Shit My Dad Plays

Shit My Dad Plays
The Case of Dad vs. Phoenix Wright

Brendan Main | 22 Feb 2011 13:48
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Every time I talked to him about Phoenix Wright, he groused about this or that case, and the latest indignities he'd suffered in grinding through "that godawful game." There was the direct implication that this waste-of-time game was wasting his time, and that somehow I'd forced him to suffer through it. As if I'd forced his hand, somehow, with this cursed gift. As if this was all some ludicrous favor to me. I played dumb, and listened to his trials and tribulations with this or that case. The one with the bloody statue. The one with the steel samurai. The one where you cross-examine a parrot. I listened as he talked them through, and in a strange way, it resembled nothing so much as listening to those tableside accounts I sat through as a kid; just more convoluted, and infinitely weirder.

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Interestingly, almost all of his complaints were procedural. Why would Wright only take on innocent defendants, if it's his duty to do his job regardless or innocence or guilt? Why does he get away with badgering pretty much any witness he comes across, when the Judge could instantly put a stop to it with a bang of his gavel? Dad levels no metaphysical complaints, like why a world full of psychics would even need lawyers, aside from the odd lawyer joke, or why condemn murderers to the death penalty, if they're just going to return as evil spirits bent on revenge? I took this as a good sign - that, for all its supposed godawfulness, on some level, he had bought into Phoenix Wright's strange little world.

Because for all his continued protestations, I began to notice something. In his accounts of how bad the game truly is, it was always new stories, and new cases. He was making steady progress, despite himself. And one day, using his computer to check my email, I quickly flipped through his open tabs, and saw a different sort of "evidence" - page after page of faqs and walkthroughs. He had bookmarked them all, and had been consulting them, case by case, making sure to scavenge every last piece of evidence, making sure that his witnesses were examined just right.

At some point, he had taken to the idiosyncrasies of Phoenix Wright like no other game I had lent him. And those hours of extensive litigious brilliance came to pay off. One day, during a visit home, he approached me in the kitchen. "You know that stupid lawyer game?" he said.

Did I ever.

"Well, I finally beat it the other night."

There was a silence. Mostly, I was surprised he stuck through it, but I didn't say that. In a prickly, unexplainable way, I was proud of him - but you better believe I didn't say that, either.

Instead, I thought for a second, and said, "You know, there's a sequel ... ?"

He sighed deeply, as if pressed into an onerous chore. Another favor. Another waste of time.

"Well," he said. "Might as well."

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