With Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney launching on the 3DS eShop next week, Capcom employee Janet Tsu sat down with Ace Attorney mastermind Shu Takumi to look back on the original development of the game. Takumi wrote and directed Apollo Justice, as well as the original Phoenix Wright Trilogy. He wasn’t involved in the fifth or sixth entries of the series, but he has worked on spinoffs like the Professor Layton crossover and the Japan-only Great Ace Attorney series.
Apollo Justice features more interactivity with evidence than the titles that preceded it. The original trilogy was made for the Game Boy Advance, and later ported to the DS. With the advanced technology of the DS, Takumi said he had more freedom to experiment with gameplay. “Unlike novels or movies, video games are an interactive medium where the player’s actions drive the story forward, so I had actually wanted to allow players to manipulate the evidence themselves earlier on in the series,” Takumi said. “Thanks to the Nintendo DS’s more advanced specs, we were finally able to implement it.”
Quite often in Ace Attorney, you’ll be examining a piece of evidence and another important item will become clear. Takumi had a very interesting anecdote about the inspiration for this. “I’m pretty sure that was inspired by my experience with the original Resident Evil where I examined a book, and a coin — I think it was a coin? — popped out.”
The music in Ace Attorney is one of its strongest attributes. There’s a vocal song in Apollo Justice that Takumi actually wrote the music and lyrics for himself. One little known fact is that the popular Steel Samurai theme also has lyrics written by Takumi. These lyrics never appear in the game, but they were performed at a 10th Anniversary Ace Attorney celebration, which you can listen to here:
The most interesting piece from this interview was about the altered court system at the end of Apollo Justice. A type of juror system is experimented with in the final case, and this actually reflects what was happening in Japan during development. In 2009, new laws in Japan forced citizen participation in certain criminal trials. These positions are referred to as lay judges, and they assist the judge in examining evidence and making a final verdict.
Takumi was actually ordered by Capcom to insert some sort of court system reform into the game. Also, the game was presented to part of the Japanese government to show off the new court system! “As part of the game’s promotion, we also collaborated with the Japanese Ministry of Justice, which was preparing for the official launch of the new system, and gave a presentation of AJ:AA at the ministry’s head office,” Takumi said.
Lastly, Takumi discussed the difference between main characters Phoenix Wright and Apollo Justice. Takumi said he based Phoenix largely off himself, and most of his inner monologues are no different than what Takumi would say in the same situation. When it came to developing Apollo, Takumi turned Phoenix upside down, resulting in an aggressive, passionate character.
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