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March 27, 2017

Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney (Part 5)

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


Get ready for some measure of time-travel. Somehow.
Part 4 ended with the infamous trial that led to Phoenix Wright’s disbarment, after he presented forged evidence given to him by Trucy Wright. Who gave it to her in the first place? Why did someone order this forgery to ruin his reputation? How exactly did Phoenix record all of the elements of both the past and present, to get the full story into this computer? But, most of all… isn’t it an enormous conflict of interest? The case picked by Phoenix for Apollo to crack in court ends up involving the older attorney’s previous case, which should be a big no-no. And yet, here we are.

Allow me to also point out that, after the investigation in the MASON system and the last trial section have taken place, you will be told to decide whether Vera is guilty or not. The case you’ve defended through Apollo Justice, and now you’ll be part of its jury. How’s that for a conflict of interest? Oh wait, there’s more. But I’ll explain that later.

Phoenix Wright recorded every moment with a camera hidden behind the smiley face on his tuque. And much of his mission during the third case of the game was him speaking to the actors of the two cases. There will be a lot of going back and forth between the past (seven years prior) and the present.

Well, duh. Whenever you play as Phoenix, expect to
unlock some Psyche-Locks. Well, except in the first game...
Now, I did not cover that before, because the first game doesn’t have them, and Apollo has a different gimmick. Phoenix Wright owns a Magatama; when someone is clearly hiding secrets, Phoenix will be seeing chains and locks (called Psyche-Locks) around the person. Each lock is one piece of the deep secret that person keeps locked away. Anywhere from 1 to 5 locks can appear. It’s possible to break these locks, however, by presenting evidence and portraits of characters linked to that secret. Break the locks, and the person will tell you their secret.

The MASON system makes the 4 locations of the past available from the start. Each one has its secrets. Most actors you’ll talk to will have their Magatama section. You’ll eventually unlock scenes from the present, and at some point evidence gathered in either time period could be used in the other, leading to some… bizarre leaps of logic.

(Menu opens) Do I have a choice?
A) Nope
B) Nada
C) Niet
D) You wish you had a choice!
E) Don't be heartless, just take her in already!

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 4Part 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!

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 4Part 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 4Part 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 4Part 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 4Part 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…

March 6, 2017

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (Part 4)

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

You would expect Edgeworth to know
better than to pick up a weapon used
for a crime with his hands... but then,
where would be the mystery?
Time for the last case of the game. I set up the foundation at the end of Part 3: Miles Edgeworth is accused of a murder committed on a boat. Even the cold intro points in his direction, with a gunshot and Edgeworth holding a firearm. Even if Phoenix takes his case, he’ll have to face Edgeworth’s mentor in the courtroom – Manfred Von Karma, who hasn’t lost a case in 40 years. His perfect streak of defendant condemnations is enormous. He literally represents everything wrong with prosecutors in the Japanese law system – and yes, I say Japanese, because you can’t make me believe that this guy would have been allowed to roam free in the modified American system of the game, no matter how modified it is. This man is a monster already for caring not about the truth, but about his personal victory. He is fine sending innocents to their deaths, as long as his streak stays perfect. Phoenix Wright has, so far, had a lot of luck picking only clients who were truly innocent, and saving them from what could mean a life sentence. If not more. Three times now, Phoenix proved that a defendant is not always the true culprit. Will he be able to do it again?

Edgeworth doesn’t want Phoenix to take this case. But Phoenix decides to nonetheless. Off to Gourd Lake Natural Park, where we will be investigating around the scene of the murder. Gumshoe’s here again, but aside from a witness, they’ve found little to no clues. Have I mentioned that this first investigation for murder takes place on Christmas Day? Merry Christmas! Phoenix and Maya soon find someone camping near the lake, an intrepid photographer named Lotta Hart, with a thick southern accent. She seems nice! Lot of heart on this girl. Dunno if she’s the witness… but her camera triggers when it hears a loud noise, it may have taken a picture of the event! That’s bound to help us, right? When she remembers she’s a witness, Lotta suddenly becomes very unhelpful. Gee, what a surprise. Okay then, time to head back. Something smells here… it’s gotta be the Butz. Indeed, Larry Butz is here, dressed as Santa. He’s working his day job, he has a new girlfriend, he seems pretty happy. Plus, there’s a boom in business since the reveal of a possible monster in the lake – nicknamed Gourdy.

As plot point for a visual novel, we've seen weirder.

Since Larry is a good friend of both Phoenix and Miles, we get some backstory. Edgeworth’s father was a defense attorney and the kid wanted to follow in his dad’s footsteps. The three found themselves in the midst of a class trial in elementary school, where Phoenix was falsely accused of stealing a chocolate bar and Miles defended him, while Butz offered moral support. This is what gave Phoenix a desire to be a defense attorney as well. That was fifteen years prior. A lot of things have happened since then…

March 3, 2017

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (Part 3)

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

No time to waste, check out the previous parts if you want, we got a lot of plot to cover once again!

We are introduced to Tok- I mean, Los Angeles’ most popular show at the time, the Steel Samurai, something very clearly inspired by the Japanese traditions, with possibly a bit of Sentai thrown in. I dunno how you lived your 2016, but if there was any popular kid show back in October last year, it sure as Hell wasn’t something like that. Especially in Los Angeles. We see a part of the show, which Maya loves. Then we hear that since the case of Mia’s murder (the one involving Redd White – of Bluecorp), Wright Law Offices have had nearly no clients. Oh, that’s about to change – in the middle of the night, Phoenix is called by Maya. She says that the Steel Samurai killed a villain… in real life! Or rather, his actor, Will Powers (what an awesome name), was accused.

Well, only an idiot kid would believe that there isn't an actor
in that costume. Although how that wonderful mane of hair
can stay down inside that full-head helmet is a mystery for
the ages.

Investigation time! Will Powers immediately shows that he’s as soft as a teddy bear, despite the impressive musculature and the hair that would make any anime hero jealous. He sets the facts: The victim, Jack Hammer (what an awesome name), was found near the studio just before a rehearsal, the Steel Samurai’s spear in the chest. Hammer portrays the Evil Magistrate in the TV show, and is kind of a rival of Powers. He says he has been sleeping for most of the afternoon, which is when the murder took place.

Oh, I'm sure your higher-ups would love to hear that
you've been saying this sort of thing.
Okay, time to move to Universal- I mean, Global Studios. They run into the security guard, miss Wendy Oldbag; what a terrible name. I’d hate to imagine the nicknames she got in middle school for having the family name Oldbag. She immediately proves to be more of a roadblock than any help, but that’s hardly a surprise – though things may get tricky since she claims to have seen Powers on the way to Studio 1... We get some info on Jack Hammer: He was a great action show hero, until some nebulous accident five years prior; since then he has been reduced to playing villains for a pittance. Well, you know what they say, either you die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself playing villains. We talk with Gumshoe again, after which we check around the studio a bit more, eventually getting into Studio 1 where the body was found. We get a quick argument about ladders and stepladders in there, for some reason, and then we meet Penny, an assistant at Global Studios. We get a final critical photograph, after which we leave.