GAME: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
CASE: Turnabout Goodbyes
CONSOLES: GBA, DS, Wii, iOS, 3DS
In my review of the first case, I spoke about the game having to act as an introductory game level and a pilot episode all at once. Similarly, this case doubles as something of a finale. It doesn't close put the possibility of sequels, and it is outdone by an even grander finale at the end of the third game, but nonetheless it closes many of the character arcs in this game.
That it does this so well while also being not one, but two compelling murder mysteries in its own right is little short of a masterpiece. There are old grudges, clever deductions, a great villain and just the right amount of wackiness to even out the drama.
This is another three-day case, though it never feels drawn out in the way the previous case did. Instead, every day feels like it was just barely survived, Phoenix scraping victory from the jaws of defeat. By returning to a known defendant after the third trial's stranger, it brings back the pathos and avoids the awkward feeling of being a dirty lawyer.
In later games, Phoenix has a magical artefact to confirm his clients are innocent. I was surprised to go back to this game and be reminded it doesn't exist in this one. When the defendant is a personal friend, Wright's insistence in their innocence is charming. When he decides to "find someone to pin it on for now" just to save a paying customer, awkward moral questions are raised.
Although it is a big jump in quality, the case isn't perfect. The biggest issue is the character Lotta Heart, whose dialogue makes multiple references to her being an American Southerner, complete with calling Phoenix and Maya "yanks". The series is very clearly set in Japan, dripping with Japanese culture, and the translation's dogged determination to pretend this is LA can occasionally be a little jarring.
The case also features slightly too many coincidences. Not in the tightly plotted murder mysteries themselves, which reveal Shu Takumi to be a master worthy of comparison with Doyle, Christie and Chandler, but in the way the story includes the whole main cast and ties them all neatly together. Phoenix, Edgeworth, Maya, Mia and Larry are all tied to the current case and the past events that precipitate it.
None of this matters when the music - the music in this game is beyond phenomenal, to the point that I've barely felt worthy of discussing it in these reviews - is playing, the evidence is all slotting together and the bad guy is crumbling. This game can get the pulse racing as well as the fastest racer or the most action packed shooter. Amazing stuff that I cannot recommend highly enough.
Pun of the Week: Lotta Heart sure has a lot of. . . awkward adaptation into the American setting.
A fantastic case on which the story could have comfortably ended . . . though I'm glad it didn't!