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Adventure Game Scene of the Day — Sunday 19 May 2013

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Kurufinwe’s Top-10 Endings
#1 – Phoenix Wright, Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations


“The only time a lawyer can cry is when it’s all over.”
— Godot

This list of endings went through numerous iterations, but there was never any doubt in my mind about the top spot. The conclusion of the third Phoenix Wright game is just that good. Truth be told, the entire final case is a terrific send-off, not just to the game but to the entire series. It puts together story threads and characters arcs from pretty much all the 12 cases that preceded it and brings them to an unforgettable conclusion. Like the rest of the series, it’s something that shouldn’t work but just does. It’s a mess that manages to paint a clear, memorable picture. It can be over-the-top hilarious, and yet takes its characters seriously enough to hit all the emotional notes when it needs to.

It has almost too many iconic moments to list: seeing that picture of someone looking very much like Dahlia in the newspaper; Larry as Laurice; the burning bridge; playing as Edgeworth and getting to duke it out with Franziska in the most epic court battle ever; the mystery of Iris flying over the bridge; finally finding Mia’s mother; Dahlia giving the best villain breakdown in the history of the series. And then that final part of the trial, with Godot goading Phoenix to go on and find the truth, even though nobody (including the player) really wants to go on because it’s clear that it’s not going to end up somewhere pretty. And finally Mia’s ghost siding with Phoenix for his final Objection with the music from the first game blaring. And once everything has been explained, Godot, crying tears of blood, tells Maya that the only time a lawyer can cry is when it’s all over. At that moment, the courtroom music returns, confirming that it is, indeed, all over. What a ride.

Ultimately, what is striking is how masterfully constructed this last day in court is. While all the long-standing story threads are resolved during the first two thirds, the final segment wisely focuses on only one arc: Phoenix’s journey from bumbling beginner to ace attorney. By the end of the trial, Mia has given him all the help she could and he can now stand on his own, without his mentor.

There could be no better way to conclude one of the very best series in the history of adventure gaming.


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And so that is (or rather “was”; it has probably changed now) the list of my top-10 endings:

1. Phoenix Wright 3
2. The Walking Dead
3. The Last Express
4. Gabriel Knight 1
5. Last Window
6. Sam & Max Between Time and Space
7. Syberia
8. Virtue’s Last Reward
9. Loom
10. Quest for Glory II

What’s yours?

     

Currently playing: The Pandora Directive (CP, R), Final Fantasy VI
Recently finished: The Blackwell Epiphany [4.5], Broken Sword 5 [4], Moebius [2.5], The Wolf Among Us, ep 3 [3], Dune (R) [4]

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Kurufinwe - 19 May 2013 04:42 PM

What’s yours?

I agree with these and would have them in my top 10:

4. Gabriel Knight 1
6. Sam & Max Between Time and Space
7. Syberia
9. Loom

Didn’t like The Last Express all that much as a game, although I admit it was well written.

One ending I really liked was Yoomurjak’s Ring. The game itself wasn’t brilliant as a whole but the ending was just incredibly feel-good and I thought it wrapped up everything really well, including a few surprises too.

I would also include Myst V. Easily the weakest Myst game but a worthy end to the series, storywise.

Also The Dig. One of the most emotional adventure game endings.

And Monkey Island 2, definitely. Just because. I know some people hate it but I love it.

     
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I would definitely have the ending of The Longest Journey on my list.
The fact that it doesn’t end like we are lead to believe it would. Both the player and April are lead to believe, that she has to become the guardian of the tower, but that is not the case, and instead it is an open question, what April will do with the rest of her life.

Edit: I’m not so much talking about the very last scene in the game, as i’m talking about the actual ending in the guardians realm. Though the very last scene does open the question of what have happened to April in all those years.

In general i like endings that leave some open questions, and not just wraps everything up nicely. I also love stories and games that doesn’t end as you thought they would, where there is some twist at the end, and the TLJ ending has both.

I think i would also have Grim Fandango on the list, not so much for the ending itself, but because it doesn’t end when i thought it would. When we reach the entrance to the ninth underworld, I really thought that was the end of the story, but it wasn’t. It turns out that there is still a large part of the game left, and that we have to go back, and take down Hector LeMans crime syndicate.

Games or Stories that doesn’t end when you logically thing they should end, is another of my soft spots, and it is not something you see very often.

     

My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all. - Stephen Hawking

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The ending to Phoenix Wright 3 has nothing on saving Maya and the closure of Phoenix Wright: And Justice for All for me.

And The Walking Dead’s ending EDIT: I’ll just stop myself here.

If Portal counts, I’d definitely add the ending to that game as one of the greats.

     
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Great series, Kurufinwe. You wrote very eloquently about each entry and made me curious to try the games I haven’t played like Last Window and Virtue’s Last Reward. (I don’t have a DS.) Not to mention Phoenix Wright 3 (I played the first on iPhone), but I already knew I still need to play that one.

Would you be willing to edit the Top 10 list at the bottom of your post to include links to each of the previous days’ entries? It’s a nice list and I would bookmark this page for future reference if you did.

Haven’t thought about my top adventure game endings list much, but of the games mentioned, The Last Express, one or more of the Gabriel Knight games, Grim Fandango, and The Longest Journey would certainly find a place.

Probably no surprise given my avatar, but I’m quite fond of the ending to Conquests of the Longbow. There’s a nice write-up by Richard Cobbett at PC Gamer about why it’s one of his favorite game endings of all time too, but it’s quite detailed and spoiler-heavy (almost like reading a summarized walkthrough for the whole game) so anyone who hasn’t played it is probably better off just playing the game.

     
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Caliburn - 19 May 2013 11:23 PM

Great series, Kurufinwe. You wrote very eloquently about each entry and made me curious to try the games I haven’t played like Last Window and Virtue’s Last Reward. (I don’t have a DS.) Not to mention Phoenix Wright 3 (I played the first on iPhone), but I already knew I still need to play that one.

As you may or may not know, the HD version of the trilogy will (finally!) be released on iOS this July (just one year and a half after Japan, despite having already been translated years ago…). But you, and everyone else, should really get a DS anyway. You can get a used DS Lite for $40 nowadays…

Would you be willing to edit the Top 10 list at the bottom of your post to include links to each of the previous days’ entries? It’s a nice list and I would bookmark this page for future reference if you did.

I’ll be posting a full list of all my Adventure Game Scenes of the Day very soon.

Haven’t thought about my top adventure game endings list much, but of the games mentioned, The Last Express, one or more of the Gabriel Knight games, Grim Fandango, and The Longest Journey would certainly find a place.

Probably no surprise given my avatar, but I’m quite fond of the ending to Conquests of the Longbow. There’s a nice write-up by Richard Cobbett at PC Gamer about why it’s one of his favorite game endings of all time too, but it’s quite detailed and spoiler-heavy (almost like reading a summarized walkthrough for the whole game) so anyone who hasn’t played it is probably better off just playing the game.

I love Conquests of the Longbow, and it was always on my longlist. There are about 20 adventure games which I think have fantastic endings. Among those, my top-3 is very clear, but ranking the rest of the list has proven absolutely impossible. So Longbow, TLJ, GF, KQ6, MI1, FoA, The Dig, To the Moon, Overseer, Portal 2 and maybe a couple more might have been included in the top-10, and were left out for no better reason than my not wanting to do a 20-day-long series. If I redid the list in 3 months, half of those would probably end up in the top-10.

To elaborate a bit on Longbow, I didn’t want to have QfG2, Longbow and KQ6 all in the top-10, because they have very similar endings (big sequence where half the game’s characters come to say how awesome you are). I can rationalize picking QfG2 over the other two because the fight with Ad Avis is much, much better than the silly arcade sequence in Longbow or the “oops, you forgot to give the dagger to Cassima!” dead-end in KQ6 – but ultimately, it’s just that I was in the mood for a night sky and a fun pet when I made the final list. Smile

(I have to go and read that PC Gamer article)

     

Currently playing: The Pandora Directive (CP, R), Final Fantasy VI
Recently finished: The Blackwell Epiphany [4.5], Broken Sword 5 [4], Moebius [2.5], The Wolf Among Us, ep 3 [3], Dune (R) [4]

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Kurufinwe - 19 May 2013 04:42 PM

Like the rest of the series, it’s something that shouldn’t work but just does.

I can explain why: the rule of cool and the rule of funny. Wink

What’s yours?

Can I get back to you on that??? Tongue

     

Now playing: Area-X, I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream (post-CPT), Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy, Syberia (CPT), Angelica Weaver: Catch Me When You Can (CPT)
Next in line: The Last Express, Tex Murphy: Mean Streets, Gabriel Knight: The Beast Within, Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies
Recently finished: Secret Mysteries in London (2/5), Real Crimes: The Unicorn Killer (1.5/5), James Noir’s Hollywood Crimes (2.5/5), Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask (3/5), Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers (4.5/5), Obsidian (CPT) (4/5), A Vampyre Story (CPT) (3.5/5), Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward (4/5), Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon (CPT) (4.5/5)
Anticipating: STASIS, Dreamfall: Chapters, Zero Escape 3, The St. Christopher’s School Lockdown

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Kurufinwe - 20 May 2013 12:13 AM

As you may or may not know, the HD version of the trilogy will (finally!) be released on iOS this July [...] But you, and everyone else, should really get a DS anyway.

I knew about the Phoenix Wright iOS HD trilogy (and dislike the redrawn art, but I might get it anyway). And yes, I’ll either get a DS or borrow someone else’s for all the DS games I’ve missed.

I can rationalize picking QfG2 over the other two because the fight with Ad Avis is much, much better than the silly arcade sequence in Longbow or the “oops, you forgot to give the dagger to Cassima!” dead-end in KQ6 –

Hah, fair enough.

– but ultimately, it’s just that I was in the mood for a night sky and a fun pet when I made the final list. Smile

Also fair. QfG2 is an awesome game, and it has a great closing shot. Grin (This is the Scene of the Day, after all.) You’re right that the core premise of the endings is quite similar, and QfG2 was first from a historical perspective.

I guess now that you mention it, I like Longbow’s ending a little more because 1) I played it first and 2) Longbow has more choices you can make throughout that create variants to the ending. And unlike many games which try to have better and worse solutions, I didn’t always find the best solution on my first playthrough, but actually had to work at it.

Longbow spoilers: For example, the first time I played the game, I couldn’t figure out how to properly handle the encounter with the traveling jeweler (by checking his robes for hidden jewels), so I instead wore Puck of Barnesdale’s costume again in order to trick the Sheriff, which also works. I also didn’t realize I could rescue the Widow’s sons using the belts on the robes, so I had to fight to rescue them, and I lost some Merry Men in the process. (Granted, I was a kid and walkthroughs were not yet ubiquitous. I don’t know how different the experience would be now.)

To me the high degree of flexibility of Longbow in terms of multiple solutions makes the type of ending work even better here than in QfG2 which has only a handful of such ending-affecting choices.

QfG2 and KQ6 spoilers: In QfG2, restoring Julinar and sparing Walid seem like pretty obvious things to do, as does going to the land of the dead for Cassima’s parents in KQ6. I’d be genuinely curious how many people didn’t do those things on their first playthrough. To me, if you’re likely to always discover the better solution before you discover the worse one, it makes the ending variant less rewarding. But in QfG2’s defense I will say that both getting a full score and becoming a Paladin do take some work.

So Longbow, TLJ, GF, KQ6, MI1, FoA, The Dig, To the Moon, Overseer, Portal 2 and maybe a couple more might have been included in the top-10, and were left out for no better reason than my not wanting to do a 20-day-long series.

I appreciated that you went for some less obvious choices but made strong cases for them. The list was more fun that way.

I am glad you left out The Dig, though. That ending didn’t quite work for me, ha ha. Tongue

     
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