Matt Engarde is the hidden true main antagonist in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Justice For All, specifically in the case "Farewell, My Turnabout". He was a well-known actor in Los Angeles, known for being "refreshing like a spring breeze" and also playing the lead role in the popular "Nickel Samurai" TV show. He later became the defendant for Phoenix Wright's ninth trial, as well as the mastermind behind the murder of Juan Corrida.
Two years prior to his trial, Engarde dated his manager Celeste Inpax. Adrian Andrews, who would later became Engarde's manager, described them as being happy, yet he later broke up with Inpax for no discernible reason. Later, he learned that his rival Juan Corrida was planning to marry her; knowing that it would hurt Corrida deeply, Engarde informed to his fierce rival that he had dated her first, causing Corrida to call off the marriage; heartbroken again, Celeste Inpax hung herself, allegedly leaving a suicide note that was hidden by the man who found her body, Juan Corrida.
For the remaining years, the two men continued their rivalry, with Engarde rising to the top of his acting career. Engarde gained a reputation for being "refreshing like a spring breeze", besting Corrida in popularity polls. This culminated in Engarde's starring role in The Nickel Samurai, which competed with Corrida's show, The Jammin' Ninja. Corrida, however, conspired with Andrews, who became Engarde's manager, to disclose the suicide note, which Corrida had actually forged, that would destroy Matt's image.
During the Hero of Heroes Grand Prix at the Gatewater Imperial Hotel, which the Nickel Samurai won, Corrida arranged a press conference, during which he would appear in the Nickel Samurai costume and reveal the false suicide note. Realizing that Corrida was a threat to his reputation, Engarde purchased spy cameras to keep close tabs on him and eventually hired a professional assassin named Shelly de Killer to kill him for the bear figurine that contained Inpax's suicide note. Not trusting anyone, however, Engarde secretly recorded the killing to use as a way to blackmail de Killer. De Killer posed as Engarde's butler and as a bellboy at the hotel where Corrida was murdered to ward off suspicion.
When he was arrested, Engarde ensured that he got the great defense attorney Phoenix Wright defend him by ordering de Killer to kidnap his beloved assistant, Maya Fey, and remotely offer a deal for the lawyer: Engarde's innocence for Maya's life.
During the trial, Matt was rather unhelpful towards Phoenix, knowing that de Killer would make sure Phoenix won the trial. He acted like a soppy actor for the largest part of the case in order to make sure Phoenix would continue to defend him. When Phoenix eventually learned of the truth, however, Engarde revealed his true, sociopathic nature, and openly mocked Wright: Even though he now knew his client was guilty, he would have to get him declared innocent anyway, or else his best friend would be murdered. Now knowing for certain that his client was actually guilty, Phoenix became very indecisive: Should he save Maya's life by defending Engarde, or should he try to bring Engarde to justice?
In the end, however, Wright achieved a miracle: He got Matt Engarde declared innocent, but also managed to reveal to Shelly de Killer via radio that Engarde had planned to betray the honorable assassin all along. Enraged, de Killer informed the court that he valued trust in his line of work above all else, and that when any of his clients betrayed him, he hunted them down and killed them himself. Terrified for his life, Engarde desperately begged the judge to overturn his verdict, knowing that whatever he would face in prison would be far less painful than whatever gruesome fate de Killer had in store for him.
PersonalityMatt Engarde appeared to be a rather weak-willed and flaky individual, being interested in only motorcycles, wine and women. He rarely took any action himself without consulting his manager, and seemed to be rather airheaded overall, phoning anyone for any situation. He usually had an innocent and somewhat naive smile on his face.
However, this personality was only what he showed to the public; in reality, he was a complete and utter sociopath. He had no feelings of affection or loyalty, and viewed people only as tools to further his own ends. He trusted only himself, and was even willing to betray those who considered him a friend. Human life meant nothing to him, save his own, and he was willing to even order the murder of an innocent girl to keep his reputation clean.
Unusually, he addressed his true personality almost as if it was a different person, even re-introducing himself after revealing his true nature. Even his appearance changed with the reveal: Normally, his long bangs hung over his right eye, giving him a soft, harmless appearance; however, when revealing the "true" Matt Engarde, he slicked back these bangs, revealing four twisted scars over his right eye, and allowed his innocent, charming smile to be replaced by a cruel, evil grin.
Though it is somewhat same, Matt has two various breakdowns after he was threatened by De Killer and was about to meet his verdict. Player is asked by judge to choose the verdict for Engarde himself. If Matt called not guilty, then he gets scared for his own life and he scratches his own face violently several times while frantically screaming that he is "guilty". When he finally stops, his face is covered in wounds and his hands are dripping with his own blood.
In case Engarde is called guilty by Phoenix Wright, Matt becomes shocked with the verdict of his lawyer spoiling his image, who explains him that any way Engarde wouldn't be able to hide from his crime - either he could go to prison or meet the end by the hands of Shelly de Killer. Matt violently scratches his own face, being desparate and mad about his verdict.
- He is considered by most people the most hateful and despicable character in the entire Ace Attorney franchise. While other monstrous villains like Redd White, Manfred Von Karma, Dahlia Hawthorne, Kristoph Gavin, Quercus Alba, Bansai Ichiyanagi, The Phantom and Ga'ran Sigatar Khura'in had some kind of reason for committing their crimes, Matt committed his crimes just for the sake of hurting people, and clearly relishes in his evil.
- Matt is the first and, so far, the only defendant in Ace Attorney franchise that was ultimately found genuinely guilty and earn a guilty verdict rightfully.
- Engarde is notable for being one of only two clients of Wright's who was guilty of a crime for which he was arrested. His case gave Wright the only guilty verdict in his entire law career, while Wright earned the other client (Ron DeLite) an acquittal. He was also one of only two clients not to be acquitted by Wright, the other being Zak Gramarye due to the latter's escape before a verdict could be given.
- In anime version, Engard's breakdown was mildly altered, showing he scratched his face two times under the same circumstances, first after he found out that he was doomed whether what the verdict was, and then finally after he received his guilty verdict.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Justice For All
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations
Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney
Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth
Gyakuten Kenji 2/Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth: Prosecutor's Path
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Spirit of Justice