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Nightmare Fuel: Ace Attorney
Ace Attorney may be an over-the-top series about lawyers, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't have its share of creepy and nightmare-inducing moments...
Depending on how sensitive you are to scary stuff, many witnesses can start to become this as they get more and more upset.
April May is a notable example, the first sign of her cracking involving her expression changing from "Cheery ditz" to "I'm going to rip off your skin and wear it as a coat" and back again so quickly you almost miss it.
It's especially jarring when the last witness' freakout was actually pretty funny, and then the next witness goes absolutely batshit on you.
A special mention must go to the film, where you're treated to the scene of Yanni Yogi burning off his fingerprints in acid.
Think about the many Amoral Prosecutors you've seen in the game and to what lengths they'll go to secure their victories, even if it means innocent lives being sent to death row. This makes these prosecutors indirect murderers.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
Redd White from Case 2 may not seem as scary or effective as a villain as, say, Manfred Von Karma, Matt Engarde, or Kristoph Gavin. In fact, in many ways he is downright incompetent, sometimes laughably so. He is, however, most definitely a very vile person in his own right. He built his own company that is founded on and profits off blackmail. Over the span of many years, he dug up any dirt he could find on public officials, celebrities, and countless others. He "trades" and leaks to the public anything that will make his targets look bad, regardless of if or how much they deserve it. Many of these people killed themselves, and many more had their lives ruined as a result. To say he doesn't care is an understatement; in fact, he practically laughs if off! Worse, he will do whatever he has to (including intimidation, framing, and murder) to protect himself. Furthermore, while these vicious acts of institutionalized blackmail are horrible enough on their own, they double as Paranoia Fuel as one realizes that this kind of stuff happens ALL THE TIME in real life. The fact that we live in an age where random strangers can easily gain access to other people's private information (often via electronic or digital mediums) makes it even worse. Redd White personifies the Corrupt Corporate Executive and many of the worst elements of the business world.
Case 4: Manfred von Karma kills a man over what any sane person would consider a fairly trivial slight, then raises the dead man's son and twists him to be everything his own father would hate. The psychological scars he left on Miles and Franziska will be there long after he's dead.
Think about it: von Karma is a prosecutor with a 40-year win streak who will do ANYTHING to get his Guilty verdicts. Who knows how many poor, innocent defendants he's sent to death row because of his ruthless, selfish, win-at-all-costs tactics? If you're the defendant in a case von Karma is prosecuting and someone from the Wright Anything Agency isn't defending you, you're screwed.
Running into him at the police station, in the same case, is horrible in and of itself; he catches you off-guard, then tases you and steals your evidence.
The situation leading up to the DL-6 Incident was pretty frightening and riddled with Adult Fear. A nine-year-old Miles Edgeworth, his dad, and Yanni Yogi get into an elevator, only for an earthquake to leave them stuck and in the dark (literally). Then, it turns out that the oxygen is running out, leading to them all becoming panicked and in danger of death through suffocation. Then, Yogi has a freak-out and starts attacking Gregory Edgeworth, in front of Miles. Oh, and Yogi also has a loaded gun on him. Which is the only thing Miles can use to try to save his dad, via throwing it. And then, when everyone has passed out from the lack of air, von Karma sees them - a group of people unconscious and vulnerable - his first thought is to take the gun and shoot Gregory. No wonder Miles Edgeworth has so many phobias after that all happened!
Damon Gant. The whole character is terrifying. It's the real-life fear of the Corrupt Cop, who will be believed over you by anyone in a position of authority even if he has to blackmail them into going along with it, who has no moral problem with abusing the full extent of his power, and against whom there is very little recourse- what are you going to do, call the cops?
His infamous stare, which can make many gamers uneasy when they see it. Not to mention that Gant's stare isn't nearly as creepy the first time you see it. The problem is, every time he does it, the stare goes on for even longer, and there's no music playing. By the time you sneak into his office and he catches you, he stares at you for so long in utter silence that it feels like he's looking directly at youIf not for his blinking.
The blinking makes it even more terrifying. Although, his subtle menace while in his jolly persona can be a lot more eerie than his stare. Not to mention "Wait. I said wait. Or didn't you hear me?" Yikes.
The long wait for his to resume is freaky enough. The first time the music cut off while Gant is just staring into your soul. Imagine having that image stuck on your screen.
Case 2 has this (caution, is kind of a spoiler)◊. Without knowing it's Mimi Miney, the first thing the player assumes is it's Maya Fey◊, the charming and sunny assistant from the previous game, which can come off as terribly disturbing. Even bearing in mind the true identity, the Hidden Eyes, blood-smeared clothing, and general eerieness of this person is quite creepy (especially since she talks in morose, broken phrasing, evocative of a troubled lost soul).
Also, if you are not used to Anime looking eyes, the second picture presented in the trial can be scary as well.
During the same case, Maya says she had a dream that basically describes being buried alive. Again, as more of the case comes to light what was really going on is revealed but at the start, it's still pretty unnerving to hear someone explain such a sensation.
In Case 3, Acro's situation is horrifying on many levels: His brother is in an irreversible coma because of Regina, he himself lost the use of his legs, and everyday Regina would take care of him. That's right: the unwitting murderer of his brother was with him all that time, saying innocently that Bat became a star in the sky. While his brother was, in fact, in a coma. A brother who he visited at the hospital multiple times with the incessant company of the too sweet and innocent princess Regina. It's no wonder he snapped. The situation was so unbearable that he contemplated the idea of suicide, but didn't go through with it. And when he thought he finally had a chance to get his vengeance, he ends up killing his parental figure by accident. The poor man is completely and utterly broken.
All of Case 4. It might be the darkest case in the series. The atmosphere in that case after Maya's kidnapping until the final verdict is really unsettling and scary at times. Also, be careful when presenting your evidence. You might get a bad ending if you aren't.
Here we have the truth about Matt Engarde. The adorable, somewhat ditzy actor turns into a scarred, guilty as heck psycho. It's scary even if you had known from a walkthrough, etc. that he was guilty because it's just so unexpected.
He made a former lover kill herself. It isn't just the act, it's how she came to do the deed: She was dumped by Engarde for reasons unknown (presumably For the Evulz), and when Corrida, who was going to marry her, found out she was Engarde's former lover, he broke off from her. All to protect his pride. It's no wonder said lover was so shaken from being treated like property and offed herself. And unfortunately, scandals like these probably exist in real life.
His Villainous Breakdown is scary in its own right; when Engarde's attempt to BlackmailShellydeKiller backfires, he scratches his face multiple times proclaiming Guilty. You can see the blood running down his hands from the scratches he's inflicted on himself.
Shelly de Killer deserves a mention. With his Leitmotif playing in the background, a red aura surrounding his person... you will have nightmares for weeks. Not only that, but he has stitches going right down the middle of his face. What the hell caused this guy's face to need those stitches?
And to top it all. This man, who not only was the actual killer of Juan Corrida but also of countless other people, is never found and incarcerated. He's still out there free as a bird waiting to perpetrate more hired hits. Just pray his next victim isn't you.
Phoenix Wright: Trials and Tribulations
Dahlia's "back-turned" pose from Case 1 was very disturbing in its own right. There's just something darkly unsettling about seeing her back to you with that heavy shade across the side of her face. Like getting your first glimpse into hell itself. When she whipped around and fried all of her butterflies with her Death Glare, it was actually a bit more comforting than her "violence in silence".
Case 3 starts off in the most unsettling way, making it seem you lost the case without even having a chance to defend it, having Winston Payne mock of your defeat, showing that "the other man" was Phoenix Wright, it all makes it seem that YOU were guilty and no one believes the Defendant mentioning this "other man". You start off thinking "I am guilty, how am I going to defend this person and myself?! Then it reveals, right after the "Game Over", that a terrible trial was enacted by Phoenix Wright and then Phoenix himself mentions he was not in such trial and that a retrial would be in order. Through the case you find out there was a phony Phoenix and that the performance you watched at the start of the case was not with Phoenix himself, but rather of his phony, Xin Eohp.
The conclusion of Case 4, in which Terry Fawles, the defendant whose acquittal is just inches away from happening, kills himself. Not only is heartwrenching, but also quite horrifying because he dies in the courtroom before your very eyes.
Case 5: we witness Dahlia getting exorcised out of Maya's body, letting out a scream, and in her final on-screen moments takes the form of a very creepy ghost before turning into a flame and vanishing, while flashbacks to her crimes go off.
Same case gives us a seemingly unremarkable moment which, if you've been following the game's story closely, can give others a run for their money. In the final investigation, it eventually turns out that Sister Iris has a twin sister. You most likely already know who she is. You're also certainly aware of her true nature. Then, her portrait is brought up, and it's a side-face photo; no other character had that kind of a portrait before. And then, there is nothing on that photo except for a dark grey featureless silhouette. The shock was enough to make eyes water. Now, you wouldn't want to miss out on this, would you?◊
Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney
Perceiving in general. The creepy slower-than-usual music, the swirling background and the flickering eyeball at the bottom is usually enough to scare anyone off playing the game entirely.
Apparently Apollo's eyes are bugging out completely as he stares down the witnesses with such intensity. Imagine how creepy that would be for anyone just watching him perceive something.
Kristoph Gavin might be one of the most scary characters in the series. His reasons for destroying many lives was just because he was fired from defending someone for losing a card game. Also, he is the only murderer in the series who actually could have gotten away with his crimes if it was not for the test of the jurist system, because there was not a single legal way to prove his guilt. He is just that intelligent and Crazy-Prepared.
Perceiving him is scary enough, but when you see his nervous habit—namely, his hand tensing and a combination of his finger bones and the scar on his hand forming a demonic face, you will shit bricks.
His black Psyche-Locks. Just what is he hiding that warrants not only five Psyche-Locks, but black ones instead of the usual red ones?! They mirror his undying will to not tell the truth.. He'll do anything, anything to protect his secret, and will do it with infinite coldness. Poisoning adults, children, lying, murdering people in cold blood... he's actually done all of this. Just imagine what that sick fuck would have done to Trucy, Apollo and Phoenix had he got out free.
With the release of Dual Destinies, we finally learn their true meaning: the desire to protect their secret is so deep, it goes beyond concious desire and is hard etched into their psyche & unconcious mind. If brute force is used, they could potentially harm the person's heart/soul, but even so they are near impossible to break by convential means. This means the answer to the question which brought them up, "Why did you kill Shadi Enigmar?", is so deeply ingrained in his self, it utterly consumed him and lead to his extreme actions.
Case 4: Calisto pointing a gun at Edgeworth. In a series where the player character is rarely put under threat of death by another character, this can make the player's heart jump. To make things worse, Calisto shoots, and Edgeworth barely dodges it.
Case 5: That Shih-na is a psychopath.note Okay, yeah, it reminds us of them.
Quercus Alba gets his own Objection! clip, despite not being an attorney. It is fairly harsh on the ears, and the fact that it's an audible Objection shows you just how powerful he is within the context of the law.
There's also the fact that he's a corrupt ambassador who is also the head of a major smuggling ring and uses his power to keep his name clear. A reminder that crooked political figures like him exist in real life.
There's also Quercus Alba's breakdown, where his skin begins to chip away and is blown off, leaving only his mummified-looking husk.
Ace Attorney Investigations 2
Investigations 2 has the second case's introduction, which features Manosuke lying dead in a dank, eerily-lit prison, bleeding heavily from a neck wound inflicted by a hound with a bloodied snout...
Case 2's Villainous Breakdown. The killer yells that they didn't do anything wrong, and the real bad guy is Ryoken Hoinbo the assassin, as images of him appear on a black background and his bell rings. The rings get more and more frequent, as she starts covering her ears (implying she's hearing the sound in her head, as we are), until they blur and turn into an emergency siren as she screams. In short, you're basically watching her Sanity Slippage, caused by the imprisoned assassin repeatedly reminding her he has agents who can go after her family at any time. Probably one of the most disturbing breakdowns in the series on a psychological level. You later find out Ryoken had a good reason for going after her, but at the time you're led to believe he was doing it all For the Evulz, which makes you wish he was guilty.
In the 5th case of AAI 2 14-year-old Sarushiro Souta's drawing of what he witnessed happened in SS-5. Especially at how he draws Houinbou Ryouken the assassin.
Bansai Ichiyanagi in AAI 2 is practically Nightmare Fuel personified. The very idea of a 68 year oldPsychopathic Manchild is incredibly disturbing in itself, and almost from his first appearence he's horribly verbally abusing his own son. And it only gets worse as you learn more of what he did... holding a foreign president for ransom and having him assassinated anyway, beating a witness to death with a brick, auctioning off evidence from past cases, brutally murdering another person who found out, forging evidence in the past and using that fact to blackmail coroner who hepled him, and her family, later on, kidnapping the judge's son to manipulate his own trial... and then you remember that this guy was Chief Prosecutor for who knows how long, and is implied to have killed more people in the past, including his wife. And to make matters worse, he has a voiced Objection, and it somehow manages to be worse than von Karma's and Alba's combined. It sounds practically demonic.
Despite being an overall sympathetic figure, the Big Bad 's misanthropy can be downright chilling at times, especially one of his dialogues for presenting wrong evidence, which has him asking Mikagami to prove Edgeworth wrong in his stead just so he can laugh at Edgeworth being betrayed by his friends. The fact that he's dressed as a clown at the time doesn't help.
Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies
To give you an idea of how dark this game is compared to the past, Teen-rated games in the series, the game is rated Mature (17+) in North America.
Athena's flashbacks, where she's covered from head to toe in blood.
Those black holes are his irises, he still have his eyes. Even then, they still look pretty scary.
A Paranoia Fuel and Fridge Horror example: at the end of Case 1, it's revealed Ted Tonate has been selling dismantled bombs on the black market. Earlier in the trial, he mentions how easy it is to rearm them. This guy could have been supplying terrorists for who knows how long.
There's also the fact that he was willing to blow up a courtroom, potentially killing hundreds of innocents, just to erase evidence of his crime. This wasn't attempted murderer; this was an act of terrorism! Combined with his crazed facial expressions when he starts breaking down and you have one of the most creepy Starter Villains in the series.
Although, near the end of the game, we find out that Ted Tonate really wasn't the one who bombed the courtroom. The person who did was The Phantom. This makes this point even more dark. Ted Tonate at the very least looked as if he was trying to clear the court out before the bomb exploded. But The Phantom didn't try to do this at all. So taking into account that he was the one who detonated the bomb...he really was expecting the bomb to go off, while everyone was still in the courtroom, thus killing a room full of innocent people. Oh, and he did it all to destroy one tiny piece of evidence. Yup, you can tell they ranked the darkness up for this game.
The killer of Case 2 blackmailed Damien Tenma, threatening to kill his daughter if he didn't go through with his demands. This is all you find out if you play the case to the bare minimum, but pressing one specific statment in the killer's final testimony has him admit that Alderman Kyubi told him the secret of Tenma Taro because he's indebted to him as he looked after his wife. Earlier on in the case, it was stated that Kyubi's wife is in hospital in critical condition. It's never outright stated, but it's very heavily implied that L'Belle was threatening to pull the plug on Kyubi's wife if he didn't talk. One of the few cases where a completely optional conversation makes a case's villain even scarier.
On the subject of that killer, if you press several other statements, he shows a chillingly callous disregard for the fact that the alderman is dead and his boss is going to prison for it. At one point, he openly laughs about how the alderman is dead and thus can't refute one of his claims.
Jinxie can be source of Nightmare Fuel on her own. Imagine being trapped in her world, where exhaustion and a culture preaching persistent superstition of nightmarish creatures start to manifest around you and you become slowly enslaved to your paranoia. Her sleepwalking spells are dominated by the belief she has become that which she fears and has succumbed to their possession. When called to the stand, she is an absolute wreck, unable to give coherent testimony because her tiredness and fear quickly blend together, confusing and disorienting her beyond rational thinking.
In case 3, here's Juniper's perspective of what happened during the incident.
Quirky as she is, Case 3's witness, Myriam Scuttlebutt proves to be downright unsettling when the second trial day reveals the reason Hugh's hand was injured, so badly that it required surgery, was because Myriam had rigged the envelope containing her script for the mock trial with a spring loaded box cutter.
Aristotle Means, one of the professors at Themis Legal Academy, brings some of the Fridge Horror flavor into the mix. He is a respected teacher in one of the most prestigious law academies there is who teaches to defend on court using the philosophy of Machiavelli, "The ends justify the means". Just imagine how many talented students were taught to be Amoral Attorneys willing to do anything, no matter how horrid, to achieve what they wanted in the courtroom. This guy is, inadvertently, fueling the Dark Age of the Law just because he thinks his philosophy is a necessity to survive in it.
The man's badge alone is a source of nightmare fuel. It's a set of scales, yes, but looks like an agonized face. So the guy is talking to you affably and seems nice enough, but...then your eye gets drawn to the screaming face he's wearing. The difference in the two can be unnerving. It doesn't help that he has a damn freaky smile.
Also from Case 3, the real killer's "transformation". Aristotle Means goes from friendly-looking to downright terrifying, his Unsmile becomes a full-on Slasher Smile and a crack appears in his face as he completely drops his Faux Affably Evil act. His globe-spinning pose is particularly Nightmare Fuel-worthy. One of his animations even involves pointing and throwing chalkdirectly at the screen! And then there's the fact he gives a Breaking Speech to Athena and drives her into a Heroic BSOD. And of course the expressions he makes during his breakdown play up the Uncanny Valley factor for all its worth.
The act of murdering was not the only unsettling thing but also the framing of an student, a sweet, innocent teenage girl, to try to get away with it. When he really lets the gloves come off, right before he "transforms" into his more violent self, he accuses Juniper of openly blackmailing and threatening him into protecting her and her friends, then tells the court how he admired what she did, because it encompassed his "ends justify the means" philosophy.
In Case 4, Solomon Starbuck's account of the HAT-1 miracle. It brings to mind the Primal Fear of dying alone in the darkness of space, cut off from all communication or hope of rescue. As the game repeatedly points out, it was a miracle he survived at all. No wonder he's afraid to go back into space. And the HAT-1 disaster was no accident, it was a sabotage by the phantom. The phantom was out for his blood.
The worst thing about that image is that it appears out of nowhere for absolutely no reason. There is no emotion search, there's no testimony, there's not even any text. The only reason they show that image is to take the player off-guard.
That's not all: Earlier, when everyone still thought Athena was the culprit, Edgeworth suggests that Athena moved the body of her mother in order to "dismantle her to get rid of the evidence." Yes, this game seriously suggests that an eleven year old girl killed and tried to dismember her mother. Phoenix and the Judge practically beg Edgeworth not to say it. Bring your Brown Pants.
Athena: Something's wrong with mommy, so I'm taking her apart to fix her...
As if anyone needed any convincing of how bad it is, it's very clearly this for Blackquill in-universe, since when he starts to reveal the truth of events leading up to it, every single emotion register on the mood matrix starts going out of control. In other words, the Mood Matrix is registering a full on Heroic BSOD.
Think about what exactly happened from Simon's perspective. He walked in on the sight of 11-year-old Athena covered in blood having apparently murdered her mother and talking about taking Metis apart. That's harrowing enough, but then spending seven years in jail straight afterwards believing that's what really happened?! How is this man still sane?!
Athena entering her Heroic BSOD when she realizes she may well have killed her mother and FIVE BLACK PSYCHE-LOCKS appear while she trembles in absolute horror and her eyes lose their light.
It can be unnerving when this phobia hits during court, as the animation we see when she's standing at the bench in this state has her huddled over, clutching her arms in stricken terror of just being in the room. There isn't really a sound way to describe it other than being "completely broken". No Ace Attorney character has ever had such a profound reaction to their surroundings or...anything, really. It really drives home how much darker this game is.
In case 5, a mysterious individual referred as "The Phantom" appears. Later we find out he doesn't have a real identity but wears many masks, which gets creepier as he reveals yet another face. He reveals several masks of different people you met to taunt you with the fact that you'll never see his true identity and just to mock you further, he eventually reveals a mask of Phoenix Wright and perfectly imitates his "OBJECTION!" voice whenever he tries to make a rebuttal to your counterpoints. This eventually leads to hisVillainous Breakdown, where he's trying to pull his face off and then his face shuffles between the faces of the various witnesses, culprits, and even attorneys that you've met throughout the game, each one with a crazed expression that screams Uncanny Valley before being shot by a sniper just as he takes off his final mask. He falls backwards, his true face obscured by shadow, with the damaged Fullbright mask lying next to him.
Take a close look at the courtroom during his breakdown scene. As it starts, the already damaged courtroom seems to be crumbling, with bits of rock falling from the ceiling in slow-motion as the background fades to darkness, some of them passing in front of his face when he changes masks. When he finally gets down to his damaged Fullbright mask, the darkness vanishes to reveal it's suddenly switched to night, with a full moon visible in the background behind the judges podium. Judging from the camera angle and the way the Phantom falls, the damaged wall there is where the sniper was hiding. How long was the sniper waiting there, and who else might he have targeted during the trial?
Hell, Phantom himself is Paranoia Fuel incarnate. He's a spy so versed in his job that he's forgotten his own name, and is such an adroit impersonator that he's capable of replacing the man he murdered for over a year, and nobody noticed until Blackquill decided to act on a hunch. He has no past, no personality, no identity - he's a complete non-entity, and he could be anyone...
Both of his Mood Matrix segments are very unsettling. In the first ''nothing'' registers. At all. As he talks about his family being held hostage, and being relieved that Blackquill still trusts him... nothing. In the second Each of the mood readings starts blinking in and out randomly as he desparately tries to convince the court he has emotions. And once they really start slipping up they have points where they say something, then realise it doesn't match their facial expressions or hand gestures at all, and try to correct themself... It feels so inhuman it's downright creepy.
The Phantom realizes he's beginning to feel fear. The way his eyes just bug out are rather unsettling. Even worse, he does so while wearing the familiar, friendly face of Phoenix.
You can practically hear the Creepy Monotone dripping off some of his lines while faking Fulbright
Aw... now look at what you've done to my mask.
Simon Blackquill was just one day away from his execution when he's finally exonerated. Imagine what would have happened if just one thing had gone wrong during that day... oh wait, you don't have imagine, one of the Bad Endings will tell you. It's bad, all right.
In Turnabout Reclaimed, once you finally crack Marlon Rimes' Mood Matrix segment, the final image of the testimony gets updated to include a shot of him as an Evil Overlooker. The fact that it's so sudden, unexpected and brief makes it pretty much a Jump Scare, and the expression he makes may be even scarier than his "transformation".
There's also the fact that their Wild Take on the stand actually involves them bleeding. Quite disturbing if you don't see it coming.
Their breakdown is also rather unnerving, with Rimes hallucinating that he's on the deck of a ship in a violent storm, stumbling back and forth and even hanging off the side of the witness stand before he collapses to his knees.
Apollo when accusing Athena in court darkly stating that evidence is everything, which is why he's doing what he's doing. Many fans have noted that he's echoing one of the greatest monsters in the series his former mentor, Kristoph Gavin and it's both scary and sad to see him doing it. He even imitates Kristoph's pose!◊
Even if the player don't notice it earlier due to the circumstances of the case, in Turnabout Countdown, he gives the same remark Kristoph has said to him about his voice to Athena. At first, it seems funny but, after playing the last case and playing it again after noticing the thing above, it's now a little scary.
This court finds the defendant, the Ace Attorney series...Guilty. The accused will surrender to the court immediately, to be held pending trial at a higher court within a month from today's date. That is all. The court is adjourned!(SLAM)