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"They are Poes -- the ghost enemies that have showed up in previous Zelda games. They still carry lanterns and are still ghosts, but this time around their white masks and sacklike clothing make them look like the Phantom of the Opera in colored pajamas. It gives a whole new meaning to the music of the night."
     -Jeanne, Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker Part 8




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Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney : Part 10
By Jeanne
Posted 01.02.14
Pg. 1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5 : 6 : 7 : 8 : 9 : 10 : 11 : 12
In this world where a suspect can be questioned without his or her lawyer present, Lana casually mentions that she "struck a plea bargain." I didn't even know there was such a fucking thing in this game -- you would think that a lot fewer folks would be put to death if that were the case. Speaking of which, the plea bargain involved taking the death penalty off the table if Lana would reveal what really happened with this silly double murder. Phoenix most likely doesn't know what a plea deal is, so it's up to Ema to freak out over this. Lana assures her that she doesn't know what the fuck the other murder is about, so it's all good -- she didn't say anything and so presumably the death penalty is back on the table. WHEW. It's kind of weird that she claimed to have made the deal when she didn't, but it's one of the least weird things about this case.

Phoenix takes this opportunity to tell Lana about his "trump card," the bloody (not really) fingerprints left by Jake Marshall. He is so proud of himself for this, and he is totally hoping that Edgeworth is going to be impressed when he whips out this "hard evidence" and waves it around in court. Oh, Phoenix. He acts like his plan to accuse Marshall of the murder in court, which I'm sure will turn out just as he hopes, is going to hurt Lana's delicate lady feelings. Since Ema, owner of the most powerful gaydar in the universe, thinks Lana and Marshall were boning, of course they must be a hetero couple! Lana, icy as ever, has no problem with throwing Marshall under the bus. Fuck that dude.

She is not referring to fingerprints here.
 

In the courtroom proper, the Judge calls the court to order. Phoenix lies that he is ready. "The prosecution is... Hmph," Edgeworth smirks and fingers his temple like a total tease. It appears he's going to use sex appeal to psych out Phoenix in today's trial. Just kidding, he does that in every trial. The Judge asks him to explain himself, so Edgeworth lays out the facts of the simultaneous murder again. The Judge sputters over how "physically impossible" this is, yet goes on to mention that no body was found in the evidence room, like that's so very strange. What could have happened?! Then, Ema ups the stupid quotient by going, "Yes, and the body eventually reappeared in the trunk of Mr. Edgeworth's car." It eventually reappeared immediately! Teleportation!

I don't know why I'm stuck on pointing out the inconsistencies in the dialogue when I have this entire idiotic trial to get through. Edgeworth puffs himself up and pompously announces that the purpose of today's trial is to solve the mystery of the evidence room murder. Yeah, that sounds like a great use of the court's time -- hope you don't mind sitting this one out, Lana. Ema gushes, "Now that's what sets Mr. Edgeworth apart. He sounds so on top of things...even though he doesn't know what's going on himself!" Phoenix snits, "And that's supposed to be an admirable trait?" as if he isn't pitching a tent under the table right now imagining Edgeworth on top. Also, yes, it is more admirable than standing there sweating and going, "DURRRRRRRRRRR," Phoenix.

Edgeworth earns himself a place on my shitlist by calling the diabolical killer Mike Meekins to the stand as the first witness. It's difficult to convey in mere words just how fucking irritating this motherfucker is with his spastic animations, shrieking megaphone, and idiotic sad sack dialogue. For example, when he introduces himself to the court, he gives his occupation as "murderer" and desperately claims he'll never ever kill anyone again. Jesus. After everyone in the courtroom gets done staring at him like he just announced that Edgeworth bones women, and after the Judge practically has a meltdown over this guy's overwhelming lameness, we finally get to the first round of testimony. Which...isn't an improvement, really.

 
Preaching to the choir, Phoenix.

Meekins testifies that he was "assigned to guard the evidence room" on the day of the crime. Everything else is pretty much what he told to Phoenix and Ema earlier. He confronted the suspicious fellow from the security monitor, was attacked, and then passed out. He unnecessarily adds that his family's motto is "Do unto others before they do unto you," which is probably more appropriate to Phoenix and Edgeworth's sex life, and doesn't at all apply to anything Meekins did during the evidence room incident.

Not that most witnesses are attractive and arousing, but Officer Meekins is an especially boner-killing fellow. With great reluctance, Phoenix begins his cross-examination. Pressing Meekins on his first statement about guarding the evidence room reveals this to be a lie. Said lie passes without comment, not even with a smug Phoenix pointing out the contradiction, which annoys me. Meekins should not get special treatment just because he's dumber than a box of Phoenixes. Meekins's actual crucial assignment for that day was to guard the dancing Blue Badger. "I was to ensure it wasn't broken during the transferal process," he explains. Wow, I don't mean to be insensitive here, but maybe this guy really does have a mental handicap -- not only is he given the most useless assignment in the history of the department, but they can't even admit to him that the real reason for removing the Blue Badger from where people can see it. I almost feel bad making fun of him now. To protect Gumshoe's pride and joy from all the trampling hordes of police and prosecutors attending ceremonies and transferring evidence, the brilliant Mike Meekins decided to move the Blue Badger to the evidence room.

When Meekins describes entering the evidence room to confront the "suspicious" figure, Phoenix says, "In order to enter the evidence room...you need an ID card, am I correct?" This is a very smart thing for him to ask, because it makes no sense for Meekins to think anyone in the evidence room is an intruder, but it turns out that Phoenix is just trying to fill out the ID card record. I guess this is just another discrepancy we're supposed to chalk up to Meekins being a dolt. Meekins confirms through his megaphone that his ID number is on Phoenix's list, and he even recites it by memory without reading it aloud from the actual ID card. I call shenanigans on that. The ID record displays on screen and Meekins's name appears in the corresponding spaces as if by magic. According to this record, Meekins entered the evidence room at 4:50PM and 5:14PM. The idea that someone could have entered the room twice is super shocking to Phoenix and he even pulls out the red text for this. The explanation is fairly boring -- 4:50PM is when Meekins dragged the plywood abomination into the room and 5:14PM is when he intended to remove it and had his "lethal" encounter.

Great job, team.
 

As an aside, I have to point out one of the lovely bugs introduced in the HD iPad version of this game. In this section of the trial, all evidence and profile descriptions are profoundly messed up, to the point of being unusable for anyone playing this game for the first time. I only mention this because of the unintentionally hilarious results, as you can see from the screenshot.

Back to the regular plot, the next bit of cross-examining involves Meekins describing in detail his terrifying fight with the very real Bruce Niceguy. There is all kinds of stuff that is probably inaccurate, and I don't feel like parsing that out. It will be unimportant in a bit anyway. When an unnamed officer "slapped [him] awake" -- possibly not intending to actually awaken him -- it was 5:30PM. The situation must not have seemed particularly alarming to either of them, in spite of Meekins's bleeding hand, because Meekins was still able to return the Blue Badger to the front of the police station so Gumshoe could dance inappropriately with it the next day. THANK GOD.

With that testimony out of the way, and nothing much new to show for it, Edgeworth brings up what everyone should have been thinking all this time: "Only one thing remains unclear. Was the man this officer "murdered," really the victim?" Phoenix is all, "OMG, so true" in blue font. It's sad that Edgeworth as Captain Obvious gets Phoenix all hot, but I will allow it. And now it's time for that terrible, terrible thing that has been hinted at but not yet inflicted upon me.

"Take a look at this. It was sent to my cell. Chief Gant delivered it to me just this morning, sir!" Meekins announces, as a -- sigh -- videotape appears next to his head. There's nothing strange about the police chief delivering evidence to the suspect's cell and then letting him bring it to court! Phoenix and Edgeworth do find this a bit fishy, and it would be nice to get a God damn objection or something, mainly because I don't want to deal with this. But no, this is THE VIDEO from the security camera, the one that caught the entire sordid crime. Now Edgeworth, my hero, objects. "But I specifically asked if there was such a tape, and was told it had been mistakenly erased!" he complains, wagging his finger to Phoenix's delight.

 
I want to give that man a medal.

Though the sinister music proves that there is something amiss here, Phoenix and his blue font just chalk it up to more "miscommunication." In spite of all the strange circumstances surrounding the video and the delivery thereof, the Judge sees nothing wrong with playing the video for the whole courtroom to see. I mean, dogs know there isn't going to be an actual death taking place on this film, but as far as these Einsteins know, it could be the real deal. You'd think there would be a bit more sensitivity and review involved before playing a snuff film in a packed courtroom. Even Phoenix blue-fonts with a serious expression, "A video of a real murder... Just what are we getting ourselves into...?"

What indeed? It's time for me to stop stalling and recap what is the bane of my entire Anal Attorney-playing existence. Worse than THE PHOTO, worse than the endless, endless repetitions of the DL-6 case, worse than any of the many terrible witnesses is this one soul-killing video. Look upon it and despair.

THE VIDEO is, unlike anything else in this game, an actual video. Judging by the content in the grainy black and white footage, the camera itself is situated across from Gumshoe's locker at about waist level. It also pans slowly back and forth throughout the entire sequence. The location and movement both make this camera remarkably ill-suited for any kind of actual security, which really isn't a surprise in this series. But the ridiculous setup is just the tip of the idiot iceberg. Directly in front of the camera, filling the majority of the frame, is that motherfucking Blue Badger, swaying like a drunk windup toy as its awful chiptune plays over and over and over and over. This doesn't even make sense, because the video has no sound otherwise. The chiptune is there just to torture the player, and mission fucking accomplished, you sadistic assholes. So with just the parts I've already described, this video is terrible beyond redemption. But then there's everything else that happens.

As the camera pans back to the left, a figure -- visible only from the neck down and wearing Niceguy's cheesy trenchcoat -- walks into the room. There is a lot left unseen, thanks to the camera motion, but we do see "Niceguy" open "his" locker, which causes an object to fall out of it. Meekins then enters the room and gets into a tussle with this guy, just as he described multiple times already. Of course the camera pans away from the scene just as "Niceguy" charges at Meekins with a knife again and when it pans back, Meekins is passed out against the wall and "Niceguy" is gone. And conveniently, throughout this entire sequence, something is always blocking "Niceguy's" face -- the Blue Badger's flag, the open locker, and even Meekins's fat head. It's as well-choreographed as an Austin Powers nude scene.

INDEED
 

Now, to be fair to the idiots who think someone was murdered in this video, the floor is not visible, nor did we actually see anyone exit the room. So technically, Meekins could have instantly dispatched his opponent, who happened to fall off screen in the few seconds that the camera was turned the other way. But of course that didn't happen. There is no visible blood evidence to indicate a horrible stabbing murder just took place -- even Meekins's unconscious form has no blood on it. Which is actually kind of weird since he was injured and splattered blood on "Niceguy's" coat. But whatever, this whole fucking thing is full of inconsistencies, most of which we will get to soon.

After this distressing video, as Phoenix stands dripping like a sweat waterfall and Edgeworth zombie glares like he's trying to set the courtroom on fire with his mind (he's a flamer), the Judge is the first to speak: "Well, I believe we're all thinking the same thing. How can we deal with these unsettling feelings stirred within us...?" He sounds like he's channeling Edgeworth. On the other hand, Edgeworth's comment is even more hilarious: "What the hell was that wriggling piece of plywood!?" That is the most disturbingly sexual description of the Blue Badger ever -- I bet Gumshoe has the world's proudest boner right now.

 
This would turn Phoenix on if a hot dude said it.

And now on to analyzing the tape, which the Judge, despite acting like he just witnessed a real murder, admits was vague at best. Rather than replay the tape, Edgeworth asks for testimony about the footage from Meekins. This is a no-win situation for me. For all the drama that goes into setting up a testimony, as well as the five screens of text, the megaphone, and the seizure-inducing screen flashes, the content is actually pretty sparse. Short version: since the lockers require the owner's fingerprints to open, and the dude in the video opened Niceguy's locker, the dude in the video must be Niceguy. This leads to an explanation of the fingerprint lock system to the Judge, and I was going to make fun of him for being ignorant, but really, no one could be expected to know about this ridiculous setup.

All right, cross-examination time. The obvious goal here is for Phoenix to prove that the man in Niceguy's outfit was not, in fact, Niceguy. I feel like I'm being repetitive here, but I would really like Phoenix to object with the proof being, "We know where Niceguy's corpse was at 5:15PM." Why do I keep dreaming my dreams? Rather than subject you guys to Phoenix's pressing of all five of Meekins's statements -- in which we find out nothing helpful or contradictory -- I will move right along to the part where Edgeworth prompts Phoenix to point out a problem with the video. He clearly wants Phoenix to find something and isn't just taunting him as usual, but neither Phoenix nor Ema pick up on this. So Phoenix bluffs, prompted by the mysterious woman doing his thinking for him, "Regarding the video contained on this tape, there is one thing in particular that seems rather strange." This strange thing will prove that the guy in the douche outfit might not be the guy known for wearing said outfit.

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