I thought of doing a spoiler-free edition of this post just to give my thoughts on the game and then writing a separate post another day featuring the many, many questions I still have left now that the game is done. I though of it, but Spirit of Justice really doesn’t deserve that much attention from me. That, and now that two days have passed since I finished it, I find I don’t care as much about it and just want to move on, so this will be a condensed form of what would have been a fairly long post. Thank goodness for a good night’s sleep.
The TL;DR version is that Spirit of Justice was a mixed bag for me. It was full of wild ups and downs. Exciting cases, dull moments, sensible plot twists, nonsensical turns of events. My mood kept going up up up, doooowwwwn, up up uuup, downnn. Unfortunately my mood was down when the game ended, partly because the last case dragged on a bit and honestly I JUST DIDN’T CARE about all those things they were trying to make me so emotional about, but don’t let any negative comments below scare you away from the game if you’re an Ace Attorney fan. It has a lot of fun moments, especially in earlier cases.
I will be spoiling the story, particularly the ending at some length below so for let’s note other stuff here instead: music was great, voice-acting was okay. The script was vibrantly localized as always, though again as always some typos and errors crept in which I have meanspiritedly photographed and added to this post because I’m petty that way. One thing I really enjoyed was that the regular judge was more sensible and in control of his courtroom than in previous games, possibly because the new prosecutor was too weak-willed and spineless to boss him around.
I’m also really happy that they added in more exploration this time compared to Dual Destinies. Now you can poke and prod almost any interesting-looking object on the screen and be rewarded with interesting banter and funny statements that are well worth the trouble of seeking them out. The game reused a lot of locations in Khura’in, but in exchange you get to see those places through the eyes of different characters at different times, so it’s not all bad.
In terms of implications for the greater Ace Attorney series, you could say it’s the conclusion of the Apollo Justice saga, sort of. Not really, but sort of. If you intensely dislike AJ you might want to skip this one. The end of the game is all AJ all the time, it’s rather annoying for people like me who are just playing for the Phoenix. And btw, the game doesn’t divulge that “certain secret” about AJ’s past that PW has been hiding for the past two games. The player/Apollo will find out a lot about his past in Spirit of Justice, but not the stuff you wanted to know, only the stuff you don’t care about.
Enough with the “reviewish” stuff, on to the story! If I had to score the game separately based on each case, it would be something like (spoilers abound):
Episode 1: 9/10. Hugely entertaining. Rock on! Love the music, I seriously want the soundtrack now. We already knew whodunnit, it was just a matter of dragging them out into the open, which is always more interesting for me. As a bonus it sets up a lot of things for the rest of the game, so it’s not just a throwaway case like most first episodes tend to be.
Episode 2: 5/10. Passable, but mostly trash. The ridiculously elaborate way the murder was carried out had me rolling my eyes. Little did I know it would only get worse. Also it heavily featured that thing Ace Attorney games do that I don’t like. That thing where the defense will raise a totally valid objection/question and the prosecution will bat it aside and everyone will just move on like it didn’t matter. Theoretical example: “Why was Billy outside in a storm without any shoes?” Prosecutor: “Maybe he didn’t feel like wearing shoes that day.” Defense: “Oh, okay then.” And that’s the end of that line of inquiry, which is just dumb.
In The Magical Turnabout, the victim was stabbed right in the middle of the back. But the video footage shows the suspect “stabbing” him in the side. The prosecution says “He must have twisted around right before the stabbing” and everybody just drops the issue, but that’s crazy. The guy was in a tiny wooden coffin, he didn’t have enough room to swing a cat, much less twist around.
More importantly, the stunt required Trucy to use a rubber sword. The victim wouldn’t know it was a real sword until it had already pierced his flesh, by which time it would be too late to move. And on top of that, what kind of incompetent forensics expert can’t tell the different between a wound that went straight into the back and one that went into a twisted torso? The location of the wound, the angle of entry, the damage to the internal organs should all be completely different. And yet nobody thinks to bring any of that up, instead they move straight on to talking about lifts and stages and blah blah blah, rrrrrgh, so frustrating!!!
Btw, I should get this out of the way: Apollo, Trucy or Athena have worn out their welcome and I would be perfectly happy if they never showed up in the series again. Apollo in particular is like The Plumed Punisher to Phoenix’s Steel Samurai, if you catch my drift. I didn’t mind them in this case because I (naively) thought they would show up this one time and never come back again. More fool me.
Episode 3: 7/10. Would be higher if not for the forced break that killed a bit of my momentum. Also things got a bit ridiculous with everybody and their mother having been killed by that sharp-beaked statue. And again the forensics guys are so stupid they can’t tell the difference between a stab wound made by a falling on/running into a (stone? metal?) statue versus being stabbed by a dagger. Phoenix and Edgeworth keep blathering about how they want to reform the courts and the justice system but what they really need are better coroners.
Still it was a good case. I got to see Maya again, yay. And she got herself in trouble again, boo. And I enjoyed hanging out with Rayfa and hearing her comments. And The Plumed Punisher was great! A
total knock-off lightly inspired reinterpretation of the Steel Samurai halfway around the world? Too too funny ^_^ Only thing is, I don’t understand why Tahrust was warned not to perform the Rite. What did that have to do with anything? It was probably explained but I don’t remember any more.
Episode 4: 2/10. For Athena, Simon Blackquill and Athena x Simon fans only. I already explained why I didn’t like it here.
Episode 5. 7/10. Oh boy. Would be lower but. In fact, I think I’ll lower it, 6.5/10. It wasn’t that good but it did have some exciting moments. The part I enjoyed most was going up against Ga’ran. She was kind of cool. Too easily flustered and routed for a final villain, though. The parts I didn’t enjoy were mostly the forced tragedy and the fact that the “spirit channeling” used contradicted everything we’ve seen about spirit channeling throughout the series.
The contradiction in question? Hairstyles! When a medium channels a dead spirit, she adopts his/her form, but her hairstyle and clothes remain the same. This was used to great humorous effect in case 3 and I got a good laugh out of Tahrust’s “luscious locks” so there’s no way I wouldn’t remember. And throughout all the Ace Attorney games when Pearl channels someone they get Pearl’s hairdo, same with Maya.
And yet in Turnabout Revolution they claim that someone with a huge hair of lavender hair as shown on the right channeled two different men with different sleek, black hairdos and didn’t have to cut her hair or dye it in any way? Don’t forget Inga and Dhurke had different shades of black hair, so she would have had to dye and style her hair and then dye and style it again before becoming Dhurke, all in a very short period of time. The various outfits and disguises used were discussed at length during the court proceedings, and the whole time I was screaming in my head, THE HAIR! THE HAIR! WHAT ABOUT THE HAIR?!!
And let’s say she DID dye the hair in some temporary way and then return it to normal later. That still doesn’t solve the issue of volume and length. Amara/Nanya’s hair was thick and long and past waist-length. Inga had long hair too, but it stopped at his waist and tapered to an end. Dhurke had thicker hair, but it was just below his shoulders. So what, Amara cut her hair at Inga’s residence (no hair traces found?) and cut it again in the tomb and then magically grew it out again in time for the trial? Or what, she’s wearing extensions now? Sheesh, this is just too improbable.
The rest of the case proceeded more or less as I’d expected. Dhurke being dead all along was a surprise though – and again the issue of hair comes into it because you can’t just comb bangs as full and as heavy as Maya’s into a flat middle parting without the front looking obviously shorter and bushier than the rest. Even if you slicked it way down it should still have popped up again when Dhurke went swimming twice in the ocean. What did he coat that hair with, coal tar? I mean seriously, this is just— …. Okay, okay, I’ll drop the hair thing. Sorry, it just bugs me. Really bugs me. But I’ll let it go. But yeah, dead Dhurke was a surprise.
Just by the way, Maya later testifies that she couldn’t have channeled anyway while she was tied up because she couldn’t make the necessary handsigns. I’m going to assume that was a lie because we later find out that she escaped being tied up precisely by channeling someone. Maybe she lied to protect Dhurke’s secret, you know, since keeping the secret was way more important than helping Apollo and Phoenix escape a near-certain death sentence. Priorities, people.
So dead Dhurke was a surprise, but I saw Amara still being alive coming from a few miles away. For some reason after the fifth or sixth time someone mentioned she was completely burned up, I realized she wasn’t completely burned up. That’s how videogame narrative works, deal with it. After that it was a simple step to realize she was Nayna, on account of Nayna’s “mysterious disappearance” and all. I thought Jove might be alive too at some point, but there’s no one else in the game he could have disguised himself as, so that hope faded quickly.
I’d also suspected from the start that Ga’ran either couldn’t channel spirits or wasn’t very powerful, on account of Rayfa not being that powerful either. Once I saw Ga’ran’s obviously evil character design it just clicked. What still doesn’t click is what her motive was. Someone brought it up and as usual it was handwaved as “She probably had a complex about her lack of power.” Probably? This is the issue that caused the whole incident 23 years ago and the DC Act and the revolution and Dhurke’s death and you’re just going to wave it aside with a “probably”?! Lazy writers! I shake my angry, frustrated head at you!
Also nobody in the game brought it up, but why didn’t they have Ga’ran perform the Divination Seance in the trial over Amara’s supposed assassination all those years ago? The law says a trial cannot be completed without a Divination Seance, so how could the trial have gotten anywhere without the death of the victim at least being ascertained? I mean, then we wouldn’t even have this game, but someone should at least have said something. Knowing Ga’ran she probably gave the excuse of being juuust distraught enough to be unable to do the seance but not so distraught she couldn’t persecute the case. And a man as sharp as Dhurke didn’t smell a rat? This case was all kinds of rotten.
When they were doing all that back and forth in the courtroom it was like yeah yeah, I know all that, what about the Founder’s Orb? It played a pretty big part in the first case and a lot of time was spent solving the riddle in the first half of the last case. Ooh, we’re going to get to meet the founder and learn all kinds of things. It’s gonna be so awesome *doki doki* Can’t wait. Okay, the case is progressing nicely… any moment now they’re going to summon the Founder… I’m waaaaiting…. waiting……. waitaminnit……………… 000_0000 srsly? they’re postponing the great reveal till the next game, srsly? …It makes business sense and I’ll probably buy it too, but I’d really rather not go back to Khura’in again. It was fun while it lasted but I’d like to visit a new location. I was bitterly disappointed that all that fuss over the Founder’s Orb came to nothing though.
Other surprises in the last case: how quickly Rayfa and Nahyuta did about-faces when it was convenient for them to do so. And of course Nahyuta is immediately and completely forgiven for all the innocent defendants and lawyers he has condemned to death in full knowledge that what he was doing was wrong. Edgeworth has his shady past and Phoenix has twice defended a bad guy to save Maya so it’s not like he’s the only one ever, but his ‘transformation’ is ridiculously sudden and doesn’t even reference or attempt to atone/apologize for all the wrong he has done. It’s just “Oh hey I’m one of the good guys now” and everyone’s like “Welcome back.” You guys are not serious.
Let’s be honest here. The truth is, Nahyuta only went along with Ga’ran because he wanted to. When he saw the tides turning against her, he cut ties and jumped ship, knowing the revolutionaries would make him an instant hero because of his late dad. Think about it: if he really wanted to rescue Rayfa he could have done it ages ago. He knows how to contact the rebels. Just let them know who she really is and Dhurke will come up with a rescue plan. Presto, problem solved. Rayfa is always walking around lightly escorted anyway, it wouldn’t be too hard to kidnap her.
Once she was in their possession, a simple and very public DNA test would be enough to show that she’s Dhurke & Amara’s daughter and Nahyuta’s full sister, thus blowing a huge hole in the claim that Dhurke killed Amara. This could lead to them demanding a Divination Seance to prove Amara is really dead… which of course Ga’ran can’t do, which could lead to all kinds of interesting developments. I’m surprised Dhurke didn’t notice that Ga’ran magically had a baby girl right after his own wife and baby were snatched away. Maybe he noticed but couldn’t be sure whereas Nahyuta knew for certain and just didn’t feel like sharing such vital information with his father.
But then you might bring up an objection: Nahyuta knew Rayfa’s location but not Amara’s, and he didn’t want to put his mother in danger. See, that just makes him look even worse for being so darned self-centered. So as long as your own sister and mother are safe it’s okay for other people’s family and friends to be condemned to death willy-nilly. In fact you’re happy to do said condemning as long as it keeps you safe? You have people like Tahrust Inmee impaling themselves on spikes for the cause of the revolution and then this namby-pamby sissy-wussy lapdog of an attorney gets all the glory at the end? It’s just not fair. Either Nahyuta was way too stupid to think of alternative solutions (which I want to believe because I loathe that hypocritical little worm) or he just didn’t want to help the revolution along until he was sure it was going to succeed. Either way I don’t like him and I want him dead. End of story.
Rayfa… I want to cut her some slack because she really goes through the wringer over the course of Spirit of Justice, but the way she turned her back on Inga so suddenly was really something else. One moment she understandably upset, “*sniffle… Oh Father, there is so much I wanted to tell you…” I was a little moved by that, TBH. Which is all the more reason why I was indignant when less than 24 hours later she was like Inga who? “Wow I am so glad my true father didn’t turn out to be a criminal. I sooo wanted to meet him *gush* *giggle*” Girl, you serious? I know teenagers are supposed to be ungrateful but this is just crazy. Turning on Ga’ran for Nayna I can understand, but all those years of loving Inga swept under the carpet when it’s no longer kosher to be his daughter? For shame. And so you will forgive me if I wasn’t too impressed by a game that ends with those two two-faced turncoats in power. Good luck Khura’in, you’ll need it!
Phew! Over 3000 words. And this is the condensed version (NOT)! Ahh, sweet catharsis. I feel a lot better and happier now that I have all that off my chest. It reminds me why I got this blog in the first place. I guess I did have more fun than I’m willing to admit with Spirit of Justice. Not as much as I was hoping for when I played that glorious first case, but enough that I’m glad I played it. And I’m looking forward to the localization of the Great Attorney games any day now, Capcom *hint hint*.
Next game on the list: I really want to finish Sakura Taisen 3. I’ve been thinking of Rune Factory 4 after that, but I might clear up stuff on the DS and PSP before that. I might play the four systems in rotation till the end of the year, probably. I’d better not promise anything I can’t deliver. One day at a time.