The Laws of Video Game Land

Phoenix Wright pronounces judgment on the legal systems of other video games.

By Katharine Byrne. Posted 10/10/2011 14:00 Comment on this     ShareThis

Pokémon World Map

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there lived an attorney named Phoenix Wright. Phoenix went on to do great things in his legal career, eventually inspiring a whole team of “ace attorneys” to take up the wig and gown and follow in his revered footsteps. His iconic “OBJECTION!” catch-phrase echoed down in the thick, dusty legal journals of yore as the ultimate comeback to all arguments great or small, and it is still invoked to this day by Phoenix fans around the world as a sign of tribute and respect.

But there are also many other lands far, far away who have clearly never heard of Phoenix’s advanced ways of nobly upholding the law and bringing a fair and just legal smack-down to the most despicable of criminals that dare to corrupt our fair society. That said, some lands are definitely more on the ball than others when it comes to keeping the peace, but as we’ll soon see, there’s a lot of room for improvement.

The Mushroom Kingdom:

Keeper of the Peace: a plumber

Mario definitely isn’t afraid to try new things, that’s for sure. He’s tried his hand at a whole swathe of professions over his career as the Mushroom Kingdom’s go-to guy but Mario’s true calling as always been honing his craft as a law enforcer, however unofficial or unsanctioned that calling may be.

He’s to be commended for his continuing efforts to stop Bowser for his repeated crimes of abduction, criminal damage and attempted murder, but it’s clear that the Mushroom Kingdom’s sense of justice doesn’t seem to extend to any kind of long term punishment or confinement. Three slaps on the wrist and “on your way, dinosaur” seem to be the order of the day here, so I think Princess Peach needs to review her legislation immediately to curb this blatant abuse of the Mushroom Kingdom legal system (when she’s not being held in captivity herself, that is).


Hand of the Law: prophesized heroes (and cowardly knights)

The Kingdom of Hyrule employs a much more gruelling legal system than its Mushroom counterpart. Although somewhat reliant on chance and the grace of the goddesses to produce an appropriately courageous young boy at the required time, these heroes of destiny are trained to systematically hunt down and kill their kingdom’s oppressors without mercy. Though harsh and not particularly fair, it’s perhaps understandable when the villain in question is both mad and in possession of such godly power as to destroy the whole court (or council of sages). Needs must, I suppose.

Hyrule (and New Hyrule for that matter) has also recently taken to employing a league of knights and royal guards to help aid the chosen hero in keeping the peace– or at least guard the castle in his absence– but it has to be said that the whole lot of them are either completely incompetent or so cowardly that they quake at the sight of a keese. Their castle break-in (and break-out) prevention records are pretty embarrassing.

However, despite the tireless toil of Hyrule’s heroes over the kingdom’s long history, it must not be forgotten that one thief still remains elusive. His crimes include highway robbery, theft, and obstructing the course of justice for charging extortionate prices to repair his door when he had the stupid idea to live in a cave with no accessible entrance. No one has ever caught this master criminal and he remains on the run to this day.

Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, Sinnou, Isshu and Unova:

Law Enforcer: child vigilantes and their gang of monsters

Now this is a prime example of a legal system at its worst. Crime syndicates operate throughout each region of this land, and each “team” is constantly trying to outdo the other with bigger and better life-threatening plans of world domination. The police are utterly ineffectual and Officer Jenny should be ashamed of herself. Criminals have been allowed to infiltrate every layer of society, from high corporate executives in the Silph Co. to young children terrorizing an underground tunnel. Citizens live in fear of those around them, and some don’t even dare to venture outside anymore, effectively becoming prisoners in their own homes. Moreover, the nationwide pandemic of “tall grass” has left thousands stranded in disparate and isolated locations.

Instead, the law is left in the hands of ten year old children, fresh out of school (apparently) and accompanied by a pack of extremely dangerous monsters. Granted they get the job done and bring down these groups almost single-handedly, but more must be done to save these corrupt and dying lands. The Elite Four(s) only get their hands dirty when they feel like it; the Champion has gone into exile to live on a mountain for no apparent reason; and these so-called academics are too wound up in their books to actually educate these new trainers in the ethics and responsibilities of training these wild creatures. Not good enough.

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