In the unlikely crossroads of Japanese courtroom dramas and video games, the Ace Attorney series has carved out a niche for itself that no others have even approached.
Over the last 20 years, the series’ combination of unique gameplay (players go out on “investigations” in search of clues before returning to the courtroom to “battle” the other lawyer), witty charm, and memorable characters have turned it from one of Capcom’s lesser-known series into a fan-favorite complete with spinoff novels and a TV series. Series protagonist Phoenix Wright was even introduced to a whole new audience in 2011 when he joined the roster for one of the biggest fighting games in history, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3.
But for those who only know the Ace Attorney games from Wright’s battles against the likes of Spider-Man and Wolverine in Marvel vs. Capcom, The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles might come as a bit of a surprise. The two-pack of games follow a new protagonist, Ryunosuke, and largely take place in a very different setting. The titles originally released exclusively in Japan in 2015 and 2017, but now they’re returning as a modernized re-release that’s been localized for the rest of the world on July 27.
Ahead of the launch of The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles, SPIN caught up with the collection’s producer, Yasuyuki Makino, to chat about the series as a whole as well as its latest release.
SPIN: Seeing as the Great Ace Attorney games will be available outside of Japan for the first time ever, what goes into converting them for a global audience?
Yasuyuki Makino: For The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles, we localized the game’s text into English and recorded English voiceovers as well. Since much of the game is set in late 19th century London, we were particular about using British English expressions. We also wanted players to experience the unique atmosphere of Meiji Era Japan, so we intentionally chose not to “culturize” evidence, backgrounds and other items. In the game, players can hover over evidence to view localized explanations.
For those who are only familiar with the Phoenix Wright games, what should people expect from The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles, since they obviously have a very different setting and plot?
The classic Ace Attorney gameplay components like “Investigations” and “Courtroom Battles” are still intact. On top of that, The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles features an unpredictable storyline with a myriad of twists and turns, as well as some carefully planned foreshadowing and resolution. It all makes for a high-quality mystery game and one of the most satisfying experiences in the Ace Attorney series. I’m confident that anyone can fully enjoy this game, whether they’re a long-time fan of the series or those who are picking up an Ace Attorney game for the first time.
Since the global audience really associates the character of Phoenix Wright with the Ace Attorney games, how much emphasis went into bringing the same kind of appreciation and detail to Ryunosuke?
The story begins from the perspective of Ryunosuke, a university student studying English. As the thrilling tale unfolds, players watch our protagonist learn and grow to become a full-fledged lawyer across Japan and London. Ryunosuke’s growth and emotions synchronize with players’ own growth and emotions while playing, so I think it’ll be very easy for players to become emotionally invested in the story.
It seems like no one else has managed to capture the courtroom drama (and sometimes humor) of the Ace Attorney games. What do you think it is about these games that has made them stand out and be so memorable for a lot of people?
The Ace Attorney games offer an extremely unique gameplay experience, allowing players to assume the role of a lawyer and submit evidence to face off against prosecution lawyers and witnesses in court. One major element of these games is the sense of satisfaction and accomplishment that comes from revealing the truth, swaying the jury/judge, and ultimately getting your client acquitted — especially if your client was on the verge of receiving a guilty verdict. Another big reason the games are so memorable is the plethora of impactful, charming and unique characters and scenarios that players encounter throughout their adventures.
What has it been like to see the Ace Attorney games as a whole go from a niche series to a pretty popular franchise featuring everything from movies and TV shows to video game crossovers over the years?
On one hand, I believe the Ace Attorney games offer a truly unique gameplay experience. On the other hand, I’ve always struggled with how to get more people interested in the series, because it can be difficult for people to imagine how much fun the games are without experiencing the gameplay themselves. So, I’m very grateful and happy to see how the series has grown and the fact that fans are enjoying all things Ace Attorney.
Now that we’re coming up on the 20th anniversary of the original release of the first Ace Attorney game, how have you seen the legacy of the series develop both among fans and within culture as a whole?
Over the last 20 years, I’ve watched the series become more commonplace after starting out as something not many people knew about. Naturally, seeing this growth in brand appreciation makes us very happy. That said, we continue to think about what lies at the core of the Ace Attorney series when we consider how the franchise can grow in the future.
Is there anything else you’d want people to know about The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles?
Six years have passed since Capcom released The Great Ace Attorney on Nintendo 3DS in 2015, and we’re so excited that players overseas will finally get to enjoy the game. We believe this title will be worth the wait, because The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles is going to be one of the best entries in the series. I’m confident that both Ace Attorney fans and series newcomers will be able to enjoy the game to its fullest. With this year marking the 20th anniversary of the Ace Attorney series, we hope players enjoy this title and continue to support the series for many years to come.