The fourth game of the Ace Attorney series.Set seven years after the Phoenix Wright Trilogy, the story follows a young and eager Hot-Blooded lawyer called Apollo Justice. Apollo idolises the famous "turnabout attorney" Phoenix Wright... but Phoenix has fallen on hard times, having been disbarred following a shady scandal involving forged evidence.After a turbulent début at court, Apollo ends up working at Phoenix's law office/talent agency alongside aspiring magician Trucy Wright, Phoenix's adopted daughter. To Apollo's mounting exasperation he is coerced into accepting a series of increasingly-bizarre cases, and finds a new courtroom rival in gifted prosecutor (and best-selling rock star) Klavier Gavin.The gameplay mostly follows the same pattern as the previous games, with one major addition: Perceive. With this power, Apollo can notice the involuntary "tells" that result from a lie or deception, and use them to make progress in his cross-examinations.A character sheet for the whole series can be found here.
Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney contains examples of:
Added Alliterative Appeal: During the second case, when Apollo can examine the DVD cases stacked around Phoenix's hospital bed.
Apollo: It's a swaying, spiraling stack of DVD cases. Better stay away or it'll become a crashing, cascading cavalcade of DVD cases.
Later, Trucy gives this advice: "Prior planning prevents poor performance!"
Kristoph Gavin tries to kill a 12-year-old girl, Vera. The method? So utterly sneaky and "innocent": since the girl has the bad habit of biting on her nails, he'll just put poison in her nail polish bottles, so she'll ingest it while seeking solace for her Shrinking Violet nature. Not only it's sneaky, but like a punch in the gut since it involves attacking a shy little girl when she's at her most vulnerable - and not exactly easy to discover.
It also invokes the fear of losing your career and reputation over something you didn't even do which is what happened to Phoenix.
In the last trial, Klavier Gavin has to face that his older brother Kristoph, whom he seems to respect very much, is a psychopath who murdered someone, tried to murder another person, and used Klavier himself as an Unwitting Pawn to get Phoenix disbarred. It's obvious the idea that he wrongly accused Phoenix has been tormenting him for years, and his own brother was behind it.
Affectionate Parody: Apollo Justice often pokes fun at the very series it belongs to, most noticeably when Apollo spends the start of his first trial gearing himself up to bellow the series Catch Phrase ("Objection!") and then gets reprimanded when he finally does so for yelling in court.
Air Guitar: Klavier's gimmick; it even sounds like a real guitar when he does it.
"I swear I could see the guitar for a second!"
Always Murder: It's Ace Attorney, what did you expect? (In a particular example, the second case starts off with three seemingly unrelated cases, before they all come together in, you guessed it, a murder case.)
Apollo: ...And that's pretty much the end of my story. For now, anyway. I've still got a long way to go. And this power of mine... well, it needs some work. But... there's hope now. We'd lost it, but somehow, we found it again. That's why people are smiling again... Hope. Yeah, I think I'll keep at this lawyer thing for a while. Oops, training time. Gotta go. Chords of Steel... here comes Justice!
Anime Hair: Daryan has a 'do that's oddly suggestive (Fan Nickname: Dickhead), Drew Misham's looks like half of its hair was frozen at an angle from its head in the shape of a painting brush, and the Gavin brothers' hair forms a G at the side while the lower part forms a drill. This trope also gets subverted in the case of Apollo's hairstyle: Apollo himself actually said that he used hair gel when Olga refused to testify due to being scared by his 'demonic horns'.
Shadi Smith in the first case tried to cheat in a card game, then when the plan backfired he physically attacked the woman he hired to help him cheat. Even more pronounced when it turns out that he's actually Zak Gramarye, who had no problem sacrificing Phoenix's legal career to help Trucy secure her inheritance.
Pal Meraktis in the second case. He was in league with the mob, drove his rival Dr. Eldoon out of business For the Evulz, and lied about having saved Wocky Kitaki's life after he was severely wounded in a shoot-out.
Romein LeTouse in the third case is the game's only aversion to this trope, with everything suggesting he was a genuinely decent person.
Drew Misham in the fourth case may have been a well-meaning man who truly cared for his daughter but he had no problems forging evidence for major criminal trials, doubtless helping secure many false convictions and also helping guilty people get away with their crimes.
Magnifi Gramarye in the flashback segment of the fourth case skirts this trope. He wasn't an evil person by a long shot, but at the same time he was quite happy to use his daughter's "death" as a hold over his students Zak and Valant, and enforce punishing work schedules on them both.
Batman Gambit: During the final case, it is revealed that Phoenix has been working on the same case for the last seven years, manipulating Apollo into using forged evidence as well as getting Kristoph arrested, and then setting up the entire Jurist System in order to make sure Kristoph finally gets implicated for the forgeries and the murder of Drew Misham. It could be argued that this resulted in an inverted case of Hijacked by Ganon from Phoenix.
Big Screwed-Up Family: The Gramarye family. To the point where the Gramaryes covered up Thalassa's accident after she was shot (and she would eventually wake from a coma with her memory lost and a new identity); Valant framed Zak for murdering Magnifi after Magnifi committed suicide; and Thalassa's first son happens to be none other than the protagonist.
The Kitakis, too, though Big Wins tries to pull out of the business at the end of Wocky's trial, citing his misdoings for his son's near-death.
Bottomless Magazines: Ema Skye also seems to have a bottomless bag of snacks. Humorously subverted at one point, when Apollo tries questioning her. An annoyed Ema threatens to bean him with more snacks, but he reminds her that she'd eventually run out. Ema concedes the point and answers his questions.
Born Lucky: Completely averted in 4-4: the "crucial evidence" that Phoenix thinks will help him win his case actually proves to be forged and gets him disbarred for fraud.
Then again, he gets hit by a SPEEDING CAR in 4-2, flies THIRTY FEET, crashed into a lamppost, and walked away with nothing more than a sprained ankle.
Brick Joke: In the first case, any time you expose a contradiction in Olga Orly's testimony, the bowl she holds flies up in the air and she moves to catch each individual piece, including the lobster it contains. The last time you do this after she reveals her True Colors, they all fall to the ground. Later that case, you finally corner Kristoph Gavin inescapably, and his freakout animation is so powerful it summons the bowl and lobster back upwards momentarily.
Breaking the Fourth Wall: During the introduction of the Jurist System, Kristoph objects, wanting to keep the "riff-raff" out. After a pull back to behind the witness stand, everybody looks at the camera. Justified as Apollo says it's actually the jurors watching.
The entire fourth case is actually told in the perspective of the fourth game.
Broken Aesop: A central theme of the Ace Attorney games is the flaws of a judicial system where the letter of the law is absolute. The final case introduces an experimental Jurist System as an alternative, permitting a jury to use common sense in reaching a verdict. The game strongly suggests that this is a more fair solution. However, the trial where it debuts is possibly more biased than any other in the entire series.
The most fundamental problem is that the person responsible for the creation of the Jurist System, Phoenix Wright, has a multifaceted personal stake in the first case handled by it — it's made abundantly clear that he introduced the new system for the specific purpose of altering the outcome. He actively gathers evidence in support of the defense, who technically works for him. A related case resulted in the loss of his job and an orphaned child left in his care. Then, in another related case, he was framed for murder by a person he considered a friend. This same person gives instructions and interprets the law for the jury.
Moreover, the MASON System itself (the interface by which the jurors participate in the trial) also skews favor towards the desired outcome by introducing facts and evidence that are presented only within the MASON System, meaning it was hand-chosen by the individual who designed it. The MASON System presents situations and information that aren't a part of the trial but still crucial towards coming to the verdict. Everything contained within it is true, yes, but it's unquestionably partial in nature.
Juror Number Six. She is Apollo's mother. Before learning this, Apollo successfully defended her close friend against murder charges. She's also a tangentically related, yet important figure in the events leading up to the current case. She even suggests that she shouldn't be on the jury, but Phoenix uses the letter of the law to justify her presence.
And then there's the ultimate conflict of interest: the game gives the player control of Juror Six and asks for a verdict in the case the player had spent hours defending.
Character Tics: Actually a gameplay element, as Apollo has the ability to "Perceive" character tics that reveal when a witness is obfuscating the truth.
Chekhov's Boomerang: The object that proved a man guilty of theft a thirdway through and finally proved who the real murderer was at the end of the second case was a pair of panties. Your 15-year old sidekick's panties, no less. To allay any fears of squick, we shall note she does not actually wear them as they are, in fact, far too large for her. Instead, she uses them as a prop in her magic acts where she produces items like a frozen turkey or a broom from them. This is suitably lampshaded: "Panties! Again?!"
The reason he stole them wasn't because he was a pervert (or so he says. They weren't the only panties he stole). It was because he wanted to know how she did it. As he put it: FOR SCIENCE!
The Chessmaster: Phoenix Wright, of all people. The increase in his competence and intelligence when free from the control of the player is staggering. And even during the flashback case, he's noticeably more calm and confident than he used to be.
Maya also fits here for the same reason, though it does hint at her in the second case when Phoenix mentions that this "kid" he knows keeps sending him children's action hero shows. (This is confirmed to be Maya in the fifth game.) Do the math, and Maya should be in her mid-20s.
Comically Missing the Point: When Spark Brushel uses his journalistic lingo to say a "Star falls", Trucy interprets it literally by pointing out that there's no gravity in space, and she finds it hard to believe that a star could fall. Apollo lampshades this by asking if that's really the point here.
Also, Machi. Although he isn't completely fluent in English.
Continuity Nod: The flashback sequence in Case 4 uses music, backgrounds, and character models from the first three Ace Attorney games. If you present incorrect evidence, Phoenix will even use the slightly mistranslated "I must be on the wrong track...?" which was fixed for Apollo Justice (he uses the same phrase, but without the erroneous question mark.)
Contrived Coincidence: Case 4 as a whole. Vera had put her special stamp into a frame to keep it as a souvenir of her favorite magician group. So despite Kristoph's intentions in sending her the stamp, his plan was basically put on hold by her inability to part with it. Fast forward seven years later, where not only has this stamp remained in its frame but Kristoph now sits in prison on a murder conviction. Then one day, Drew Misham has to contact Kristoph and can't find a stamp...so he takes Vera's special stamp, licks it, and winds up dead. By this random event that even Kristoph himself admits to being unable to plan, Phoenix Wright's plot to finally get back at Kristoph once and for all comes to fruition, despite the fact that he already manipulated one trial to put him in prison in the first place. The entire justice system had been rewritten in an effort to deliver just desserts and it all rested on an occurrence that began when Drew Misham forgot to buy a stamp. The culiminating trial that Phoenix had played out in his mind for the past seven years winds up happening only because of something that no one could possibly have predicted.
Also the entire meta-plot of Trucy, Apollo, and Lamioir/Thalassa's relationship. All them just ended up coming together due to happenstance. There was some very light string-pulling going on with Phoenix but even he didn't know what was really up until Shadi Smith paid him a visit (and it still required that final bit of circumstance of Lamioir being involved in the murder in the third case to finally pull the whole tangled web together).
Dramatic Irony: Phoenix must screw up the flashback segment of case 4. He's actually got a pretty clear grip on things but then the diary shows up and it all goes to pieces. You're even thrust into a Stupidity Is the Only Option situation to ensure this happens because Klavier says you're not able to reuse the diary to help your case despite the fact there is something you could say about it without having to resort to "that" piece of evidence.
Eccentric Mentor: Phoenix Wright, of all people. His level-upped competence after the Phoenix Trilogy Arc and the track of things he has is freaking astounding. The same could be said for his eccentric nature, however.
Apollo Justice's hair sags if he's feeling annoyed or depressed.
invokedKristoph Gavin's hairdo does quite a spectacular number (specifically, OVER NINE THOOOOUUUUUUSAAAAAAAND! when he finally goes down for the count in the last chapter).
invokedDaryan Crescend wears his hair in a long, torpedo-like (described in other waysamong more dirty-minded fans) pompadour that bounces when he laughs, droops when he's nervous, flails madly like a ricocheting bullet when he snaps, and takes on the appearance of a wet skunk when his brain is finally broken upon being exposed as a killer by Apollo.
Expy: Klavier is basically Dante if he took up law and rock music instead of demon hunting and was German. He even admits to the party getting crazy at one point.
Foreshadowing: In the final case, pretty much as soon as Vera Misham is taken up to the witness stand, she starts staring at Klavier's face. Especially when everyone starts questioning her on who gave her the poisoned stamp that killed her father. It wasn't Klavier, but it was someone with a Strong Family Resemblance.
During Ema's first testimony in the third case, Klavier delievers the line "Love, slow-acting and new. Atroquinine... is waiting for you." Forward to case four, and the other Gavin brother (Kristoph) uses Atroquinine to kill a friend of his and tries to use it to kill the friend's daughter (which fails).
Framing Device: Somewhat unclear how much is actually framed by it but it can be assumed much of the fourth case is taking place inside of Phoenix Wright's MASON System technology, with any trial segments being what's happening live.
Friendly Enemy: Klavier, who takes this to the point where he's almost more friend than enemy.
Full Motion Video: The first game in the series to have FMV cutscenes, due to not being ported from the Game Boy Advance. Also, there's an extended regular sprite, fully animated, of Klavier playing the air guitar for no logical reason.
Funny Background Event: The Guitar's Serenade has Klavier desperately trying to put out his burning guitar and seems to throw up his hands in despair before fading out.
Gambit Roulette: Subverted: The final case initially appears to rely on Kristoph being able to predict the exact time that someone would lick a poisoned postage stamp seven years in advance. Kristoph actually uses the ridiculous nature of events as a defence, stating that no-one would have that much insight. He's right... but Klavier raises the counter-point that even though it was impossible for Kristoph to predict the chain of events, there was no reason why they couldn't have occurred through pure chance.
It may also double as a Critical Research Failure for American players and, weirdly, a Broken Aesop with regard to the law being absolute. Short form: intent follows the bullet. Whomever laced the items with poison did so with the intent to murder the recipients. The time-elapse and the fact that Drew Misham was the one to lick the stamp is irrelevant (transferred intent). On the issue of intent, the law is; if not absolute, certainly very clear with no room for debate. It wouldn't be exciting gameplay to track down an invoice for the specific poison and connect it to Kristoph, but that would be more useful evidence.
Good Lawyers, Good Clients: Played with, each of your clients in the game is innocent of the murder they're being accused of; but they're all guilty of something. To wit:
The client in case 1 helps you win the case by using a piece of forged evidence.
The client in case 2 is a loudmouthed, rude, ungrateful boy who is involved in gang activity and sincerely wants to be found guilty.
The client in case 3 aided a corrupt police detective in smuggling an illegal cocoon that could be used to make a deadly poison, and assisted in covering up a murder.
The client in case 4 made a living by creating forgeries on demand.
Happily Adopted: Played completely straight with Trucy and Phoenix. "Daddy" indeed!
Happy Ending Override: The beginning of the game is quite the buzzkill for anyone who was happy about the triumphant note on which the original trilogy ended.
Harsher in Hindsight: In-universe example during Turnabout Succession. One of the first things Gumshoe says to Phoenix in his last trial is "Today's the day, pal. Today, I win, and you lose!" May also crossover with foreshadowing.
Something that truly takes this trope over the top is some words spoken in the first installment of the series: Mia's advice to Maya is to give Phoenix "three more years" before calling on his representation in court. The final trial of Phoenix's career happens during his third year.
Hiding The Handicap: Machi was made to feign blindness for marketing purposes and to better accompany Lamiroir, seeing as she's the one who's actually blind.
I Have Many Names: Trucy: her last name is Wright because Phoenix adopted her, but her last name is also Enigmar, because her real father is Shadi Enigmar, better known as Zak Gramarye. However, her last name is also Gramarye, partly due to her fathers stage name, but also due to her mother being Thalassa Gramarye.
It Makes Sense in Context: A significant portion of the second case of the fourth game requires you to search for a 15-year old girl's panties.
Ironic Echo: Only becomes apparent on subsequent playthroughs but (which probably means it falls under Futureshadowing as well): the way Apollo receives his "trump card" evidence mirrors the way Phoenix was handed the fraudulent diary page that sealed his career, both hand-delivered by Trucy out of the blue and both forged.
Leaning on the Fourth Wall: If you select "Refresher course, please!" when Kristoph Gavin asks if you want a refresher on cross-examinations, Justice will think "Better safe than sorry, especially this early in the game!"
Trucy: I can still remember that moment... You brandished those bloomers on high, and shouted... "Objection!" Apollo: ...Here's what I want you to do, Trucy. Take that memory, gently lock it away deep in your heart, and never speak of it.
Made of Iron: Played straight and lampshaded at the beginning of the second case: Phoenix gets hit by a speeding car, flies thirty feet, hits his head on a pole and only suffers a sprained ankle. This is not left unmentioned.
Nonstandard Game Over: In case 4, the verdict is completely your own choice. Voting guilty results in a hung jury, and the defendant dies.
Not as You Know Them: Phoenix Wright. And to a lesser extent, the much more bitter and grouchy Ema Skye, compared to the bright eyed schoolgirl in her first appearance. With her, though, it's just a case of being stuck in a job she hates... the bright eyed schoolgirl is still under there if you manage to get her talking about something she likes.
Phoenix's old self is under there as well. He likes to confuse Apollo for his own amusement and talks in a rather patronising manner to his daughter but when we get to play as him again, and do some detective work (which Phoenix obviously hasn't been doing nearly as much lately) his speech and thoughts sound a lot more like his lawyer self.
Not Proven: Apollo Justice has this, but it was close before.
Off with His Head!: Daryan Crescend frustrates Apollo so much that he wishes for his head on a stick.
Apollo: (Grr! Screw cool! I want this guy's head on a stick!)
Out-Gambitted: Kristoph Gavin gets out-gambitted by Phoenix. Kristoph sets up a huge gambit to poison two people and not get caught. But Phoenix manages to overhaul the entire legal system just to ensure Kristoph gets convicted.
Phoenix: Good job. But as a father, I have to wonder why you're still carrying around Trucy's panties in your pocket.
When the real panty thief is caught, he claims he did it FOR SCIENCE!
Police Are Useless: Two instances in 4-3. First, no one questions the fact that it was physically impossible for the defendant to fire the murder weapon. Second, the guards at the detention center allow a known suspect of the crime to be brought near the current defendant.
Reality Ensues: In the early stages of the first case, Apollo repeatedly mentions his "Chords of Steel" and how he's been practising them for weeks. The first time he objects, he proudly puts them to use... and promptly gets rebuked by the judge and Kristoph for shouting too much.
Red Herring: The rivalry between Guy Eldoon and Dr. Meraktis doesn't figure into Meraktis stealing Eldoon's noodle cart for the sake of transporting what he thought was a corpse.
Repetitive Name: In Japanese, Wocky Kitaki and Alita Tiala were named Kitaki Takita and Minami Namina, respectively. Put the first and last names together, and you get Kitakitakita and Minaminamina. Incidentally, "Kita" is the Japanese word for 'north' and "Minami" is 'south'.
Rogue Juror: It is possible for the player to be this during the final verdict. If the player chooses "Guilty", the jury is hung and the defendant dies. If the player chooses "Not Guilty", the defendant is exonerated and survives.
Sequel Difficulty Drop: This game reintroduces automatic health bar refills during trial sequences, which had been missing in the first two sequels, and lacks any occasions where it's possible to instantly lose the trial irrespective of your health level. Additionally you don't have to mess around with Psyche-Locks during the investigation phase anymore, meaning that you're guaranteed of starting every trial with a full health bar.
On the other hand, you no longer have Mia to bail you out, the cases require you to tie everything together, and some elements of Moon Logic Puzzle remain. Your mileage may vary on whether or not the game is less difficult or just less frustrating.
She Is All Grown Up: Ema returns in this game, but the events during the ten year gap between her appearances have given her a really bad attitude. She is very crabby about her job and Klavier Gavin unless you ask her about forensics stuff.
Shout-Out: In the case where you encounter Valant for the first time he goes to you before entering court for the last time. Apollo thinks to himself that Valant used the door like an average muggle.
If you examine the back of the brooch in Case 3, Apollo will comment that the fastener isn't a safety-pin type, causing Trucy to ask if because it's not a safety pin, it's a danger pin. Apollo's response? "I suppose if you stuck it in your eye, then yeah, sure." This exchange is a reference to Oedipus the King, where the titular Oedipus gauges his eyes out with his mother/wife's brooch(es). Furthermore, the pin belongs to Lamiror, who is, in fact, blind, and is the mother of the person who found the brooch.
Sink or Swim Mentor: Phoenix apparently decided to follow this approach when it comes to Apollo: he only offers real aid when things are truly hopeless, and even then it's usually just a vague piece of advice (though an extremely useful one).
Notably averted with Klavier Gavin, compared to the rest of his prosecutor kin. After a string of prosecutors who want to win at all costs, even going so far as to employ questionable tactics in doing so, Klavier is a laid back, mostly easy-going foe who is far more interested in seeing justice done than winning.
Tech Marches On: In 4-4, the murder victim is poisoned by licking the back of a stamp. Modern stamps are self-adhesive and don't need to be licked before use.
Though the victim was a bit of a recluse, and he was almost out of stamps, implying that it's been a while since he got any. He probably buys a few years' worth at once to avoid going out as much as possible, and may not realize that new ones "shouldn't" have to be licked. Plus, the stamp is a fairly old one given how it has Thalassa on it, so it may have been made early enough that it's lickable.
It's given by Krisoph about seven years prior to the events that transpire.
The Watson: Unsurprisingly, the Judge isn't much more intelligent than he was in the first three games.
The Tell: When a witness is nervous while testifying they'll perform some sort of habitual action that you have to zoom in on.
Took a Level in Badass: Phoenix himself, in the seven years between this game and Trials and Tribulations. He goes from "object first, then think" to an infuriating (could anyone be less helpful?!), manipulative (AJ case 1) near-genius who is responsible for getting Kristoph implicated in the murder of Drew Misham by implementing a court system which wouldn't allow him to get away scot-free due to his careful elimination of the evidence.
Even the flashback to Phoenix's final case shows Phoenix as nearly hyper-competent (comparatively, that is) up to the fateful moment.
Took a Level in Jerkass: Ema Skye, who went from being Maya 2.0 in case 1-5 to now randomly throwing Snackoos at your face. Failing an exam after years of study for can make someone a tad bitter. Word of God states it's because they needed another Gumshoe, and Maya 3.0 is already filled in by Trucy.
You can't exit case 2-3 without knowing all the lyrics to the song. If you found it Narm Charm the first time, wait until the eighth iteration.
Wham Episode: The first case. The ultimate revelation that Kristoph, your mentor, is the responsible party and how you arrive to that conclusion can slap you as hard as any final case in the rest of the series.
Wham Shot: After the player is done with the MASON-System, the camera zooms out to reveal that that funny looking button on Wright's cap actually had a little camera hidden inside it.
You Keep Using That Word: There is a disease called "incuritis". A disease that ends in -itis alludes to an inflammation. It's not clear what part of the body is the "incur" or how it gets inflamed.
Even better, a newspaper describes it as being a syndrome. A syndrome is not a disease, but rather the group of symptoms indicative of a particular disease or disorder.