Hello again, Ace Attorney fans! We’re back with another blog from Shu Takumi, the creator and original writer for the Ace Attorney series. This time, Mr. Takumi talks about some of the trials and tribulations of creating the story for all three games.
The floor is yours, Mr. Takumi!
Hello, again. This is Shu Takumi, the original planner, scenario writer, and director of the first three Ace Attorney games. This week, I’d like to talk a little about the challenges and difficulties I had while writing the trilogy.
To be perfectly honest, I didn’t have a lot of video game story writing experience when I initially came up with the first game’s design document in the summer of 2000. So, you could say that everything was difficult and a challenge for me back then. I’m often asked if I had the entire narrative for the trilogy mapped out in my head from the very beginning, but it was nothing of the sort. In fact, we weren’t even planning to make a sequel at the time, so I’d spent all of my energy focused on creating a single, self-contained story for the first game.
I used to read nothing but mysteries when I was young, and once I grew up, I decided to join Capcom because I wanted to make a mystery adventure game. So basically, I am what you’d call a “big mystery nerd”. When the Ace Attorney project started to take off, I assumed it would be my one and only shot at making my dream come true, so I took all of the mystery story ideas I’d ever had and enthusiastically poured them into the game. By contrast, the game’s dramatic elements were centered on relatively straightforward themes like “true friends and rivals,” “messy pasts,” and “defeat the big bad for a happy ending.” I suppose this is because, in addition to the mystery novels I loved so much, I was greatly influenced by the Japanese shÅnen manga that were all around me when I was young.
The decision to make a sequel was handed down to us around the time we were wrapping up the first game. In fact, we were told, “Why not make it a trilogy?” This… really stressed me out, personally, because I’d just spent all of my ideas on the first game. But a part of me also wanted to take advantage of this great opportunity and write a new story, so for the second game, I focused my attention on that which I had mostly left on the back burner in the first game: the dramatic elements. I wrote a narrative centered around a community that’s steeped in an ancient tradition, and another story about a ragtag bunch of circus performers who come together as a troupe in the end. It was through tales like these, in addition to each case’s big mystery, that I was able to give the characters more depth and the second game’s stories a different feel from the first game.
Finishing the second game, we immediately started on making the third, and this time, I really used up every last idea I had. Even knowing that I’d have to make an “Ace Attorney 3,” I wasn’t clever enough to save some ideas for later when we were making the second game. In fact, I had originally wanted to use the outline of the last episode of “Justice For All” as the basis for the final episode of the third game. The theme of “What are lawyers really supposed to protect?” would’ve made for a good story to end the series on, I thought. But since I’d already used that theme in the second game and I couldn’t come up with another good narrative related to that theme, I was really at a loss as to how to conclude the last episode of the third game. I had an especially tough time with how the characters were going to bring the culprit to justice. After all, due to the culprit’s “unique nature,” there was no way for the protagonists to do it the normal way through the legal system. But humans are strange creatures, and the more stress we are placed under, the more likely we are to come up with something. I managed to finish the story eventually, and when I turned around to take a look back over it all, I found myself in a place that the younger me from the year 2000 could never have imagined.
I feel that in the course of making these three games, I started as a “know-nothing newbie,” but as I gained more and more experience, and thanks to the guidance of my fellow team members and you, the players, I was able to somehow keep writing to the very end. In a way, Phoenix’s growth from a rookie into an accomplished lawyer mirrored my own growth at the time. Just thinking about it brings back so many fond memories for me.
Thank you for sharing such a thoughtful reflection on Phoenix’s early adventures, Mr. Takumi! For both greenhorn attorneys and veterans returning to the courtroom, you’ll be able to pick up Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy for PS4, XB1, Switch, and Steam starting April 9 th . See you in court!