does say his band is composed of other people with daily work related to the law. Apollo and Trucy have been given backstage access (not free; 20% off). Trucy is ecstatic, Apollo doesn't care much. During the second set of the night, Klavier is on stage with famous singer Lamiroir. We meet Lamiroir, and then her manager, Romein LeTouse, who is also her translator. Yeah, she speaks Hieroglyph. Undecipherable language if there ever was one. Although, she did practice to speak English, if only for that song. Lamiroir is accompanied of Machi Tobaye, her pianist, a blind child. No, that’s not three different characters. Machi is a blind kid playing piano for her.

We get a beautiful animated sequence when Lamiroir, Klavier and Machi interpret the song The Guitar’s Serenade. It uses a vanishing magic trick. Strangely though, Klavier’s guitar catches fire mid-song. Hey, I knew some riffs could be hot, but that’s exaggerated. That didn’t seem to be a part of the show, either. While Trucy fangirls in the crowd, backstage, Apollo meets Ema Skye again. She’s assuring security, and doesn’t seem pleased with the situation. Not talkative at all tonight, even when Apollo has questions for her. You know, Ema, I know you don’t like my questions, and you can toss at me all the Snackoos you want; but if you keep this up, in an hour, I’ll still have my questions, and you’ll be out of Snackoos.

Apollo, witness to a crime! Surely not a conflict of interest
that will prevent him from defending someone for this.
During the final set, Apollo and Ema hear a gunshot, and Apollo runs inside Lamiroir’s dressing room, to discover Romein LeTouse on the floor, wounded. He says that there was a witness – “Siren” – and then he dies. Concert is stopped. Quick note, I can’t believe I only now caught the “Romaine Lettuce” pun in the victim’s name. And I’ve had this game since 2011! Anyway, we study the body and the strange spill of blood around LeTouse, we find a set of keys in the man’s hand, then we learn that the firearm used has such great recoil that it could dislocate the shoulder of someone who isn’t used to those weapons.

March 17, 2017

Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney (Part 2)

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Part 1 Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5
Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney - Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4 – Part 5

It's like the scum of the Earth had a party in Tok-
Err, in Los Angeles!
We continue the story of this game with case 2, Turnabout Corner. We see multiple scenes that appear disconnected: Someone pulling a stand, a girl chasing a fleeing guy down the street, a man with a tuque being hit by the side of a car…We cut to Apollo Justice’s new fate: Two months since his first case, in which his mentor Kristoph Gavin was arrested, he finally accepts to join the Wright Talent Agency. He meets the strange teenage girl from that first case, the one dressed as a magician… Phoenix’s daughter, Trucy Wright. Considering he had no children at age 24, nine years prior, she was likely adopted. That, or… No, I’d rather not imagine that.

Er... Let's call the police about that one?
It shouldn't be any of my business.
Unless it miraculously relates to the case.
We get our first warning sign: Phoenix is not at the agency, he’s at the hospital. Was struck by a car’s side-mirror the previous night. Not hurt too badly, thankfully. He already has a case for Apollo, too; the client, or rather a person close to the client, is met at the Agency. Some weird guy with a bowl on his head. You got it wrong sir, it’s called a bowl cut, it’s not just a bowl. You’d still look ridiculous, but you would look less ridiculous. The client, named Guy Eldoon, is the local Noodle Guy (in case the backwards word didn’t clue you in), says that his stand has been stolen. We’re told to find it. We have a third mystery, too; one of Trucy’s stage magician props was stolen. Her… panties. Well, this is taking a turn for the awkward… She says they’re just a prop allowing for some magical effects, not an actual pair to wear. You know, I never thought I’d be discussing things like that outside of a review of an adult game. So now we have potentially two thieves and a hit-n-runner to find. Goodie.

And she's the boss's wife. Better not piss her off if we want
to see another day.
Our investigation begins as we meet the people near the location of the hit-and-run. That mansion belongs to the Kitaki, a family of a Yakuza-inspired mob. Mafia in the first game, Yakuza here… some other cases mention other criminal groups… I wouldn’t be surprised if a future Ace Attorney game had a gang war as part of its story. And I thought Liberty City was complicated! Apollo and Trucy also learn that a murder happened within People Park on the other side of the street. Visiting Eldoon, we see that his stand was right next to a high-class doctor’s office, the Meraktis Clinic. A police car is parked near it. Last but not least, we meet Alita Tiala, who asks Apollo Justice to defend her boyfriend/future husband… Wocky Kitaki, who is being accused of the murder of Pal Meraktis.

March 13, 2017

Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney (Part 1)

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Part 1 Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5
Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney - Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4 – Part 5

(Hm... not my best title card... I had no idea what else to do.)

I don't usually start a review on a Monday, but this is a special case. And no, it's not to avoid having two reviews posted on two days at the end of March.

We continue this look at the Ace Attorney series with the fourth game, Apollo Justice, released for the Nintendo DS. Yeah, I know, I’m skipping over two games, but I do not own them and at the moment, I’m broke. So I have no plans to buy them, much less review them. I know the third game is pretty good, but if you’re waiting for me to discuss it, if you’re waiting for Godot, you’ll be waiting for a long time.

Buuuuut.... Here's a picture of him regardless.
Hey, at least we know he exists, unlike the OG Godot.

Apollo Justice brings us about ten years after the first game (seven years after the third game). Phoenix Wright had become a legend, two years after he started defending clients in court (the cases in Justice For All and Trials and Tribulations certainly helped). One can’t take down a legend such as Manfred Von Karma and avoid becoming a legend themselves. Since the original trilogy, a series of doubtful practices in the justice system became commonplace from shadier attorneys on both sides, leading to the public’s confidence in the justice system reaching an all-time low. This is what we now call “The Dark Age of the Law”. Take note that we’re in 2026 by then. Attorneys and prosecutors constantly circumventing the system only leads to trouble. Evidence forging has become a common tactic.

It is in a gloomy time that we meet our new protagonist for this game: Apollo Justice, a young but promising defense attorney, with hair even more notable than Phoenix Wright’s. Hell, his name is more notable than Phoenix’s. Oh, but our previous protagonist is still around, don’t worry. He will be tied in some way to three of the cases in this game.

Of course, a form of disillusionment against the system is nothing new, in fact I’d say this is exactly what many of us are feeling nowadays. There are many things I could say about this game’s backstory that are scarily close to the mood around the world in this day and age, mostly towards politics. However, this isn’t a political blog, so I will try not to talk about it much. I mean, the justice system is affected by politics (even though it shouldn't be), but I won’t make any mention of the current political scene. Why would I? This game takes place in 2026, after all. Okay, enough blabbering, this is Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney.

Images for this review were taken from this Let's Play.
Go check it out!
We start the first story of this game, called… Turnabout Trump… Aw, for fuck’s sake!

Proof. I'm not making that up.
No, seriously though, it’s really called that – look it up. However, it’s called such because it refers to poker and strategies – the expression “having a trump card”. This is just poor timing for me, I guess. No kiddie gloves, either: Remember how the first case of the previous game showed the killer in broad daylight? Here, nope. The flashback pins the blame quite clearly on the defendant, but what’s the truth? Figure it out yourself! Have I mentioned that the once-proud attorney Phoenix Wright is not only reduced to a piano player in a restaurant, but he’s also the defendant in Apollo’s first case?

March 10, 2017

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (Part 5)

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Part 1 Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5
Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney - Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4 – Part 5

Or rather, we know, but not we need tol catch the guy.
And there's still that second underlying mystery...
There is still much to discuss in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. Or rather, we must still discuss the last investigating section, followed of the last trial. We have the current case of Robert Hammond's murder, mixed with the mysterious DL-6 case. Those two are tied too closely for comfort, so I was almost sure I’d need a fifth part for this. Anyway, let’s continue where we left off, shall we?

Come to think of it, isn’t Phoenix defending Edgeworth another case of conflict of interest? Edgeworth was Phoenix’s “friend”, after all… Oh well, guess the Ace Attorney-verse has no interest in those questions.

Eh. As an extrascholar activity, I've seen worse.
We are preparing for the third day of the trial, and Phoenix is visited by Larry at the Law Offices. We hear more backstory: In fourth grade, Phoenix was put on trial for stealing Edgeworth’s lunch money (he didn’t actually do it), and Edgeworth, who at the time wanted to become a defense attorney like his father Gregory, defended him – and won. I wouldn’t go as far as to call it a life-saving situation, but that was the first event that made Phoenix want to become an attorney. Then DL-6 happened, Edgeworth moved away, Phoenix didn't see him again – until he learned Edgeworth became a prosecutor; after which, Phoenix decided to become a defense attorney, so that he would meet his old friend, now a rival, in court. But Edgeworth was so different… The news about him were scary, too; saying he’d do anything to get a guilty verdict on every defendant…