…The two excpetions being Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright (haven’t played it yet actually) and Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth (I have a physical copy). When I say “All Six Ace Attorney games”, I mean the six main series games:
- Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
- Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Justice For All
- Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations
- Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney
- Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies
- Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Spirit of Justice
I got the first four games when they were originally released on the Nintendo DS in the US (originally released in Japan on the Game Boy Advance) and still have them. I also have Edgeworth’s game (On the Nintendo DS), which did get a Japan-only sequel (WTF Capcom!). In recent years, all of the main series Ace Attorney games have been ported to iOS and Android for playing on your phone or iPad. You can get the mobile versions in HD. In fact, you can get the first 3 games bundled as Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy (Gyakuten Saiban 123 in Japan) on iTunes, Android, 3DS, Wii U or Switch. In short, Capcom has made it absurdly easy for anyone to get their hands on the Ace Attorney series.
Now, obviously I started playing the games 12 years ago when the Nintendo DS was still current. This is the YouTube video that piqued my interest in the series (WARNING: NSFW):
…Mind you, this was 2006-07 Internet Humor. Originally uploaded to Newgrounds (now gone), it was uploaded to YouTube in January 2007. I was 22 years old when I first saw it. I bought the first Ace Attorney game from Gamestop in Spring 2007, the second later that year and the third when it was released in the US. I got Apollo Justice when it came out and then the following two Ace Attorney games as they were released digitally on the 3DS.
For those who haven’t played any of the Ace Attorney games, here’s a rundown of each the games:
The game where all the main series characters are introduced. New Attorney Phoenix Wright reunites with a childhood friend turned courtroom rival Miles Edgeworth to contest some tough cases. The one who gets the most character development is clearly Miles Edgeworth despite the name of the game being “Phoenix Wright”. He goes from being a younger version of Manfred von Karma to seeking the truth above all else even if the outcome is not in his favor. After losing two cases in a row to Wright, Edgeworth is set up for a fall by his mentor and adopted father. That’s when Edgeworth realizes some things are more important than getting the “W” in court.
On that note. During his run as a prosecutor, Manfred von Karma never lost in court. The closest he ever got was during his clash with Edgeworth’s father Gregory Edgeworth. Even though he lost the trial, the older Edgeworth proved in court von Karma fabricated evidence. That coupled with getting shot through an elevator door was enough to piss off von Karma enough to shoot the unconscious defense attorney during an earthquake that trapped the Edgeworths and a security guard in an elevator. That incident is the subject of the game’s 4th case.
There is a 5th case–the only case in the entire series that doesn’t use the word “Turnabout” in its name–but it was considered non-canon until the events of Apollo Justice. Ema Skye is introduced in the game’s 5th case, From the Ashes. You don’t hear from her again until Apollo Justice when she returns as a Detective/Forensic Scientist.
The second game focuses a bit more on the Fey family with the introduction of Maya Fey’s cousin Pearl. Like her older cousin, Pearl can also use Kurain-style channeling and uses it to summon the soul of Mia Fey, who dies in the first game’s second case. The game also introduces Franziska von Karma, who is the daughter of Manfred von Karma. She is also a prosecutor and clashes with Phoenix Wright in the game’s last 3 cases.
Miles Edgeworth, who’s been working abroad returns halfway through the game’s last case to replace Franziska. Miles Edgeworth–since known as the King of Prosecutors–wastes no time showing Wright how much he’s improved in court. As it happens, Wright is forced to defend a client he knows is guilty of murder against his will in that case. Wright and Edgeworth manage to get things sorted out in court with Maya’s life hanging in the balance.
The game also introduces the Psyche Lock and Megatama mechanic. Court Mechanics are used to find out the truth someone is hiding.
Past and present collide in a game that was originally meant to be the final one in the series. The pasts of Phoenix Wright, the Fey family and Miles Edgeworth overlap in the past in 3 of the game’s 5 cases. Mia Fey is the Defense attorney in the first and fourth cases of the game. Miles Edgeworth faces Mia Fey in what would have been their first trials apiece but it ends in a mistrial due to the death of the defendant in court before a verdict could be reached. Mia defends a young Phoenix Wright in the game’s first case as well.
The game’s main antagonist is clearly Dahlia Hawthorne and she is the evil twin from hell. She killed her half-sister, ex-boyfriend and forced an accomplice to commit suicide and that’s just before she was executed. With a little help from her mother Morgan and younger sister Pearl, Dahlia returns from the dead in the game’s final case for revenge. Thanks the Mia, her plans are foiled in the end.
Diego Armano, who was poisoned by Dahlia ends up in a coma for almost a decade. When he comes out of it he’s colorblind and learns his understudy died while he was comatose. Blaming Phoenix Wright for no reason, he returns to the courtroom as the mysterious coffee-drinking prosecutor Godot. During the events of the final case Godot is forced to kill someone who’d been possessed by Dahlia (I’m leaving this out on purpose to make you play the game lol).
Phoenix Wright gets injured during the events of the game’s final case so for Part 2 of the trial, Miles Edgeworth is the Defense Attorney. As it happens, Edgeworth wanted to be a defense attorney before the stuff that went down with his father years ago. Since Godot’s suddenly gone missing Franziska and Edgeworth end up facing off in court and hilarity ensues thanks to one Larry Butz!
In the end, Phoenix Wright closes the case on a dark part of his, Edgeworth and the Fey family’s shared past. This could be considered the end of the series and it would have been if not for the fans.
…Enter Apollo Justice.
Fans didn’t know it then but this was the beginning of a second trilogy in the Ace Attorney series. It’s been 8 years since the events of Trials and Tribulations. Legendary Attorney Phoenix Wright is disbarred after presenting forged evidence in court 7 years earlier. Despite this, it’s clear from the game’s first case the ex-attorney hasn’t lost his touch. Speaking of. All four cases in this game are connected and point to the game’s finale.
Wright prettymuch carries the first case but leaves things to Apollo in the two that follow. It’s revealed in the final case that there is a very good reason for that. Wright has been working behind the scenes to get his disbarment overturned and prove not only was he was set up but he, Apollo and the game’s Prosecutor Klavier Gavin were unwhitting pawns. The real mastermind behind Wright’s disbarrement: Apollo’s former boss and Klavier’s older brother Kristoph Gavin, a defense attorney.
Phoenix Wright gains a daughter named Trucy in this game. No, Maya is not the mother. She’s adopted due to stuff that went down during the trial in which he’s disbarred. Thalassya Gramarye, who is the mother of both Trucy and Apollo is shot and assumed killed 7 years earlier. Apollo, who is obviously born before Trucy is out of the picture by this point but still inherits the Gramarye family’s Perceive ability (which he awakens to during the game’s first case). Wright is asked to defend Thalassya’s husband Zak, who is the suspect in court.
It’s revealed later Zak “Enigma” (his alias in Klavier’s first trial) approached Kristoph Gavin about defending him in court under the condition Kristoph could beat him in a game of poker. Kristoph lost so Zak approached Wright, who beat him in Poker and got the job. In the trial that was held involving Wright against then new Prosecutor Klavier Gavin–the latter assumed he would be facing his brother at first–Wright presented forged evidence in court. Acting on a tip he received from his brother, Klavier calls him out on it and Wright is disbarred. It’s revealed Kristoph was the one who set up Wright to get disbarred and waited 7 more years to complete his revenge.
Fast forward to the game’s first case. Wright and Zak meet again, this time with the latter going by the alias Skadi Smith. After things went south 7 years earlier in that trial, Zak escaped the courtroom and left his then 8 year old daughter Trucy in Wright’s care. This is how Trucy “Enigma” became Trucy Wright more or less. One of the biggest mysteries that has haunted Klavier since his trial with Wright was how his older brother knew in advance Wright not only was going to present forged evidence in court but knew the Forger, Drew Misham. All is revealed in the game’s final case involving Wright, the Klavier Brothers, Zak and Trucy’s shared past.
In fact, you go back in time to revisit the trial that cost Wright 7 years of his career. After the Forged evidence is revealed and Zak disappears, Wright sets to work preparing for a time in the future when the truth can be revealed in court. By the time the game’s first case takes place, he meets the young man he needs to make it happen: Apollo Justice. As is revealed at the end of the third case, the current justice system is pretty broken for a clearly guilty murder suspect to be forced to admit their guilt due to the lack of decisive evidence.
Neither Trucy or Apollo are aware they are brother and sister to this day (Wright obviously knows). In the game’s third case Apollo and Trucy unknowingly meet their mother Thalassya, who is going by the alias Lamiror. When she was young Thalassya left the troupe for a while, met Apollo’s mother and had him. Apollo’s father suddenly died shortly after he was born (more on this below, it’s not relevant to this game). She left him and his bracelet in the care of another before returning to the troupe.
Thalassya would fall in love with Zak and have Trucy. During a dress rehearsal, Thalassya is shot and ends up in a coma. It’s a freak accident her father Magnifi covers up but her husband is tried for murder in the case involving Wright and Klavier. When she recovers, she is blind and goes by the alias Lamiror. In the game’s final case, Apollo and Klavier learn the truth behind what happened 7 years earlier in a similar case and Justice is Served.
I would be remiss if I did not specifically mention the coolest theme music in the entire series, Klavier Gavin’s theme titled “Guilty Love”:
…You’re welcome and yes, that was made for a handheld game system. According to several people who have made covers for it, a real guitar was not used but fear not. Someone was nice enough to provide a VERY detailed tutorial for those with an electric guitar who are willing to try:
The song is short yet awesome!
The game’s second case involves two other crimes that seem unrelated at first but end up being integral to the murder trial. It was pretty clever storytelling overall.
“Sorry to keep you waiting!”
The Ace Attorney is back in the courtroom and–wait, why does he look like Superman? Nevermind. Phoenix Wright returns alongside Apollo Justice and new attorney Athena Sykes in what can easily be seen as a continuation of the previous game. These are dark times for the justice system. An attorney presented forged evidence in court and a prosecutor serving time for murder is overseeing cases. During one trial, a courtroom is bombed and Apollo is badly injured.
The prosecutor for most of the game is Simon Blackquill. It’s revealed he took the blame for a murder committed shortly after Wright was disbarred and has been serving time ever since. He did it to protect Athena, who was a child at the time and daughter of the murder victim. Due to the severe shortage of prosecutors, Blackquill is brought out of prison to preside over cases. In exchange for this, his sentence will be lightened.
In the game’s final case Miles Edgeworth–now sporting glasses–makes his return for the first time since Trials and Tribulations. He’s the Chief Prosecutor now and only gets involved in cases of national significance. That and he’s been working to get Blackquil’s conviction overturned since it went down so…yeah. The glasses are not just for show and is a reference to his late father, who wore glasses. He takes them off during trials but like wine, age has only made the King of Prosecutors even better. Like Wright during his 7 year hiatus, Edgeworth had been working on his end to reform the country’s legal system and make sure innocent people are not convicted.
There is a DLC-exclusive case in which Pearl Fey makes her return but is now a teenager. She makes her official return in the next game. Trucy Wright also returns in this game. Klavier Gavin makes an appearance in one of the cases as well.
This game sees Apollo come into his own and not just because of how personal the last case is for him. The game is split between “Japan/America” and the Kingdom of Khura’in. If the name sounds familiar, It’s where the Kurain-style of channeling originated from. Phoenix Wright is visiting Khura’in where he reunites with Maya Fey. Due to the suspicious incident involving Apollo’s birth father, adopted father and the former queen the Defense Culpability Act prettymuch outlaws Defense Attorneys in the country. The law states Defense Attorneys will face the same penality as their client should a Guilty Verdict be rendered and with the state guaranteeing a guilty verdict, real justice is non-existent in Khura’in.
…Enter Phoenix Wright, who becomes the first Attorney to successfully defend a client in the country not once but twice since the DCA has been on the books. Meanwhile back in “Japan/America”, Apollo Justice and Athena Sykes face the Khura’in Prosecutor Nahyuta Sahdmadhi. Do you remember when I mentioned earlier Apollo’s birth father died under suspicious circumstances but it wasn’t relevant to that game? That’s because it’s relevant to this one. I won’t say anymore than that because you need to play the game to find out!
I will say the game’s final case is not only longest yet in the series but is easily the most revealing for Apollo. The first half of the case takes place in “Japan/America” and ends with Apollo Justice clashing with Phoenix Wright in court (!). You read that right. Relax, it’s not a murder trial but this dream showdown between Master and Apprentice was set up back in Apollo’s game in his very first trial. The second half takes place in Khura’in and one of the many big reveals is Nahyuta and Princess Rayfa are brother and sister ala Apollo and Trucy–the obvious difference being Nahyuta and Rayfa find out they’re siblings in the end (Apollo and Trucy still don’t know). Yeah, that makes Nahyuta a PRINCE since he and Rayfa have the same mother, who is revealed to not actually have died years before. Why was her death faked? You’ll have to play the game to find out!
In all my excitement, I forgot to mention Edgeworth returns in the final case as well as the DLC case. Edgeworth helps get everyone to Khura’in where Apollo backs up Phoenix Wright in court. Their opponent this time is Nahyuta…AND Queen Ga’ran. One other thing I forgot to mention: In Khura’in, only those who can channel spirits can become Queen in Khura’in. Because of this, Maya has to hide her channeling powers while there. The former Queen, Amara was known for her channeling ability and we know Rayfa has the power as well. What about Queen Ga’ran? The truth might surprise you. Or it might not.
Apollo’s Perceive Mechanic, Athena’s Psychotherapy Sessions and the Megatama Mechanic are all featured in the game. This is in addition to the Seance Mechanic introduced in the cases that take place in Khura’in. The soul of the murder victim is summoned in court to testify with their final moments who killed them and this is why the Defense Culpability Act was passed. If the soul of a murder victim can be summoned to identify who killed them, why use Defense Attorneys? Right?
Phoenix Wright proves even testimony from the souls of murder victims can be faulty with his two acquittals. Rayfa feels useless by the time the final trial begins but he makes the case to her that her Seaces are not only an integral part of Khura’in’s legal system but necessary because they can help ensure the truth comes out in court and innocent people are not convicted. Of course, after the final trial Ga’ran is deposed and Apollo decides to become the country’s first Defense Attorney in decades.
When it’s all said and done, Spirit of Justice’s ending was a nice sendoff for Apollo. He came into his own and decides to chart his own destiny. As far as we know Apollo and Trucy still don’t know their mother is still alive but based on her comments during the credits, she plans to see her kids sooner than later.
The next game could either focus on Phoenix and Athena or exclusively feature Apollo. We’ll see. One thing that can be said for sure is there’s plenty of potential if and when we see another Ace Attorney game.
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