The logo of the series, used from the second game onwards.
The logo uses the words Ace Attorney in large fonts, accompanied by the name and silhouette of the protagonist.
Nintendo Australia/THQ (Australia)
|Platforms||Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, Windows, WiiWare, iOS, Nintendo 3DS, Android|
|Platform of origin||Game Boy Advance|
|First release||Gyakuten Saiban (later remade and released in English as Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney)
October 11, 2001
|Latest release||Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney
November 29, 2012
Ace Attorney, known in Japan as Gyakuten Saiban (逆転裁判, lit. "Turnabout Trial"), is a series of visual novels/adventure 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 was released on WiiWare in Japan from December 15, 2009 and in North America from January 11, 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 (although Wright makes a comeback as the main protagonist in Dual Destinies), and Miles Edgeworth, a key character from the first trilogy, is featured in two special interquel titles set between the third and fourth games. The first game, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, has been adapted into a 2012 film adaptation, Ace Attorney, directed by Takashi Miike.
|Ace Attorney series chronology|
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 North American and European localization places the games in Los Angeles, California. 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 homophone of the word "right".
Characters and story 
Each game has its own individual plot but the characters and their relationships remain intertwined throughout the series.
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 he is). She is determined to succeed where her father and Edgeworth failed by winning against Phoenix 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 unknowingly 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.
Set between Trials and Tribulations and Apollo Justice, the interquel series Investigations, features Miles Edgeworth as the main character. While and after returning from a trip to Europe, Miles is thrown in a series of incidents tied to a mysterious smuggling ring also involved in the creation and distribution of counterfeit money and art pieces. The game also features important characters like Franziska who is working with the interpol to break down the ring and detective Dick Gumshoe. Key characters exclusive to this game include Kay Faraday, who claims to be the successor of the legendary thief Yatagarasu, and Shi-Long Lang, an interpol agent who for some reason despises prosecutors. One of the cases is a flashback featuring Miles and Franziska's mentor Manfred Von Karma and depicting Miles' first encounter with Kay and Gumshoe.
Court system 
The court system in the Ace Attorney games is strongly influenced from the civil law inquisitorial system of Japan as opposed to adversarial system of common law countries. Online game magazine penned an article about the game and criticism of Japanese legal system.  According to the article, in Japan, being convicted of a crime once legally accused is almost certain, and many defense attorneys may never win an acquittal throughout their career and prosecutor are able to use questionably-obtained testimony and misstatements towards their behalf. On the other hand, an academic article written by J. Mark Ramseyer of Harvard Law School and Eric B. Rasmusen of Indiana University , it is argued that this is due to the fact that inquisitional system use judges who sit on scores of cases a year to decide verdict, which make the outcome very predictable and, as a result, Japanese prosecutors only charge suspects whose chance of conviction is near absolute, which explains the 99% conviction rate in Japan, as opposed to an 88% conviction rate in the U.S. Moreover, in Japan, confession of guilt cannot be admitted as evidence of guilt. Only confession of guilty secret, that is, information only the guilty could have known such as a confession regarding the murder weapon, the location of the body, or the method of the crime, is admissible as evidence. This make confession as highly reliable evidence of guilt as innocent cannot make such confession even under torture. The magazine further erred by stating that Japan reintroduced its own jury system, not used since 1943. This is factually incorrect: Japan introduced a lay judge system, whereby judges actively inquisition evidence presented from both defense and prosecutor.
Recent changes in the court system in Japan have been reflected in the games. Before Japan introduced the lay judge system, a murder trial typically actually took years (or decades in some cases) to conclude. In the Ace Attorney games, a person accused of a crime is brought to a trial that lasts no longer than 3 days; if the trial lawyer cannot achieve an acquittal within that period, the person is found guilty and the case is sent to a higher court (typically losing the game for the player).
As in the actual Japanese system, a case which reaches the courts in the game has overwhelming evidence of guilt and the various prosecutors the player encounters are full of confidence concerning the outcome of the trial as evidenced by their arrogant mannerisms. As such, the defense attorneys (Phoenix and Apollo) are initially treated poorly by the prosecutor and judge, and must avoid pursuing a dead-end line of questioning in the cross-examination of witnesses to avoid premature closure of the trial by the inquisitorial judge. As judges are inquisitors under the inquisitorial system, and are able to actively examine the evidence, failure by the defense to show the merit of continuing cross examination would result in the inpatient judge dismissing the continuation of the case (and game over). Similarly, the police, represented by characters such as Dick Gumshoe, are shown to be compassionate but incompetent, much to the prosecutors' dismay.
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. 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.
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," (called Psycho-Locks by Edgeworth) 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 visit or revisit 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 "Objection!" (異議あり! Igi ari! ), 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, representing by exclamation marks in the first game and a life bar in subsequent titles. 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.
Additionally, after most trials end, the player may be asked to present a piece of evidence that further explains part of the story. For example, Larry Butz is broken-hearted after he discovers his girlfriend, the victim, was cheating on him. Presenting a certain piece of evidence will make him feel better by understanding more about what she really thought of him.
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!", "Gotcha!" or "Eureka!" 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!"
The two Investigations games, while split into cases, follow a less rigid structure as the events of each case occur prior to the official trial and generally right after the crime has been committed, though feature a similar two-phase approach of investigation and cross-examination. In one phase, the player controls the main character (Edgeworth) in moving around a single room to investigate clues or to talk to witnesses. During this time, Edgeworth may recognize some key facts forming the basis of the games' Logic system. When the player believes two facts are connected, they can "join" these facts to create a new line of reasoning; connecting the wrong pieces will impact Edgeworth's concentration, with too many missed guesses causing the game to be over. Subsequently, Edgeworth will then engage with characters through cross-examination, which otherwise is similar to the courtroom version.
The original Ace Attorney trilogy, known in Japan as Gyakuten Saiban, were originally released in Japan for the Game Boy Advance between 2001 and 2004. An enhanced port of the first game, titled Gyakuten Saiban: Yomigaeru Gyakuten (逆転裁判 蘇る逆転, lit. Turnabout Courtroom: Turnabout Rebirth), was released for Nintendo DS in 2005. Along with enhanced features and an additional episode exclusive to the DS version, the game also featured an English language option, making the game a popular import title. The English version was soon released in North America under the name Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, with a European release to follow. Following the popularity of the port, DS-enhanced versions of Gyakuten Saiban 2 and 3 were released as budget titles in Japan, which also included English language options, and were later released in Western markets. The fourth game, Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, being the first in the series specifically developed for the Nintendo DS, did not include an English language option upon release in Japan. The fifth game, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies, is currently being developed for the Nintendo 3DS.
Main series 
- 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. This game has also been ported to the iPhone and iPod, and is available through the iTunes App Store. In Japan, the entire Phoenix Wright trilogy has been released in the App store; however, only the first game has been released for the US.
- 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 the first game. It introduces the characters of Pearl Fey, the younger cousin of the Fey sisters, and Franziska von Karma, daughter of Manfred von Karma.
- 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 has the player take control of Mia Fey with two cases in the past, as well playing a part of the final 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 America and other territories as Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, reflecting the change of the main character from Phoenix Wright to Apollo Justice (Housuke Odoroki (王泥喜 法介 Odoroki Hōsuke ). The game features four cases.
Investigations series 
- Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth
- The fifth game, Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth, (known in Japan as Gyakuten Kenji (逆転検事, Turnabout Prosecutor) and originally codenamed New Gyakuten Not Saiban (NEW逆転 NOT裁判, "NEW Turnabout, NOT Trial"), was released in Japan on May 28, 2009 and in North America in February 2010. Situated after the events of Ace Attorney 3, the games stars prosecutor Miles Edgeworth, his new assistant "Great Thief" Kay Faraday, and detective Dick Gumshoe. The investigation portions are now completed using a third-person camera view, while the witness/suspect cross-examinations have been moved outside of court to the crime scenes. The rest of the gameplay remains firmly true to the series' previous four installments.
- Gyakuten Kenji 2
- The sixth game, Gyakuten Kenji 2, was released in Japan on 3 February 2011. It takes place about two weeks after the events of Gyakuten Kenji. There is a new gameplay mechanic known as "Logic Chess" that is similar to the Psyche Locks of previous games, except the player is given a choice of dialogue options to proceed in a certain order instead of evidence. There are currently no plans to localize the game outside of Japan.
Spin-off games 
- Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney
- Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney (レイトン教授 VS 逆転裁判 Layton-kyōju VS Gyakuten Saiban , lit. "Professor Layton vs. Turnabout Trial") is a crossover game between the Ace Attorney series and the Professor Layton series; it is co-developed by Capcom and Level-5 for the Nintendo 3DS. It is described as a combination of the two game styles - puzzle solving and crime investigation. Shu Takumi, the main writer of the original Ace Attorney games, wrote the plot for this title.
Future games 
- Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies
- The fifth game in the main series, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies (逆転裁判5, lit. "Turnabout Trial 5"), was announced on January 29, 2012. In September 2012, Famitsu revealed the game is in development for the Nintendo 3DS and will once again star Phoenix as the main protagonist, along with a new partner character. The game will receive a digital release in North America and Europe.
Games in the Ace Attorney series, mainly the original trilogy of games for the Game Boy Advance, have been ported to numerous systems since their original release. Most notably, the games were first ported to the Nintendo DS where they made their English debut. These games were subsequently ported to other platforms such as Microsoft Windows and the Wii via WiiWare.
The original trilogy of games were ported to Microsoft Windows by Daletto and Capcom as a series of episodic games in Japan; the first game, for example, is broken into 17 episodes and only includes the original four chapters from the first game. Japan and Capcom has no plans to localize these ports in North America or Europe.
In 2010, Capcom ported the original trilogy of games to the Wii in downloadable form via WiiWare, the games were released over a period of several months. These were a series of direct ports from the Nintendo DS versions of the games with no enhanced visuals, or added features with the exception of utilizing the Wii's pointer as well as motion controls.
Capcom has also ported the first game of the series to iOS platforms. The game mainly utilizes the original graphics of the Nintendo DS versions, but has a revamped interface with a new set of graphics for most of the interactive sections of the game. This game was first released on the Japanese App Store in 2009. It was subsequently released internationally in English in 2010. Capcom has announced that it will port the Phoenix Wright trilogy to iOS as Gyakuten Saiban 123HD ~Naruhodo Ryuichi-Hen, which appears to have improved visuals over the original series. This includes the ability to run the game in a "dual screen" mode, mimicking the Nintendo DS display with the interactive components on the bottom half, or a single screen mode where the interactive components are overlayed on the main graphics screen. The game ports were released on February 7, 2012 in Japan. A port is also planned for Android devices. The collection was scheduled to be released on the U.S. App Store sometime in Fall 2012, but has been delayed to July 2013.
Other media 
The official soundtrack for Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney was first published by Suleputer on November 30, 2005. The soundtracks of the second, third, fourth, and fifth 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
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.
A manga adaptation, based on the Phoenix Wright games, written by Kenji Kuroda and illustrated by Kazuo Maekawa began publication in Kodansha's Bessatsu Young Magazine from August 2006. The five volumes were released in North America by Kodansha USA. Four additional manga adaptation volumes were made by the same author and illustrator based on the Ace Attorney Investigations spin-off games, which were also released in North America by Kodansha USA. Four manga anthology books, based on the Phoenix Wright games, written and illustrated by various manga authors were released in Japan. Only the first two volumes were released by Del Ray in North America.
Capcom Japan worked in conjunction with Takarazuka Revue to create a live musical performance for the Phoenix Wright games presented in February 2009. Gyakuten Saiban −Yomigaeru Shinjitsu− (逆転裁判 −蘇る真実−, lit. "Turnabout Trial -Truth Resurrected-"), 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. A third musical, Gyakuten Saiban 3 Kenji Miles Edgeworth (逆転裁判３ 検事マイルズ・エッジワース, lit. "Turnabout Trial 3 Prosecutor Miles Edgeworth"), was announced on July 31, 2012, and was performed in January 2013.
A live-action film based on the games was produced in association with Nippon Television Network Corporation and Toho Co., Ltd., released in Japan on February 11, 2012. Takashi Miike directed the film, which stars Hiroki Narimiya as Phoenix, Takumi Saito as Edgeworth, and Mirei Kiritani as Maya.
Appearances in other video games 
Phoenix Wright, Franziska von Karma, and Miles Edgeworth appear as new cards in the game SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighters DS. Wright and Edgeworth also make a cameo appearance in the crossover fighting game, Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds, during She-Hulk's ending. Phoenix Wright appears as a playable character in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, assisted by Maya, Missile, and the Judge, while Edgeworth, Franziska, and Godot appear as cards in the Heroes vs. Heralds game mode.
Critical reception 
|Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney||81/100 (53 reviews)||82% (63 reviews)|
|Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
Justice for All
|76/100 (51 reviews)||78% (58 reviews)|
|Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
Trials and Tribulations
|81/100 (45 reviews)||81% (52 reviews)|
|Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney||78/100 (48 reviews)||78% (48 reviews)|
|Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth||78/100 (51 reviews)||79% (31 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, disregarding the fact that the game's legal system is not directly based on the one used in the United States; 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-Mart 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 December 2009, it was their 9th best selling series of all time. On October 2010, Capcom stated that the series has sold more than 3.9 million units worldwide and called it one of the company's "strongest intellectual properties." As of December 2011, the series has sold over 4.2 million units.
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|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Ace Attorney|
- Official website of the series
- Official website of the series (Japanese)
- Court Records - Ace Attorney fansite, with information spanning all games in the series
- Official website for Gyakuten Kenji (Japanese)
- Official website of Gyakuten Saiban 123HD for Android (Japanese)
- Interview With Phoenix Wright's Minae Matsukawa