In the Ace Attorney series, some witnesses have multiple "personae" each encompassing its own range of emotional expressions as a distinct collection of sprites or model animations. These witnesses can undergo a "transformation" when cornered. Common examples of such characters include culprits, who tend to transition dramatically at some point after being confronted directly by the protagonist as the real killer. They may drop all pretenses of being an unassuming, upstanding member of society who would certainly never commit a crime as heinous as murder, instead verbally abusing the protagonist and gloating when they believe that they are at an advantage. Some other witnesses may transform when some secret that they are hiding is revealed, and the transformation tends to reflect the fact that the secret no longer needs to be hidden. Non-culprit transformations often serve as a red herring to suggest that someone is the culprit while the real killer still remains unknown. These transformations, which can range from a slight change in demeanor to a drastic alteration of appearance complete with a unique animated sequence, serve as an indication of progress for the player, similarly to a boss changing forms or AI patterns in other video games, or a villain undergoing some kind of power-up in an action show.
There is also a particular type of transformation known colloquially as a "breakdown".
- Frank Sahwit — The first example of an actual transformation sequence in the series. He grabs his toupée and throws it at Phoenix Wright's face, which then slides off to reveal Wright's not-too-impressed facial expression. After this point, he drops all pretenses and succumbs to his rage.
- April May — Crosses her arms over her face while she roars and the hearts on her blouse spin rapidly. She then suddenly uncrosses her arms, causing her breasts to bounce three times as her facial expression becomes hideously aggressive-looking.
- Matt Engarde — Pushes back his fringe to reveal scars over his eye then suddenly gets a glass of wine.
- Aristotle Means — After Athena questions Professor Means' teaching style, angering him, he taps his staff once and pulls a chalkboard into the room behind him. Then he pulls his hair into a mohawk, resembling the helmet of a greek warrior. He looks up at the player to reveal that his facial expression has changed from calm to angry, and he taps the board with his chalk
- Marlon Rimes — Rimes takes the bucket of fish on the ground below him and begins to chug it, then placing it back on the ground and wiping his mouth. He then flexes, causing his shirt to rip off, revealing his true, muscular body. His nametag flips around, revealing a golden chain, spelling out "Rimes", and he puts on a pirate hat and pulls out a swordfish
- Pees'lubn Andistan'dhin — When Phoenix Wright calls his faith into question, Andistan'dhin strums his guitar. He then unwraps the wire in his hair, causing it to fall, and plugs it into the dahmalan, while two giant boom boxes appear on his sides, finishing it off by playing a riff on the now electric guitar
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