- This page is meant to provide an overview of the entire Ace Attorney franchise. Links are provided under most section titles for more detailed information on each aspect of the franchise. More information on the main series can be found in the page Gyakuten Saiban.
Ace Attorney (called Gyakuten Saiban (meaning "Turnabout Trial") and Gyakuten Kenji (meaning "Turnabout Prosecutor") in Japan) is a meta-series of primarily text-adventure video games created by Shu Takumi and published by Capcom for the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS handheld systems, with ports for Microsoft Windows, WiiWare and iOS. The games follow various lawyers in their battles in the courtroom and their investigations of crime scenes.
The first three games (originally released between 2001 and 2004 in Japan) form a trilogy, commonly referred to as the "Phoenix Wright trilogy", and follow defense attorney Phoenix Wright as he defends his clients in a courtroom setting loosely-resembling that of the Japanese legal system, using investigative skills, cross-examinations and evidence. In 2007, Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney was released, and featured a brand new rookie defense attorney called Apollo Justice as the main protagonist; Wright having been disbarred in the intervening time.
The next two games, the first released in 2009, are part of an interquel series known as Gyakuten Kenji in Japan, and follow prosecutor Miles Edgeworth as he investigates various crime scenes to find the truth behind the crimes using evidence collection, logic and arguments with other people. Another game in this spin-off series was released in 2011 in Japan, but there are currently no plans by Capcom to localize it.
In 2013, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies, was released for the Nintendo 3DS and featured a return of Wright (reinstated as an attorney), Justice, and a new protagonist called Athena Cykes. This game is grouped together with the first four games to comprise the "Gyakuten Saiban" (meaning "Turnabout Trial") series.
The series, which now spans 15 different game products (including ports), started with three games released on the Game Boy Advance only in Japan between 2001 and 2004, created by a small team led by Shu Takumi and starring Ryuuichi Naruhodo (Phoenix Wright). These first Gyakuten Saiban was then remade for the Nintendo DS as Gyakuten Saiban: Yomigaeru Gyakuten (meaning "Turnabout Trial: Turnabout Rebirth) in 2005, which included English-language mode, making it a popular import title. Later that year, a North American version of the remake was released as Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, followed by a European version. The remake also featured an extra case, Rise from the Ashes, which used the microphone and touchscreen features of the Nintendo DS for using forensic tools. Similar remakes for the next two games followed, named Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Justice For All and Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations in localizations, though these did not feature extra cases.
The fourth title, Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, was built for the Nintendo DS from the ground up, and starred a new lawyer, Apollo Justice. Mechanics from Rise from the Ashes made a return in various capacities in this game and in subsequent games. The practice of including an English mode was discontinued, the English localization only appearing in international releases. Capcom then partnered with Daletto (a company co-founded by Capcom to work with online games) to release the first three games as episodic content only in Japan between March and May 2008. After Apollo Justice, Takeshi Yamazaki took over the director's position from Takumi and produced a game starring Phoenix's rival Miles Edgeworth, Gyakuten Kenji. This was localized internationally as Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth, though only the English language became available. iOS and WiiWare remakes of the original three games soon followed, though in case of the iOS, only the first game made it to North America.
Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (a crossover with the Professor Layton series) and Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies were released in 2012 and 2013, respectively, in Japan, with both receiving North American and European releases shortly afterwards (2014 and 2013 for the two games, respectively).
|This article contains information about Ace Attorney media that is currently in production.|
On December 27, 2013, Capcom announced that the Dual Destinies team, including director Takeshi Yamazaki, was working "full force" on the next Ace Attorney game, but did not mention if it would be a main series title, a third Investigations game, or a new spin-off. It was also revealed that Shu Takumi was working on a new game that would be announced in 2014, but at the time they did not reveal whether it was related to Ace Attorney or not. On February 13, 2014, Nintendo announced during a Japanese edition of Nintendo Direct that Takumi's game is a "totally different" new entry in the Ace Attorney series for the Nintendo 3DS. On April 23, 2014, it was revealed that Takumi's new title was titled Dai Gyakuten Saiban: Naruhodō Ryūnosuke no Bōken and would feature an ancestor of Phoenix Wright's called Ryūnosuke Naruhodō who lived in Japan during the Meiji period.
The game takes place in an urban city mostly set in the 2010s and 2020s; for the Japanese versions, this city is somewhere in Japan, while other versions place the games in Los Angeles, California. Cases tend to be localized within the city, though some take place well outside city limits, such as Kurain Village and Flight I-390. The main characters of Ace Attorney are lawyers who investigate crime scenes and then take their evidence to court. Throughout the stories, these lawyers work under an intricate system of rules in the crime scene as well as the courtroom.
Trials are the driving force of the plots in the Gyakuten Saiban games. The courtroom proceedings in the low-level trials seen in the Ace Attorney world run on the initial trial system, which is based on the Japanese legal system. Essentially, when a person is accused of a crime, he or she is immediately given a bench trial presided by a judge, a prosecuting attorney from the state, and a defense attorney who must completely prove the accused innocent of the crime, usually by finding contradictions in witness testimonies, within three days, after which the case is consigned to a higher court. Turnabout Succession uses a jury trial instead, the result of a change in the Ace Attorney world's justice system.
- See also: Investigation
- Main category: Gameplay
The Ace Attorney games are primarily visual novels, though they require the player to collect evidence and to present it to the witnesses in court. The game is presented primarily using animated two-dimensional manga-like sprites, with text dialog, sound effects, and minimal spoken clips to simulate speech.
There are two phases to each case: investigation and trial sessions. Investigation includes the ability to visit several key locations in the case and talk to people involved with it while searching for evidence by examining the scene; the second and third game introduces the "Psyche-Lock," a system through which the defending attorney can break mental barriers to learn the truth from uncooperative witnesses during investigations. Players can present both evidence and, in the second and third games (but not the fourth game), profiles of people involved with the case.
Trial sessions are generally made up of testimonies consisting of statements by witnesses. The player generally cross-examines the witness to locate a contradiction by showing a piece of evidence that relates to what the witness has testified. The player may also "press" the witness, asking the witness to clarify a statement. Sometimes pressing and presenting evidence will lead to additional statements added to the testimony. Presenting evidence successfully may also lead to new lines of testimony altogether and it is almost always the only way to proceed in the game. The fourth game introduces the Perceive system, which is active during some cross-examinations. During testimony, the player can use his bracelet to look closely at body language and actions that trigger when the witnesses states something untruthful (for example, their hands may twitch or they may swallow), and thus force the witnesses to respond truthfully.
The ultimate goal in the courtroom is to have a "not guilty" verdict handed down to the defendant. Often however, the player is only able to delay the case until the next day. This gives the player more time to investigate the crime. Generally, the player must determine who the true perpetrator of the crime is in order to absolve the defendant of guilt.
Presenting evidence is accompanied by the defense attorney pointing with his finger, as in the game's logo, and shouting "Objection!" (異議あり!, Igi ari!), accompanied by a word bubble of the same word, both of which have become iconic representations of the series. If the player presents the wrong evidence, attempts to present at the wrong time, or fails in other parts of in-court questioning, they lose some measure of acceptance by the judge, and if the player is wrong too many times, the case will be terminated with a guilty verdict for the accused, and the player will have to restart from his/her last save point or the beginning of the court session.
Each game is made up of four or five episodes; the games and episodes have some interconnection, recurring minor characters and similar crime elements.
Nintendo DS gameplay
In the DS remakes, the game utilizes the touchscreen and microphone in addition to, and as an alternative to, the normal controls, allowing the player to shout "Objection!", "Hold it!", "Take that!", or "Gotcha!" at the appropriate times. The remake of the first game for the DS includes a brand new fifth case created specifically for the remake, with additional aspects of gameplay that fully used the special features on the DS; for example, one can dust for fingerprints by tapping the screen to apply fingerprinting powder, then blowing at the DS microphone gently to blow the powder away. The player can also use the 3D capabilities of the DS to render the collected evidence; key details concerning the evidence are often revealed this way. The fourth game of the series, which is the first game developed completely for the DS without a prior GBA release, also includes a number of these elements.
The localization of the games adapts the story to take place in an alternate-universe Los Angeles in which Japanese culture has been allowed to flourish and blend into American culture, instead of being met with fierce historical resistance as in real life. Character names are adapted into English; for instance, "Ryuuichi Naruhodou", whose first name references a dragon and whose last name is a pun on the phrase "I see", is renamed "Phoenix Wright", whose first name references the phoenix and whose last name is a pun on the word "right". Additionally, relatively nonessential references to Japanese culture are replaced by references to Western culture; for example, "Mayoi Ayasato" frequently hungers for ramen, while the English equivalent "Maya Fey" lusts for burgers. However, the existence of Japanese temples and Japanese-themed towns is left intact. Budget and time constraints have caused this system to be implemented somewhat inconsistently, such as Eldoon's Noodles staying intact.
References to the United States in the Japanese versions are changed to various European countries (usually Germany) to account for characters who are meant to have visited a foreign country. In Reunion, and Turnabout, an American car is called a British car in the localization because cars in the United Kingdom and Japan drive on the left side of the road, whereas North American cars drive on the right.
- Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
- Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Justice For All
- Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations
- Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney
- Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth
- Gyakuten Kenji 2 (Japan-only)
- Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
- Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies
- Dai Gyakuten Saiban: Naruhodō Ryūnosuke no Bōken
|Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney||81/100 (53 reviews)||82.42% (64 reviews)|
|Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney|
Justice for All
|76/100 (51 reviews)||77.59% (55 reviews)|
|Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney|
Trials and Tribulations
|81/100 (46 reviews)||81.14% (49 reviews)|
|Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney||78/100 (48 reviews)||78.39% (46 reviews)|
|Ace Attorney Investigations:|
|77/100 (51 reviews)||
78.81% (35 reviews)
|Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney|
|81/100 (48 reviews)||
81.64% (33 reviews)
The Western gaming press has generally given favorable reviews of the games. The games have received praise for their presentation, music and dialog, and for being strong adventure game titles in an otherwise lacking market. Criticisms have included linearity, lack of replay value, and lack of evolution in the general gameplay formula. Reviewers have also noted the unrealistic nature of the courtroom system; GameSpot noted in its review of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney that, during courtroom sessions, one should "suspend your disbelief about the whole procedure, since, although it feels fairly close to reality, many things go on during the proceedings that would probably horrify actual members of the legal system." Issue 22 of (N)Gamer also noted that the games sometimes involve "odd leaps in logic" that can degenerate the experience of presenting evidence into a trial-and-error procedure. Justice For All and Trials and Tribulations were criticized for a lack of the unique DS features introduced in the first game.
In Japan, the games have enjoyed a reasonable amount of popularity. The combined sales (both GBA and DS) of the first two games totaled around 400,000 units, while the GBA version of the third game, neared 250,000 units. The fourth game sold 160,000 copies on the day of release in Japan, with a total of 250,000 units moved during the first week of release. Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth sold 172,000 units in the week of its release and 42,000 the following week. In both cases, the game was the second best selling DS title in Japan, trailing Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days.
In the United States, the success of the first game exceeded the low expectations of retailers such as Wal-Mart and Toys "R" Us, forcing Capcom to prepare at least three additional runs of the game to meet the demand. Capcom had produced nine to ten runs of three-to-four thousand units before Toys "R" Us requested 15,000 copies.
As of December 2009, Capcom has stated that the series has sold more than 3.8 million units worldwide, and is currently their 9th best selling series of all time.
- Main category: Music
Capcom has produced several albums for the Ace Attorney series including: original soundtracks for each game, albums consisting of orchestral and jazz arrangements of select tracks, and the soundtrack for the film adaptation. The series has also produced three stage musicals in partnership with the all-female musical theatre troupe, the Takarazuka Revue.
- Subcategory: Soundtracks
The official Ace Attorney original soundtrack albums are almost all released on the Suleputer label that Capcom typically uses, with the exception of the Gyakuten Saiban Movie Original Soundtrack which is on the VAP label. The composers responsible for the music are Masakazu Sugimori, Akemi Kimura, Noriyuki Iwadare, Toshihiko Horiyama, Yasuko Yamada, Tomohito Nishiura, Yasumasa Kitagawa, and Kōji Endō.
- Gyakuten Saiban 1 and 2 Original Soundtrack (2004)
- Gyakuten Saiban 3 Original Soundtrack (2004)
- Gyakuten Saiban: Yomigaeru Gyakuten Original Soundtrack (2005)
- Gyakuten Saiban 4 Original Soundtrack (2007)
- Gyakuten Kenji Original Soundtrack (2009)
- Gyakuten Kenji 2 Original Soundtrack (2011)
- Gyakuten Saiban Sound BOX (2012)
- "Professor Layton VS Gyakuten Saiban" Original Soundtrack with Special Anime Film (2012)
- Professor Layton VS Gyakuten Saiban Magical Mystery Music (2013)
- Gyakuten Saiban 5 Original Soundtrack (2013)
- Gyakuten Meets Orchestra (2006)
- Gyakuten Meets Jazz Soul (2007)
- Gyakuten Saiban Tokubetsu Hōtei 2008 (2008)
- Gyakuten Kenji Orchestra Mini Album (2009)
- Gyakuten Kenji 2 Orchestra Arrangement Collection (2011)
- Gyakuten Saiban Movie Original Soundtrack (2012)
Common musical themes
Many of the same musical themes are used throughout the series to represent particular cases or characters, and appear on several albums with variations in tempo, key, and arrangement:
- "Confess the Truth"
- "Courtroom Lobby"
- "Cross-Examination (music)"
- "Detention Center"
- "Great Revival"
- "Won the Case!"
- Main category: Musicals
There are three stage musicals produced by Capcom and the Takarazuka Revue:
- Gyakuten Saiban: The Truth Reborn
- Gyakuten Saiban 2: The Truth Reborn, Again...
- Prosecutor Miles Edgeworth: Ace Attorney 3
The first two musicals have been released on DVD in Japan and all three have received releases of the main numbers on iTunes Japan.
There have been two drama CDs released by Capcom. These CDs contain original cases, presented by voice actors in a radio-drama style:
- Drama CD: Gyakuten Kenji 2: ~Turnabout from Space!?~
- Drama CD: Gyakuten Saiban 5: ~Animal Circus Turnabout!?~
U.S manga publisher Del Rey Manga is distributing in the United States a manga adaptation of the video game series that is currently being serialized in Japan. The adaptation is written by Kenji Kuroda, illustrated by Kazuo Maekawa and published by Kodansha. Del Rey Manga has also distributed a manga anthology based on the Phoenix Wright trilogy, which was an older collection of dōjinshi (fan comics) created by several different manga artists. The first volume was called The Phoenix Wright Files while the second was called The Miles Edgeworth files.
- ↑ Giuseppe Nelva (2013-12-27). Capcom Developers Tease New Games to Be Announced Next Year, New Ace Attorney in the Works. DualSHOCKERS. Retrieved on 2014-03-23.
- ↑ Brian Ashcraft (2014-02-13). Capcom Is Making a New Ace Attorney. Kotaku. Retrieved on 2014-03-23.
- ↑ Hsu, Janet (2014-10-31). Ace Attorney Trilogy - Surprising Tidbits You Never Knew! Capcom Unity. Retrieved on 2014-11-02.