One of the many things I love about Takumi Shuu, the guy responsible for the Ace Attorney games is that he is a devout worshipper at the First Universal Church of Chekov's Gun. Nothing ever goes away in these games. If the dialogue draws your attention to it, it'll be important. Maybe not now, but later, and then again when you least expect it. And he has a knack for making it impossible to distinguish between a running joke -- there are several, one of which involves an argument over ladders vs stepladders that Maya and Phoenix have been having for three games now -- and a truly vital piece of evidence until the moment you need it. Some things are both. Pearl's chronic inability to spell is a critical point in not just two separate cases, but two separate games. One of the iconic moments in the games, which has risen to "spoony bard" status among fans, is when Phoenix cracks open a murder case by demanding to cross examine a parrot.

For example, in Case 1-1, you learn that Phoenix's friend Larry is a moron, and will do anything for a woman who pays attention to him. In Case 1-2, you get a chance to look at a photo of someone who has been missing for fifteen years -- you never meet this person in the game, nor are they directly involved in the case, and in fact examining this photo is not at all necessary to advance the plot. In Case 1-4, you learn that Edgeworth has a crippling fear of earthquakes, and will end up on the floor in a shivering ball, oblivious to the world, no matter what else is going on when one strikes.

In Case 2-2, you find out that Pearl's mother Morgan is a psychotic stage mama of the worst kind, and that seeing Maya as Mia when she's channeling her big sister isn't a representation of what Phoenix groks -- it's a literal physical truth that a medium using the Kurain Channeling Technique takes on the appearance of the spirit they've called, but keeps their hair color and style, and their own wardrobe. Both of these are vital to solving the crime at hand. The second game also introduces Phoenix to the trick locks used by the Kurain Channelers, both as physical door locks when channeling, and metaphorically when using the Magatama to break Psych-Locks.

In Case 3-2, what appears to be a throwaway gag in court reveals that Godot's visor glows in the dark, and he complains impatiently once that he doesn't care about colors when Phoenix argues with him over the exact hue of a piece of evidence. In Case 3-3, you see Godot again torpedo his own case by failing to notice a huge, obvious ketchup stain on Maggey's apron. The flashback of Case 3-3 establishes that Diego is extremely fond of Mia, and prone to calmly doing irrational and occasionally injurious things because of it.

All of these things come back to bite you in the solution to Case 3-5, the last one of the original trilogy. All of them. The game reminds you, if you happen to have forgotten, but you learn each of these things long before they become important in any way. Most of them are in some way relevant, if not vital, to the case in which you learn them, which tends to give the impression that they've served their purpose and will now be retired. Not with Takumi Shuu. Ahahahaha.

It also happens in Ghost Trick, a non-AA Takumi game taking place elsewhere in the AA universe (Word of God -- there's no indication of it in-game). This one is also fabulous and I love it to death. The opening cutscene (which is just the first taste of some stunningly smooth and artful animation) shows you your own murder, after which you come back as an amnesiac ghost with minor telekinetic powers. The rest of the game involves you using your ghostly skills to possess inanimate objects and trigger or shift them just enough, with just the right timing, to manipulate events in the world around you, including the investigation into your death. It's like micromanaging a hilariously weird game of Mouse Trap. You get your tutorial on "tricks" from a talking desk lamp on top of a junk pile, who tells you to call him Ray. The entire story is trying to figure out who the hell you are, how the hell you got there, and why the hell someone had you killed in the first place, and there are so many running gags and recurring motifs that at one point, hand to God, I found myself wondering if Sissel was actually the soul of an umbrella who had accidentally been made sentient. And I concluded it was not impossible that this was the case.

If anyone who hasn't got a DS or a Wii wants to play these things, incidentally, the first three Ace Attorney games and Ghost Trick are all available for iOS devices. All of them have both touchscreen as well as button control schemes in their DS incarnations, that translate well to other devices that want you to point directly at stuff to use it. I've spent way too much time playing AA games one-handed on the train, while standing up and hanging onto a pole with my other arm. If I balance the DS Lite on my left palm, I can get the shoulder buttons (Press/Present) with my fingers, and everything else (Move, Examine, Talk, Present, dialogue advance, and evidence/profile selection) with my thumb on the lower screen.

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