- This page is about the series of games specific to the title Gyakuten Saiban, starring Phoenix Wright and Apollo Justice. You may be looking for the first Gyakuten Saiban game, localized as Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, or you may be looking for the overall Ace Attorney series.
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The Gyakuten Saiban (meaning "Turnabout Trial") series is a set of six games in the overall Ace Attorney franchise. These games constitute the "main" series and include various core gameplay and plot elements that the series is known for, most notably the alternating investigations and trials. Most of the games star Phoenix Wright as a defense attorney who must fight for the acquittal of his clients through various means such as finding contradictions in witness testimonies. At times, other attorneys fill the role of protagonist, notably Apollo Justice throughout the entirety of Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney. However, Phoenix Wright and the judge character appear as major characters in every game, and are the only characters who have appeared at all in every game.
The games in the series tend to have several plot elements in common as story conventions. For example, every playable character acting as a defense attorney has had some sort of personal connection to a prosecutor in the series.
- Main article: Legal system
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.
The courtroom procedure presented in the games is based on the inquisitive system of Japan and other civil law countries rather than the adversarial system of common law countries. In the inquisitive system, a judge acts as the inquisitor who determines the outcome of the trial. For this reason, the court proceedings much more closely resemble a debating contest. For example, in the Japanese version, the attorneys shout "Igiari!", which means "I disagree!", and this usually involves a display of evidence to counter the argument of the prosecutor. In the common law, adversarial system, an objection is generally used to prevent a witness from testifying or answering a question that the attorney believes prejudices the jury's judgment. An objection in the adversarial system can attack the question being asked of the witness if it disobeys a defined set of rules (for example, asking the witness to speculate, badgering, and asking a leading question are not allowed). Objections may also be used to refute evidence if it is not legally admissible. In the inquisitive system, the judge acts as the jury; therefore, there is no point in preventing witnesses from testifying or answering a question. This does not mean that illegally obtained evidence is allowed to determine the outcome; rather, the judge will exclude such evidence before arriving at the verdict. This is achieved in the inquisitive system by the judge not only in presenting the judgment but also in providing a written justification for the verdict. In the inquisitive system, the judge can ask any question to the defense, the accused, the prosecutors or any witness.
Although perjury is stated to be a crime, its illegality appears not to apply very strictly to the Ace Attorney court system. The vast majority of witnesses lie outright and repeatedly to the court, and receive little more than an admonishment by the judge to revise their testimony (though it is worth noting that at least one witness in the series is told that he would be later charged with perjury). Additionally, though the charge of contempt of court does appear in an incident in the first game in the series, in all but this singular incident, contempt of court, as well as assault and battery, go largely unpunished, especially in the case of prosecuting attorney Franziska von Karma, who wields a whip and constantly uses it against other attorneys, police officers, the witnesses, and even the judge, all while court is in session. This is for dramatic exaggeration of the game and is not part of the Japanese legal system.
- Main category: Gameplay
The Ace Attorney games are primarily adventure games, 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. Each game is made up of four or five episodes; the games and episodes have some interconnection, recurring minor characters, and similar crime elements. The episodes typically become longer and escalate in complexity over the course of each game.
Investigations and trialsEdit
Investigation sessions include 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. Players can present both evidence and, in the second and third games (but not the fourth), 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.
- Main article: List of episode-specific game mechanics
The second game, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Justice For All, introduces the Magatama and Psyche-Lock mechanics. Phoenix can present the magatama to individuals during investigations, which can make a number of Psyche-Locks (ranging from one to five) appear. Phoenix can present evidence pointing to a lie or omission in someone's statement, causing one (or in some cases, multiple) Psyche-Lock(s) to break. When all the locks are broken, the questioned individual typically opens up and can be questioned more about a topic. Psyche-Locks appear to usually be invisible during trials, however (with one known exception).
The fourth game, Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, introduces the Bracelet system, which is activated during certain cross-examinations, and allows the player to use Apollo Justice's hyper-sensitivity to look closely at body language and actions that trigger when the witnesses state something untruthful (for example, their hands may twitch or they may swallow), and thus force the witnesses to respond truthfully.
The fifth game, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies, introduces the Mood Matrix as a gameplay mechanic during trials. Athena Cykes can use the Mood Matrix to analyze witnesses' emotions, identifying unexpected emotional reactions in order to proceed with the testimony (or in the case of "Overload" segments, identifying that which is triggering the overwhelming emotional reaction). Also new is the "Revisualization" system; a critical juncture in the trial in which the defense is able to logically connect what they know about the case in order to change their perspective on the facts and come to a new conclusion, similar to the "Logic" system of the Investigations series. The Bracelet mechanic is also moved outside the courtroom, used during investigation dialogue sequences as opposed to cross-examinations.
The sixth game, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Spirit of Justice, introduces another new trial mechanic, the Divination Séance, which the defense is able to use view the final moments of the victim's life and see what they saw, identifying potential inconsistencies in the images to prove the suspect innocent.
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, giving them 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.
Nintendo DS gameplayEdit
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 and the 3DS installments continue this trend, adding the ability to rotate around a scene in certain examination phases.