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February 27, 2017

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (Part 2)

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

Continuing from Part 1 with the second case of the entire Ace Attorney franchise. Look out, tons of spoilers.

The episode starts as Mia Fey calls her little sister Maya, asking her to come pick up some meaningful evidence – namely, the Thinker clock statue from the first case. Mia took out the clockwork and hid some important files in there. Unfortunately, someone comes into Mia’s apartment a little later, lets slip that they know exactly what Mia told her sister on the phone, and then beats her to death… with the Thinker statue. You could cut a building in two with such pointy irony. Poor Butz, once again, his gift to a girl is what kills her. Poor Phoenix, who loses his mentor… poor Maya Fey, who is accused of the murder! And Phoenix finds Mia’s body in the office, with Maya crying nearby!

Okay, that’s a traumatic tragedy, but it would be an immense conflict of interest if Phoenix took the case – his mentor dead, her little sister is the defendant. I suppose we’re not allowed to solve that one… Oh wait, seems we’re gonna be solving that one after all. We are introduced to the Investigation half of a case: In several locations, you are allowed to run a cursor around to pick up information about various items in the scenery. It can lead to superfluous details, but it can also be the discovery of major evidence that will be used later in the case – and it will forward the plot. Here, when Phoenix tries to call the cops, he finds out someone else, in a room of the hotel on the other side of the street, is also calling them…

Poor guy. It seems he always cuts himself at the exact
same spot every day he shaves.
And thus shortly afterwards we meet Dick Gumshoe, detective not-so-extraordinaire. An ever-present pencil behind the ear, an ever-present plaster on the beard… Hey, I think we found Jim Morales’ long-lost brother! Could be worse, his family name could be Johnson. Sheesh, with a name like Gumshoe, the poor guy had no other choice in his career path. …Come to think of it, that’s true of a lot of characters in the series, their name often dictates what they were bound to become.

We discuss with Maya at the discussion center, then receive from Gumshoe the autopsy report at the Fey and Co. Law Offices. The detective also helpfully informs us that prosecutor Miles Edgeworth is on the case. Ah, at last, Phoenix’s famous rival! Probably more popular than even Phoenix himself, that guy. In Part 1, I mentioned that prosecutors were greatly favored over defense attorneys, and it’s true here as well. While Phoenix struggles to gather evidence, faces three dozen problems and can barely build a solid case, with witnesses and people present on the scenes being frequently unresponsive or uncooperative, Miles is bossing the cops around and can easily get testimonies, reports and other valuable info. It’s even said that Miles hasn’t lost a single case so far – once again displaying that Japanese – er, American – prosecution ego that is so omnipresent.

Will you like him better if he makes up half the
impressive-sounding words he drops at random?
We get to talk with the main witness on the case, miss April May, who was told to stay in her hotel room until the trial on the next day. Wa-ho! That is one pretty pink-haired woman. She looks like she could buxom- er, I mean, blossom anywhere. She looks like a sein-er, I mean, Saint, let’s just hope it’s not a booby trap-ack! Sorry! I hope I can cleavage, I mean, salvage some important info from this encounter! Dammit, I gotta remember, her eyes are up there! I hope whatever info she offers will help me solve this case from A to DD- er, Z! I meant Z! Hey, don’t blame me on poor innuendos, she does it too: “I like a man with a big… vocabulary!” If that’s not blatant, I dunno what is! However, when Phoenix tries to extract some info, she becomes as useless as a toothless fork.

We go see the attorney Mia told Maya to hire if she ever got in trouble, a certain Marvin Grossberg, who clearly lives the big life of a big-shot, with a three million dollar painting in his office and a gold-plated lighter. Grossberg refuses to take the case before Phoenix can even get a chance to ask. Did I mention that this guy was Mia’s mentor? This is all sounding fishier by the minute… He even tells Phoenix that no lawyer in the world would ever take on that case…

"On condition that you accompany me and help in every
next case I'll be a part of!"
"Only the next two, then I'll take a break."
Back at the detention center, we get some info from Maya; she’s from a family where the women tend to have extra-sensorial powers. Mediums, and the like, able to call the dead. Unfortunately, she’s still in training, so she can’t do much. She explains that her mother’s life was ruined many years prior in an incident that involved the use of a medium to solve a case… Phoenix chooses to defend Maya. We find one other critical piece of evidence: a wiretap hidden in April May’s room, lookit that… I’m not surprised to find a wiretap at a place called Gatewater Hotel… Either way, we’re ready for the trial on the next day.

And thus, we move to the trial on the next day. Wright on one side, Edgeworth on the other. First person called to the stand is none other than Dick Gumshoe. Let’s hope he’ll be more useful this time around. We’re explained the “Press Statement” mechanic in more depth, although I already explained it on the first case. On a testimony that seems to hold no contradictions, the witness can slip up when asked to explain in greater depth what he or she meant. Here, Gumshoe is asked a second testimony after being told to explain what exactly is the “hard evidence” he found, and in that second testimony, Phoenix points out that the autopsy report indicates instantaneous death of the victim, meaning she couldn’t possibly write anything with the blood of her wound.

Sheesh. Talk about suddenly going from the beatuty
to being the beast.
Then we see what Edgeworth really is like: He stands there and checks the logical attempts by the defense lawyer in pointing out inconsistencies, and often busts in with his own evidence and updated records to sink those down. The prosecution calls April May to the stand. The very pink woman’s first testimony appears solid, but she mentions Maya’s body shape before her odd attire or haircut, raising Phoenix’s suspicions. Things get worse in the second testimony, when she instantly calls the statue a clock, claiming she heard it say the time – except that time around, there was no clockwork in it! Ah, April May, liar, liar, skirt on fire. And Phoenix can prove the mechanism was removed before the murder, thanks to the call recorded in Maya’s phone! That’s when May reveals her true colors. Let’s just say she suddenly is a lot less sexy. Like a Playboy bunny merged with the Trunchbull from Matilda.

How did she know about the clock? Why, thanks to the wiretap! May can be accused of that, but she can’t be accused of murder, her alibi being that she was busy doing other things. Thus, Phoenix calls the bellboy to the stand. This one seems to say nothing at first, until it reveals that April May checked in with a man, who was absent from the room when May was brought a cup of iced tea, at the time of the murder… Armed of this knowledge, and with whatever truths were salvageable from April May’s bra of lies – I mean, web of lies, dammit I’m doing it again – Phoenix is confident that his investigation that afternoon will have results.

Well, if you answered the questions instead of being a
two-faced unresponsive jerk, I wouldn't be coming back!
At the Detention Center, April May is still as unhelpful as possible; thankfully, a conveniently discovered photo at Grossberg’s office and an affidavit by the bellboy of seeing the man on said photo checking in with May are enough to make her talk… of Redd White, of Bluecorp. Time to face this man!

White’s office is impressive, boasting a painting identical to the one in Grossberg’s office. Redd White (of Bluecorp) himself has a smile bright enough to cause accidents on the highway, diamonds on his coat, and a horribly purple (magenta! Like blue mixed with red then with white!) haircut. Oh, and he peppers his speech with big words that he made up just to look smarter. I can do that too, you eliterrible. Richump. Diamunlikable. Jackassociate. Stuckupperclass. My Microsoft Word spell-checker is going nuts right now! Unfortunately, Redd White (of Bluecorp) quickly asserts his authority, first by saying there is nothing a lawyer could do against him, second that Phoenix has no chance of ever bringing him on the stand for the trial. Oh, he also punches Phoenix. He’s so rich he believes that he’s above laws. Did I mention Bluecorp is an information-gathering agency? I’m starting to smell something there, and for once, it’s not the Butz. Unable to do more, Phoenix leaves.

Thanks, Grossberg, for the info. It will be most pleasant
to take down a bully like that in court.
Back at Grossberg, we meet again the large lawyer, who is definitely hiding some things. The painting in his office is gone, and from this, Phoenix guessed that Redd White is blackmailing that lawyer. That’s what Redd White (of Bluecorp) does to stay rich: Blackmail anyone who could be a bother. It is an “information agency”, after all; Redd White (of Bluecorp) knows a lot of things, on a lot of people. He has dirt on just about anybody. As for Grossberg, he got roped into all of this after the DL-6 Incident. That same one involving Maya’s family. Grossberg adds that Redd White (of Bluecorp) is nigh-untouchable, it would be suicide to pursue him for this case.

Also, yes, I am aware that I almost always refer to the guy as Redd White (of Bluecorp), because that’s the best way to keep in mind the full name of the guy who blackmails so many people, and the company behind him. Checking Mia’s files at Fey and Co. Law Offices reveals that Redd White (of Bluecorp) knows about the DL-6 Incident, that the “Suicides” section is filled with newspaper clippings and other files with “WHITE” written on them, while the entire W section of the alphabetically-sorted files is missing.

White: I've got the killer right here, in front of me!
Phoenix: I'm the one who should be saying that!
White: Oh? Sorry. I am in a position of power, you
see. This gives me a pass to rewrite the truth as I see
fit. Invent tragedies, make up lies to justify what I
do... If the current administration around the POTUS
can do it, why couldn't I? Oh, but what am I saying, I
basically control that puppet in the Oval Office.
Presenting one of these suicide files to Redd White (of Bluecorp) triggers him, so to speak, and he calls the Chief Prosecutor’s office, claiming he has also seen the crime and knows who did it. He therefore accuses Phoenix Wright. And since the Chief Prosecutor was blackmailed too (as the discussion implies in a not-very-subtle way), Phoenix is arrested on the spot. Not even kidding. His trial? On the next day, with White as a witness.

Phoenix is defending his own case (it would be stupid in any other case, but Phoenix has already shown himself to be more resourceful than the usual “idiot who thinks he can defend himself in court”). There are worrisome news that Edgeworth, who prosecutes, was ordered to take everything White says as absolute truth (you can imagine White’s order was followed by an “Or else…”). There are also implications that the Judge may be another victim of White’s blackmails.

Poor Redd White, it must be difficult to juggle so much
information in that little head. Especially when you
include all the made-up information you're trying
to pass as fact on here!
It’ll be difficult to arrest this guy, but Phoenix doesn’t back down. Redd White’s first testimony is thoroughly inspected, and eventually it contradicts April May’s. His next attempts at correcting his mistakes just blow more holes into his story, as is usual from a courtroom section in a chapter of an Ace Attorney game. Redd White (of Bluecorp), no need trying to pretend Mia was hit twice, the autopsy record (God I love how useful these papers are) says she was struck only once! Aww, is Mister Purple-Haired (magenta!) Blackmailer all pouty-pouty now?

And with his next testimony, he digs himself deeper by pretending to have seen a glass item fall to the floor in the chase he supposedly saw from the hotel – but the thing was shattered, so he couldn’t know what it really was. Also, said stand was further to the right of the window, no one could have seen it from outside. How could he have seen it, then? Unless he was on the crime scene!

Sheesh, Maya channelling Mia sure
looks strange... I gotta remember,
Maya is 17!
Edgeworth steps in with another option: That White may have placed May’s wiretap, hence why he knew about the glass stand… Oops. That makes things trickier all of a sudden… And, indeed, White’s new testimony has no holes to speak of – he placed the wiretap a week before, hence that’s where he saw the stand, seems solid. Phoenix loses. Or, well, he believes he loses, but Maya, who’s sitting by his side in the courtroom, is suddenly able to channel her dead sister Mia to give Phoenix a pointer or two. Needless to say, that’s quite a shock. I mean, Maya is suddenly a lot, em… taller, to put it that way, and a lot more, um… mature too. Mia explains that a receipt found at the crime scene, with Maya’s name written in blood to pin blame on her originally, is actually a receipt for that glass stand… which was bought precisely one day before the murder!

Ah, Ace Attorney series… they love to make you believe that you’ve lost, only to have a very sudden thing happen to turn the tide again. I swear, it often feels like a deus ex machina, but those are things we don’t think about until they’re revealed – that paper has been with Phoenix since the beginning of the case, it’s almost a mystery why he didn’t check the side that wasn’t covered in blood! But there we are. Hell, it could have been a receipt for anything else, or in fact, not a receipt at all! If this keeps up, they’ll toss in more magic, too!

Even that doesn’t seem enough though, but Mia gives Phoenix a paper on which a list of names are written, and when Phoenix recites the list in court, Redd White (of Bluecorp) breaks down and confesses the murder. And thus, against impossible odds, Wright wins again! That was quite fantastic.

Not so happy now that you've been exposed, are you?

Following this, Maya manages to channel Mia again to congratulate him, then later to write him a letter officially giving him the reins of what will now be the Wright and Co. Law Offices. Oh, and he gains a sidekick in Maya, who’ll now likely be following him around everywhere. The two celebrate this impressive victory by going out for ramen-I mean, hamburgers. All’s well that ends well again in Tok- I mean, Los Angeles.

Alright then, see you this Friday for Part 3!