How Burkey longs to be a skinny flat white

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Trials and Tribulations (2008)

Try as I might, I’m never going to be accepted into the inner circles of polite company, and I think I’ve finally found the reason why: I’m not a coffee drinker. You mustn’t get me wrong, I actually do enjoy the taste of the stuff. I’ll even do you the favour of eating a coffee-flavoured chocolate sweet every now and again. It’s just the coffee culture that I can’t get on board with.

You’ll never see me walking into Starbucks to “grab a coffee” “to go”, simply because I wouldn’t know how to. I get intimidated enough at Subway, trying to work out how I can stuff my hungover face, because let’s face it, you wouldn’t eat that muck sober or compos mentis. I’d be tying myself in knots trying to order a cup of tea, or a “regular” coffee when actually I need to say a grande mocha macchiato.

It’s a whole different language in there, and if I get it wrong, I’ll fall victim to some raised eyebrows from the man-bunned “barista”, not to mention a snort of derision from the pencil-necked dweeb behind me who’s been say there on his MacBook for 5 hours and bought one coffee, trying to write his winning novel on 19th century feminism or 26th century zoos.

You see how prejudiced I am? I simply don’t belong in those places. Which is a bit of  bark, because every third building in the city centre is a coffee shop these days. And no wonder, have you seen the prices they charge? They’re making minters for nothing. I know it’s some poor little Brasileiro whose strings are being pulled by the (Brazil mafia) out there breaking his back picking the stuff, but come on. I ain’t parting with a tenner for a “tall” coffee with a bit of chocolate on top.

I’m not trying to be hysterical either, when I profess that coffee turns a lot of people into zombies. To go all soccer mom for a second, it’s a hell of an addictive drug is caffeine, and you’ll get people who say they literally cannot function without a coffee in the mornings. I don’t doubt them when they say that nothing tastes better than a cigarette and a coffee in the mornings, but come on – catch these people before they’ve had a cuppa and they look like death warmed up.

It’s not a good idea for these people to just give up coffee cold turkey either, because apparently coffee and caffeine keeps the old bowel movements regular. So talk about a dependency, I sometimes wonder am I the only one who doesn’t have a problem sleeping and pooing? If I need to defecate in a jam, I’ll just order a Chinese or have a fry-up. If I ned sleep, I’ll just stay up until I can’t, or load a few Valiums into me. Don’t they sound like healthier ideas?

Or I could go somewhere frightfully boring, like work or the library or the cinema. The courtrooms here are also open to the public, but Ace Attorney aficionados know that court is _never_ boring. A better word might be zany, or madcap. Still, the new prosecutor of the day in the third Ace Attorney game, Trials & Tribulations, drinks so much coffee in one trial that it’s a wonder he’s not pestering the judge for bathroom breaks every half-hour. The masked man in question is Godot, who you could say is the man we’ve all been waiting for.

And speaking of waiting, we Europeans had a real agonising wait before the game released for DS over here. What you may not know is that the first 3 Ace Attorney games were initially released on Game Boy Advance, so even in Japan, this was where Phoenix Wright’s saga ended. Of course, the series did continue after this one, although I daresay it was a bit of a shaky start with Apollo Justice, which started doing its own thing, and was a bit independently minded, shall we say. You get the feeling the Apollo Justice game would have no issue ordering a skinny flat white*.

Trials and Tribs was the denouement of the original trilogy of games, was tasked with bringing the whole overarching plot full circle and closing off the stories of at least a dozen main characters. These wrap up jobs don’t always go so well, of course – they tried to tie up all the loose ends in Metal Gear Solid 4, and the whole canon turned into Spaghetti Junction with hours of cutscenes designed to explain the hours of cutscenes that went before, leading to such a convoluted mess that MGSV solved the problem by simply having no story at all.

Anyway, although T&T has the usual filler cases in there, the final two cases, and even the first out of the total five, are all linked in an exceptional way with an unforgettable villain. And you’ll also get some origin stories, as well as the ability to play as no less than 3 different defence attorneys, including the younger boobarella that is Mia Fey, and the other I won’t spoil.

Of course, when I say “play as”, it’s not like each of them boasts different special moves or anything. It’s not like Streets of Rage, although that would certainly save time. It just means that you’ll get to read different internal monologues, which is more exciting that I’ve just made it sound, trust me. It gets even better when the characters make long dated meme references, but the stepladder debate is still here, so you needn’t worry.

We’re talking hundreds of pages of text here, and you’ll definitely want a coffee or three to keep you up through the enormous final case where it all comes together. Of course, it’s a visual novel we’re talking about, and the great thing about a good book is that it’ll steal more than a dozen hours from you without you even realising it.

Trials and Tribulations is definitely good for 20-25 hours, and that’s the great thing about the Ace Attorney Trilogy, which I believe is available on even more platforms than Resident Evil 4 or Skyrim – it’s terrific value, 60 or more hours of gameplay for a price that’s often discounted. It’s funny, it’s weird, it’s got great music, it’s got bizarre character design, it’s Ace Attorney, and I love it.

I’d still try to play it portably if you can, to make it more booklike and intimate – after all, who reads books aloud for everyone in the sitting room? Take a bit of Phoenix Wright’s third with you to bed at night, or when you’re on the throne, or better yet, bring it down the coffee shop – you’ll really blend.

31 May 2022

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