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Interview: Ace Attorney Investigations producer Motohide Eshiro

Kevin Kelly
July 28, 2009

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Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth will finally be legislating onto North American shelves in February of 2010, letting players take up the prosecuting side for the first time in the series. Luckily, you'll still be able to shout OBJECTION! in Phoenix Wright fashion as much as you want.

Joystiq met up with game producer Motohide Eshiro at in Capcom's booth at Comic-Con, which featured playable versions of the game and some very sweet swag. We asked him what else we can expect from the game, when we'll be able to play as the judge, and what his thoughts were on all the crazy fans in San Diego. Read on for the full interview.

Update! Be sure and check out the photo at the end of the interview where Eshiro-san meets up with a cosplaying Miles Edgeworth at Comic-Con.

Gallery: Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth | 15 Photos

Joystiq: First of all, tell us about Ace Attorney. What's new this time around?

Motohide Eshiro: Well, this time, it's Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth. What's different about this from the previous installments is that we've used the world of Phoenix Wright and we've built a whole new scenario on top of it. As far as gameplay goes, the biggest difference is that now, instead of first-person, you get to directly control Edgeworth as a mini-character sprite. You get to walk him around, and that's how you investigate crime scenes.

We know Edgeworth and Gumshoe are in this. Are there any other Phoenix Wright characters making an appearance in this game?

Right now, we don't want to give too much away. As you mentioned, Gumshoe is back, and if you play the trial version, you can see that Maggey Byrde from the second and third game also came back. As we release more information, you'll begin to see a lot more of the characters. We tried to put as many of the fan favorites in as we could.

In Japan, there were two different special editions for Ace Attorney Investigations. Is there going to be anything like that in North America?

As of right now, we don't have any plans on the drawing board to make limited editions or anything like that. Not in North America, not in Europe.

You hear that, Capcom?

(Translator laughs)

Was the Apollo Justice story a success? Is that storyline over, or will there be more installments later?

Actually, because I'm the producer on Ace Attorney Investigations -- the main series is handled by a different producer, and, although we exchange information, we don't exchange to that level, I don't feel comfortable commenting on things that have to do with the main series.

You don't share a brain?

Right. (Translator laughs)

Ace Attorney Investigations is already out in Japan, of course. What's next

For the whole series, or ... ?

The whole series, or Ace Attorney Investigations. Is there a sequel in the works?

Right now, in Japan, it's been extremely popular, and we've gotten a lot of great feedback. At this moment, we still haven't really decided on what to do. We kind of want to make a sequel, but we haven't gotten enough feedback from the players. As we get more feedback from the users in Japan or even in America, then we'll consider maybe making a sequel.

That brings me to a question about the fan community in Japan. How is the fan community there, around Phoenix Wright? How does it compare to the US?

Well, Japanese fans and American fans are very similar. This is the first time that I have been able to see fans for myself, especially, you know, in North America it's very tough for us to actually see the fan reaction.

I'm very moved and I'm very happy to see that American fans are just as passionate about the game as the Japanese fans are.

There's a fansite in America called Court Records. Have you seen that?

I've never seen that before.

Given the popularity in Japan, this seems like a perfect property for an anime series. Has that been done or talked about before?

We agree, it does seem like something that would fit anime very well. We actually have not talked about it at all -- there's been no plans, we've never actually even talked with any animation companies or anything. I don't know if you're aware of it, but in Japan, we've had shows with Takarazuka, the all-female revue troupe, and now we've got our second show with them.

That's live-action?

Yes, live-action stage musical. They're musical theater troupes. We've got various other collaborations that we're doing -- the orchestra concert, for example, and things like that. We're looking into a bunch of different types of ways to promote the series or to do fan-oriented things, but right now, anime's not one of them.

So we've had games where you play as the defense. Now you're playing as the prosecuting side. When is the judge going to get his own game?

(Laughs) That would be very amusing to have a judge game. Right now we have no plans of that.

You know, little minigames where he beats his gavel.

Translator: Like a whack-a-mole game.

Capcom's been doing mobile and PC ports of the series in Japan. Is that going to continue? Is there any chance of that coming over here?

Right now we haven't had any real dialogue about making PC versions or any cell phone versions. I think the first one was out here on phones. But other than that, we haven't had any discussion. No plans.

What about a console version, like via WiiWare?

As far as I'm aware, there hasn't been any real discussion of that. We'll see.

The general sense of the game, and taking it from the defense to the prosecution side, what was the biggest challenge? What was the biggest change?

One of the biggest challenges was what to do with Edgeworth, you know, what new thing can we do? So taking it outside of the courtroom and putting it in the crime scene was a challenge. "How do we do this," you know, "How do we make it so that it feels like an Ace Attorney game?" Just figuring out how we're going to transition from the court to the crime scene.

Another difficult thing was obviously trying to retain the feeling of the main series, but at the same time making it new -- giving the players a feeling of, "Oh, this is something that's still the same, but something new." For example, walking around the crime scene, finding the flaws of the crime scene, presenting evidence ... It's kind of familiar, but at the same time new. Again, also, with the new Logic Mode, you have to really think, connect the pieces together, and things like that. That's the most challenging part.

When you're developing these titles, do the teams sit in actual court to watch how it goes? Do they watch old episodes of Matlock? How does that go?

The director of Ace Attorney Investigations was actually part of the Apollo Justice team, and as part of that team, he was able to go to real courts and watch the court proceedings and trials and things like that, so he'd be able to study from that. But, personally, I'm actually a big fan of mystery novels -- you know, novels based on logic and deduction, so that's where that flavor came from. And I've read a lot books, mystery novels and things like that. I've watched a lot of movies, and played a lot of video games that incorporated crime scenes and mystery stories and things like that. So a lot of various different things are referenced and played and watched.

Is this your first time to Comic-Con?

Yes, first time.

What do you think so far?

I think it's a very exciting event. Not only is it games, but it's comics, and TV shows, animation, just everything. I'm very excited. It's very amazing to come to a place like this.

What's the closest fan event like this in Japan?

In Japan, an official sort of an event like this, with official vendors, and official people come -- there's nothing like this. The closest we get to this kind of scope, and even then it's still kind of small compared to Comic-Con, is Comic Market, or Comiket, where, basically, fans come together and sell these fan-made comic books they made themselves. That's really one of the only larger events that we have in Japan.

Tokyo Game Show isn't quite this level?

For TGS, it's much more game-focused. There's no figures, or comic vendors, there's nothing like that. It's really just game-exclusive. So, in that respect, it's not quite as big as Comic-Con. Even in general, just the sheer size of Comic-Con, I think it's much bigger than TGS alone.

I've seen a few people walking around in Phoenix Wright costumes or costumes from the series. Have you seen any of those, and what do you think about it? It must be sort of strange, I mean, it's a project you work on, and then suddenly, there's a person dressed like it.

(Laughs) I haven't seen any myself yet, but we will be here for another couple days. It's not so much weird -- it's more like "Wow, this person really loves our series, you know, really loves our games." So actually, I really want to see them. I hope they come and visit so we can see them.

Just look for the hair.

At Tokyo Game Show, we have a lot of people in costumes as well -- people will come dressed up as Phoenix, or they'll come as Edgeworth, Godot ... so, it's kind of similar to that, I guess, but I'd like to see more of them.

When is the game out here?

It'll be out here in February of 2010.

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