Ace Attorney creator on Apollo Justice – using DS’ features, Resident Evil inspiration, new characters, more
Capcom published a new interview today on its blog all about Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney. After previously landing on DS many years ago, it’s now coming to 3DS this month. Series creator Shu Takumi was brought in to discuss the classic game.
In the interview, Takumi reflected on wanting to use the DS’ features (as well as its new power), how one aspect was inspired by Resident Evil, and coming up with the new characters like Apollo himself. You can read the full discussion below.
Janet: Hi, Takumi-san. I know it was ten years ago, but I hope you won’t mind me asking you a few questions about the making of Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney…?
Takumi: Sure, I’ve got a little bit of free time now, if that’s alright.
Janet: Great, thanks! Now, as far as I’m aware, AJ:AA was the first game in the series to use polygon models to create video cutscenes.
Takumi: Actually, the first time was for the security footage in “Rise from the Ashes” (RftA) — the one with Meekins and the Blue Badger. (Note: the first three games were originally released for the Game Boy Advance in Japan. The fifth episode of the first game was an extra case the team created specifically for the Nintendo DS release of the first game, or Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney to us in the West.)
Janet: Oh, I had always thought that was hand-drawn!
Takumi: No, that was really the first time we created and used polygon model videos in the series. Back in 2004 when Nintendo first revealed the Nintendo DS, we had a chance to attend a presentation about the new hardware before it went on sale. I was working on “RftA” at the time, and when I saw the Nintendo DS’s gameplay demo, a number of ideas came to mind, such as forensics testing like a fingerprinting mini-game utilizing the mic. In addition, because of the relatively larger amount of memory available on the Nintendo DS, I remember thinking we simply had to look into how feasible it would be to include videos in our games.
Janet: So it’s fair to say this presentation was a big springboard for “RftA” and AJ:AA?
Takumi: Yes, when I wrote both “RftA” and AJ:AA, the first thing I did was to come up with these sorts of mini-games and then build the mystery and story around them at their cores. Because I made “RftA” and AJ:AA basically one after the other, there are a few areas of overlap gameplay-wise between the two.
Janet: Oh, I was wondering about that, actually. Compared to the first 3 games, “RftA” and AJ:AA featured more hands-on manipulation of the evidence. Was that also because of what you could do with the hardware or was it more something you wanted to do from the beginning and were finally able to implement it?
Takumi: 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, and thanks to the Nintendo DS’s more advanced specs, we were finally able to implement it.
Janet: And what about letting players obtain new information from the evidence?
Takumi: 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.
Janet: Wow, that’s one heck of an impression it must’ve left on you, then! But returning to the question of the videos, even though AJ:AA wasn’t the first to include video cutscenes, I was wondering if there was something you struggled with when making the game’s video cutscenes? Like for Lamiroir’s song in Episode 3, for example?
Takumi: I’d have to say that the camera work and other presentation elements were the hardest parts of creating that video, and honestly, it was hard simply because I had never done it before. In “RftA”, it was just a bit of security footage, so there wasn’t much to do in terms of presentation or camera work, but for her song, we had to work with some video production experts and use a bit of trial and error to get it to work just right for the game. Another thing we really struggled with was how different the look and feel of the 3D cutscenes were compared to the other more traditional cutscenes in the game that were created by animating flat 2D illustrations, and how to minimize that gap.
Janet: What about the lyrics for the song? That was your first time writing lyrics, right?
Takumi: Well, it was the first set of lyrics I wrote for an in-game song, but I had actually written lyrics for the Steel Samurai theme song way back during the first game.
Janet: Oh! That’s right!
Takumi: I still vividly remember how we got one of the most famous Japanese anime singers, Ichirou Mizuki, to sing the song live at the Ace Attorney 10th anniversary event. Now that was a performance.
Janet: I am still jealous about that, you know! But I got to hear a recording of it after the fact, so I guess I can’t really stay jealous. Anyway, not to get sidetracked… So I guess it wasn’t your first go at writing lyrics, but was it difficult for you to write ones that lined up with the bigger mystery of the episode?
Takumi: Not really. The melody of the song originally came about while I was just plucking at my guitar at home, and I really liked the melody I was playing, so I decided to use that in the game as is. I then added the lyrics to it, and since by that time I had already decided what I wanted to use the song for, it was a simple matter of writing the words down. I’m actually curious as to how the song turned out in English.