YMMV / Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

This page covers the first three games and their adaptations. Take general series tropes to Ace Attorney, and take tropes specific to Apollo Justice, Investigations, Dual Destinies or the 2016 anime to their own subpages, please.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • There's no question that Manfred von Karma is a terrible person, but is he an abusive parent to his daughter Franziska (there's no question he's using Edgeworth as part of his scheme) or merely strict and demanding?
      • For that matter, was getting Miles Edgeworth framed for the murder of Hammond and/or his own father always a part of his plan, or did he come up with it only after realizing that his "son" wasn't going to become the perfect, ruthless prosecutor that the family name demanded?
    • Was the death of Manuel really an accident? Also, why exactly did Dee Vasquez blackmail Hammer? Take in account these facts:
      • Oldbag mentions that Hammer never intended to kill Manuel, and in the paparazzi photo, he looked genuinely shocked at Manuel's death, so it's quite possible that it really was an accident.
      • Vasquez is The Stoic for most of the case, but she seems to take personal offense when Maya yells at her for controlling Hammer over "just an accident", and she seems extremely emotional in a brief flashback to Manuel's death. This opens the possibility that Manuel was her lover, and she blackmailed Hammer as revenge for killing him.
      • If these are both true, then it is no surprise the combination of being forced to work for pennies, and the rise of Will Powers's acting career while his fell because of an accident, drove him to eventually plot on the framing of Powers and attempting to kill Vasquez. If anything, Hammer's personality is hard to pin down, he might be just a normal man broken too much with pressure, or he could have been a mean guy in the same vein of the next game's Matt Engarde or Juan Corrida. But the game is really vague on this thanks to the POVs available are from someone who possibly had a grudge against Hammer (Vasquez) or a Loony Fan (Oldbag).
  • Allegedly Free Game: The iOS port of the first three games. It's free to download and gives you the first two chapters of the first game for free. The remaining chapters must be purchased in packs (one pack contains a full game) for US$5.99 per pack. However, to be fair, it's still way cheaper than trying to get all three games brand new for the DS.
  • Awesome Music: Has its own page.
  • Complete Monster:
    • Manfred von Karma. As a prosecutor, he had a flawless, decades-long win streak, and is most likely responsible for hundreds of defendants' false charges and subsequent executions, making him an indirect mass murderer. until defense attorney Gregory Edgeworth managed to (rightfully) have von Karma penalized for his illegal workings in the courtroom. Although Gregory still lost the case, von Karma was enraged by the black mark on his previously-perfect record. Unfortunately, right after the end of the case, an earthquake hit the building. It trapped Gregory Edgeworth, his nine-year-old son Miles, and a bailiff inside an elevator. As oxygen was beginning to run out, the bailiff panicked and attacked Gregory. Miles threw a piece of evidence from the trial at them to get them to stop fighting, which turned out to be a gun. The gun fired once, a terrible scream was heard, and then Miles passed out from lack of oxygen. Unbeknownst to the people in the elevator, von Karma had come across them. The bullet from the gun shot through the glass and hit his shoulder, causing him to scream. In revenge for the black mark against his record, von Karma picked up the gun and shot the unconscious Gregory in the heart. Afterwards, von Karma took Miles under his wing and, for fifteen years, raised Miles to be the antithesis of everything that Gregory Edgeworth was, twisting the boy to fit his views and become a ruthless, cold-hearted prosecutor who cared for nothing but getting a guilty verdict every time. Finally, on the very last day before the Gregory Edgeworth murder case was closed forever, von Karma set up a murder and pinned the blame on Miles Edgeworth, intending to have his own foster-son executed for a murder he didn't commit. Von Karma also planned it out so that Miles would be convinced that he himself was the one who had killed his father and would confess to and be charged with that murder as well.
    • Redd White. He remorselessly killed Mia (even smiling while doing so), framed Maya for it, ruined their mother and family, made Grossberg's life a living hell For the Evulz, assaulted Phoenix and later framed him for Mia's murder as well, knowingly ruined countless people's lives with his blackmail business, even driving more than a few to suicide, all just to preserve his own hedonistic lifestyle.
  • Cry for the Devil: Damon Gant is definitely Jumping Off the Slippery Slope, but his confession in the end is a borderline Alas, Poor Villain moment.
  • Ear Worm: Some of the music will get put on repeat in your head.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: Penny is one of the most popular one-shots in the series due to her Adorkable nature. She was brought back for Investigations because of this.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: A minority of fans ignore Rise from the Ashes (which was not part of the original Japanese GBA game but instead added for the DS remake) because, despite providing us with Memetic Badass Damon Gant, it actually subtly retcons the backstory of the game: The rumors about Edgeworth (intentionally) using fake evidence are false. This, to said people, effectively reduces the impact of some parts of a good portion of the first game. Interestingly enough, when Phoenix sees Edgeworth again in 2-4, he assumes Edgeworth quit because his perfect win record was tarnished, when actually, in 1-5, particularly on the third day of investigations and the last trial segment, Edgeworth is already questioning himself and admits shame over his Amoral Attorney past and fear that he might become like Manfred Von Karma and Damon Gant in the future.
  • Foe Yay: So common examples are not necessary.
  • Genius Bonus: Combined with Bilingual Bonus: in Case 1-5, Edgeworth tells the history of the Prosecutor's Trophy with a Chinese word for "contradiction", using the characters for "halberd" and "shield". Anyone who's studied the Chinese language will know that the word for "contradiction" is "máodùn" (矛盾), with the word "máo" (矛) meaning "spear" or "halberd", and the word "dùn" (盾) meaning "shield".
  • Harsher in Hindsight: When you show Lana Skye the Attorney's Badge, she comments that the gold plating will flake off in a few years, then we'll see the real Phoenix. The conversation ends like this:
    Lana Skye: "Give it three years. Then we'll see what you have become."
    • This could be foreshadowing Phoenix solving his biggest case all by himself in "Bridge to the Turnabout", but it could also foreshadow Phoenix being disbarred for unwittingly using falsified evidence.
    • In 1-4, Gumshoe explains that his Undying Loyalty to Edgeworth is because he always got a conviction for the person the police brought in, which Gumshoe took as proof of his trust. It's funny/sad at the moment since Edgeworth clearly doesn't hold Gumshoe in such esteem — and then comes 1-5, where we learn about Lana Skye, Damon Gant, and realize that if Edgeworth did trust the police that much, his trust was misplaced.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Redd White murdered Mia Fey in the first game. In the third game, an important fact is Godot being unable to see red on white. Additionally, Godot/Diego Armando cared for Mia Fey in the past and was resentful of Wright of doing nothing to prevent her murder.
      • Actually, since the first game was localized after the third game was written, it's likely this was intentional.
    • Case 1-3 is the first case that makes it clear that the American version takes place somewhere similar to Los Angeles. Three of the characters are William, Hammer, and Penny.
    • Phoenix finds a contradiction in Cody Hackins' testimony and says it's because he has a magical power that lets him know when people are lying. He's just teasing a kid at that point, but one game later and he's got the magatama...
    • Speaking of Redd White, there's this exchange when he tries to get out of testifying:
    White: My stomach, you see, it is hurting...
    Phoenix: Deal with it.
    • In case 1-5, one of the crucial pieces of evidence is a monochrome surveillance video thought to show the victim knocking out a witness. However, the whole court's attention is on the animatronic mascot in the room, which leaves them all deeply perturbed. Nine years later (and a few months before the eShop ports), players may find themselves capable of sympathizing...
    • Lana Skye, the defendant of case 5, is a young and attractive female chief prosecutor who wears a military-style uniform. Natalia Poklonskaya, anyone? Even better, Poklonskaya called the Ukrainian authorities "devils from the ashes" and the case Lana appears in is called "Rise from the Ashes".
  • Hollywood Homely: Judging by character reactions, Will Powers is supposed to look downright frightening. He can only get roles wearing a mask. Opinions differ.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Von Karma crossed it when he murdered Gregory Edgeworth. He then proceeded to kick Gregory while he was down/dead by raising his son to become his complete antithesis, then framing said son for killing him, all just to get back at the entire Edgeworth bloodline for one of them causing von Karma to get his only penalty in decades.
    • Gant was genuinely an honest cop until he murdered Neil Marshall and framed two people for it: Joe Darke to get him convicted once and for all, and fourteen-year-old Ema Skye to make her sister Lana one of his pawns. Interestingly, he's also a rare case that seems to return from the Horizon a bit when he expresses regret over his actions, accepts his punishment, and wishes everyone the best of luck in maintaining the system after he's gone.
  • Most Annoying Sound:
    • Manfred's frequent, demonic Objection!s in 1-4.
    • Manfred's fingersnaps. They might just be worse than his Objections. Stop doing that.
    • Speaking to Mike Meekins in case 5, that megaphone...!
  • Narm: Angel Starr's gratuitous lunch-based Busman's Vocabulary fits the light-hearted, sillier parts of 1-5, but just gets cringeworthy when she keeps it up during the intense, emotional parts. The worst offender is this line, which completely derails an otherwise intense, heart-pounding scene:
    "I swear it on my finest plastic spork!"
    • Also, to some degree, von Karma slamming his face into the wall repeatedly during his breakdown.
  • Nightmare Fuel: In case 1-4, running into von Karma in the police station and getting tased by him promptly thereafter.
  • Player Punch:
    • The opening cinematic of 1-2, due to springing Mia's death onto the player very early on in the game. To an extent, the opening of 1-4 could also qualify, as it's definitely a shocker.
    • Having to prove towards the end of 1-5 that Ema, who's been your sidekick for the whole case, accidentally killed Neil Marshall two years ago.
    • A more literal one from Redd White earlier on. What, didn't think physical harm was possible for a visual novel character?
  • That One Level: The first day of the trial in 1-5 is generally regarded as one of the hardest parts in the game, especially since much of it consists of finding subtle flaws in Angel Starr's testimony, mainly concerning the point from which she supposedly saw Lana stab Goodman, making some players downright resent Angel Starr's presence in progress. And after you're done with Angel's four testimonies, you have to deal with Gant's complicated single testimony.
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic: Edgeworth in this installment, as Shu Takumi noted that he was supposed to be tragic, yet unlikable. The "unintentionally" part fades over time.
    • A fair share of fans seem to view Joe Darke as a mentally ill Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds instead of the Ax-Crazy Sociopath that the law-enforcement characters seem to view him as. Yes, he was a Serial Killer, but his backstory and motives — specifically that his first killing was a complete accident, the rest were out of paranoia instead of malice or sadism, he actually turned himself in despite the police lacking sufficient evidence (implying remorse), he only tried to escape after the blackout occurred (implying a panic attack), and he was attacked by Neil before even being able to react to Ema's presence (leaving it ambiguous as to whether or not he actually Would Hurt a Child) — seem to make said fans feel that he should've been institutionalized instead of executed.
  • What an Idiot: Sure, Phoenix, show The Perfectionist prosecutor the evidence that will link him to the crime and set the defendant. I'm sure he won't do anything in retaliation- *zap*

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Justice for All

  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • There's no question that Juan Corrida is an Asshole Victim, but just how bad is he really? According to Adrian Andrews, he's a monster, but that's hardly an unbiased source. We do know that he was petty, a braggart, and bitterly Always Second Best to Matt Engarde. He caused Celeste's suicide when he broke off their engagement due to jealous and wounded pride. He then forged and hid her suicide note, which he planned to use at the most devastating moment for his rival. However, in the flashback to Celeste's suicide, he looks genuinely shocked and horrified, and his plans for revenge could easily be fueled as much by regret for the consequences of angry words he never got the chance to take back. Were his subsequent actions just part of their "game," or was it really personal for him?
      • However, Corrida's immediate response to Celeste's suicide was to forge a suicide note, possibly destroying the real one if a real suicide note actually existed for the sole purpose of getting back at Engarde. It is as Andrews says, everyone was a pawn in Engarde and Corrida's petty rivalry.
      • Then again, he really is horrified when he discovers Celeste's corpse- possibly to the point of undergoing a BSOD? It really seems like the breaking off of the wedding was due more to on-the-spot anger than anything else, and he was horrified at discovering her body because he now would never have a chance to take back angry words he'd spoken in the heat of the moment. Following this line of thought, his act with the suicide note could be an attempt at ensuring that the other person most responsible for Celeste's death faced justice for it.
    • Is Matt Engarde just a standard Bitch in Sheep's Clothing, or does he have a Split Personality? His dialogue right before he reveals his "real self" ("I think it's time for you to meet him now, Mr. Lawyer dude") is sometimes brought up as evidence for the latter.
    • There's also the issue of whether "Ini Miney", aka Mimi Miney, or Turner Grey was the one at fault of malpractice incident. If Mimi was to be the one telling the truth, then Turner Grey is a monster who overworked Mimi into a nervous breakdown that caused the accident and possibly drugged her with sleeping pills, resulting in a car crash. However, Grey had a point in that he had no real motivation for doing so and was in fact trying to bring her ghost back to clear his name, which would probably be a bad idea if she'd just accuse him of her murder instead. Also, she seemed to kill him because he was about to reveal that she was still alive, not out of any apparent desire for revenge. But Grey is an Unreliable Narrator about himself. Why did he have an (illegal in Japan) gun with him? Why did he expect to get Mimi's ghost to sign a confession that utterly blackens her name and exonerates her former Bad Boss? It seems likely he intended to force her to sign it at gunpoint (with the medium's life on the line), and if that's the case, then just how far would he go in anger?
  • Anticlimax Boss: Breaking Wendy Oldbag's Psyche-Locks in 2-4. It's the first time you have to deal with 4 locks at once, but if you show her Juan's autograph, all four of them break at the same time. Given how it's Wendy Oldbag we're talking about here, who is very dramatic, they probably did that on purpose.
  • Base Breaker: Franziska von Karma, Manfred von Karma's daughter, or specifically her behavior in 2-4, and her epilogue scene with Edgeworth. While she's (intentionally) unlikeable during the first two cases, her behavior later changes and matures. Fans are divided.
  • Complete Monster: Matt Engarde threw away his loving and devoted manager Celeste Inpax once he was done using her to further his career. When Celeste was engaged to his rival, Engarde told him Celeste was “used goods” to trick him into calling off the wedding. Celeste killed herself, to Engarde's delight. Engarde later hired professional assassin Shelly de Killer to murder his rival, but kept blackmail material to betray de Killer as well. To force Phoenix Wright to acquit him for murder, Engarde had de Killer kidnap the totally innocent Maya Fey and hold her hostage for days, possibly also ordering de Killer to starve Maya. Once he's exposed, he laughs at Phoenix's face about how he can do nothing to him.
  • Contested Sequel: While not universally disliked, most fans consider it to be uneven at best. While the second case is considered to be good, and the finale is considered one of the best cases in the entire franchise, The tutorial case is at best forgettable and Turnabout Big Top is one of the least-liked cases of the series. (More details below.)
  • Crosses the Line Twice or Narm: In case 4, after The Reveal of Matt Engarde's true colors, he reveals his previously-unseen ''massive'' facial scar, pulls out A Glass of Chianti, gains an ominous new Leitmotif, and his personality does a complete 180, turning him into an Obviously Evil figure that makes the silliest of Bond Villain parodies seem toned down. How jarring the change is from his previous Brainless Beauty Nice Guy persona can easily come across as absolutely ridiculous. Of course, for some, this is Nightmare Fuel.
  • Ending Fatigue: The last trial eventually boils down to just stalling for time until a Big Damn Heroes moment happens. Canonically!
  • Ensemble Darkhorse:
    • Surprisingly enough, considering his only appearance is in the heavily divisive third case, Acro is one of the most popular one-shot characters in any Ace Attorney game, with even the case's detractors often admitting he's its main saving grace.
    • Also from the third case is Regina; between her appearance, personality, and role as the heart of the story, most fans will agree that it's nearly impossible not to like her — except for those few who hold her responsible for Bat's coma and Acro's paralysis. When the Berry Big Circus returned in the second Investigations game, Regina was the only character from 2-3 (unless you count Money) to return.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • Phoenix's nightmare of being disbarred by a giant, demonic judge becomes much less funny in Apollo Justice after he really does get disbarred.
    • Maya, despite being cleared of all charges, laments at the end of Case 2-2 that every time something like this happens, she loses someone close to her. In the next game, she loses her long-lost mother
    • Gumshoe's testimony in case 2-1, once you realize that he's had a secret crush on Maggey Byrde for a long time. The real punch is when he's asked to describe Maggey and Dustin's relationship — how they were close to getting married and how Maggey even came to Gumshoe for advice on what to get her boyfriend for his birthday. That hangdog expression of his isn't just because he's testifying against a subordinate.
    • In case 2-2, the court is convinced for a while that Mimi Miney's spirit, channeled through Maya Fey, is guilty of murder. Phoenix says in court that he finds the idea of a vengeful, murderous spirit hard to believe. In this case, he's right, but in the next game, a vengeful, murderous spirit does try to kill someone, and said vengeful spirit is Phoenix's ex-girlfriend. Sort of.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Ini mistaking Pearl for Phoenix's daughter and him expressing incredulity that she thinks he's old enough to have a daughter becomes much funnier when he actually adopts a daughter he's way too young to have fathered normally in Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney.
    • Examining the notice board in the cafeteria early in Case 2-3 has Maya making an off-handed remark about how they should put up a note addressed "To the Murderer". As it turns out, this actually happened, and it's what indirectly led to the murder in that case.
  • Idiot Plot: Many have pointed out how patently absurd it was that Dustin Prince's alleged dying message was ever taken seriously when it would have meant he wrote it with a snapped neck.
  • Love It or Hate It: Case 2-3 (Turnabout Big Top). While a lot of fans consider it to be the worst case in the entire series, it does have a few defenders, largely because of Acro being a very atypical "villain" for the series and being one of the most emotional cases in the franchise, and also for it being the only case in the game in which Maya (who is otherwise Demoted to Extra) has a prominent role throughout. A lot of the enjoyment also hinges upon whether or not you find the circus characters (aside from EnsembleDarkhorses Acro, Max and Regina) amusing or not (most notably Moe the clown).
  • Most Annoying Sound:
    • Franziska's whip will have you wanting to strangle her with it by the time those two cases are over.
    • On the subject of Franziska, the sound of the tracking device she has on Gumshoe. Constant, high-pitched beeping. Gets people's attention mostly by being amazingly obnoxious.
  • Most Wonderful Sound: Despite what the above may indicate, Franziska's whip becomes this in case 4, due to it signalling her perfectly timed Big Damn Heroes moment.
  • Narm:
    • Mia gives a brief speech about The Power of Friendship in Farewell, My Turnabout - which feels bizarrely childish and out of place in an extremely dark and tense case.
    • "The miracle never happen." That one simple typo in the American DS release turned the bad ending of Farewell, My Turnabout into a mockery.
    • Acro's Manly Tears moment at the end of 2-3 is supposed to be taken seriously. It ended looking like cartoony Ocular Gushers instead, with the animation and everything.
    • When Maya is kidnapped, Phoenix and company panic over the idea that Maya is being starved. She's been missing just over a day, and she had an extremely large meal before being taken, she's clearly not in any immediate danger.
  • Nightmare Fuel: Matt Engarde clawing at his own face in Farewell, My Turnabout.
  • Player Punch:
    • The first act of Reunion, and Turnabout. Particuarly Maya's Angst at the detention center.
    • Pretty much all of the last case is intense, starting right at the beginning when Maya gets kidnapped to blackmail Nick, and just getting worse when you find out your client is guilty as sin, and you're forced to pin the blame on an innocent person just to stall for time.
  • Take That, Scrappy!: For the portion of fans who dislike Franziska for her seemingly constant and unpunished Jerk Ass moments, Shelly de Killer shooting her in the shoulder, preventing her from prosecuting for the remainder of the game, and causing her to be replaced by the more levelheaded Edgeworth can come across as refreshing.
  • That One Level:
    • Many consider Moe's cross-examination in 2-3 to be a real pain in the ass, since one wrong press will get you penalized, and culminates with his last testimony, in which any pressing will cause you to instantly lose. At least the Judge gives you some warning.
      • Furthermore, on the second trial of that case, you have to do a big leap of logic and figure out that Russell Berry's cape got attached to the Max bust, seemingly ignoring physics.
    • The first half of the first day of Farewell, My Turnabout has TWO instances where if you screw up, you get a 100% penalty. And the second of those comes from pointing out the Nickel Samurai's ankles should be visible in Lotta's photo; something that's particularly difficult to figure out.
  • The Scrappy: Some players might find Moe really irritating because at one point of his cross-examination if he goes off-tangent Phoenix get penalized. Note that Oldbag's constant rambling in-and-on the court did not get this extreme reaction from the judge. Others either find his jokes unfunny or simply hate his design. Him bringing Regina to the last day of trial may or may not rescue him from the heap due to fans being divided on if it was a cruel Jerk Ass move or he was trying to have her see the truth about Acro and Bat.
  • Sophomore Slump: Like many games under Capcom, the second installment tends to be the most divisive. Justice For All is certainly not considered a bad game, but a lot of fans regard it as the weakest game in the trilogy, for reasons including: having only four cases versus the other two games' five, the lack of an overall storyline — barring the vague theme of Edgeworth's disappearance and Franziska wanting revenge on Phoenix — along with the hugely divisive third case, and the developers going overboard with the new health system and frequently hitting you with gigantic penalties with no warning whatsoever. In particular, this game has more "instant game over" scenarios than every other game in the series combined. Other, minor annoyances for some are Pearl getting all the focus over Maya, who barely features in the game and has no real character development, the substandard English localization, and Franziska being a much less interesting adversary than Edgeworth or Godot. However, the villains in this game are in very high regard among the fanbase, who generally consider Acro, Morgan Fey, and Matt Engarde to be some of the best villains in the series. And the last case is extremely popular due to its twist on the traditional formula by having Phoenix try to escape being blackmailed into defending a client he eventually figures out is a total sociopath.
    • One of the weakest points is the lack of an overarching story. Rather than having a main villain such as Dahlia Hawthorne or Manfred Von Karma, the story is mostly a series of mostly unrelated cases. The two main plotlines, Edgeworth's apparent suicide and Morgan Fey are resolved rather anticlimacticly and dealt with in the sequel respectively.
  • Squick:
    • Pearl gives us this gem:
      "Let's go let her whip us, Mr. Nick!"
    • Also, "Director Hotti" implies that he'd like to "research" the crime scene photos if you show them to him in 2-2. Even worse when you remember that it's Ini/Mimi in the pictures, and he'd been going on about how she was a favorite patient...
    • Dr. Hotti also shows interest in Pearl's picture. She's eight years old!
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Admit it, you smiled VERY evilly after taking down Matt Engarde once and for all. Doubly so if it's chosen to pronounce him Not Guilty afterwards, knowing that he'd be hunted down by a professional assassin the minute he were to step out of the courthouse. Vengeance against a Defense Attorney's client never felt soo satisfying.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: While he's very popular with others, some fans didn't like how much Acro was being played as a Sympathetic Murderer. For example, Video Games Awesome! and their commenters noted that while he didn't mean to kill the ringmaster, he did intend to kill the ringmaster's daughter. The sympathy is supposed to come from regretting he killed the ringmaster, who he saw as a father, and yet he was still willing to murder that man's only child. To be fair, she was still directly responsible for accidentally putting Bat into a coma and then not understanding how serious it was, but Acro apparently never considered just yelling at her and making her see reality the way Moe later did, and instead jumped right to an elaborate murder attempt... which didn't even work because she was too clueless to understand she was being threatened.
    • It's quite telling that the 3DS re-release changed some of the dialogue to tone down the forced sympathy, one of the most obvious changes being Edgeworth's line "Do me a favor and try not to be too harsh on Acro" being changed to "As for Mr. Acro's case, you need not worry."
    • Edgeworth also got this from a few fans when he explicitly told Adrian in open court that he didn't care if she was Driven to Suicide because of the truth. Sure, she was ultimately grateful for the wake-up call, but this was still a girl with a confirmed history of attempted suicide — not just idle threats — meaning that not only was there a legitimate risk of her killing herself afterward, but he could've been subsequently charged with harassment and/or misconduct for it as well. And even before his Heel–Face Turn, Edgeworth was already visibly traumatized by another courtroom-related suicide in the form of the Terry Fawles case. So to said fans, it went a bit too far past Good Is Not Nice and just landed somewhere close to Idiot Ball and/or Jerkass Ball territory.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials & Tribulations

  • Accidental Innuendo:
    • Assuming it's not intentional Getting Crap Past the Radar, everything about the "weenies" (as in sausages) in case 3-3. Made worse by the fact that they're supposedly a symbol of Gumshoe's love for Maggey.
    • In 3-5, you can get Gumshoe to admit he wants to stick his pen in Phoenix's face.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • In an odd example, a couple gets this. The DeLites are either a Happily Married couple of a man who isn't above stealing for the happiness of his wife and a woman who likes strong emotions and authentically loves her husband for many factors besides money, or a Happily Married couple of a crook and a gold digger. Or bit of both. At least they are Happily Married in either interpretation.
    • Then there's the question of Terry Fawles' mental state. If he's mentally healthy, then he's an ephebophile, but if he suffers from mental problems or learning difficulties, then it's possible that he just doesn't understand the implications of a relationship with such an age gap. At least in the American version of the game (where Word of God claims takes place in California), the question is one of whether or not he was knowingly skirting the line with 14-year-old Dahlia, as the local age of consent is 18.
    • Iris can be subject to this based on your interpretation of her statement that the plot to poison Phoenix's cold medicine was the first time that Dahlia didn't tell her about a plot in advance. Does this mean that she knew about things like Diego's impending poisoning and let them happen? Does she deserve to be punished as an accessory to all of Dahlia's crimes?
    • Godot. A mysterious, badass prosecutor with a cool design and sympathetic, tragic past, or an overhyped sexist scumbag who's never brought to account for all his bad choices? Yes, he did die for them, but he also made Misty Fey die for them and nearly got Maya killed.
    • Dahlia and Iris's father could be this. We're told that he coldly left his wife and badmouthed Kurain Village, but the person who says most of this is Dahlia, who is hardly one to speak well of anybody. His marriage and divorce of Morgan can also count. On one hand, he only married her to get the prestige that came with being a member of the Fey family. On the other hand, we see that a desire to gain power causes Morgan to try to commit murder twice, the second time using her own daughter as an Unwitting Pawn. With that second part in mind, one has to wonder if him taking his daughters with him when he divorced Morgan was as cruel as it's portrayed...
    • Same could be argued for Morgan. Was she so ambitious and protective for Pearl purely because of her strong spiritual powers or was it from the heartbreak of being separated from her two other daughters via divorce, discovering one grew into a sociopath, and not knowing what happened to the other?
    • Additionally, were Morgan's daughters taken from her by her first husband, or did she give them up? Dahlia claims that Morgan saw them as nothing more than obstacles to Pearl (and even claims that Morgan would have killed her herself), while her sister suggests that her mother willingly abandoned them. Then again, Dahlia also claims that her father "had absolutely no interest in children in general", hence his decision to send Iris to Hazakura Temple, so one has to question why he ended up with custody of both daughters- did Morgan care even less than he did, or did he not want Morgan to have them (whether out of pettiness or because he thinks they'd be better off with him)?
  • Anticlimax Boss:
    • Sister Bikini's five Psyche-Locks all comes off at the same time with merely two presentations of evidence. Most other unlocking sequences require, on average, one or two pieces of evidence per lock. Justified as unlike many other witnesses who are all to eager to keep their secrets hidden until at breaking point, Sister Bikini is arguably one of the most co-operative witness of the series, and knows when to co-operate for the benefit of everyone involved, no matter how big the secret she tries to hide.
    • Luke Atmey in 3-2 initially appears to be one of these, since he gives up with surprising ease on the first trial day and admits to being the true thief. Actually a subversion however, since he wanted to be found guilty of theft, so that he would have an alibi for the murder of Kane Bullard, which was in fact his doing.
  • Base Breaker: Godot. See Alternative Character Interpretation.
  • Breather Boss: In Case 3-3, Gumshoe's Psyche-Lock regarding the lottery. Most likely Played for Laughs, given that Gumshoe ends up telling Phoenix crucial information about his cases without meaning to do so.
  • Complete Monster: Dahlia Hawthorne, the Big Bad, previously manipulated her Man Child boyfriend into assisting her in a crime, before framing him for murder and ensuring his suicide to cover her tracks. She later poisoned the lover of the prosecutor Mia Fey when he got too close to her crimes, before she seduced Phoenix Wright as well. When her twin sister Iris fell for Phoenix, Dahlia accelerated her plans to poison him. When an ex-lover of hers tried to warn Phoenix, Dahlia murdered him and tried to frame Phoenix. Despite being executed, Dahlia returned as a vengeful ghost, aiding her mother to kill Dahlia's cousin Maya Fey solely to spite her elder sister Mia's spirit. Taking steps to manipulate her twin again to help with the murder, she came back from the dead to possess Misty Fey (albeit due to Misty's desire to protect her niece Pearl) and attempted to murder Maya, being stopped only by the intervention of Godot who killed her host. But despite this she became convinced that she had forced Maya to murder her own mother and caused her to commit suicide, which she gloated over to their faces. She's also a giant hypocrite; she shows nothing but disgust towards Morgan Fey because of the "petty revenge" that she was after, but at the same time, Dahlia was going along with Morgan's plan specifically in order to get her own revenge on Mia.
  • Draco in Leather Pants:
    • Godot. There's a pretty big difference between sympathetic murderer and absolving him of all his crimes and bad decisions. Then again, the writers could have arguably been doing the same thing, given that Maya, who lost her mother as a result of his actions, still defends him, even though he suggests he was not primarily motivated by wanting to protect her, and she might have ended up dead when he killed the person channeling Dahlia.
    • Luke Atmey is this to a certain portion of the Japanese fandom, to the point where there are entire fansites dedicated to him. In all fairness, though, his Japanese name means something along the lines of "only wants to be loved," and in the Japanese version, it's suggested he killed Kane Bullard out of self defense, not just desperation..
    • Even Dahlia Hawthorne qualifies. Many of her fans will comment that, although her actions were inexcusable, her life was miserable, and will state that she is treated as an "unpopular" and "unloved" character.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: Franziska whipping Phoenix in 3-5 — i.e., a recently discharged hospital patient who nearly drowned to death and who still has a cold.
  • Even Better Sequel: At the very least it's considered a big improvement over Justice For All, with many fans regarding it as the best game in the entire Ace Attorney franchise.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
    • Phoenix's behavior in case 3-1 gains a whole new dimension when it turns out that the woman he dated for six months and the one that tried to kill him are not the same, and that his insistence on her innocence wasn't a result of him grabbing the Idiot Ball. Perhaps it also counts as a bit of foreshadowing...
    • Mia's random comedic assaults on Grossberg in case 3-1 every time Phoenix says something adoring about Dahlia become much less funny when you realize that it's not just low tolerance for sappy, saccharine gushing — it's because she's bottling up a lot of hate for Dahlia and with very good reason.
      • There's also the possibility that it's related to the fact that she knows Grossberg is responsible for leaking the information on her mother, and her mother's resulting disappearance.
    • Not to mention the fact that Phoenix's gushing sounds disturbingly like Terry talking about his "Teen Angel". Small wonder she gets so angry, seeing another guy being played like a fiddle by Dahlia!
    • Minor one, but in 3-3, Phoenix makes a comment on how Maya should quit her job as a spirit medium for a job as a waitress, and she considers the idea. Come 3-5, while she doesn't take up a waitress job, she is thinking more seriously about quitting her job as a spirit medium when she takes the witness stand.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • Phoenix's comment in 3-3 that the only way to win a phony case is with phony evidence becomes a lot harsher after the events of Apollo Justice, where he loses his badge due to evidence forgery.
      • Even more so when he actually does forge evidence afterward to catch the one responsible (and implicitly for Revenge as well, given his new Knight in Sour Armor attitude after losing said badge).
    • If you present your badge to Maya during the investigation during day 2 of 3-2, you get this little exchange:
    Maya: So you've still got that badge, I see.
    Phoenix: Huh? I'm a lawyer, aren't I?
    Maya: Yeah, but I guess I just didn't think you'd keep on being one for this long.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • 3-5 has one when you examine the incinerator. "A fight between a lawyer and an overgrown boiler? Who'd want to see that?"
    • Marvin Grossberg: "It feels like my hemorrhoids are doing the Harlem Shake!"
    • In case 3-3, it's mentioned that each employee at Blue Screens, Inc. wears a head-mounted display over their eye. Nine years later (in 2013), we get Google Glass.
  • Jerkass Woobie:
    • Dahlia in Iris's perspective, although most likely not the player's, and definitely not the other characters'. Both sisters were separated from their mother and received no love from their father, and while Iris had a mother figure in Sister Bikini. Dahlia had no one. Iris realizes Dahlia has done many unforgivable things, but still cares for her and wants to help her because of what she's been through (including recovering the necklace so she won't commit any more crimes).
    • Godot could be considered as one, but only to Phoenix, whom he refused to acknowledge for the greater part of the game. He seems to be significantly less of a jerk to everyone else.
  • Magnificent Bastard: While not being a Big Bad, Luke Atmey from the third game certainly counts. He uses a guilty verdict as his alibi for a murder, and this same verdict makes him look like a genius thief smarter than everyone, while giving him what he wants the most from others, their attention.
  • Squick:
    • STOP TALKING ABOUT HEMORRHOIDS!
    • There's only one reason! One as obvious as Jean Armstrong in a thong on the Riviera!
  • Player Punch:
    • The end of 3-4.
    • Pretty much the entirety on the Grand Finale, from Phoenix falling into a freezing river to figuring out the victim's true identity.
  • That One Level:
    • Luke Atmey's final testimony is 11 statements long, with nothing in the Court Record proving a contradiction, and pressing any statement but the right one will instantly net you a game over. It also PUNISHES Save Scumming with a nasty Interface Screw – usually in these games, once you've done something right in a testimony that lets you advance, the music will stop playing. Not so with this one. What's more, right or wrong, the first few lines of dialogue after the press are always the same.
      • Something similar happens at the very end of "Bridge to the Turnabout".
  • Values Dissonance: 3-4 gives us a 20 year old man in a relationship with a 14 year old girl (quite a heated one too). However, while the reactions of Mia and Diego are played for laughs, the relationship itself is portrayed as unhealthy, although less because of the age than because Dahlia was very obviously using the mentally disabled Terry.
  • The Woobie: Poor sweet Pearls in case 3-5. She's worried about Maya's safety and blames herself for putting her in danger, she's manipulated by her mother, she's trapped on a freezing cold mountain all alone for an entire day, she's convinced she's lost her channeling powers because she can't channel Dahlia, and she's heartbroken at the fact that she's disappointed her mother because of it. When Phoenix confronts her she bursts into tears before you can even break all her Psyche-Locks. And to think she's not even aware of the fact that her mother was using her to get rid of Maya or that the person she's been asked to channel is her dead older sister who's also a psychotic killer. As bad as it was it could have been even worse. Heck, even Dahlia Hawthorne, said psychotic killer, feels sorry for her.
    • Iron Woobie: Oh yeah, and while all this is going on, she still manages to Shut Up, Hannibal! at Franziska and makes Phoenix present solid evidence before her last psych-lock breaks. Pearly is tough as nails.

Multiple games

  • Author's Saving Throw: The 3DS version of the trilogy had many typos corrected, and some small contradictions within the text fixed. note 
  • Continuity Lock-Out: Averted. The dialogue goes out of its way to avoid referencing events in previous games, even when it would make more sense to do so. And when referencing past events is absolutely necessary (such as Mia's death, and the cause of Edgeworth's disappearance), the game will give the player as few details as possible.
    • One strange example is Gant in 1-5. He says that at the Gourd Lake trial, Phoenix got Manfred von Karma caught for forging evidence, not for being the culprit of the DL-6 Incident. This is particularly jarring, since there's no way for the player to access Rise from the Ashes without clearing Turnabout Goodbyes.
  • Foe Yay Shipping:
    • So much of it, you half expect Edgey and Phoenix to rip their clothes off in the middle of a trial and start screwing like bunnies.
    • Edgeworth and Franziska to an extent as well, though AAI clarifies this into this being a competitive sibling relationship.
  • Holy Shit Quotient: Every finale case has a high HSQ, but special mention goes to Farewell My, Turnabout and Bridge to the Turnabout.
  • Iron Woobie:
    • Maya Fey: smiling through even the most hardcore misfortunes.
    • Maggey Byrde, who fell from the ninth story of a building when 6 months old, has been hit by multiple vehicles, gets caught up in three murder trials over the course of the series (and that's not even covering half the things that have happened to her) but does not give up, and remains plucky and optimistic throughout.
    • Phoenix Wright had his beloved mentor die, was framed for murder twice, nearly killed by the woman he loved, abused by nearly every single prosecutor and witness, is never in the Judge's favor, almost never gets a thank you from his clients, was bullied in school, and let's not get started on what he goes through in Apollo Justice. This cutie has been broken by then.
  • Internet Backdraft: Get into any location that contains Phoenix/Maya (a.k.a. "Narumayo") and Phoenix/ Iris shippers and ask whether Maya is too young for Phoenix.
  • Marth Debuted in Smash Bros.: An inverted example. The Blue Badger officially appeared in this game during Rise From the Ashes before going on to appear elsewhere (such as Wocky's "Bad Badger" shirt or as the mascot for Gatewater Land in Investigations). However, in Japan the fifth case was only added after the third game had been released when the original game was ported to the DS, meaning that "Taiho-kun" (the Japanese name for the Blue Badger) had already appeared on Maggey's shirt in the first case of the second game. To western players it looked like the Blue Badger went on to become a sensation after case 5 (which led to the production of t-shirts by the time case 2-1 rolled around) but for keen-eyed Japanese players it was evident that the developers were expanding on the design they had put on Maggey's shirt. Of course, this is if we assume that no one found the badger doll next to the chief of detectives in 1-4.
  • Porting Disaster: The original trilogy was initially ported for a Compilation Re Release over to the iOS, which released with many game breaking bugs and problems from a lack of beta testing and/or laziness: Slowdown was all over the place. Character animations, while better looking, were also choppy, missing several frames (half the characters didn't blink), or flat-out missing. Music would not loop properly, Pearl's theme was missing, and the second and third games used the lower quality GBA soundtrack. Ema Skye's fingerprinting tutorial in the first game was completely omitted, and several typos were ADDED. And when iOS 7 came out, it broke the HD version to the point that the app simply would not launch, and it took Capcom nearly two months to fix the problem.
    • Thankfully, the 3DS version of the trilogy is miles better; correcting many typos, fixing every issue, and re-adding many animation frames.
  • Sequel Difficulty Spike: These games get progressively tougher and more complicated as they go on.
    • In the original first game, things are rather relaxed: investigations are pretty straightforward, with relatively few points where you can get lost, and cross-examinations are rather easy. Finding contradictions doesn't go beyond pressing until the witness revises a statement, then presenting evidence there. Plus, you can take up to five penalties before losing.
    • Justice For All is where the developers really started getting sneaky. Cross-examinations are tougher, since now witnesses can add revised statements that aren't contradictory, sometimes depending on what you choose. There are also a few points were you have to backtrack while pressing, press statements in a certain order, or even press the same statement twice! (Not to mention now you can get penalized simply by pressing - though the Judge does warn you beforehand.) Contradictions now require the player to remember previous testimony, and to think them through more. Now you need to "unlock" new testimony to make other statements contradictory (ex: the contradiction with the ring in 2-3). Unlike the first game, now sometimes you need to say you "can't present evidence" or that a witness's statement "was not important" to progress. Investigations also got harder: now there are points where you have to present evidence to the person that gave you that evidence 3 seconds ago, and the addition of profiles also makes it easier to miss something. But probably the biggest step-up in difficulty is the penalty bar. This green bar allows the developers to hit you with bigger penalties when screwing up. In some points in the last case, you can get either a 100% penalty or a bad ending for presenting incorrect evidence. And this bar (which counts both for psyche-locks and court penalites) does not refill when saving, so it's possible to go into court with low health.
    • It seems the developers focused more on writing the Myth Arc than in making player's existence harder while making Trials & Tribulations, since there's relatively few new tricks here that weren't in JFA. While there's not a bad ending in this game, the two "one-chance" moments (one of which is a 11-statement testimony mentioned above) are designed to throw off players and punish Save Scumming, since both the "right" and "wrong" conversations start with the same few lines of text, and the music doesn't stop in either of them. Also, there's a couple of testimonies where you have to "mine" for information. In other words, if at the end of a press Phoenix thinks "I'd better come back to this later", that means you have to gather information by pressing other statements, then return to press the statement Phoenix pointed out.
    • Rise from the Ashes, the fifth case added to the first game's Updated Re Release on the DS, makes use of some of the tricks seen in JFA and T&T, since it was written after them. (Though of course, it doesn't implement any variable penalties, since it still uses the other four cases' five-strike system.) The only new trick is that there are a couple spots where you have to present several pieces of evidence to people to unlock a new talk topic.
  • The Woobie: Pearl. Oh, you poor kid. Her role as The Woobie is most significant in Justice for All, where in case 2-4, she lays out all the bad stuff that's happened to her when you talk to her in your office after Maya's kidnapping, particularly when she says Maya is the only family she has left. And then there's her role in case 3-5, where she's used once again by her mother to try to kill the girl who is her remaining closest family. While her time with Larry in the "Loser's Shack" is mostly played for laughs (Larry's involved after all), it's hard to see her so down when she's convinced she's losing her powers on top of everything else.

Film adaptation

  • Big Lipped Alligator Moment: The Blue Badger stops the Judge from delivering a verdict by shoving his hand under the gavel. Then he falls to the floor and the head rolls off the suit, revealing...no one. No one seems to notice or care, and the mystery of the haunted mascot suit is never touched upon for the rest of the movie.
  • Memetic Mutation: PHOENIX SCREAMS OFF CAMERA
  • Narm: A good amount of the movie qualifies due to the fact that most of the characters look like cosplayers (albeit, fairly good ones), not to mention how they overact, oftentimes making hilarious faces and noises at the most inappropriate times. On a few occasions, Phoenix literally throws holographic images containing evidence at his opponents, and one particularly memorable scene involves him making the rather innocuous observation that Christmas Eve is almost Christmas, which inexplicably causes everyone in the court (including Edgeworth) to fall to the ground in a collective dead faint. Naturally, all of this leads to a lot of Narm Charm.
  • Video-Game Movies Suck: Averted. The movie has been called one of the best game-to-film adaptations ever produced on both hemispheres. It retains the game's quirky sense of humor yet injects more serious drama into some of the character interactions in order to attract non-players. It helps that the source material is far more plot-driven than the average game.


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/YMMV/PhoenixWrightAceAttorney