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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…

"Yeah, and he was kind of a jerk, too. He once got a defendant
off the hook by claiming the guy was crazy, and then
forced that guy to act crazy for the rest of his life . Hm,
wonder what happened to him."
Maya soon remembers she knows about the victim in the case – he worked with Mia back when she was at Grossberg Law Offices. There, we meet again with the partly-jovial Grossberg, who is shocked at the news, and who remembers well the man: Robert Hammond. Turns out, the guy was the defense attorney in the infamous DL-6 incident. Oh, so Hammond was involved in that trial that used a spirit medium, huh? And who was the victim in the DL-6 incident, exactly? It was Miles’ own father, Gregory Edgeworth. Sheesh, it's like everybody around here is involved in a way or another around that friggin’ case… Either it’s a small world, or Lady Coincidence decided she wanted to work overtime.

Talking to Edgeworth later reveals that the DL-6 incident happened almost exactly 15 years ago, and past December 28th, that case will be null. The AA universe has something called the Statute of limitations, where a case that has been hanging for 15 years will be closed forever That’s not how things go in real life, thank God, but we need that drama for this plot. We get Edgeworth’s request to be defended by Phoenix in court, then a convenient earthquake happens and Edgeworth is left as a terrified mess on the floor. O-kay… bringing the request to Gumshoe, he mentions the earthquake again and says he’s worried about Edgeworth, since the prosecutor has a real phobia of earthquakes.

Don't you hate when some people are so confident
that they start bossing everyone else around?
Next day is the trial, and Edgeworth has a knack for being as little reassuring as possible – he says that while he may often be using dirty tricks in court, Manfred will always use them. I repeat, the guy hasn’t lost a single case in 40 years. Von Karma immediately shows his colors. Christ, that guy’s ego is larger than the whole District Court. He is practically bossing the Judge around. And he is already certain that he’ll win, too…

Gumshoe’s testimony in court is rock-solid. Victim found in the lake, bullet found in the heart, gun found in the boat, ballistic markings (the gun’s “fingerprints”, as the game informs those who didn’t know) match the found weapon, Edgeworth’s right hand fingerprints found on the weapon that fired the shot, Edgeworth himself found at the lake. This looks bad… Von Karma would say it’s enough, but despite his tendency to frequently yell “OBJECTION!” with his deep, demon-like voice, he is charitable enough to make the first witness, Lotta Hart, testify on the stand. After a first 10-minute recess that he tells the Judge to order. Hey, who the Hell is running this courtroom? You’re not above the justice system, von Karma! I can’t wait to see, erm… well, karma, hit you back! Christ, what a sinister creep. He’s left-handed, too, that actually makes him doubly sinister.

A testimony made of a single line.
This is gonna be pretty tough.
Lotta Hart has a strong testimony and nothing seems to be able to help – in fact, von Karma stops Phoenix before we can even try to get some clarifications! But Maya, who’s always by Phoenix’s side, has an outburst and tells Lotta off. Maya is escorted out, but Lotta said new things that Phoenix can now examine in a new testimony. It’s a single sentence, so Phoenix has to make it count – and he does, by pointing out that over the foggy barely-past-midnight lake, Lotta’s camera could only take a blurry picture. The fog would have made it impossible for Lotta to clearly see Edgeworth!

From there, we manage to pick apart Lotta’s next testimony on why she was at the lake; not to photograph meteor showers, but to try and take a picture of the elusive Gourdy! Further questioning reveals that she didn’t really see who was who on the boat, but an enlargement of her original photo is brought to the court… An enlargement where we see the shooter aiming with the left hand – even though Edgeworth’s right hand fingerprints were found on the gun. Someone else must have shot, then. Maybe the victim shot himself. Or someone else shot him… This is apparently good enough as proof to bring doubt into the case, and the Judge ends the trial for that day. Phew! That was a close one! Actually, it felt like the entire trial section was a close one, at every step of the way. You could probably cut a rift towards another dimension with tension this sharp. A small part of Lotta’s testimony is kept, and then we can resume investigation.

Oh yrah, because that is totally something
we can spend time doing! Urgh... seems we don't
have a choice...
Gumshoe can confirm there were three gunshots that night, Maya is freed from the detention center, and we meet Lotta again at the park. She’ll be glad to offer information about the case… only if we can find info about Gourdy. That freaking thing, what a pain, if it exists, I kill it and make myself a whole line of lizard-skin products. Larry’s spot in the park now has a giant inflatable Steel Samurai (Psst, dude, get on with the times, the big thing now is Lady Justice- er, no, wait, it’s Pink Princess). And since the investigation now lies on this, Gumshoe decides to help us find “Gourdy”, allowing us to bring one of three “secret weapons”; Missile the K9 dog, a fishing pole and a steel detector. Much of the case from this point on will lie on which of these items will be among the evidence, in order to discover more evidence.

The fishing pole doesn’t do much, while Missile’s biggest contribution is to eat Larry Butz’s entire stock of Samurai Hot Dogs. Well, at least I can always tell Gumshoe that we fed it. Okay then, steel detector it is. Near the boat rental shop, we find an air tank. It’s Larry’s. He used it once to inflate the Steel Samurai decoration, but it blew away with a bang. And the tank, plus the half-deflated Steel Samurai, are the thing people mistook for Gourdy. Poor Lotta, she looks so sad once we tell her. In exchange for the truth about Gourdy, we learn from Lotta that the second witness is the owner of the boat rental place. We can go meet him, but he’s… kinda out there.

Also, this guy believes that Phoenix and Maya, whom he
believes to be his kids, will become the pasta shop's
employees. Yet there is no pasta shop.
As in, he’s old and grey and senile, and he thinks Phoenix and Maya are his children. I’d hardly trust that guy to deliver a believable testimony in court. Oh, he owns a pet parrot, named Polly, and it talks. It can say Hello, but it also knows the code to the safe in the shack. The old man reacts to the badge, realizes soon that these two aren’t his kids… only to promptly forget about that two minutes later. Hope in this being a decisive witness fading… fading… gone. Oh, he did see things, but his memory is foggier than the sky on the night of the crime. Just as Phoenix and Maya are about to leave, the parrot mentions DL-6… Uh oh… Okay, this guy has deeper secrets than we thought.

Let’s go back to Gumshoe, he probably knows something. He says that we will need to prove that DL-6 is linked to this case, if we want to know more about the guy. Phoenix and Maya are given access to the records room, and in there we get the general details of DL-6: Miles, his dad, and a District Court clerk named Yanni Yogi got stuck in an elevator of the District Court during an earthquake, and spent 5 hours there before being rescued. A gunshot happened, Gregory Edgeworth was found dead of a bullet to the heart, and Yanni Yogi was accused. Oh, he was declared not guilty on account of brain damage caused by the oxygen loss in the elevator. Yogi’s fiancée Polly committed suicide afterwards… Okay, that’s dark, for such a story…

For a guy who has severe memory issues, he sure
remembers some details inordinately well.
Time for the next day’s trial. Once again, von Karma is prepared, he even predicts that the trial will end in three minutes. He calls the witness to the stand: The boat shop guy. Despite the guy’s foggy memory, he delivers a solid testimony that, unfortunately, has no plot holes. It appears impossible to solve, and indeed the Judge declares a Guilty verdict...

Which is when someone comes into the courtroom, vocal chords akimbo: “WAAAAAAAIIIIIIITTT!” It’s none other than Larry! Ah, that Butz Ex Machina couldn’t have happened at a better time! That’s what we needed for this case, a witness who hasn’t been briefed by von Karma into hiding the most important truths.

I mean, it's not every day that a total of three gunshots
are heard around a lake. Unless a mafia somewhere has
a warehouse by the sea.
Oh, but Larry won’t make it easy. He was listening to music when he went to get his Steel Samurai, and heard the shot through the DJ’s voice on his way back. Except he heard it on Christmas Eve, not on Christmas Day… and Lotta’s camera also took a picture around that time, meaning there were three gunshots in total! And from there, Phoenix deducts the whole story.

I can see why there was that case at Global Studios now – somehow, it fits perfectly into this last one. Phoenix deducts that, of the two shootings that night, the first one, before Christmas, is when Robert Hammond actually died – after which the killer took Hammond’s clothes and pretended to be him, to meet Edgeworth in the middle of the lake. The boat shop is a perfect place for that murder of Hammond, too. And then the murderer fired shots away from Edgeworth and jumped in the lake to flee, to create witnesses. How contrived is that? Oh, contrived alright, but that’s the most plausible thing so far!

The Judge demands that the old man witness comes back, but he has mysteriously disappeared. On this, the Judge ends proceedings for the day, meaning we have still tomorrow to figure everything out. In the lobby, Edgeworth is now feeling safe, saying he will likely be declared not guilty in this case… but then he references a nightmare, based on a possibly real event, where he may have actually murdered someone… and that he might not be able to escape that one… Oh, crap…

He still has to testify! Get that boat shop caretaker...
er... noodle vendor... er... that old guy!

As for me, I think I’ll need a fifth part to get this finished. Alright then, see you Friday.