Now that Harvey Biirdman: Attorney at Law is coming to three systems you probably want to know more about it. To delve deeper in the game we spoke to Kevin Sheller, a veteran producer from High Voltage Software who has previously worked with comedy fueled games like the Family Guy Game. Please note that this interview was conducted before we discovered about the Wii version of Harvey Birdman. I’ll see if I can get any more information about that in the future.
After playing the Phoenix Wright games it seems like Harvey Birdman naturally fits in Capcom's hands. Who initiated the proposal?
Kevin Sheller: Well, Capcom and Cartoon Network came to us with the concept, and we thought it was brilliant. I can’t think of a better combination than Harvey Birdman and a touch of Phoenix Wright. Perfection for the American audience!
What was it like to work with the writers from the show?
KS: They are super cool dudes. They weren’t typical Hollywood folks at all. High Voltage has a lot of experience with comedy (Leisure Suit Larry & Family Guy) and luckily, they were totally open to our ideas. Ultimately, the final product is a combination of our jokes and their jokes. I think the process worked very well because we might have come up with a decent idea, but they could really run with it and make it extra funny. Not to mention the quality that comes from their incredible voice talent. They make a funny script hilarious.
I spent some time checking out the Harvey Birdman demo at Comic-Con and there wasn't an investigative phase like Phoenix Wright. Is Harvey Birdman going to be just trials?
KS: You were actually playing the first case, which we’ve dubbed as our tutorial. Just like Phoenix Wright, the first case is only in-court. The remaining episodes take place in all of the familiar Harvey locations, as well as some new, original ones. There are extensive investigative phases in all of the remaining cases.
How else does Harvey Birdman differentiate itself from the Ace Attorney series?
KS: Well, we admit to using Ace Attorney as a guide and an inspiration, but really, the comedy and timing of Harvey Birdman couldn’t be captured in the exact same way as AA. Ultimately, what we have is an interactive episode of Harvey Birdman, using elements from Phoenix Wright. At quick glance, the differences between the two are obvious. Harvey Birdman is a fully animated cartoon that asks the player to interact throughout. There’s no way we could have gotten the feel of the show’s original humor and characters without full animation.
How many cases are there to play?
KS: There are five cases, including the tutorial, and there is no lack of content! When we were all done with the script, we realized we had about a movie’s worth of animation and dialogue to create.
What's your favorite case?
KS: Whoa. That’s a tough one. I really get a kick out of Cleaning Crew, our second case, where Magilla Gorilla and Secret Squirrel are on trial. But man, there are so many memorable moments, scenes, and quotables. We walk around the office quoting our game all day.
One excellent surprise during the Harvey Birdman demo was a secret scene where Birdman set Guile's hair on fire. Are there going to be any other Capcom cameos in Harvey Birdman?
KS: Oh, without a doubt, but I think I like the idea of the fans figuring out the exact number for themselves. But we were overjoyed that not only was Capcom excited about the idea, but that the Harvey Birdman writers were, too. Sometimes those great ideas don’t happen because someone is too protective of their characters and licenses. Capcom was open-minded, and so was Cartoon Network, so it worked out great. I suppose this reinforces my answer to your question about working with the writers. It rocked.
Are there any differences between the PS2 and PSP versions of Harvey Birdman?
KS: Other than the obvious things that the two platforms naturally offer (mobility, screen size, etc…) no. They are exact duplicates.
How come Harvey Birdman wasn't developed for the Nintendo DS?
KS: Ultimately, the limits of that system. It would have been an entirely different game. A movie’s worth of fully animated sequences wouldn’t have fit on that little device. We would have had to drop most of the voice acting and animation. It can be done, and I’m sure it would be funny and cool, but it just would have been very different.
I guess the next logical question is will there ever be a Harvey Birdman game for the DS?
KS: “You never know what the future may hold…”