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Nightmare Fuel / Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Dual Destinies

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"Sometimes I wonder why Dual Destinies was rated M. Then I remember."

This page covers the fifth game: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies. Take moments specific to the first three games here, and other games and the 2016 anime here, please.

  • To give you an idea of how dark this game is, the other titles in the series have been rated Teen (13+). This game is rated Mature (17+) in North America.
  • Apollo's "Perceiving" ability is back. Thankfully, despite the music returning, the background swirl is a lot more minimalist and natural, and the eye remains still rather than the creepy animation it did.
  • Athena's flashbacks, where she's covered from head to toe in blood. Her Heroic BSoD animation, where she just stares down with blank eyes and clutches her arms, while Widget's face screen goes black. That's not despair so much as a full-fledged panic attack!
  • Ted Tonate's breakdown. In the moments leading up to his breakdown, his expression shifts from crazed smiles to manic anger until his goggles blow up, leaving nothing but empty eye sockets either because he had no eyes to begin with or were eviscerated when his goggles blew up.
    • Those black holes are his irises; he still has his eyes. Even then, though, they look pretty scary.
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    • Ted Tonate in general is way creepier than most of the murderers, with that machine voice and those goggles that, when he's on his game, only ever seem to show either no emotion at all, or condescension. Furthermore, when Phoenix corners him on having killed Detective Arme, he cracks and begins to panic, then (though Phoenix also quickly manages to prove that he doesn't actually have a bomb with him) very calmly threatens to blow up the entire courtroom if he's not allowed to escape... and, at the height of his Mad Bomber madness, apparently becomes convinced that his own fake bomb is real.
  • Case 2 introduces us to Simon Blackquill, a prosecutor who's also a convicted murderer and is serving time in prison, but was brought out for the case. He wears shackles, and several times he comes close to breaking them...and eventually does, freaking the whole courtroom (and most likely the player) out. Though later on, it turns out his charges were false and he was scheduled to be put to death, which is a whole different kind of nightmare fuel; see below.
  • 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.
    • And then there is the fact that Ted Tonate found out that the bomb had been reactivated because he checked it. He also saw the Phantom in the middle of stealing the detonator, which is likely why he checked the bomb in the first place. The only reason no one died in the bombing was pure luck.
  • 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 statement 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.
    • And let's face it - L'Belle is just plain creepy to begin with. He's an archetypal Sissy Villain whose mere presence is enough to make virtually anyone's skin crawl.
  • Jinxie can be a 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 day of trial reveals the reason Hugh's hand was injured to the extent that it required surgery. 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 in 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.
    • Think about what it means that someone like Means respects Phoenix enough to want him to talk to his students. Phoenix's disbarment jumpstarted the Dark Age of the Law by convincing the public he had cheated and forged his way to success, paving the path for Means's "anything to win" philosophy. Even though we the players know Phoenix is a good person to the core, this case makes it clear that people may still see him as nothing but a cheater who got caught, called in a couple favors, then kept right on cheating.
    • And then there's his smile. Oh God, that 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 chalk directly at the screen! And then there's the fact he breaks Athena by talking 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 a 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. Admittedly, sabotaging the HAT-1 was the Phantom's assignment in the first place, but he could have sabotaged it in a way that just stopped it from launching and didn't hurt anyone. The reason he sabotaged it the way he did was to get rid of a single piece of evidence that proves he was there in the first place, which he smuggled on board the HAT-1.
  • It's never really remarked upon, but in Case 4, the bomb case is in the courtroom. While the lawyers don't know, the players do know that Candice Arme's body is in there. The camera drifts to the case a few times, and you can see it in the long court shots. It's very unsettling.
  • In case 5, during Simon's Mood Matrix, we're shown this image of an 11-year-old Athena, blood-stained and with Dull Eyes of Unhappiness. 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. And it WORKS.
    • 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.
    Little Athena: "Something's wrong with Mom, 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, having taken a desperate bid for Athena's sake? 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 to 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 his Villainous 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 Fulbright mask lying next to him.
    • Speaking of Fulbright-Phantom, his serious expression is very unnerving, especially when he says "Aw... now look at what you've done to my mask".
    • 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 Fulbright 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?
      • Regarding this, it brings to light a very unnerving truth; whoever the Phantom might be, he's nothing more than just a mercenary...and the true mastermind is still out there somewhere.
    • Hell, the 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 desperately 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.
    • Just in general, the Phantom wearing a mask of Phoenix's face. By Dual Destinies, Phoenix has become a mentor figure and a pretty big figure for justice and seeking the truth in the courtroom. The idea of someone like the phantom looking like him, including imitating his friendly smile and mannerisms, all while talking about how he feels nothing and has no past or loved ones is really creepy.
    • How about the first image of him prior to The Reveal — him wearing the Noh mask? The mask is creepy in and of itself, but now imagine a remorseless killer who just killed your mom is now staring down at you with that mask on.]]
    • 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 to imagine: one of the Bad Endings will tell you. He gets hanged, Aura and the hostages (Trucy included) disappear forever, Athena is emotionally destroyed and leaves the office, Apollo becomes completely embittered, and Phoenix turns in his badge. 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.
    • Jack Shipley's death, particularly once it's revealed how it happened. He may not have been murdered by anybody, but falling to one's own death tens of feet into the hard bottom of an empty pool is equal parts ouch and acrophobia-inducing. And Rimes had the misfortune of not only witnessing Shipley die, but trying to save him and failing to do so. It's not hard to understand why Rimes wanted to die afterwards.
  • 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 though he is really just repeating the words of the Judge, the similarities are chilling.
    • Even if the player didn'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.
    • The Confess/Announce the Truth 2013 music. If you thought 2002 was scary, this one is downright horrifying and is played at the exact perfect times to catch you off guard like Athena's black psyche locks appearing when it seems she's killed her mother, and Apollo indicting Athena of the murder.

Example of: