GAME: Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney
CASE: Turnabout Trump
CONSOLES: DS, Wii, iOS, 3DS
After having deep reservations about Apollo Justice throughout the first two cases, this one has gone a long way towards providing me with some faith. The murder mystery is sound, the characters are worthy of the name and the solutions were mostly dangled tantalisingly before me with just enough room to make the final leap myself.
That isn't to say this case was perfect. Just like the previous two, the client I was defending was unwilling or unable to talk to me. Though the game does reference and poke fun at Apollo's poor luck with clients, it's difficult not to see it as a crutch the writers' rely on to avoid coming up with other reasons that part of the story might be unclear to the player and defence team.
Nonetheless, it plays out well here. A straightforward shooting wrapped up in a stage performance of music and magic that deftly weaves the ongoing narratives - just as the previous trilogy was less about Phoenix than it was Edgeworth and the Fey clan, this game is less about Apollo than it is Klavier Gavin and Trucy Wright - while still standing mostly alone as a smuggling operation gone wrong.
The defendant, and primary witness, are foreign nationals of the fictional Borgenia, apparently a reference to Shu Takumi's earlier work on Dino Crisis, with an alphabet made of heiroglyphics that seem to make amusing use of Capcom images like the hadouken. The murder takes place during a concert of Prosecutor Gavin's band with a guest appearance by blind Borgenian singer Lamiroir.
Gavin continues to be a real highlight. His devotion to the truth, even as more and more of the people he loves and trusts betray him, makes him feel much more like Apollo's mentor than the aloof and elusive Phoenix Wright. As for Feeny, his absence from most of this case actually elevates it, letting the case play out as its own thing in a way that gives both Apollo and the player room to shine.
It's not all good news, unfortunately. This case is infamous for its use of musical evidence. I'm a big fan of the Ace Attorney series' soundtrack, and this game is no exception. When the tension is high or when the key evidence comes out and turns in my favour, the tracks are as perfect as ever. And while it doesn't come close to the atmospheric jazz of Godot's theme, Gavin's guitar riffs work well as a theme for that character. Where they don't work well is as a stand-in for a full rock concert, played over and over, dissected and examined instrument by instrument to find minor points of deviation. A dull sequence all three times it shows up, emblematic of Apollo Justice suffering from "Early DS Game Syndrome" and overdoing it on the touch screen minigames.
Weird soundboard sequences aside, this case played out nicely and mostly avoided the pitfalls of the previous two. Even the perception ability is used much more cleverly this time around. All in all, I'm much more hopeful going into the big denouements of the game's ongoing narratives than I was coming out of the introductions.
Pun of the week: Weak on the puns, this game. The closest we get here is a guitar named Geeter.
A refreshingly interesting case with far less hand-holding, only let down by awkward musical fiddliness.