When you set out to accomplish a goal for yourself, you often have to expect the unexpected and be flexible. What I’ve learned from doing my video game challenges is to be open to what life throws at you and make the necessary adjustments to work around sudden developments to still be able to achieve what you want to do. My most recent challenge involved a lot of adjustments because of vacations and other responsibilities cropping up, but I sorted through all of them to make finishing this particular game something I wouldn’t allow myself to neglect anymore. Let me say that persistence and determination will always win no matter what happens in your life. That being said, it’s finally time to report on my progress with Phoenix Wright: Trials and Tribulations.
As a huge fan of the Ace Attorney series, trying to finish the third installment of the Phoenix Wright saga before the series shifted focus away from our favorite attorney to give another budding ace attorney a chance to shine (Apollo Justice, which comes after Trials and Tribulations) hasn’t been easy. Factors for taking a long time to finish this game, when previous Phoenix Wright titles have been easy to play in quick succession, has mainly to do with time and being in the mood to play the game again. Restarting a game after leaving it on the shelf for the last few years isn’t as easy as you think. You have to deal with remembering what you last did in a game and sometimes newer games have a bigger allure to prioritize than older games that almost everyone you know has played and beaten already. This doesn’t mean my love affair with Phoenix Wright died. In fact, it only refueled my love for the series even further.
Part of the charm for playing these games lies with the characters themselves. Cases like Turnabout Memories in Trials and Tribulations will give you better insight on Phoenix Wright’s past before he became a lawyer and it gives you more backstory on his deceased-but-sometimes-comes-back-from-the-dead-through-spirit-channeling mentor Mia Fey. Though the formula in all Ace Attorney games are the same (gathering evidence and presenting the right evidence in court to expose a contradiction in a witness’s testimony), what makes each case a fun and exciting experience to play is being able to learn new information about the characters you have come to love across all three games.
Take Mia Fey. Mia is Phoenix Wright’s mentor who unfortunately gets murdered by the second case, Turnabout Sisters, in the first game. The player doesn’t have enough time to get too attached to Mia. The only exposure you get is from the first case when Phoenix Wright is introduced to the player as a new defense attorney who is being guided by Mia. With Mia’s death, you would think her story ends there, a character who is merely an entry point to establish the main protagonist of the series. Instead, Mia becomes an integral part of the series and a continuing influence on Phoenix’s life as a lawyer. Because Mia and her sister Maya come from a long line of spirit mediums, this allows Mia to come back from the dead, if briefly, to help Phoenix in a pinch or provide pearls of wisdom to help turn court proceedings back in Phoenix’s favor when it seems like he may lose to the prosecuting attorney he’s up against. Mia may be dead, but not completely gone. And the way they structure the cases, it’s also easy to provide more backstory for Mia through the use of flashback and building upon past cases from previous games.
I’ll admit, I didn’t think Mia Fey was a particularly standout character in the beginning, a sentiment I expressed last year when I was invited to take part in At the Buzzer’s Top 25 female characters from video games. I saw her importance in the games as Phoenix’s support in a time of crisis during a trial, but beyond that, I thought she was a mostly forgettable character. By the time I played through Turnabout Beginnings and the final case Bridge to the Turnabout, it made me see Mia Fey in a different light. I appreciated how this character displays an immense amount of determination and an unflinching resolve to believe in her client’s innocence no matter how bad the evidence is stacked against them. This may be telling of where Phoenix Wright got his own attitude and approach to defending his clients in court, much to the annoyance and consternation of every prosecuting lawyer he is pitted against in the courtroom. My respect and changing opinion of Mia Fey is further cemented in one key scene in Bridge to the Turnabout when she makes one more appearance to face down an old enemy, Dahlia Hawthorne. That confrontation is deliciously good and it makes Mia a badass in the realm of intelligence and wills. It can only be enjoyed by playing the game.
You may know I’ve tried tackling Trials and Tribulations as my video game challenge in the past and failed many times. Revisiting the challenge again with the intent on beating this game once and for all is what drove me to not throw in the towel when life happened to me again. I kept at it and I finally, FINALLY finished the game. Take that, backlog! Besides merely wanting to cross this game off my list of unfinished games, I wanted to remember why I fell in love with the series so much.
What originally attracted me to Phoenix Wright the first time I watched my friend play it, before I eventually bought a Nintendo 3DS Lite, is how the game played out like an anime. The humor, the high drama action in the courtroom, and the unusual witnesses you get in each case already has the look and feel of an anime. The only difference is it’s an interactive story where you needed to help Phoenix Wright expose the real killer and prove the innocence of the accused. There are plenty of witnesses and accused who are all memorable in different ways and it’s extremely difficult to name them all unless I do a separate post on them (which is something to consider in the future). There’s an excitement and anticipation in finishing one case and immediately wanting to go onto the next to see what new set of characters, as well as returning ones, will be making an appearance.
Knowing the next game I play in the Ace Attorney series won’t be focusing on Phoenix Wright but his protege Apollo Justice, I can only wonder how fast I’ll warm up to this new character. Will I be longing to hear Phoenix Wright yell, “Objection!” once again? Will Apollo Justice have the same winsome personality Phoenix Wright has? Will I miss that signature hairstyle?! Time will tell. For now, I’m absolutely content to have finished all three main games of the Phoenix Wright saga and it has fired up my excitement to get acquainted with new characters, like Apollo Justice, and eventually play the last few games to have Phoenix Wright come out of retirement, Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright and Duel Destinies. I’ve got plenty to satisfy my Ace Attorney fix for a while.
Check back next week when I finally start a new month with a brand new game for my challenge!