Whip your arse into shape before you’re over das hill

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Justice for All (2007)

You know you’re finished, over the hill, donezo and that it’s not gonna happen for you when new sports stars start coming through who are younger than you. I’m now older than the vast majority of the F1 grid, for example, and even if wash-ups like Alonso and Raikkonen push the average up, it’s still mind-boggling that they let a 16-year-old Max Verstappen drive an F1 car.

At that age I couldn’t even operate a shopping trolley safely, and if you put me in a car I’d have simply screamed and hoped out, GTA style. That’s yet another nutty thing about the United States, isn’t it? How they’ll let 16-year-olds behind the wheel? No drinking until you’re 21 though, and even the slightest hint of marijuana and you’re in prison for life, peeing blood for the foreseeable.

And what about young footballers? There are players around my age who were the next big thing, once. I’m similar ages with that gadabout Balotelli for example, but they’re saying he’s finished now .Great, well I never played for my country, so what does that make me? And when young players go out and act the maggot, the papers hammer them. It sells them copies, I suppose, but let’s be real here – if I was given six-figures a week for playing football at age 18, I couldn’t be held responsible for my actions. If you ask me, they exercise an incredible level of self-control, even if the club basically tells them what to do morning, noon and night.

Then you sometimes hear about these genius five or six year olds being let onto degree courses by colleges. Is it just a marketing thing for these educational institutions, or are they actually brainier than the rest of the class? Either way, it puts the consta-drinking layabout twenty-year old students (a group of which I was a proud member) to shame, doesn’t it? It brings it home to your parents that you aren’t gonna cure cancer or go to space or get in the Rich List even, but if you’re lucky you might get invited to a black tie event and occasionally get a christmas bonus at whatever employer takes enough pity on you. Ah yes, great

That employer might be the legal profession, the proverbial bar as they call it. Well, there’s nothing proverbial about it, but I just happen to have a different idea or what it’s like to be called to the bar is all. Usually I’m being shouted at for stealing someone’s drink, which I was prolific at doing in those aforementioned student days and I picked up quite a reputation for it. A terrible crime, that, although not as terrible as the crimes going on in the Ace Attorney series, in not-Japan. Capcom sequels are as inevitable as recidivism among lower socio-ecnomic offenders, to give you a term from my criminology class that I wasn’t hungover for.

How’s this for a child prodigy – your main rival in Ace Attorney: Justice for All became a prosecutor at age 13.  This was in Germany too, where I know beer is a big consideration and part of society, but they do it all by the book as well. I’m serious, you get 500 quid fines for piracy over there, and they know it’s you.

You can download to your heart’s content anywhere else in Europe, so maybe with that plus children in the legal system it’s not the utopia you think it is. She also wields a whip and is all about discipline and belittling people as fools, although strangely she’s not that sexy. But then, that’s a misogynistic comment to say, isn’t it? And that’s a crime as well.

In terms of overarching plot, this is a visual novel game with four cases to solve. You are Phoenix Wright, scatterbrained lawyer with funny internal monologue, surrounded by mad people and prey to even madder happenings in the courtroom. Though it’s worth noting that the original Japanese release of the first Ace Attorney game had only 4 cases as well, its DS re-release (the first time we saw it in English) had 5, so having four in this game is a step down. Not only that, but they’re not all greats. The first case gives Phoenix amnesia for the sake of delivering a tutorial, which is the usual kind of crazy things for these games, although a copper has his neck broken as well so it’s not all fun and games. 

The second case brings you closer to your partner (platonic partner, to the chagrin of many a creepy fanfiction writer who waives paedophilia to deliver a fanship story. Now, if you are looking for some shipping, then Phoenix does spend basically the entire game pining for his previous adversary, the vision in the red coat and cravat called Miles Edgeworth, but that’s as racy as he gets) and her ability to channel the dead. It’s a good case and sets up many future events in the series, plus you’re also given an item that allows you to moreorless see into peoples’ minds and break their lies down.

Sounds good, although you can lose in this game by saying or showing the wrong thing, and since Ace Attorney is famous for sometimes having leaps of logic or missing steps, you may find yourself having to save and reset many more times in this game than the first one, as you try desperately to psychologically breakdown people in your parth and find them responding in a manner none too kind.

The third case brings Phoenix and Maya to the circus, and that’s before we get to the courtroom. It tends to be derided as the worst case of the whole series, with some of the most godawful characters, and I can’t say I disagree there. It makes the fourth and final case all the sweeter though, a kidnapping, against-the-clock story with some classic twists and turns that frequently ranks as the very best case in Ace Attorney’s history of the tyrannical not-Japanese legal system, and definitely top three.

I could understand someone giving up on this game before getting to the fourth case though, as the quality of this one definitely take sa bit of a dip, and there’s more spelling mistake including some classic grammar blunders. Still, I implore you to give it time and see it through to the end. Hey, if you’ve got youth on your side, then what’s twenty hours in the best visual novel series ever made? Especially when it’s part of a relatively young trilogy that’s been rereleased and ported more times than Resident Evil 4 and Skyrim.

13 August 2021

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