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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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Gyakuten Saiban

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 and Athena Cykes in the Nintendo 3DS era games. 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.

Court system[]

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.


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).

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.

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.

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.