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  -Part 1 :: [06.15.07]
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"Yuna, Rikku and Paine take a moment to look around, when Yuna suddenly realizes that everyone is staring at her. Even Rikku rolls her eyes at this. 'You're famous, Yunie,' she understates. 'Better get used to it.' Yuna sighs melodramatically and says, 'All I want's some peace and quiet.' At this point I slam the controller down on the coffee table and begin a ten-minute rant about how if Yuna had really wanted some peace and quiet, she would have stayed on Podunk Island and lived out the rest of her wanky years as the Wakka-baby's sitter, and that dressing up in hot pants and a halter top and gallavanting around Spira with your lesbian gal-pals isn't the most quiet lifestyle ever, YOU STUPID WHORE."
     -Sam, Final Fantasy X-2 Part 4




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Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney : Part 4
By Sam
Posted 05.10.11
Pg. 1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5
Last time was a long time ago. I won't bother with any stories about why writing a new installment of gay lawyer jokes has taken me an age. I promise you wouldn't give a shit. And now you have an excuse to read Jeanne's last recap to refresh yourself like I did. So: we found out that Maya has the taste of a 10-year-old boy (not like that), Phoenix isn't as shallow as we thought and will defend even ugly bear types, and that yes, amazingly, having an incriminating photograph of someone in a costume does not automatically prove the guilt of the person who is famous for wearing said costume. I'm sure that little trope won't come up again, though.

We catch up with Phoenix and Maya at Wright & Co. Law Offices, where Phoenix is ready to curl up on the couch in his navy-blue Snuggie and watch Beaches in the dark. It's been that kind of day. But Maya's not having it and yells at Phoenix to get off his ass and start exploring their new leads on the case. She also wonders if "WP" has a snowball's chance in hell of acquittal since, even after all that laborious examination of THE PHOTO in court, their client is still the most likely murder suspect. Let me repeat that: even though the prosecution's case against Will Powers is so flimsy that Edgeworth shouldn't have been able to get an arrest warrant, the best Phoenix could do was stall a guilty verdict for another day.

 
Neither does Edgeworth!

Despite all that, Phoenix the eternal optimist at least has something to go on now, and with that in mind he and Maya return to the detention center to talk to Powers and see if he knows anything about the mysterious director and producer who were at the studios that day. I would say that it's easy to assume he knows nothing helpful, since it would be ridiculous for him to sit on any information that would help his case, but we've already learned that WP is a numbskull and that nothing about the cast of characters on the day of the crime makes any sense whatsoever. Really, I'm not sure why Phoenix is even bothering--even if Powers does know something that would be helpful, I'm sure we won't find out about it until the eleventh hour, with Phoenix dripping flop sweat and Edgeworth standing over him triumphantly (and without pants).

Not to you.
 

Phoenix asks first about "the fanboy," and whether kids sneaking into the studios to ogle him is a regular thing. WP says that it's not a common occurrence, adding, "That security lady's pretty strict with them." Maya points out that this doesn't add up with Oldbag's testimony, and Powers responds, "The kids really, really love the Steel Samurai. They sneak past when she's not looking, I guess." Wait--so they don't sneak in, because of Oldbag, but they do, because she can't stop them? Which is it? Can anyone involved in this case give Phoenix one straightforward, irrefutable fact? And no, "You and the prosecutor keep making fuck-me eyes at each other" does not count.

What a waste of time that was. What about the director? Powers admits that the director was present at the run-through, "directing how the Steel Samurai and the Evil Magistrate should move." The director was directing something? You don't say, Mr. Powers. God. When Maya asks, puffed up with rage, why he didn't mention this earlier, he says everyone at the studio, not just Oldbag, was asked to keep it quiet. Of course, that's a fine excuse for Oldbag, who both dislikes Powers and loved the victim, but you'd think Powers himself would have broken this promise if doing so gave him even a chance of getting his name cleared. Apparently that's just too logical for this game, though. Powers insists that he isn't holding anything else back, since Maya looks like she might clock him with his own Samurai Spear otherwise.

None of the evidence in the court record provides any new conversational options, though rehashing THE PHOTO with Powers does provide me with an indent of my DS on my forehead. (Guys, it really wasn't him in the photo! I know, right?) With nothing left to ask his client, and a distinct sense of wanting twenty minutes of his life back, Phoenix herds Maya to Global Studios so they can both be roundly abused by Oldbag.

 
OH MY GOD, PHOENIX.

Or not. The guard station is empty, as apparently Oldbag was taken into custody. Phoenix muses that the studios must not have a replacement for her, which just adds one more layer to this cake of dipshittery. What is the point of having a security guard who goes on and on and ON about checking every single person who enters the premises when you only have one guard? One guard who, from what we've found out, does not work long shifts and spends plenty of time during said shifts fawning over the actors instead of doing her job? The easy answer here is that Oldbag's chief duty is examining the stills from the security camera, but she's screwed the pooch so hard on that one that I think Jeanne actually ran out of words to describe it. What I'm getting at here is that Oldbag is absolutely fucking useless. But leave it to Maya to cut to the heart of things and find what's really important: "She left her donuts!"

While Maya is eating Oldbag's cruellers...wait. That sounded gross. While Maya is raiding Oldbag's dessert box...dammit. While Maya is stuffing her face with stolen pastry, Phoenix takes a look around. The only thing of importance he finds is that the computer housing all THE PHOTOS has been turned off. The hard drive probably got filled up with hundreds of pictures of Phoenix and Maya wandering around like dipshits, or Gumshoe scratching his ass when he thought no one was looking. With nothing else to comment inanely on, Phoenix drags Maya away from the maple bars to the Studio One entrance.

Speaking of Gumshoe, he's not here either--Phoenix figures he's probably "up to his neck in paperwork" after he made a giant ass of himself in court. What kind of paperwork would need to be done after that? Do you have to fill out forms for not realizing that a piece of evidence is stupid? Or is "paperwork" a euphemism for being punished by Edgeworth for making him look like a fool in front of his boyfriend? I'm stalling by asking these questions because the alternative is listening to Maya as she asks, "Remember that 'Studio Two' we heard about at the trial today?" No, I don't. Please explain, and use tiny words if you can. "It was down that path with the fallen tree, right?" Maya wonders if the mysterious director and any other random assholes who totally weren't here during the murder might be around today. Well, now's the chance to find out. Walking right past the fallen tree and the grotesque decapitated Pokémon statue that were somehow hindrances yesterday, Phoenix and Maya head for Studio Two.

Thanks, Phoenix.
 

So Studio Two is missing something vital--a studio. There's a double-wide trailer with a sweet wooden deck, though. This must be where they've been barbecuing all those T-bone steaks (and writing country ballads about it), since there are two more empty plates on a table in front of the trailer. Admittedly there are no bones on the plates, but Maya seems to think they had steak anyway. The plates must have a psychic meat aura. Next to the steps, Maya finds a lovely bed of flowers fenced in with some sharp-looking decorative metal spikes. One of the spikes is bent, and there's just no way that'll be important, right? Phoenix holds Maya back from smelling the flowers so she doesn't impale herself. He needs to get her one of those leashes rednecks put on their kids.

Across from the trailer is a van with too many windows to be used for picking up gullible children, as well as a garbage incinerator. I'm going to dish out a pro tip about this game and all the subsequent Anal Attorney games: if you see a garbage incinerator, someone destroyed evidence with it. An incinerator is a visual clue in this series that something sinister happened at this location, much like the courtroom porno music stopping is a clue that Phoenix objected to the right thing, or like seeing Edgeworth and Phoenix interact in any way is a clue that they're blowing each other in the men's room during recess.

The only other thing I learn in this examination--from checking out the van--is that Phoenix doesn't have a driver's license, but thinks that his silly defense attorney badge is somehow a substitute. I immediately picture Phoenix flying down the street in Edgeworth's car, running a red light and shouting out the window, "It's okay! I'm a lawyer!"

So that was just fascinating, but there were no actual people at the trailer, so it's back to the Employee Area--it's awesome how going down one paved golf cart track takes me three screens of backtracking. Penny Nichols is hanging out here and lets Phoenix know that he did a "great job" at the trial. Whatever you say, honey. Even Phoenix thinks that's funny. Penny asks if "the security lady" was really caught, which Phoenix finds even funnier. He's giggling like an idiot, actually. I'm starting to think he got high before coming here.

Penny also says that Oldbag called her--was that her one phone call?--to tell her to "cover up that drain," the one that children and murderers were apparently sneaking through on an hourly basis. Penny has done so--we can see that the hole now has a piece of cardboard hastily taped over it. Yeah, that'll be difficult to remove. Penny's like, "I know, I know, that looks like shit, because I'm terrible at everything," even though, as Maya points out, she is in charge of props and backdrops. Oh, but she's terrible at that, too. To the point that Oldbag was the one who patched up the broken Samurai Spear, you'll recall. Another running theme of the Anal Attorney series: everyone is bad at their job. Penny is so bad at her job that Oldbag, who sucks at her job, is better at it.

At least Penny solves one mystery for me: she has to leave so she can take over security guard duty for Oldbag. Wait, that solves nothing and is stupid. Seriously? There isn't anyone else who can fill in? What kind of shitty operation is this? Oh. Right. I just read my last paragraph again.

Once Penny's off to be awful at a second job, Phoenix and Maya examine the cardboard-and-tape job on the vent. Maya again decides to repeat what we heard about in court, because, in an alternate universe where I'm a character in this game, I must have wronged her in some way. "So, the fanboy they were talking about in the trial today..." she muses. "He came in through that drain?" It's not exactly hard to believe that it was, in fact, some other drain, and that stupid Penny taped up the wrong one, but in this game it's easier to play along and assume that if there is another drain anywhere in this studio that could be used for the same purpose, it would be shown to us and discussed in painstaking, laborious detail. Illustrating my point, Maya goes on, "If that drain's covered, the boy won't be able to get in." Phoenix is all, "Naturally, dumbfuck," not that he has any right to criticize others for being slow on the uptake. But Maya's not just repeating this information to piss me off: she feels bad for the poor otaku loser and wants to undo all of Penny's hard work so the kid can continue to sneak into the studio and witness murders. Phoenix asks, with as much incredulity as you can have in text, if she's talking about ripping away the cardboard, and Maya brightly chirps, "Really, Nick? We can!?" Defying my belief that this can get any dumber, Phoenix is given a choice between leaving the cardboard alone and ripping it off. I worry about the state of Phoenix's freshly manicured fingernails if he does this, but I approve of random vandalism of contrived plot devices. Off it goes! Of course, Maya is the one who actually does the job, and a good thing too, since Edgeworth hates it when Phoenix comes home all sweaty and with untidy nails.

Our next stop on this completely unnecessary second tour of the studios is Powers's dressing room. Here, Maya and Phoenix discuss the murderer's theft of the Steel Samurai costume while Powers slept, and what would have happened had Powers not been sleeping. This is all said with the air that this would have been a massive wrench in the murderer's intricate master plan, but that would go against how incredibly half-assed this whole thing feels. I mean, really: this game takes place within the confines of a legal system where defendants are guilty until proven innocent, trials happen three days after the crime takes place, the judicial system is clearly in the tank for the prosecutors, and most importantly, everyone in the entire world is an utter fucking blockhead. It's not exactly an environment that breeds criminal geniuses, since for the most part, all you need to do to get away with murder is have enough intelligence to pass a sixth-grade achievement test.

What? I need to get on with it? Fine. Phoenix and Maya catch up with Penny at the main gate. Penny and Maya prattle on for a moment about security guard fashion, while Phoenix zones out since hair gel, blue suits and pink ties are not mentioned. But this time Penny doesn't run off, so Phoenix can question her. When he asks how the studios are doing, Penny sighs that the police are "everywhere" and it's just a drag because they won't let her disturb the crime scene by cleaning up all those steak bones. There are actually three boxes of text dedicated to talking about the T-bones. Clearly bones are a topic Phoenix wants to explore fully.

After Phoenix and Penny have said "bone" enough times, we move on to rehashing the subject of kids sneaking onto the lot. "I don't think there's that many of them, but I do see one in particular a bunch," Penny tells Maya. "He's always gawking at the sets, or snapping pictures. You should see old Windbag's eyes flash when she sees him. She has a bit of trouble catching him though..." Okay, that makes much more sense than all of that garbage Powers spouted about kids being around but also not being around. A straightforward answer, for once--maybe there is hope for the human race.

As for the director and producer, Penny didn't see them herself that day, as she was in a cave the prop storage room the whole day. Except when she wasn't. When she mentions that the studio head was worried about anybody squealing, Maya figures they were trying to cover the director's ass, but according to Penny, the producer's ass was the studio's bigger concern. "She saved these studios from the brink of disaster and kept them running," Penny says. "I don't think we'd still be in business if it weren't for that producer!" I get the sense that Penny is afraid to say the name of "that producer," as if she once tried to say it three times in a dark bathroom and she appeared, like Bloody Mary.

Penny is again out of things to talk about, and is also boring, so let's move on, shall we? For no reason at all, Phoenix and Maya return to WP's dressing room. Yes, they were just here, but let's just say they had a good feeling someone was hiding in the floorboards that first time and is now ready to talk with them. Indeed, as Maya enters the room she is waylaid by someone off-camera who says, "WTF? Who are j00 d00dz? LMAO!" Oh, this is going to be fun.

Our mysterious LOLcat appears on screen while Maya stammers incoherently. My first thought at seeing this guy was that the "kid" who snuck through the grate to leer at WP was much older, fatter and creepier than anyone was letting on. Really, the fuchsia (natch) mock turtleneck, denim overshirt, pallid complexion, man boobs, profuse sweating and implied mouth-breathing are all bad enough, but just to go that little extra mile, this person has a warrior's topknot sticking up through the hole in his backward trucker hat. The total effect is almost too overwhelming to snark on. Maya, once she has regained her composure, settles for crying that the guy looks "suspicious" and demanding to know who he is.

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