1. Bridge to the Turnabout
How do do you beat a nearly flawless case? You have to be completely flawless. And that's exactly what Bridge to the Turnabout is. It has everything you could want in a case, with an incredible cast, fantastic mystery, absolutely crazy contradictions that make sense, a villain you can truly hate, a villain you feel sympathetic for, character development all around, and a perfect way to tie up the trilogy.
The case starts with Maya and Pearl wanting to go to a training temple in the mountains where it's cold as all fuck, so Phoenix obviously doesn't want to go. But when Maya shows him an ad about the temple, Phoenix sees the last thing he would've ever thought to see: Dahlia. The same monster who was put in prison years ago, the one that killed two people, nearly killed another, and plotted to kill Phoenix himself. She should still be in prison, but here she is at this temple. Phoenix, having to see what exactly is going on, agrees. This mystery woman, named Iris, does nothing to help clear up the mystery, as it's very obvious that she knows Phoenix. Along with the head nun Sister Bikini, the only other people there are Elise Deauxnim, a children's book author, and Larry Butz himself, trying to change his life and follow in Deauxnim's footsteps. Maya is taken across Dusky Bridge (The exact same bridge in Mia's case against Dahlia 5 years ago) to the inner temple, and Pearl goes with Deauxnim to read books together. But because this is Ace Attorney, everyone knows that someone is gonna die. Phoenix wakes up after hearing a scream, and finds Deauxnim's body in the courtyard. Sister Bikini had seen the body and passed out, and she tells Phoenix to call the police. Phoenix runs to the bridge where the only phone is located, and he finds the bridge on fire and Larry just standing around. He tells Larry to call the police, and Phoenix attempts to cross the bridge in fear for Maya. The burning bridge can't hold his weight, and it collapses beneath him, and he falls into the river below. Larry, now completely freaking the fuck out, calls Edgeworth (Who's in another country) and asks him to return. Edgeworth returns as quickly as possible, and Phoenix asks him to do something insane: Defend Iris, who had been accused of the murder. Now, Edgeworth is a prosecutor, so this is pretty difficult. But Phoenix trusts Edgeworth, so we get to play as Edgeworth. Just...how amazing is this. Edgeworth is my favorite character in the series. The Investigations series is pretty cool, but nothing beats playing in a courtroom. So now I can play as my favorite character in a courtroom? Sign me the hell up, I want in.
Now posing as a defense attorney, Edgeworth agrees to defend Iris on one condition: That she tells Phoenix her secret once the case is over with. The case itself seems fairly simple, but the events surrounding it are what's strange. Maya is trapped at the inner temple, and Pearl had gone missing since late last night, when she left to go read with Ms. Deauxnim. Godot is also missing, but it's unknown why. Larry, being the stupid idiot he is, tries to write a love letter to Iris. His horrible writing skills make it look like a blackmail letter, and he even leaves the "Salutation here" in the letter instead of actually writing a salutation. Despite Larry wasting Edgeworth's time, he still mentions seeing "Something incredible", but when Edgeworth presses further he gets nothing but more psyche-locks, which Edgeworth smartly decides to ignore and instead focus on in court. With Godot missing, Franziska returns to prosecute, and Edgeworth personally arranges for the Judge from 3-4 to preside so he isn't recognized as a prosecutor. The first witness, Sister Bikini, says that she saw Iris stab Deauxnim with the weapon. Due to the odd shape of the Shichishito, this makes it impossible for it to be the murder weapon if Bikini saw what she did. The snowmobile had also been used sometime that night, but it couldn't have been Iris, who was supposedly at the inner temple. It had to have been used before it started snowing, so someone else must have used it. Edgeworth uses this opportunity to bring Larry up to the stand as a potential witness to who was using the snowmobile, and to ask him about this "something incredible" he saw. Larry said he had just arrived at the bridge when Phoenix arrived, but that makes no sense considering that Phoenix only arrived when the bridge had stopped burning, and Larry had arrived shortly after it started. Larry admitted that he had given in to his urge to draw when he saw the bridge, and that his drawing also contained the incredible thing he had mentioned before. Edgeworth asks to see his drawing, and it's here where we get the first of Larry's weird drawings. In it, the burning bridge is seen with someone flying over the bridge. Larry claims that it was Iris, and he presents a purple crystal ball to back his claim up. The crystal ball is actually from Deauxnim's staff, and it was covered in snow. This means that Deauxnim wasn't killed at the courtyard, but by the bridge. The snowmobile was used to transport the body back to the temple, where the murder weapon was removed from her body. The judge opts to extend the trial for another day, allowing Phoenix to take over for Edgeworth.
Now taking over as the head of the defense, Phoenix returns to Hazakura temple. Gumshoe tells Phoenix that the bridge is nearly repaired, and that Phoenix would be the first to know when it's fixed. Phoenix asks Sister Bikini about Deauxnim's true identity, since Bikini continually referred to her as "Mystic Elise", a title only for spirit mediums. More psyche-locks appear, but Gumshoe tells Phoenix that the bridge is fully repaired. They cross the bridge to find Pearl crying on the other side. She says that she had crossed the bridge because she was scared of Maya. Everyone goes into the inner temple to find Maya, but instead they find the sacred cavern locked with a trick lock, which was used for training purposes. The only one who could've put it on is Iris, and she is retrieved from the detention center. Godot also finally appears, and tells von Karma that he is taking over as prosecution. He also tells Phoenix that he needs his mask so he can see, and that he got it after he "died". Phoenix makes the connection that Godot's "death" was the poisoning incident caused by Dahlia 5 years ago, and that Godot's grudge has to do with Mia's death. While Iris is being brought to Hazakura, Phoenix and von Karma go to the garden by the inner temple. They find Maya's name written in blood on the lantern in the middle, making it very likely that the murder occurred in the garden. It also heavily implicates Maya as the murderer. Phoenix also finds a talisman at the crime scene, which belongs to the current Kurain Master. Edgeworth is assigned to escort Iris to the Inner Temple, and he refuses Phoenix's help. Phoenix returns to Bikini and shows her the talisman, and he realizes that Deauxnim was actually the missing Misty Fey. Before he can ask any further, an earthquake occurs. Phoenix knows that Edgeworth is afraid of earthquakes, and he finds him alone. He had passed out when escorting Iris, meaning she was on the loose. Luckily, they find her at the inner temple, but to everyone's horror, now 5 trick locks were on the Sacred Cavern instead of 1.
Iris hadn't put the trick locks on, so she has to remain at the temple for an entire day to try and take them off. Phoenix asks Iris where she truly was during the murder, and now 3 psyche-locks appear. Phoenix can't get anything out of Pearl either, who also has psyche-locks appear when asked of her location. Phoenix returns to Bikini to learn more about Misty, and she lets slip that Iris is Morgan's daughter. When Phoenix tells her that Pearl is also Morgan's daughter, Bikini tells Phoenix something even more shocking, something that answers Phoenix's question of why Iris looked exactly like Dahlia. Morgan had three daughters, Pearl, Iris, and her twin sisters. This twin sister is obviously Dahlia, and he tells Edgeworth of this fact. Edgey maintains that Dahlia isn't related to the case because she had been executed a month ago. Phoenix still has doubts, believing that Dahlia had been channeled. Gumshoe, still looking for the murder weapon, had stumbled upon a burnt letter in the incinerator. With the help of Phoenix, they discover that the murder weapon was actually a sword located inside of Deauxnim's staff. Now with only one question remaining, Phoenix returns to Pearl to find out where she truly was during the murder. She had been following the instructions on the letter, but had failed in channeling Dahlia. This means that someone else had been channeling her that night. Godot returns and tells Phoenix that the locks couldn't be removed, and that Maya is "gone" like Mia.
At court the next day, Phoenix is faced with the worst thing possible. Iris is now claiming to be an accomplice, and that Maya is the true culprit of the murder. Iris claims that Deauxnim attacked Maya with a dagger, but Phoenix counters this by questioning why she hadn't used her staff-sword instead. He also questions why Deauxnim would attack Maya, since she is actually her long-lost mother. Finally, he says that Iris's claim of Maya stabbing Deauxnim in the front contradicts the autopsy of her being stabbed in the back. None of his claims hold up, and we get another look into Godot's disability when he fails to see the bloody writing on the lantern after it's presented. It's during the next testimony where shit really hits the fan, because it was impossible for Iris to move the body. By the time she could've taken it across, the bridge would've been burning. Phoenix suggests his craziest (and best) theory of the entire series: That the body had been swung over like a pendulum. Larry's drawing was upside down, meaning he actually saw the body being swung instead of someone flying. The Iris on the stand was completely oblivious to this, and Phoenix finally realizes why Iris turned on him. The woman on the stand wasn't Iris, but Dahlia being channeled. Dahlia reveals herself, and tells of what truly happened to her. She had tracked down Maya after being channeled, but before she could kill Maya someone stabbed Dahlia. Before she "died" she wrote Maya's name on the lantern to throw suspicion on her. Sometime later, she awoke in the Sacred Cavern. Iris had come during the earthquake and freed her, taking Dahlia's place in the cavern. Godot receives a call, and is told that Iris was found in the cavern with no sign of Maya. Dahlia guesses that Maya jumped off the cliff out of guilt in killing her mother, but that couldn't have happened: The rock shelf at the bottom has no signs of Maya's body. Phoenix finally figures out where Maya truly is: She's channeling Dahlia on the stand. Maya had locked herself in the chamber and channeled Dahlia so Pearl couldn't have done it. Dahlia thought she was being channeled by Pearl, so this kept Maya safe from harm. Mia, channeled by Pearl, taunts Dahlia along with Phoenix about her failures. Mia lays the killing blow on Dahlia, saying that as long as she's there Dahlia would never succeed. Dahlia is then FORCEFULLY EXORCISED from Maya. The judge moves to end the trial, but Godot objects, saying that Deauxnim's killer had yet to be found, despite Dahlia being the true villain.
Maya is brought to testify about who the true killer is, and it's obvious that she's trying to protect whoever it was. She slips up, saying that she saw a man behind her attacker. She says that she saw them by the light of the lantern, but the lantern was out of commission that night. Godot asks how she saw the man, and Phoenix finally indicts his target. He asks for the courtroom lights to be turned off, and the entire room is set into darkness. Well, everything except for one thing: Godot's mask, which glows in the dark (As seen in 3-3 when Furio yelled the lights out). Maya tries to cover for him again by saying she knew it was a man by how the crime scene had been cleaned, but the blood remaining on the lamp suggests otherwise. Phoenix uses this again to indict Godot, who can't see red on white (As seen in 3-3, when he failed to see the ketchup on the apron). I'm gonna mention quick here how both this and the light-up mask are foreshadowed absolutely brilliantly. Incredible job by the developers. Anyway, Phoenix continues to indict Godot. Maya claims that Godot couldn't have been the killer since he hadn't been to the temple until after the murder, but Godot slips up by describing the poster in the inner temple as it was before Pearl threw gravy on it. Phoenix also accuses Godot of knowing Morgan's plan beforehand, pointing out the broken seal on the letter. Godot finally admits to knowing about the plan, and that it was his job to protect Maya. Godot also admits to being Diego Armando, Mia's former boyfriend that had been poisoned by Dahlia. Godot doesn't fully admit to the murder, saying that Phoenix must prove that himself. Everything hinges on Maya's final testimony, and she continues to protect Godot. Dahlia had attacked the killer with a dagger, and Godot claims that since he presented the dagger to the court, it can't be his blood. Maya also points out that there's no wound on Godot's body. Godot challenges Phoenix to an unlimited penalty, saying that if he fails Iris will be found guilty. Phoenix doesn't back down, and says that the wound is under Godot's mask. Godot sees Mia's spirit in Phoenix, and he finally gives in. Godot says the reason for his grudge was due to Phoenix continuing his life after Mia's death as if nothing happened. Godot wonders if he truly did the crime to protect Maya, or to get revenge on Hawthorne. He eventually realizes that he did all of this to try and save himself from the truth that he had failed to protect Mia. He finally tells Maya:
You'd do well to remember this, Maya. The only time a lawyer can cry is when it's all over.
The courtroom music follows this perfectly, and it's an incredible moment. Iris is then brought back to the stand, and she has a confession of her own. When Phoenix and Dahlia were dating, Iris had been posing as Dahlia to prevent her from killing Phoenix. She had done this at first so Dahlia wouldn't commit more crimes, but eventually she fell in love with Phoenix, explaining why Phoenix has defended her so vehemently. Iris truly cared about Phoenix, going so far as to put her life before his if it had come to that. It's another touching moment in a case absolutely full of them. The trial ends with Godot contemplating on how the cup of coffee he's currently drinking might very well be the best he's ever had, and Phoenix (who's also drinking coffee like a badass) agrees. Godot is now finally free of the burden on his soul, and the judge hands down the Not Guilty verdict.
Wow, what a case. The characters here are, just like the case, flawless. Iris is one of the most likeable characters in the series, and when you meet her you just know that she's not evil. Unlike Dahlia (who was obviously faking) Iris seems truly genuine, and you feel compelled to defend her even though she's obviously a part of the murder. Godot is also fantastic, and his realization that he's the only one at fault in all of this instead of Phoenix is a really powerful moment. Once he realizes that he only has himself to blame, he doesn't become depressed, but happy, sort of. And when he tells Maya not to cry, coupled with the court music, it's the best moment in the series no question. Bikini is a perfect witness, one that's crazy enough to be enjoyable but not grating, serious enough to not be ridiculous but have depth, and one that truly isn't trying to hinder your case for some stupid reason. Edgeworth is awesome this case, and playing in his perspective for the first time was a huge change from Phoenix/Mia. Phoenix himself is great in this case, and seeing him handle his past with maturity shows how much he's changed from the first case. Dahlia is still an asshole, but this is her best showing. Seeing her break down after losing so much was hella satisfying. Larry is Larry, and anything with Larry is great. Pearl, Maya, Gumshoe, and Franziska are pretty much the same, although Pearl does go through a bit of development. Misty/Elise is pretty cool too, but her plan to save Maya isn't exactly the smartest one out there.
And that's it for Trials and Tribulations, the final game to fall. It's absolutely a phenomenal game, and the best in the series by far. When you finish a game with something like this, it's gonna be good. Really, really good.
And just for the hell of it, here's how I'd rank the games.
9. Justice for All
8. Layton vs. Wright
7. Ace Attorney
6. Apollo Justice
4. Dual Destinies
3. Prosecutor's Path
2. Spirit of Justice
1. Trials and Tribulations