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Ace Attorney, known in Japanmarker as , is a series of adventure/visual novel games created by Shu Takumi and published by Capcom in which players assume the role of a defense attorney in a fictional courtroom setting, which is based on the Japanese legal system, to strive to find their clients "not guilty" using investigation, evidence, and cross-examination to prove their case.

The first three games in the series, originally released only in Japan and in Japanese between 2001 and 2004 for the Game Boy Advance platform, have been ported to the Nintendo DS as well as localized into English and other languages. The series has been developed for the DS from the ground up starting with the fourth game. The DS remakes and games in the series take advantage of the DS features, including the microphone and touchscreen. The series is planned to be released on WiiWare in Japan from December 15, 2009 and in North America from January 2010.

The first three games feature and are sometimes referred to by the eponymous main protagonist, Phoenix Wright. The fourth game, set seven years after the end of the third game, introduces a new protagonist, Apollo Justice, who takes over from Wright.


The game takes place in an urban city set in 2016 and later; for the Japanese versions, this city is somewhere in Japan, while the English localization places the games in Los Angelesmarker, Californiamarker. Localization differences will sometimes reflect the differences between these societies, for example the side of a car the driver's wheel is on. Additionally, the names of the major characters have been adapted for localization; for example, the main character of "Ryuichi Naruhodo", whose last name is a pun on the Japanese phrase for "I see", has been renamed in the Western versions as "Phoenix Wright", referencing the phoenix that rises from its own ashes, and a pun on the word "right".

The fictional future justice system is such that when a person is accused of a crime, they are immediately given a bench trial presided by a judge, a prosecuting attorney from the state, and a defense attorney that must completely prove the accused innocent of the crime. Trials last 3 days at most, due to the large number of cases that the courts must deal with; if the accused cannot be found innocent after this time, their case is consigned to a higher court. The majority of the work during a trial is on the shoulders of the defense attorney who must cross-examine the witnesses brought forth by the prosecution to find contradictions in testimony to clear their client. During the time frame of the fourth game, an option for a jury trial is also established.

In the first three games, the main playable character is Phoenix Wright. He is a rookie lawyer fresh out of law school in the first game, taking a position at Fey & Co. Law Offices run by Mia Fey, a defense attorney that helped to acquit Wright of murder several years prior to the events of the first game. When Mia is murdered, Wright takes over the offices with the assistance of Maya Fey, Mia's younger sister, and renames the office "Wright & Co. Law Offices". The Fey family have the ability to channel spirits, which sometimes allows Maya or her much younger cousin Pearl Fey to channel Mia's spirit to help Wright in court. Wright develops a rivalry with prosecuting attorney Miles Edgeworth as they oppose each other in court. Wright's victories over Edgeworth (along with Wright's victory over prosecutor Manfred Von Karma) introduces a third prosecutor to combat Phoenix in court, Franziska von Karma, who sees Edgeworth as a younger brother, (despite actually being several years younger than him) determined to succeed where Edgeworth and her father failed, and win against him in court. In the third game, Phoenix's main rival in court is Godot, a mysterious prosecutor who holds some kind of grudge against him. Also more info related to Phoenix, Mia and other members of the Fey family is unveiled, intertwining with the events from the previous games until the last case, which closes the Phoenix Wright chapters of the Ace Attorney series.

The fourth game shifts seven years after the first three games. Phoenix, having been disbarred for using falsified evidence, has become a piano player, adopted a young magician named Trucy, and has transformed the office to the "Wright Talent Agency". When he is accused of murder, he spies the upcoming and talented defense attorney Apollo Justice with his "Chords of Steel" and has him defend him as well as hiring him, forcing the office to be renamed "Wright Anything Agency". While Apollo and Trucy handle cases, Phoenix still works with ties to the justice system to implement changes that will help improve the courts, including the introduction of a "Jurist System" that leaves the decision of guilt or innocence to a six-panel jury, while investigating the remaining mysteries involving his last case seven years before.

There are some points where a different character from the main character is controlled. In Justice for All, Maya is temporarily controllable when she is kidnapped in the fourth case. In Trials and Tribulations, Mia is the playable character in the 1st and 4th cases, set three years before the game, and Miles Edgeworth replaces Phoenix when he is injured in the fifth case. Phoenix is also playable in the fourth case of Apollo Justice, both in the court of his final case seven years ago, and his following investigation.


The games in the Ace Attorney series are primarily adventure games, though they require the player to collect evidence and to present it to the witnesses when they are 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 Courtroom 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 also introduced the "Psyche-Lock," a system through which the defending attorney can break mental barriers to learn the truth from uncooperative witnesses during investigation. Players can present both evidence and, in the second and third games, profiles of people involved with the case.

Courtroom sessions are generally made up of testimonies consisting of statements by witnesses. The player may cross-examine 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. Occasionally the player will have to specifically prove their allegations, either through presentation of more evidence, or more careful examination of existing evidence. In the fourth game, the game introduces the Perceive system, which is active during some cross-examinations. During testimony, the player can activate the Perceive system 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.

As the defense, the goal of the player is usually to have a "Not Guilty" verdict handed down to their defendant. Most of the trials in the game last two days, with three as the maximum, between which the player can revisit or visit areas relevant to the trial to obtain more evidence or information. Throughout the trial process the player must determine through the information acquired the true perpetrator of the crime in order to absolve their client of any blame.

Presenting evidence is accompanied by the defense attorney pointing with his finger, as in the game's logo, and shouting , accompanied by a word bubble of the same word, both which have become iconic representation of the series. If the player presents the wrong evidence, attempts to present at the wrong time, or fails 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 declared over with a guilty verdict for the accused, and the player will have to restart from their last save point or the beginning of the court session.

The courtroom procedure presented in the game 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, judge(s) act as the inquisitor who determine the outcome of the trial. For this reason, the court proceeding much more closely resembles a debating contest. For example, in the Japanese version, "objections" is "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 the witness 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, and moreover there is no concept of plea, meaning that theoretically, the judge could declare a not guilty verdict even if the defendant had pled guilty, as in the last episode of the first game. Although perjury is stated to be a crime, its illegality appears to not 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 games 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.

In the DS remakes, the game utilizes the touchscreen in addition to the normal controls, and also the microphone, allowing the player to shout "Objection!", "Hold it!", "Take that!", or "Gotcha!" at the appropriate times, though they can also select these options via more common entry methods. The remake of the first game for the DS included a brand new fifth case created specifically for the remake, with additional aspects of gameplay that fully used the DS special features; for example, one could dust for fingerprints by tapping the screen to apply fingerprinting powder, then blowing at the DS microphone gently to blow them away, or by using 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. In the WiiWare versions, players will be able to fling the Wii Remote forward like Phoenix's finger in order to shout "Objection!"

Each game is made up of four or five cases with the games and the cases have some interconnection, recurring minor characters or similar crime elements. The game can be saved and resumed from any point. This feature is one of the most exploited aspects of the game, in which players can save before a critical point, allowing them to reset their system and resume with full health if they make a mistake, relying on trial and error as opposed to logic.


The Ace Attorney series began as trilogy of Game Boy Advance titles, called Gyakuten Saiban, released only in Japan from 2001 to 2004. The Game Boy Advance versions were not imported or translated. In 2005, the original title, Gyakuten Saiban, was ported to the Nintendo DS as Gyakuten Saiban: Yomigaeru Gyakuten (Turnabout Courtroom: Turnabout Rebirth). When the port was released in Japan it included both the original Japanese and an English localization, making the game a popular import title. In October 2005, the English localization was turned into the North American version of the game, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, and European editions followed. Following the popularity of the port, DS-enhanced versions of Gyakuten Saiban 2 and 3 were released for a budget price in Japan, both with English options, albeit without any additional episodes, and were later released in Western markets. The 4th game, Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, is the first title to be made specifically for the Nintendo DS, and did not feature any English options for its Japanese release.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

The original GBA game was released in 2001, with the Japanese and English DS ports in 2005.The game's story introduces Phoenix Wright, Mia and Maya Fey, and Miles Edgeworth, along with other minor characters that reappear in later games. The original GBA game contained four cases; a special fifth case named "Rise from the Ashes" was made for the DS version that utilized additional investigation techniques that relied on the features of the DS, such as the microphone and touchscreen.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney — Justice for All

The second game was released on the GBA in Japan in 2002, and on the DS in 2006 and 2007. The game contains four cases, in both the Advance and DS versions, and takes place about a year after the events of first game. It introduces the characters of Pearl Fey, the younger cousin of the Fey sisters, and Franziska von Karma, daughter of Manfred.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney — Trials and Tribulations

The third game was released on the GBA in Japan in 2004, with Japanese and English DS ports following in 2007. The game takes place roughly a year after the previous game and includes many characters from both previous games, and also allows the player to play two cases in the past as Mia Fey, as well being able to play most of the finalé case as Miles Edgeworth. There are five cases total within the game.

Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney

The fourth game was released in Japan in April 2007 and in North America on February 19, 2008. It is the first installment to be developed specifically for the Nintendo DS. The title was localized in Americamarker and other territories as Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, reflecting the change of the main character from Phoenix Wright to Apollo Justice ( . The game features four cases.

Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth

The fifth game which is a spin-off was released in Japan on May 28, 2009. In the April 2008 issue of Famitsu, it was revealed to be Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth, known in Japan as . It was originally codenamed and was announced by Capcom in February 2008. It is a Nintendo DS game starring prosecutor Miles Edgeworth and detective Dick Gumshoe. The investigation portions are presented using a third-person camera view. The game takes place before and after the events of Trials and Tribulations. The game will also feature new and never before seen main characters, such as Kay Faraday.

Future main games

Gyakuten Saiban 5, the next installment in the Ace Attorney series, was announced by Capcom's president on May 22, 2007 with no further detail.

PC versions

Daletto and Capcom have partnered to bring the three Nintendo Gameboy Advance and DS games to Microsoft Windows as episodic content in Japanmarker; the first game, for example, is broken into 17 episodes and only includes the original four chapters from the first game. The games were released between March and May . At the present time, Capcom has not announced plans to bring these to other regions.

WiiWare versions

Capcom plan to release the games on WiiWare in Japan between December 2009 and March 2010, and in North America between January 2010 and May 2010. The games will be straight ports of the GBA/DS titles with no enhanced visuals or extras, but will accomodate the Wii's pointer and motion controls.


Critical reception

Game Metacritic Game Rankings
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney 81/100 (53 reviews) 82% (62 reviews)
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
Justice for All
76/100 (51 reviews) 78% (57 reviews)
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
Trials and Tribulations
81/100 (45 reviews) 81% (46 reviews)
Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney 78/100 (16 reviews) 77% (39 reviews)

The Western releases of the games have garnered generally favorable reviews by the gaming press. The series has generally been praised for being a strong adventure game in an otherwise lacking market, having great presentation, music, and dialog, while at the same time being criticized for being too linear and lacking replayability and evolution among the series' installments. The representation of the legal system in the games has been noted to be significantly flawed; GameSpot's review of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney noted 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." Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney — Justice for All also received negative comments due to the lack of the unique DS features introduced in the first game. Issue 22 of (N)Gamer noted that the series on a whole sometimes features "odd leaps in logic" that turns the game into a trial-and-error procedure.


In Japan, the series has performed reasonably well, with the combined sales (both GBA and DS) of the first two games around 400,000 units, and the third game, only considering GBA sales, nearing 250,000 units. The fourth game sold 160,000 copies the day of release in Japan, with a total of 250,000 units moved during the first week of release.

In the United States, the first game became surprisingly successful, forcing Capcom to prepare at least three additional runs of the game to meet the demand. Part of this was due to initially low expectations from retailers such as Wal-Martmarker and Toys "R" Us who passed on the game; Capcom had produced nine to ten runs of three-to-four thousand units before Toys "R" Us requested 15,000 copies.

As of June 2008, Capcom has stated that the series, spanning 12 games, has sold more than 3 million units worldwide, and is tied with Breath of Fire as their 11th best selling series of all time.


The official soundtrack for Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney was first published by Suleputer on November 30, 2005. The soundtracks of the second and third game have also been released.

Capcom has also released an album entitled Gyakuten Saiban Orchestra Album: Gyakuten Meets Orchestra with orchestral arrangements of many of the songs used in the game and its two sequels on September 9, 2006. A second CD with additional Ace Attorney orchestral pieces was released for sale at the Tokyo Game Show 2006, and was sold to the public later that year. On March 31, 2007, another official arrangement album named Gyakuten Saiban Jazz Album: Gyakuten Meets Jazz was released by Capcom. As the name implies, the album consists of jazz arrangements. The CDs were originally scheduled for Japanese release only, but since, it has been announced that they will be released in North America as well, the release date currently unknown

The video game music arrangement circle Magical Trick Society has released an album with arrangements of songs from Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, called Cadenza: Gyakuten Saiban 1.

On April 20, 2008, a live concert for the music in the Ace Attorney was held, and on July 16, 2008 a recording of this soundtrack was put out, under the name of Gyakuten Saiban Tokubetsu Houtei 2008.

Capcom Japan worked in conjunction with Takarazuka Revuemarker to create a live musical performance for the Phoenix Wright games presented in February 2009. , and starred Cosmos Troupe's Tomu Ranju in the lead role. Despite being a Japanese production, the show uses names from the English versions of the games. The show was well-received, leading to a sequel to be performed in August 2009.


U.S. manga publisher Del Rey Manga is distributing in the United States a manga adaptation of the video game series. This is not the same adaption that is currently being serialized in Japan, rather an older collection of doujinshi, or fan-comics, produced by several different artists. The adaptation currently running in Japan is written by Kenji Kuroda and illustrated by Kazuo Maekawa and published by Kodansha.


  3. Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney for DS - Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Nintendo DS - Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney DS Game
  4. GoNintendo » Blog Archive » Gyakuten Saiban 5 confirmed- What are you waiting for?
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  8. GAF - News - Phoenix Wright leaves courtroom, enters orchestra
  9. News: Two Official Soundtracks On the Way! - Capcom BBS
  10. Magical Trick Society -HOME

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