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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…

Talking to Edgeworth reveals that von Karma is a perfectionist who will make sure all of his cases are unbreakable and rock-solid, and Phoenix has likely no chance of winning. We also ask him about his impression of having committed murder before, and thus we hear more about the DL-6 incident and how Yanni Yogi, the third man in the elevator, the defendant in the murder of Gregory Edgeworth, was declared not guilty after having supposedly suffered brain damage from the lack of oxygen.

Phoenix and Maya visit the boat rental caretaker’s shack, meet Polly the parrot again, and open a safe in there; it contains a letter. One that starts with “Get revenge on Miles Edgeworth”… and then goes on to describe the exact murder plot that has been guessed by Phoenix today in the second part of the trial! In perfect, grim detail! It even mentions Robert Hammond, the victim in this current case, as the second person to get revenge on! Bringing this letter to Edgeworth allows him to figure out that the caretaker could be none other than Yanni Yogi. But who exactly could have had a desire to help that guy get revenge? And why?

Marvin Grossberg knows a lot about the DL-6 incident, so let's ask him. Showing the letter found in the caretaker’s house, he recognizes the handwriting as Manfred von Karma’s. You know… as much as I would like to believe that, I can say there are too many text editors out there for someone to write such a critically incriminating letter by hand! Especially with how much thought von Karma puts in every single detail! But I digress. von Karma is the type to use forged evidence and build testimonies in court, to make sure every defendant is guilty – hence the 40-year perfect track record. But Gregory Edgeworth called him out on those practices and the court picked up on this. Von Karma won, again, but there was now a stain on his record. And he hated that. Enough to desire revenge…

Conservatively speaking, there may be one or two too
many 0s in that number, but we in the Ace Attorney
franchise love theatrics and exaggeration.
Our last chance is to check the police records for the DL-6 incident again, at the police station. However, Phoenix and Maya are told that Manfred von Karma is already in there. Stupidity appears to be the only option, as the plot moves only once Phoenix presents the latter found in Yogi’s shack to von Karma. The prosecutor reveals… uh ohh… Um….. don’t taze me, bro-er, bro-secutor von Karma! But he does taze Phoenix and Maya, and steals the letter from them, with Maya recovering another piece of evidence purely by luck.

The next day is trial day; the last trial for this case. All of our hopes reside in proving the true identity of the boat rental caretaker. Despite all of his attempts, Phoenix can’t pierce a hole through Yogi’s testimony. However, when von Karma suggests jokingly to make the parrot testify… well… sure, why not. It’s not like we have anything to lose.

Numbers have meaning. Moreso than you''d think!
And there I thought that all comedy from this game had left it by now! It was about time for some good old absurdist situation! The resolution, however, is sound. The parrot knows the code to open the safe, it’s 1228, like December 28th, AKA the day of the DL-6 incident. And Phoenix also points out that Polly, the parrot’s name, is also the name of Yogi’s fiancée who committed suicide. Crazy how much a parrot can say. All of that information is found in the files still in Phoenix's possession. This is enough proof for the judge, who demands that the caretaker be brought back on the stand.

Ooh, he is actually kinda scary like this! Can we have our
old silly grandpa who slept at random intervals with a
snot bubble back?
With the web of lies now broken, Yami Yugi reveals himself as a completely serious, calm and collected individual, the complete opposite of the loony old man from earlier- Wait, did I just call him Yami Yugi by accident? I meant Yanni Yogi! Hm, perhaps that was the reference! He confesses to the murder, and then explains his situation: He really was innocent in the DL-6 case, but Robert Hammond, his attorney, didn’t believe him. He invented the brain damage excuse, forcing Yogi to play along (for the trial, and for the following 15 YEARS), and eventually won the case. Yes, despite the use of the medium. Which led to Maya’s mother disappearing, as we know. Crazy how many of these families have ended up tied together into a single storyline, huh? It sure is a small world. Yogi’s fiancée committed suicide, he lost his job, his social standing, and was forced to keep playing stupid, hence the revenge plot. Then the letter came with a firearm, and he enacted his revenge against Hammond.

Well, kinda makes sense that someone would scream
after a gunshot, but... oh right, we still need to figure out
everything else about that gunshot...
Miles Edgeworth is declared not guilty, which is odd considering von Karma would have raised an objection – or, at least, wouldn’t have allowed it to happen, as it would break his 40-year track record. Then Edgeworth yells "Objection!", saying he's guilty of another murder. Oh shit, that was von Karma’s backup plan, to make Edgeworth confess for the DL-6 incident! And it’s the very last day to get this case solved, too! Of course, Edgeworth says that the murder he committed was an accident (In the air-deprived elevator, in complete darkness, during a struggle between Gregory and Yanni, he tossed a firearm and it shot when landing on the ground, quite likely killing his father), but it’s still a murder he’s confessing to. He remembers a scream after the single shot, but nothing else.

Sorry Edgeworth, but it’s time to pick apart your testimony. The case file states that the murder weapon was fired twice, so if the first bullet was shot when Miles threw the gun, what happened for a second shot to be fired? We also point to the photo of the DL-6 incident, which shows Gregory Edgeworth dead on the crime scene, but also a bullet hole through the elevator door. von Karma points out that the scene of the murder had no clues to speak of, no second bullet – where could it have gone, then?

It's only a fantasy if I can't prove it!
This is a roadblock big enough to prevent Phoenix from finding anything to add. The judge is about to state his verdict for the DL-6 case… Suddenly, Mia’s voice is heard from Maya, stating the solution: If the second bullet wasn’t there, someone must have taken it away from the scene! Trying to say anything to save himself, Phoenix ends up suggesting that the murderer himself got shot and left the scene – and that, since that second bullet went through the door, the murderer must have been someone outside of the elevator! Remembering Grossberg’s words, Phoenix and Maya realize that, after DL-6, von Karma took the sole vacation of his career, right after he had been dealt a blow to his perfect record. Phoenix then tells the court that it must be because von Karma was the one who got shot by the stray bullet! And how do we prove that? Why, with the metal detector, which is still in the inventory! Oh, and it beeps loudly on von Karma’s right shoulder! Fifteen years later! Gotta admire his tenacity, surviving for so long with something like that in him, that’s impressive. Shame that he is such a terrible, despicable individual.

It's nice that we kept that thing with us after all, huh?
If I could have held on to Missile to bite this guy's
ass, it would have been pleasant too, but that would have
solved nothing in this case.

Sure, he objects, but we bring up the one DL-6 evidence we saved a day prior; the first bullet. With ballistic markings – hey, something we’ve learned about in this very case, no less – they manage to prove that this bullet and the one in von Karma are from the same firearm. Cornered, von Karma screams, and Edgeworth recognizes it as the same scream he heard in the elevator. Then he freaks out, and it’s truly something to behold.

Holy shit.

The demonic prosecutor then confesses to his murder, going back over the various elements of DL-6. Gregory Edgeworth was unconscious at the time, hence why calling his spirit through a medium didn’t help at all. Even in the afterlife, he had no idea who really killed him!

(To note, the sixth game in the series, Spirit of Justice, prominently features a country where spirit mediums are called to ask the victims directly who killed them, and in that game, multiple times, it leads to the wrong people. The failing of that technique can be traced all the way back to the very first game! Impressive continuity there.)

I love to see these words at the end of a complex case
where everything has been untangled.
Miles Edgeworth is declared 100% not guilty for realsies this time, and thus the trial ends. Phew! I went into more detail this time around because I needed to. Such a huge case deserved a better coverage. In the lobby, Phoenix is in equal parts thanked and congratulated by the people around him. Oh, and we solve a third case, too, when Larry shows up; turns out, in that class trial fifteen years prior, Larry was the one who took Edgeworth’s money. You know what they say, when something smells… Eeeyup. The game does end on a sad note, however; Edgeworth leaves on a trip to think back on his methods, to become a fairer prosecutor. Maya also decides to leave, as she wants to resume her training as spirit medium. We could have used more of Mia’s help in that last trial, that is true… But Phoenix manages to catch up with her before she leaves.

Oh, she’ll be fine. She returns in the second game after all. A game… that I won’t be reviewing. Instead, I’ll fast-forward to game #4 in the series, Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney.

Remember that young girl, you will
see her again soon.
There is actually a fifth case here, called Rise from the Ashes. It feature more characters, a grand storyline, what you’d expect from the game. But I still haven’t had a chance to buy it or even play it. It’s DLC, which… alright, I can accept that, besides it’s pretty cheap, but yeah, sorry, I don’t think I’ll review it here. But from whatever info I've gathered, it’s yet another case of blackmail.

This concludes the game. I hope you enjoyed reading this long summation of the four cases, and I especially hope that you once get to play that game for yourself. It is, truly, a great title, and I want you to try it. It’s just great. I do have various points of evidence proving my conclusion.

Larry Butz, Lotta Hart, Will Powers, Sal Manella, Redd White (of Bluecorp), Frank Sahwit: Endearing characters, most of which have comical traits and reactions. People of all kinds, from the tough looking guy with a heart of gold to the pink woman who’s actually two-faced. Every character’s name is a joke or a pun of some kind (with rare exceptions, mostly from the Fey family), and they have great personalities to match.

Admit it, an "Accidental murder" is usually unheard of
in most mystery novels, so to see something like that
coming from this game was quite the surprise.
Complex cases, reminding one of the grand detective stories. Alright, probably more complex than the usual case – you are, after all, given complete access to all the evidence gathered in a case, and you can review all of these elements at will. You can also present every piece of evidence to anyone, though they’ll have scripted “No comment” responses most of the time. You are encouraged to figure out the events behind every case by yourself, prove that your defendant is innocent, and find the true culprit. If this wasn’t a video game, if it was merely a mystery novel, something would be sorely missing. An Ace Attorney anime began last year, I have yet to watch any of it, I just hope it’s as interesting on that aspect. Only a full series could do this game and its sequels justice. …No pun intended.

The sprite art is always impressive.
Beautiful art. There are many good musical tracks in this game, and I can praise the music. But above that, the art is a treat for the eyes, especially for pixelated characters in a Game Boy Advance game. The environments visited are great, and it is very fun to inspect them, moving the cursor to study every detail. The characters steal the show: The large, detailed sprites of the main characters, defendants, witnesses, villains and opponents are incredible. Oh, sure they would improve even more in later installments, but it was already looking great in this first game. The animations are impressive, and sometimes even the slightest change in detail can mean greatly to show a character’s state of mind. It’s awesome.

However, some would say that this game is perfect; to which I say…

At least there was  only one solution to "Find if somebody
has a metallic thing stuck in them".
The game does want you to follow the train of logic it has set for you. Some investigation sequences are made much more complicated in that you may often overlook evidence in the visited scenes, which will block you from getting anywhere until you get that missing evidence. After all, evidence is everything. It is very easy to get stuck in an investigation sequence when you’re left wondering what to do with a character – talk to them? Present evidence to them? The game is at least programmed to make sure that you always have exactly the evidence and the information needed to complete the next trial sequence. They trust your logic to do the rest.

One weakness of the game is that multiple tracks of logic can lead to the same conclusion. More than one piece of evidence can sometimes hold the answer to a case. The tough part with this game is in the trial sections, where you can lose if you bring out the wrong evidence five times. Speaking from personal experience, there is a train of logic that you might follow that the game won’t; after all, it may be an impressive story-driven game, it’s still a scripted game that wants you to go in one direction. Same goes when you present evidence to people in the investigation sequences – you will often present evidence that you think a character might have something to say about, but they will instead say their general “No comment” message.

I would also say that in some cases (especially the last 2), there is a lot of moving around, and this with rare shortcuts, making it often long and tedious to go from one place to the other. The worst example: The chain of locations in Global Studios. There is a similar situation in Case 4, at the park. Wait, I can go to the boat rental shop, which is halfway from the woods and the main area, but if I want to go to the woods, I must first backtrack to the main area? Even though the map clearly shows that the rental shop is on the way to the woods?

See? I got evidence why it doesn't make sense! The hot dog
stands at the bottom lead to the woods and the boat shop.
But you cannot go to the woods from the boat shop...
even though the boat shop is on the way there!

I object to that!

Although, that’s all the criticism I have for this game. It’s very, very good, and I am willing to overlook the few issues I have with it. I love reading the story as it unravels, figuring out the connections… Later games improve on the formula, as we’ll see next week… in Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney.