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StriderHoang avatar 4:38 AM on 07.09.2012  (server time)
Objection! The story of an impossible gift for that special someone

I sell my games often. I simply want the instant gratification of having money now. If I keep a game, it's because I expect to play it again in the future. A lot of multiplayer games like Street Fighter IV have stayed in my library for a while. Most Call of Duty games don't stay over a period of two or three months despite being multiplayer games. But I still have games like Mass Effect 2 and Skyrim. The common thread between a lot of my games is that I can play it another way to get more fun out of it.

But the one game I always came to regret selling off was the Ace Attorney series.

It was a simpler time back then, just buying a cult classic title like Phoenix Wright, enjoying it in between classes in college, and selling off what I thought to be a linear story experience for that delicious college monies. But years later, I regretted not holding onto them for two reasons.

First was that the game became extremely hard to find. I should've expected that though, seeing as the series is a cult classic that's relatively obscure compared to the rest of mainstream gaming.

Second is that I found that I never really got tired of experiencing such great stories. After Ace Attorney came out for the iOS, I found that I replayed the same cases over and over again during times of downtime and never got tired of seeing Edgeworth's shocked expression at my comebacks, Gumshoe's continually dwindling paycheck, or the Cornered theme when you get a witness on the stand right where you want them.

Since playing more and more games with my girlfriend whenever we had the chance, I'd always wanted to give her a special gift that meant a lot to me but wouldn't go over her head. My girlfriend is a gamer by definition. She plays Tetris the most but got to try Scribblenauts, loves Castle Crashers, and more. But like I said, I could never find any of the Ace Attorney series.

Until now.

After driving to California's central valley to her home and jumping onto some of the scariest looking carnival rides I've ever seen, I thought the day had come to close. After all, can you really expect to get off a ride walking in a straight line when that same hydraulic machine can fold up and drive down the freeway? We were just unwinding at her local mall and after stopping by a store to check out outfits for her, we of course had to make that inevitable stop.

“Before we go, we gotta stop by the Gamestop,” I said.

“Yes! Let's go!” she replied.

I set a few steps inside and check the Xbox section for anything interesting. It didn't look like anything was going to pique my interest when my girlfriend called me over.

“Babe! Check it out! They have it!”

I look over, not knowing what it is until I saw it. My body might as well have disappeared into a Strider-shaped cloud of dust as I bolted over to the DS section. A real copy of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney right here in the Hanford Mall!

“Holy crap! We finally found it! I have to get for you!” I said while eyeballing the price tag. Some people consider Gamestop a racket but since I wasn't going to find Ace Attorney anywhere else for $16, I was already halfway through getting my bank card out of my wallet.

“Hey look! They have this one too!” she said as she pulled down Justice For All.

“WHAT!? No! No way! Seriously? They have both? What?” I said as I incredulously snatched the game out of her hands.

I was flabbergasted. I love that word but I don't use it unless I really am in a state of positive, emotional confusion. But the gears in my head started to move at the revelation that the sequel to Ace Attorney was here. If Justice For All was here, could the last piece of the puzzle be here too?

I looked up, following the alphabetical ordering, right up to the P section above head level and sure enough, there it was. I considered the possibility impossible in the past but I had been proven wrong by a small town Gamestop in the central valley.

“They have Trials And Tribulations babe! They have all three games in the series! Justice For All is the second and Trials And Tribulations is the last one! The best one!” I exclaimed as I pulled the game down. It was like Indiana Jones pulling down a long lost, ancient relic and holding in awe in such a way that Shortround could see it too. I considered it a one-in-a-million chance. I'd sooner find Shadow of the Colossus on the shelf for Xbox 360 then find all three copies of the Ace Attorney series in their original boxes. I'd sooner get $60 from Bobby Kotick then think I'd ever see all three games together so perfectly.

I triumphantly took the three games to the register and swiped my bank card without hesitation. $51 for three hard to find games was like getting one-and-a-half of a DS game for free in my mind. The Gamestop employee asked me about Ace Attorney Vs. Professor Layton and tried shilling me a pre-order but I didn't care. I was still in awe of the whole situation. I took the plastic bag the cashier handed me with the three games and proudly handed it to my girlfriend.

“Here! These are for you. This is probably the second most important gift I'll ever give you.” I told her.

She sheepishly took the bag from me, holding an expression that she knew full well how I longed to see this moment come to pass. It was like handing the Stanley Cup to the MVP of a hockey team. I had already spent $20 for food, another $20 for the carnival and parking, and I was on my way to spending $60 in gas for the whole trip. $51 was not a planned purchase but I didn't care. It was the perfect gift I had been waiting for. It was a game I knew she could play. I knew she would enjoy it since I asked her to try the iOS version on my iPod Touch. And not only had I cleared the hurtles of getting her a game I knew she could play, it was a series that meant a lot to me. She doesn't have the experience or muscle memory to play games like Street Fighter or Battlefield or Oblivion. I grew up on games like that, not her.

But Phoenix Wright was my bridge. It was literally my bridge to a turnabout, if you know the reference. I was excited to at least see her play one case; I wanted to see her play first case, which always acts as a tutorial, no matter which title it is.

“I'm not leaving until I see you play the first case. I might have gone home by now but I can wait a little longer for this.”

Get comfortable baby.

For context, we live four hours apart. I'd need to leave by 6pm just to get home by around 10pm. But it was 8pm, which meant I'd get home late. But I didn't care. I wanted, nay, needed to see this happen. I wanted to see the person who meant more to me than anything else in this world play a game from a series that I probably consider one of the most influential games of my youth. A game I'd remember for all time like people in the older generation revering games like Mario Bros. and Battletoads.

I watched her play the first case, The First Turnabout. I watched as a bystander, just watching how my girlfriend would react. She smiled, laughed, and genuinely enjoyed it. When the judge asked her for the name of the victim, she smirked as the answer was Cindy Stone but the decoy answer, Cinder Block was provided. She couldn't believe how Frank Sawhit broke down and threw his toupee at Wright. And she really tried solving some of the logic puzzles presented by the cross-examination.

In short, it was everything I had hoped it would be for her.

I told her, in a contradiction, to not feel obligated to play it but to enjoy it as much as she could. Despite making the pressure to play the game obvious, she actually plays it in her free time and texts me her enjoyment of it. She's already cleared the second case (Turnabout Sisters) but found the third (Turnabout Samurai) so hard that she decided to skip to the fourth. I get a special feeling knowing she's enjoying the game I enjoyed so fanatically back and still do.

In the future, I hope to trade the games back and forth with her though. When she finishes the games, I hope to get them back and relive some of my favorite moments. And after that, I'll hand them back off to her as we talk about the cases and continue to go back and forth as our bond only becomes stronger.

I told her I'd never again sell these games again. She told me she'd never let them go either. I guess like our relationship together, these games were here to stay.

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