November 6, 2008

Return of the Godot

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney review
Phoenix Wright: Justice For All review
This review contains spoilers

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney- Trials & Tribulations is the third and final entry in the court drama series of games starring the only likable lawyer in the world. There are five cases this time around, as opposed to the four contained in each of its predecessors. That's keeping in mind that the fifth case in the first game was created as a bonus for its American/DS translation.
There are no new gameplay features introduced here, utilizing the mechanics used in Ace Attorney and Justice For All. Instead of reiterating my descriptions of features, tips, etc., just read my reviews of the previous games, the links provided up top. The difficulty of this game is considerably lessened, with your character dropping the player hints in what he personally feels you should pay particular attention to during court proceedings. In the previous two games, cases would take from one to three days to resolve, but here everything is wrapped up in one or two. That certainly doesn't mean these cases are shorter, as there are more witnesses and testimonies to go through this time.

Main Cast
Phoenix Wright- The spiky-haired defense attorney is back under your control as you guide him through three of his most trying trials yet. He's always prepared to give the finger to contradictions. The index finger, that is.
Mia Fey- Wasn't she killed off in the second case of the first game? Yes, but the elder Fey daughter still manages to capture more game time than living people, albeit it in flashbacks and spirit channelings. Now you get the opportunity to portray her and play out the first two cases of her storied attorney career.
Maya Fey- Wright's ever-present assistant, a spirit medium who is in line to be the next Master of the Kurain Channeling Technique. She isn't that bright, but will occasionally call your attention to details you might have missed otherwise.
Pearl Fey- The young cousin of Maya and guardian of the "romantic relationship" between Phoenix and Maya. She is a gifted spirit medium in her own right and will always jump at the chance to help her friends in their investigations.
Godot- The caffeine-fueled cyborg with an apparent grudge against Wright plays the part of your prosecuting nemesis in this game. Unknown to everyone, his mysterious history will tie all your lingering questions together.
Miles Edgeworth- The greatest prosecutor of the 21st century has returned home after spending much of the past year traveling abroad, studying the judicial systems of other countries. He was summoned to respond to an emergency that will see the player live out their dream of controlling the famed attorney... at least for a short while.
Dick Gumshoe- He's back and slower than ever. You can't set foot on a crime scene without bumping into this guy, who will do whatever he can to inform you of the situation at hand and provide some helpful clues to help you begin your investigation.
Larry Butz- The lovelorn childhood friend of Wright and Edgeworth returns to be the discarded banana peel on the path of enlightenment. If you can crack this nut you might actually find valuable testimony to help you clear your client's name.
Dahlia Hawthorne- A southern belle type straight out of A Streetcar Named Desire, Miss Hawthorne is a redhead whose smile could melt the sun. Alas, it's all a front to conceal her truly demonic soul. She'll capture your heart with her faux sweetness and stomp it into hamburger with her real attitude.

Case Previews
Turnabout Memories- This tutorial takes you back in time as you play as Mia Fey in her second court case ever. Your adviser is Max Grossberg, Mia's mentor whom you met in the second case of the original game. Your opponent is tutorial fodder Winston Payne, the so-called "rookie killer" who is normally the one getting killed by the rookies. The defendant is yet another familiar face, a college student named Phoenix Wright. The crime pinned on the young art major is that he killed his girlfriend's ex-boyfriend by electrocuting him with a snapped power line. Witness to this event is Dahlia Hawthorne, Phoenix's delicate and frail flower of a girlfriend. It's up to the future proprietor of Fey & Co. Law Offices to expose Miss Hawthorne as the evil witch she truly is. If only she wasn't hindered by her client, who does everything in his power to spare his true love of her fate.

The Stolen Turnabout- A museum is hosting an exhibit featuring the treasures of mystical Kurain Village. Maya and Peal Fey, residents of said village, drag Phoenix along to survey the display. It's soon discovered that the urn containing the ashes of Ami Fey, the originator of the Kurain Channeling Technique, has been stolen by the phantom thief known as Mask DeMasque. On the case is both Phoenix Wright and self-proclaimed Ace Detective Luke Atmey. But before the crime can be solved, the elusive criminal apparently turns himself in. To make things weirder, the wife of the confessor implores Phoenix to clear her husband's name! Can the Ace Attorney discover who exactly is under the mask of DeMasque? Even if he does... will that only lead his client into a much worse situation?

Recipe For Turnabout- Phoenix Wright faces a crushing defeat at the hands of Winston Payne?! Nobody can believe it, especially Phoenix himself, who didn't even know the event took place! After reading a magazine article about his supposed loss, the Ace Attorney realizes he has an impersonator out there who has the city fooled. Now he must not only clear his own name, but the name of the accused who he is being blamed for failing to save, one Maggey Byrde, former police officer, current waitress. She is charged with murdering a man who won big with a lottery ticket by poisoning his coffee so she could claim the fortune for herself. Phoenix convinces the judge to reopen the case so the real deal can have his turn at clearing his client's name, and it's up to him to find out who really tainted the coffee. Will this also lead him to discover who his inept doppelganger is?

Turnabout Beginnings- Join Mia Fey once more in her court debut and find out what happened here that caused her to abandon her career for an entire year. It's truly a day for the beginning of many Ace Attorney regulars, as it is also where Dick Gumshoe began his job as a detective, and Miles Edgeworth opposes Mia in his first official day as a prosecutor. What's more, Miss Fey meets the dastardly Dahlia Hawthorne here. By Mia's side to coach her is a man named Diego Armando, who strikes quite a similar appearance to a character players have become quite acquainted with during the course of this game.

Bridge to the Turnabout- The main event. Not only for this game, but the entire series as well. All unanswered questions regarding the Fey clan find their complicated answers. Maya Fey signs up for a channeling class at a training center up in the mountains, and she drags Phoenix and cousin Pearl along. There they meet a spiritual woman named Elise Deauxnim and nuns named Bikini and Iris, the latter of which Phoenix has never met before and yet believes he knows. At nightfall, Maya adjourns across a bridge to a small hut to train, and soon it's discovered that Elise has been murdered, with the sole eyewitness claiming it was perpetrated by Iris. Phoenix attempts to check up on Maya, but the bridge she is on the other side of is on fire. He tries to cross it and ends up falling into the river below, causing him to be hospitalized. Miles Edgeworth is summoned to substitute as defense attorney for Iris while Wright is out of commission. In turn, Edgeworth calls upon Franziska von Karma to serve as prosecutor. Thus begins a long and complex scenario where truths you never anticipated will be revealed during the final showdown between Phoenix and Godot.

Final Case Examination
What a trip Bridge to the Turnabout turned out to be. It told us what happened with Misty Fey after her disappearance and what Morgan Fey's revenge would be after she vowed it following her imprisonment in the second game. Then we were treated to the origins of the devilish Dahlia and mysterious Godot. It makes me wonder if the writers for this series had the entire "Fey Family Saga" script written out as they were working on the first game. Although the way things were eventually presented, I'm starting to think the characters of Dahlia, Iris, and Godot were created when the third game went into production, and then shoehorned into the Fey clan storyline, because there were zero allusions to them in prior games. If you couldn't tell, the Ace Attorney series writers are big on foreshadowing. The additions of the new characters in Trials and Tribulations only seemed to add unnecessary and often confusing elements to the flow of the last case. Let's list the major bullet points and see if your brain isn't oozing out of your ear canal after trying to make sense of it.
-Mia and Maya's long lost mother, Misty Fey, returns to the scene as Elise Deauxnim after seventeen years of being in hiding.
-Morgan Fey, mother of Pearl, aunt of Mia and Maya, and sister of Misty, is also the mother of Dahlia Hawthorne and Iris, who turn out to be twins.
-Morgan Fey, determined to make her nine-year-old daughter Pearl the new head of the Fey clan, wrote instructions for her daughter to channel the spirit of the late Dahlia Hawthorne so that she would murder Maya Fey, thus fulfilling Morgan's dream of her side of the family being in charge of the clan.
-Godot, who overheard the jailed Morgan Fey telling Pearl where to find the instructions, got to the documents first and read them over. He then returned the papers to where Pearl would eventually find them instead of discarding or editing them in order to avoid this entire catastrophe.
-Godot contacted the missing Misty Fey and told her of the plan that Morgan had concocted. They then planned on having Misty head to the mountain retreat and channel the spirit of Dahlia before Pearl could. I'm guessing Misty wanted to be the one to kill her daughter? Or not, as Godot planned on being on the mountain with her to kill her in case things got out of hand, a much better idea than restraining her during the channeling in order to prevent her from doing any harm.
-Maya reads an article in a magazine about this place in the mountains where she could hone her channeling powers. How Morgan knew this was going to happen is beyond logical explanation.
-Apparently, Morgan knew her daughter Dahlia was going to be executed for her crime of killing her ex-boyfriend, and wrote these plans before she herself was imprisoned. You see, Morgan planned on framing Maya for murdering a doctor in a channeling session gone wrong, so Maya would be the one to go to jail, leaving Pearl to be the new Master of the Kurain Channeling Technique. Of course, she never depended on Phoenix Wright to be there to save the day.
-Sister Iris loves her deranged sister so much that she helped frame Maya for the murder. She also helped plan her phony kidnapping years back. Then Iris, pretending to be Dahlia, hooked up with Phoenix to get a necklace back while her sister laid low. I sincerely hope that "Feenie" isn't considering hooking back up with Iris when she gets out of the pen, as she seems to have a severe lack of morals.
-The "corpse pendulum" idea is more ludicrous than the idea that the cape the Ringmaster was wearing would fly off his neck after getting bashed on the head with the bust of Maximillion Galactica and becoming affixed to that same bust, which would then cause Moe to think it was Max flying through the air as it was being lifted back up to Acro's room. This is in reference to the third case in the second game.
-Didn't they try to link this case with Recipe for Turnabout, after Phoenix mused on where Tigre Furio could have gotten his hands on potassium cyanide? Not to mention that that scenario played out in the same way as Godot's murder by Dahlia, with cyanide secretly being slipped into the victim's coffee?
-I'm sure there are some more plotholes I haven't figured out, but I'm sure you get my drift by now.

Pitting Edgeworth against Franziska was great. This built upon the hatred Franzisaka has for her "big little brother" Miles, who she believes is a disgrace to the von Karma name. So it was two students trained in the Manfred von Karma School of Prosecuting trying to defeat the other. Then to have Miss von Karma tag along with Phoenix for the rest of the day opened up some new questions, although these were only meant to be puzzled upon by fans of the series as opposed to furthering in-game story lines. At least, in this game anyway. I'd wager von Karma has developed a crush on her sworn enemy, most likely developed during her obsession with beating him in court during Justice For All. In the scene where Wright and Karma met up with Godot in the training room, the cyborg prosecutor insulted Franziska, likening her appearance to a horse, and instead of whipping her detractor, she whined to Phoenix in an effort to get him to stand up to him on her behalf. It's all reminiscent of a schoolyard crush, where one kid would tease another that he/she liked just to get that person to pay attention to them. Other points of interest is when Phoenix thought of Franny as being "cute", before she whipped the ensuing smile off his face. Don't forget the previous game, where Phoenix brought her flowers in the hospital, and the conclusion where Franziska held onto a card with a sketch of Wright on it, which was drawn by Maya, vowing to present it to him some day. Getting back to Franziska and Edgeworth, it seems that tensions between them lessened considerably during the final day of investigation, possibly stemming from the fact that they were working towards the same goal. I would wager they developed respect for each other. Now it appears that they are peaceful rivals, no longer wishing to "destroy" each other, instead figuring their future battles will be friendly competition. Either way, if you told me at the conclusion of the second game that the third one would end with Phoenix, Edgeworth, and Franziska willingly attending a celebration dinner together, I would have said you were kookier than the Butz.

Top 5 Minor Characters (exclusive to this game)
#5. Desiree DeLite- Eager for a life of action and adventure, Mrs. DeLite can often be seen speeding from mall to mall on her motorcycle while wearing her skintight racing suit. She always stands by her man, who won her heart by coming to her aid when she was under attack by a pair of muggers. No matter how much evidence mounted against Ron, she always believed in him. She would make an excellent sidekick for the recently reformed Mask DeMasque.
#4. Furio Tigre- The anti-Phoenix and most likely more tiger than man. One of the best parts about him is how he was able to fool so many people with his Wright impression, giving you an idea of how clueless the people in this game's world truly are. He's the most intimidating character you've met yet, who's vicious enough to send everyone ducking for cover when he roars. You just couldn't wait to get this guy on the witness stand in order to expose him for the low-life crook he is.
#3. Lisa Basil- Although your interactions with her are few, her plastic appearance leaves a lasting impression on you. Her cool blue character design and her "living computer" personality is one of a kind in this world. The Ace Attorney series takes place in the (not too distant) future, and a SciFi-looking person like her could come in handy in upcoming games.
#2. Ron DeLite/Mask DeMasque- It's amazing how he can make you want to strangle him into a lifeless limp at the start of the case and then make you want to pat him on the back at the end. He's extraordinary for his creativity in designing his alter-ego and the flawless executions of his heists. I guess it's somewhat admirable that he is so devoted to his lady that, upon losing his job, he would resort to stealing a priceless artifact in order to fund his wife's shopping sprees. After turning over a new leaf upon receiving a "not guilty" verdict, Ron has become a crime fighter.
#1. Luke Atmey- Zvarri! Probably the best minor character in the Ace Attorney series, even greater than Matt Engarde and Damon Gant. He has a classic villain design featuring an elongated nose, a magnifying glass acting as a monocle, a suit suited for the noblest of noblemen, a maniacal cackle, and a bizarre black and yellow hairstyle that couldn't possibly exist in real life. Quite reminiscent of a character out of an old school detective story. He even has his own theme music, a classical sounding suite you'd imagine plays on the old-fashioned phonograph in his office. Speaking of which, his office also has a fireplace, a looming portrait of himself, a book case full of scientific tomes, and an elaborate chemistry set. Luke probably had a privileged upbringing in high class society and an expensive education. Upon hearing it, Maya stole his catchphrase and often repeated it whenever she came upon a realization. I guess that will live on long after he does, sadly. It's an awful shame this will be his only appearance, as he is now imprisoned with charges of theft, blackmail, and murder. He just wanted love. I like this guy so much that if I were put in charge of assembling a cast for a Phoenix Wright anime, I would cast Luke as a regular. Zvarri!

Previously I mentioned that this is the last in the series of Ace Attorney games starring Phoenix Wright. This is true and misleading, as there is a fourth game in the series where Wright is replaced by a young up-and-comer named Apollo Justice. Even further down the line is a spin-off title featuring the Perfect Prosecutor himself, Miles Edgeworth.

Now for my final verdict on the judge. He's still the same old hair-brain, but I guess I can accept his blissful ignorance if he can. But guess what? HE HAS A YOUNGER BROTHER! Who is somehow Canadian.