As you might have guessed from my review, I’m not a big fan of Apollo Justice. Not to say I didn’t like it, but when you compare it to all the other Ace Attorney games, you start to notice just how inferior it is in comparison. It had some good moments, but plenty of bad moments as well. In my opinion, the cases in this game are the lowest-quality they’ve ever been, with the only really good one being Turnabout Corner. But the biggest low-point of this game for me is easily Turnabout Serenade. Apollo Justice’s third case is not only the worst case in the game, but one of the worst cases in the entire series. While not talked about nearly as much as Turnabout Big Top, Turnabout Serenade has a reputation among the Ace Attorney community for being extremely bad. But why? Why is it so bad? And how can it be made better? How can Turnabout Serenade be Leveled Up?
Turnabout Serenade starts with main characters Apollo and Trucy attending the concert of Apollo’s rival: the prosecutor and lead vocalist Klavier Gavin. As well as Klavier’s band, the Gavinners, the mysterious songstress Lamiroir and her blind pianist Machi Tobaye are there. Machi, Lamiroir and Gavin perform “The Guitar’s Serenade”, a song Lamiroir and Gavin wrote together especially for the concert. Shortly after however, LetTouse, Lamiroir’s interpreter is shot in the shoulder by a revolver and killed. Unfortunately, the young pianist Machi is the prime suspect, and it’s up to you to uncover the truth and prove his innocence!
Let’s start with the case’s simplest problem; “The Guitar’s Serenade” itself. As you work your way through the case, you soon come to realise that the song is a key clue in the murder, and is a vital piece of evidence for putting the true culprit behind bars. Using music as evidence is a pretty cool idea, so what’s wrong with it? The thing is, you have to watch the minute and a half song about 15 times throughout the case, and the majority of those times, you CANNOT skip it. It’s more annoying than anything, but the frequency at which it is shown has caused a lot of people to despise the song, despite it being pretty nice when you first hear it. What’s more is this simple problem has a simple solution. Except when it is absolutely necessary(the first time you watch it and when you’re looking for clues in the video), you should be able to skip the cutscene. This decision is baffling, and makes the case even more of a chore to go through at some points.
My biggest problem with this case however is the low-quality of the plot and the ridiculous amount of plotholes. Ace Attorney is usually pretty consistent with the quality of its writing, but Turnabout Serenade is an exception. For a start, the reason why Machi is the prime suspect makes no goddamn sense. He can be the only culprit because the only exit from the scene of the crime was a vent and he is the only one small enough to fit through it. Makes sense right? Here’s the thing though, the murder was done with a revolver, a revolver the characters repeatedly state is extremely powerful, to the point where it could QUOTE “dislocate the shoulder of a grown adult”. And you quickly find out the gun was fired twice. Tell me again how a 14 year old kid fired two shots from this thing without sustaining so much as a minor injury? The characters literally go over it a thousand times, and the game NEVER gives you the chance to point this out. Everyone just ignores the fact that is was physically impossible for Machi to commit the murder. Then, to add insult to injury, the body of LeTouse is moved all the way to the stage at the end of the first investigation, and the characters have the balls to claim that Machi did this too. Again, it is repeatedly stated that LeTouse is a hulk of a man while Machi is fairly small, even for a teenager.
Then there’s the first trial of the case, which is probably my least favourite trial section in the series. Every single objection you make is immediately shot down by Klavier Gavin, and not in the good way like von Karma. Whenever you point out a contradiction, he’ll take it and turn it into damning evidence against Machi, and by the end of the trial, you’ve made literally no progress whatsoever. The only reason the case even continues is because Lamiroir says she heard Klavier’s friend and fellow band member Daryan Crescend talking to LeTouse shortly before his death. Speaking of Daryan, he sucks. And I don’t just mean he sucks because he’s a despicable villain who’s extremely unlikeable. That would make him a good antagonist. No, he’s just an extremely dull and boring character. The only interesting part about him is his bad hair which isn’t exactly something to be commended. Apart from his breakdown, all his sprite animations are unremarkable and he has very little personality. His motive isn’t much better. He killed LeTouse because he found out that Daryan had smuggled an extremely precious item out of Borginia that could give him the death penalty. Why did he smuggle this item out of the country? For money. In plenty of other crime stories, this would be an acceptable motive, but in the wacky world of Ace Attorney it’s just unimaginative.
What’s more is that they could have easily given him a much more interesting and relatable motive! The item he smuggled, the “Borginian Cocoon”, can be used as a cure for the deadly disease “Incuritis”. Daryan was intending to sell it to the Chief Justice, as his son had the disease, but it would have made his character ten times better if someone close to him had the disease. This would kill two birds with one stone, giving a more convincing explanation for why he risked his life smuggling it, and creating empathy for him, making the whole situation much less black and white. I would also change the first trial scene drastically so that the player’s actions are what casts doubt on the case, like in the fourth case of the fourth Ace Attorney. Finally, I would fix the plotholes in a number of ways. Completely change the type of gun so it is one Machi could easily fire. Daryan’s hand injury could be explained away by him getting injured in the struggle with LeTouse. Introduce a way Machi could have transported the body, such as a dolly, and add incriminating evidence such as fingerprints to make it much more plausible that he was the one who transported the body. I would also get rid of the tiny window and the misunderstanding it causes as it just feels like it pads the case out. Of course, the case would need many more changes to make it good and possible even excellent, but my suggestions are a good place to start. And with that, Turnabout Serenade has been Leveled Up!