Siliconera recently had a chance to catch up with Ace Attorney series producer Motohide Eshiro and Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies scenario director, Takeshi Yamazaki, to discuss the upcoming game.
During our talk, we covered topics like returning characters, loose ends left over from Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, and the fate of the Ace Attorney Investigations series. Read on for Eshiro and Yamazaki’s insights.
You guys have brought a lot of characters back. Of course, we have Apollo and Edgeworth, but Klavier Gavin is in the game, too. Why bring back so many characters at once?
Motohide Eshiro, Producer: First of all, we knew we wanted Phoenix Wright back as the main character, because at the end of Apollo Justice, he hinted very clearly that he would be making a return so we knew we wanted him in. We also knew we wanted to maintain Apollo Justice as a very important character as well, so we brought them both back for starters.
There’s clearly a lot of fans of other fans as well. We know a lot of people are big Edgeworth fans. A lot of people like Trucy. And a lot of these characters come in sets; you can’t really have Apollo without Trucy. And Phoenix needs someone to play off of him as well, so it made sense to have Edgeworth back as well.
That said, we’re not looking at simple fanservice. We’re not bringing them back for the sake of bringing them back. We make sure that they have a really important part in the story as well.
Speaking of pairs… [Eshiro begins to laugh] I have to ask about Maya, because Phoenix has a new partner. You bring in new characters all the time, but will we see Maya at all in the game?
ME: As far as Maya is concerned, I’ll tell you the same thing we tell the Japanese press, which is that you’ll just have to play the game and find out.
As far as bringing on more new characters [is concerned], it is a proper sequel. We didn’t want to just bring back old characters. This time around, Athena links in very strongly with the gameplay, so she’s not just there as window dressing. She plays a very important part in the way the game is played. At the end of the day, being a brand new title in the series, it was important to bring in some brand new characters as well.
The psychelocks that Kristoph Gavin had in Apollo Justice. Will we find out what happened to those? Will that be revealed in Dual Destinies?
ME: You’ll have to play the game to find out, but our intent is to continue the story in every way possible from the previous game. The psychelock system itself returns this time around, although it’s been a little more user-friendly. You no longer take damage for taking incorrect directions.
That’s interesting, about continuing the story. I like how the first three Phoenix Wright games stand as a very nice trilogy. Is Dual Destinies part of a second trilogy?
Takeshi Yamazaki, Scenario Director: It takes place a year after the previous game [Apollo Justice], so it’s a continuation of that story, so in a way you can think of it as a direct link to that one, as part of a new series, so to speak.
So, we’re going to see 4, 5, and 6?
TY: [Laughs loudly] I can’t say anything about that!
You’ve done a lot with Edgeworth as a character, and after playing Ace Attorney Investigations, my view of Edgeworth has changed somewhat. He deals with murder and death a lot, and it’s kind of a sad life. [Eshiro: “Awww.”] How has Edgeworth changed for this game, and will we ever see Ace Attorney Investigations again?
ME: Miles Edgeworth in this game has changed. For one thing his position has elevated quite a bit. He’s been promoted. [Note: Edgeworth is now a chief prosecutor.] As far as his personality goes, the experiences he’s had have changed him as a person. I don’t want to give away too much. You’ll have to play the game to see how he’s changed and how he behaves.
As far as a continuation of the Investigations series goes, I would love to do another one, personally, and I know [scenario director] Mr. Yamazaki would also be interested in getting something like that spun up. It would be a matter of securing the appropriate personnel within Capcom and getting everything planned, so I intend to try to do something with that in the future, but I can’t make any promises.
Let’s talk about Athena. In the first three games, there was a lot of spiritual stuff going on, but Athena’s power is more psychological. Does Eshiro-san think people don’t tell the truth? There’s always an inner “true” truth.
[Both laugh even louder.]
ME: I’d like to think of myself as someone who can trust others! Certainly, Yamazaki-san, I don’t think he’s lying to me in daily life, but gameplay-wise, we did want to bring something in that’s linked more to the emotional state of the people you’re talking to, and find emotional inconsistencies in the things they’re saying, and the way they’re [actually] feeling on the inside. Yamazaki-san thought that would be a very interesting thing to bring into the gameplay.
I was playing the demo and there’s a new prosecutor, Simon Blackquill. Can you tell us more about him?
TY: He’s a new rival for Phoenix, and we wanted him to seem very dark and very evil and very powerful. This character is also very well-versed in psychology and is adept at controlling others through the way he speaks, so it should be interesting to watch these guys go head-to-head.
In the demo, the investigation part has Athena think Phoenix might have been eaten by a giant bird. How do you write something like that, which can surprise people, but have it so it doesn’t not make any sense whatsoever?
TY: Basically, the way I write is… I tend to think of the twist first. I think of the most shocking or surprising thing that could happen, and once I have that down, I spend a lot of time stressing and thinking about how that could logically happen and all the details involved there.
This is the way it’s always been done with the Ace Attorney series. If you go in the other direction—if you start with all the logical stuff and then throw in the twist—you end up coming up with something that doesn’t ring true. So early on, again, we think of something really shocking. To put it as a metaphor, we plant a flag really high up on a mountain somewhere and then logically try to get to that point. We find that ends up being the most compelling way to do it, story-wise.
Is it important to have a character that’s kind of gullible as the assistant? You know, Maya, Trucy and Athena… they believe the most outrageous things. Is that to make the player feel smarter?
TY: In these games, the lawyer is the avatar for the player. You see things through their eyes. You’re forced to see things logically, so it helps to have characters around you play off that by not necessarily thinking in those terms. When it comes to anyone but the main character—the judge, support characters in the courtroom—all those people are there to give reactions to things, almost as if they’re spectators, whereas you as the main character have to take a logical approach.
It always seems like we see themes of science vs. supernatural. Why is that?
TY: Basically, these supernatural things are a convenient tool, story-wise. There’s always a surprising event that occurs and it always appears to be supernatural, and in the end you end up explaining it logically. Once again, this harkens back to setting up a flag high up on a mountain—that’s the supernatural stuff—and then we need to logically get through that and figure out why it’s not that.
What else do you want to do with Ace Attorney? You had that crossover with Professor Layton, and Phoenix is in Marvel vs. Capcom 3. What else would you like to do?
ME: I haven’t thought up anything really specific, but one is thing is for sure—he would have to fit into that world, but still surprise the player by doing something unusual. For example, we couldn’t just toss him into a Resident Evil game, as interesting as that might be. But surely, there’s untapped potential in things we haven’t tried with Phoenix and these other characters.
TY: Wow, this is difficult! I haven’t really thought about this either. Using Phoenix as an example, taking him and putting him in a Resident Evil game, as Eshiro-san mentioned for example, wouldn’t really work. But that gave me the opposite idea—it would be cool to have some zombie kind of stuff going on in an Ace Attorney game.
Capcom’s done enough with zombies already. Maybe you could try something different. [laughs]
ME & TY: [laugh loudly]