I still haven’t written the follow-up to my previous Big Huge Phoenix Wright post, but I’ve just finished Trials and Tribulations, and I’m going to post massively spoilery thoughts about that real fast:
* This is blasphemy or something, but I think Godot has supplanted Franziska as my favorite character. He’s got massive angst but doesn’t whine, and he actually has a sense of humor about his many massive issues, and he has actual motivations that aren’t rooted in childhood trauma. He comes out of a coma and immediately turns himself into a cyborg for practical revenge-related reasons. Do you see Edgeworth turning into a cyborg? Do you see Edgeworth engaged in effective spying-and-stabbing-related problem-solving? No. Edgeworth sits in his room and weeps sensitively. Godot is better.
* But he totally destroys both this game’s pacing and one of the series’ biggest storylines. We get no hint of what he’s up to at all until Phoenix points to him in court. It’s not fair either to him, to Misty Fey’s story arc, or even to this particular story, which is itself kind of inadequate. Misty was set up as important at the very beginning of the very first game, and then dies before we know who she is, without doing anything. That’s not cool. Even forgetting that and staying within the confines of this particular episode, the logical conclusion was not eleventh-hour Godot Ex Machina. This was a story about a family of powerful women fighting one another for dominance. You don’t have a male outsider barge in and fix things.
There was a very simple conclusion to that mystery, one that was set up as early as the beginning of the previous game: Misty killed herself to save Maya. It was explained then that a strong channeler was necessary for a strong spirit, because a strong channeler could shut the spirit down if she became violent. Misty was a strong channeler, but was dealing with the spirit of her niece, who herself had some spiritual power. It would have made perfect sense if she had taken just enough control over her body to kill herself to save her daughter. And it would have fit thematically, too – if in uncomfortable ways – because, as Maya constantly demonstrates, what women do in Phoenix Wright-world is sacrifice themselves.
There should have been some way to make Godot work without sacrificing Misty’s story – which was set up much, much earlier, and obviously needed much more fleshing-out – but they didn’t really try. They both just kind of sit there until the last act.
* I didn’t actually mind the Edgeworth stuff in there – he largely kept his own issues out of the way. What I’d have for this storyline was non-emotionally-involved Edgeworth (ooh – or better, Franziska) investigating the situation the whole way through. Phoenix has too much baggage. I should write fanfic.
* What the hell was that when Dahlia outed herself? Seriously? From the moment that happened, everyone in the courtroom should have realized Maya was channeling her. This isn’t even a puzzle – they knew where Pearl and Bikini were. There were no other options.
And having Maya channel Dahlia was not a good idea. It was the worst idea. Doing that gave Dahlia unlimited access to Maya’s body – if the writers had been thinking about this, they’d have realized that the moment Dahlia realized her situation, she would have killed herself. She has a demonstrably insane tolerance for pain and a track record. What Maya should have done was lock herself in the cave and wait it out. Phoenix and Godot should have been jumping to put her in restraints in the courtroom. She should have prepared some poison.
Of course, this is the murder mystery game where you can talk to dead people but no one ever bothers to ask the victim how they died, and you have a magical truth-detector but never use it on witnesses. So maybe that scenario would be expecting too much.