Even after 15 years, Ace Attorney hasn't forgotten how to bring tears to its fans.
Take moments specific to the Phoenix arc, Apollo Justice, Dual Destinies, Investigations, or the 2016 anime to those pages, please.
The Magical Turnabout
The Rite of Turnabout
- The truth. Beh'leeb only killed Puh'ray/Rheel Neh'mu in accidental self-defense because she was found out by him in the revolutionary's secret base, and he threatened to kill her. To quote, she had to kill a person whom she thought as a son because said person was about to kill her for being part of the revolutionary army. Tahrust found out about this and made it look like it was Maya who killed him, and later then committed suicide and again made it as if he had been murdered by Maya all just to save his pregnant wife from persecution because the law demanded that, if a person is found guilty, those related to him and his defense attorney be found equally guilty. Remember, one piece of the evidence is a picture of the four of them happily having a meal like a family, and it is broken all just because of one law. Made even more heart wrenching is the final goodbye between Beh'leeb and Tahrust, who is channeled by Maya during the trial.
- It's even more heartwrenching for fans of Rayfa, who just had her entire worldview upturned and spat on, but that pales to the Awful Truth: Her parents are terrible people. She's devastated.
- Phoenix proves she did it in self-defence without even really trying. It was just kind of something that he proved along the way, so that kind of made Tahrust's death... almost unnecessary.
- In fact, Phoenix says that he would have defended Beh'leeb if Tahrust had sought him. But even as a rebel he could not trust her life to a lawyer and decided to take a more reliable (but much more painful) route.
- The case's equivalent of a Breakdown might be one of the saddest in the series. It's time to exorcise Tahrust's spirit, and Rayfa lets Beh'leeb do the honors. She hold out the Magatama to him, with a heart-wrenching expression on her face, as he smiles and leaves Maya's body. The Magatama's glow fades and we get a close-up on her face as she cries and bids her husband a final farewell.
- It's relatively minor compared to everything else, but this game's ladder vs. stepladder argument is pretty sad, switching Phoenix and Maya's usual roles to show Maya moving on from her childish nature and Phoenix being reluctant to accept it:
Maya: Sorry, I guess I've outgrown that stepladder argument we always have...
Phoenix: I think you mean "ladder," Maya.
- Beh'leeb Inmee carries a photo of her dead husband, talks to it as if it were actually him, and even holds it up in front of her face to talk to other people as him. This is mostly Played for Laughs, but it also gives the impression that she's going mad with grief.
- The end of the first trial day: There is nothing you can do about the argument that Nahyuta points out. He fully anticipated this result and although Maya is innocent unfortunately due to lack of information and evidence, she and Phoenix Wright (though the DC Act) are found Guilty. Just before they pass judgement, the Bailiff interrupts to point out another victim and that Maya is the suspect of THAT murder as well.
- Meeting Sgt. Buff quickly becomes one when Reality Ensues and she breaks down and cries over the loss of her parents, especially since she lost both of them within a span of six months. Even through the drone, the pain is visible.
- Apollo nearly drowns. It's as terrifying as it is heartbreaking, since he's all alone. And his last thought is to wonder why Dhurke never came back for him...
- The Reveal of Dhurke's death. Apollo has to prove a suspect disappeared from a closed chamber by channeling. Since only Dhurke and Maya were found alive in the room, and Maya is pretty much alive, Apollo comes to the conclusion that the Dhurke they met after the murder was dead all along. At first, he doesn't want to believe it. But after the judge calls for another thorough search of the murder scene, Ema reluctantly reports that Dhurke's body was found hidden in a coffin. This causes a severe breakdown to both Apollo and Nahyuta — Apollo because Dhurke was his adoptive father; Nahyuta because he was his biological father. Apollo starts shouting "Please let my theory be wrong!" and bangs his head on the desk when the Awful Truth is confirmed. He even goes into a BSOD and starts questioning why he became an attorney in the first place. It manages to surpass his previous low point from Dual Destinies, where Clay was dead and he couldn't stop wondering if Athena did it.
- What's more heartbreaking is that Dual Destinies shows us Apollo is extraordinarily good at hiding his emotions. Athena's reaction following Apollo's minor snap when he took his leave implies that she couldn't hear his emotions until then. Which considering his reaction in this game, means he might have actually still been reigning himself in at that time. Apollo doesn't like to show how he really feels, aside from his thinly-veiled dislike of Klavier and his "unprofessionalism" (unless you believe he's jealous, but considering his personality, it seems more likely he hates Klavier based on Klavier's inability to be professional). So to see Apollo, who actively tries to be the Consummate Professional and, considering he never talks about himself at work and is by far the most distant with his coworkers, has shades of thinking Being Personal Isn't Professional, display that level of emotion at work is crushing.
- Speaking of Dual Destinies... That moment when you realize that Turnabout Revolution happens a mere five months after The Cosmic Turnabout. Basically Apollo lost two people close to him within a span of exactly five months and a day. Poor guy.
- Maya also deserves a mention here. After Apollo confirms the Awful Truth, we get a picture of Dhurke's final moments, with him bleeding to death while Maya is forced to watch, trying to break her ropes while tearfully begging Dhurke not to die. It's more heart-wrenching when you consider that she's also experienced losing a long-lost parent.
- As if Case 5 weren't soul-crushing enough based on just what's right above this, no matter how many times you wanted to strangle Nahyuta with his braid or shove those prayer beads down his throat every time he called you "putrid" or told you to just give up, Case 5 was pretty rough on the guy.
- And of course, it's revealed that he's completely undeserving of Ga'ran's bullying and cruel treatment, he having only done all that to protect his mother and sister from Ga'ran, and that he actually respected Apollo. Give the poor guy a hug already.
- Dhurke's marriage to Amara. By his account, they were Happily Married, but as the case progresses it's clear their relationship was a lot more complicated... and neither truly realized each-other's doubts. Amara genuinely believed that Dhurke really did try to assassinate her, but still went along with him because a part of her couldn't stop loving him. Then it turns out the channeled Dhurke suspected her of killing Inga, but he still loved her to the point that he lied to protect her. It gets even worse once the truth about 23 years ago comes out: turns out Ga'ran was the one behind the assassination attempt on Amara, and while she staged it so she wouldn't die, she framed Dhurke for it and used that to emotionally manipulate her sister into believing her husband was dangerous. In other words, Amara's suspicious of the man she loved were a giant lie spun by her sister just so she could usurp the throne, and she never knew.
- Apollo's biological father, Jove, was killed in a fire trying to save his infant son. He died before he could do so, and so died not knowing his son made it out alive. You get to watch the whole horrible event, but it's mercifully short, since you only have to cite one location twice in the entire seance.
- There's something very... off about the first part of the fifth case. Then you learn you're basically playing the part of Edgeworth in Farewell, My Turnabout during the first half of the trial- Nick is being blackmailed into aiding a slimeball of a human being with Maya's life on the line. Except this time, Nick is fighting all alone. And it really shows, too, how much of a toll it takes on him.
- Rayfa gradually falling apart over the course of the game. She may be an arrogant Bratty Half-Pint, but she genuinely wants to be the best queen and princess she can be, and it's hard to watch her repeatedly fail to live up to her own standards, which is only compounded her family issues. It culminates in her having a full-scale nervous breakdown when trying to perform a Divination Seance on her father, and collapsing into a sobbing mess in the middle of court after Ga'ran badgers her, bemoaning the fact that Khura'in is going to have such a failure for a queen. Rapidly becomes Heartwarming, however, when everyone not Ga'ran in the courtroom chips in to convince her she isn't worthless.
- Rayfa's breakdown hits especially hard when contrasted to her fainting spells in previous cases. When you finally break her insights in earlier cases, she melodramatically faints while yelling some variety of This Cannot Be!. After trying to do the Divination Seance for her father, she's going pale, gasping for breath, incapable of forming words, and then passes out. It's borderline terrifying to see.
- There's a particularly piquant moment where Phoenix overhears her crying in another room and hesitates to go in (even though he needs to as part of his investigation) because it reminds him of his own daughter Trucy. It's hard to know which of them to hug first.
- Then there is the application of the whole truth involving her family. Throughout this trial: she lost both of her fathers (and in a horrible twist in fate the adoptive father killed her biological father), nearly lost her biological mother and brother, the person who instigated the entire tragedy that led to this trial is her adopted mother, and is technically being held hostage by said adopted mother; all of this in a matter of days. You think Sarge/Armie had it bad, Rayfa's situation was worse in comparison.
- Apollo's decision to stay in Khura'in.
- If you think about Apollo's parents, there is definitely some Fridge Sadness when you realize that Thalassa had to live with her husband and child disappearing. While she likely suspected their deaths in a fire, she never got a confirmation (as the body was never positively identified), and had to live with the fact until she lost her memory years later...
- If you think about Apollo himself, he lost 3 fathers. His biological father whom he never got to know was killed in an arson caused by Ga'ran, his stepfather whom he didn't even know was his stepfather, was killed by Kristoph and there is his foster father Dhurke whom is killed by Inga.
- In a combination of this and Fridge Horror, think about Thalassa's reaction to seeing Jove's picture at the end of the game. She says, "It's been so long..." and one will realize that not only did she forget about him when she lost her memory, but very likely had nothing in the way of mementos for her time with him. Not because of anything on her part due to the accident, but most likely everything from her past before the accident was hidden/destroyed by Magnifi!
- Like Turnabout for Tomorrow in Dual Destinies there are multiple bad endings for this case in particular:
- Fail the civil trial and the guilty plaintiff obtains the Founder's Orb and the revolution dies with it. As a result Apollo and Phoenix's business relationship becomes terribly strained.
- Fail immediately after the reveal of Dhurke's death? The revolution dies and the late founder of the Defiant Dragons is found guilty of both the assassination attempt and Inga's death.
- Fail after Amara falsely confesses to Inga's murderer? Dhurke is acquitted from the charge of murdering Inga, but is still found guilty of Amara's assassination attempt, thus ending the revolution. Amara is subsequently tried and found guilty of Inga's murder in Dhurke's place.
- Fail to successfully pin Garan to Inga's murder after Nahyuta's revival? Dhurke is no longer found guilty of the assassination and Inga's death but the corrupt Garan regime is still active and Apollo is fighting in the revolution possibly leading to his own death.
Turnabout Time Traveler
- The true nature of Sorin's ability to "time travel": Anterograde amnesia. Any new memories he makes are forgotten whenever he goes to sleep, essentially sending him "back in time" to the moment he first got amnesia. And the worst of it is, the most recent thing that he can remember every time he wakes up is the car accident that gave it to him... and killed his sister.
- The reveal that Sorin was responsible for the car accident that lead to his sister's death. As if having a beloved family member's death always fresh in your mind as though it had just happened yesterday weren't bad enough, imagine being the one who caused it.
- While what he did was horrible, it's not hard to understand how much pain Pierce felt. His fiancé, Selena, was fatally injured in an accident that was caused by her brother, Sorin. Even though Selena's injuries were more serious, she requested that Pierce save her brother first. He complied, and while he succeeded in saving Sorin, Selena ended up dying. Being unable to save the person you love, while the person who was accidentally responsible for her death is set to live a happy, successful life, would feel unbearable to anyone. Even Phoenix feels bad for him.
Phoenix: (Pierce Nichody... Another inconsolable time traveler... who lived in time that stood still...)
- To twist the knife further, Pierce's Breakdown has him relive the final moments of Selena's death as he fails to save her on the operating table, growing increasingly unhinged as he tears into the FXR-UPR.
- Likewise, even Dumas can suddenly go from Asshole Victim to Jerkass Woobie once you find out about his motive being Revenge for being The Scapegoat for causing Selena's accident and consequently having his life ruined — not unlike Jack Hammer and Yanni Yogi from the original Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney.
- The moment when the watch starts ticking...
"I see now, Selena... What I did... was wrong..."
- Ellen's face when Sorin says Ellen is the only person who could have done it. Ellen starts crying, but not her Ocular Gushers. She keeps her poise, grace, and neat appearance, but she's visibly hurt by this to the point of having Dull Eyes of Unhappiness and looking like only a shell of her former self as she is almost completely shattered inside. It's not helped by Edgeworth's ruthlessness to her (though he at least gets scolded by the Judge for this). Sorin also later says it's mostly because of Edgeworth and Pierce taking advantage of Sorin's amnesia (unintentionally on Edgeworth's part) he ever thought Ellen did it in the first place.
- The sheer amount of hatred in the first two cases can be depressing, to the point the game doesn't even feel like an Ace Attorney game at the darkest moments. People are openly calling for the death penalty of a nine-year old kid in the first case (whose only reaction is fear and quietly confiding in the dog he smuggled into the court room) and Trucy, the lovable and sweet assistant girl from Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, in the second. The second case in particular drives this home because of how personal it can feel if you played the fourth game (since you got to know and spend all that time with Trucy and now all these strangers want her head). Spiteful treatment of the defense attorney is par for the course in Ace Attorney (and in that regard a lot of the attorney abuse this time feels much colder because of how vindictive the prosecution's words are, instead of over-the-top antics like whipping the defense) but this is the first time in the series that so much abuse has been directed at the defendant and it can be heart-wrenching.
- Maya's 28 at this point in the series. She's outlived Mia by a year.