Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney

With Turnabout Trial 3, Shu Takumi felt the grand finale effectively tied up all the loose ends, giving the protagonist a proper sendoff. Despite this, he and the rest Capcom took note of the fanbase it had garnered over the years and felt compelled to make a standalone sequel. They became especially motivated once the original game had been released in the West under the name Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, stunning everyone when it became a sleeper hit. By then, the Game Boy Advance had been succeeded by Nintendo’s next console: the DS. Its novel dual screen gameplay allowed the console to achieve a level of commercial success that continued the company’s dominance in the handheld market.

Taking advantage of the new technology, some staff members proposed for the game to be rendered in 3D as a way of making a big impact on the DS. Eventually, they settled on a 2D presentation akin to the original trilogy. Nonetheless, some 3D elements remain in the final product, being the first installment in the series to feature videos created using motion-capture. Such were the lengths Mr. Takumi and his team went to make this game that they visited real courts to study the legal process. The fruit of their labor was released in April of 2007 under the name Turnabout Trial 4.

As the series had been as much of a success in the West as it was in its native homeland, localization was already underway by August of that year. Alexander O. Smith, who helped write the English localization, returned for this installment as well. After twenty-two meetings between Capcom’s American and Japanese divisions, they finally had a new name for the protagonist – one fitting for an attorney who fights to keep his innocent clients from receiving a guilty verdict: Apollo Justice. From here, they decided to name the game after him in a similar manner to his predecessor. Thus, Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney was released in North America, Europe, and then Australia in 2008. Does this fourth installment succeed in elevating an already impressive canon to a new level?

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Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Trials and Tribulations

Shortly after the success of Turnabout Trial in 2001, Shu Takumi’s boss, Shinji Mikami suggested that they make a trilogy with a grand finale in the third game. Atsushi Inaba, the game’s producer then called Mr. Takumi into a meeting once the latter returned from a vacation. Mr. Inaba asked requested the script for five episodes in the span of three and a half months. Despite these outrageous terms, Mr. Takumi managed to get his work done on time, though one episode had to be cut due to memory constraints. Regardless, Turnabout Trial 2 was released roughly one year after the original’s debut. It too became a success, and there was only one game left to work on. Unlike the case with Turnabout Trial 2, production of the trilogy’s concluding installment went smoothly, though the development cycle lasted slightly longer, being released in January of 2004. Named Turnabout Trial 3, it continued the series’ success, helping to retain the following it gathered with the previous two entries.

A few years later in the West, the success of Turnabout Trial 2, retitled Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Justice for All, demonstrated the series’ staying power. It was only logical to localize the final game as well. However, the localization process was less than ideal. With the localized title Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Trials and Tribulations, it saw a release in North America in October of 2007, yet it was conspicuously absent in other regions. Despite getting prerelease reviews in gaming publications, the DS version was not released in Australia, though they did eventually receive the port on the Wii in 2010. Furthermore, it was delayed in Europe to the extent that the next game in the series, Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, saw its release first. It’s speculated that ratings complications is what caused this to happen. Some fans had to wait an unreasonably long time for Trials and Tribulations to come out in their region. Did their patience pay off? Was Mr. Takumi able to defy the perceived curse involving trilogies and end this one on a triumphant note?

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Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Justice for All

Upon its release in 2001, Turnabout Trial became a success in Japan, quickly amassing a strong following. Once Capcom finished development, Shu Takumi was told by his boss, Shinji Mikami, that they should make a trilogy with the third game ending in a grand finale to provide closure for all of the lingering plot threads. When Mr. Takumi returned to work from his vacation, the game’s producer, Atsushi Inaba, called him to a meeting. He told Mr. Takumi that he wanted a script for five episodes, allotting him three and a half months to finish it. As Mr. Takumi took a little more than a month to write each of the four episodes of the original Turnabout Trial, he was well within his rights to declare such a notion “completely insane”. To make matters worse, he felt he did not have any more gimmicks with which to formulate any mysteries, nor did he believe there to be any story threads he could expand upon.

Though he wanted to protest, the minute he returned to his desk, he drafted a work schedule. He gave himself two and a half months to write the dialogue for the entire game, with the remaining time being used to create the prototype and conceive gimmicks for each episode. Though a lot of doubt understandably weighed on his mind during the development cycle, he was miraculously able to meet the deadline. The only issue is that because he had run into memory issues, one of the episodes had to be cut from the final product. Despite a few minor setbacks, the game, entitled Turnabout Trial 2, was released in October of 2002 for the Game Boy Advance – roughly one year after the debut of the original.

A few years later in October of 2005, Turnabout Trial, under the localized title of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, became a sleeper hit through positive word of mouth. Such was the degree of its success that demand greatly exceeded supply. Cards became difficult to find, selling for double the average retail price on online auction websites. With the knowledge that the series had an overseas audience, Capcom allowed their localization team to work on an English version. As was the case with the original, the sequel had received a port on Nintendo’s then-newest console: the DS. Renamed Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Justice for All, the port saw separate releases in North America, Europe, and Australia in 2007. Justice for All was generally as well-received as its predecessor, and continued the franchise’s surprise success. Does it measure up to the strong series debut?

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Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney


In the year 2000, Capcom released a sequel to their 1999 survival horror game, Dino Crisis. The original was directed by Shinji Mikami, who also created the Resident Evil series, but one of his subordinates at the time, Shu Takumi, handled the sequel’s development. Upon completing his work on Dino Crisis 2, Mr. Mikami allotted Mr. Takumi six months to create his own game. As Mr. Takumi had joined Capcom in 1994 hoping to create adventure and mystery games, he knew this would be his chance to make his mark as a full-fledged developer.

Development of this new project started in 2001. It was originally slated for release on the Game Boy Color, but once the team discovered the system’s successor, the Game Boy Advance, Mr. Takumi deemed the new handheld console perfect for his vision. At first, Mr. Takumi wished to make a game about a private investigator who found the dead body of his client in his office and was subsequently arrested for the murder. He was then appointed an incompetent attorney, forcing the detective to defend himself in court. The working title was “Surviban: Attorney Detective Naruhodo-kun” with Surviban being a portmanteau of the English word, “survival,” and the Japanese word, “saiban” (court or trial). Eventually, Mr. Takumi realized that examining and taking apart contradictions wasn’t exactly detective work and decided to make the courtroom the game’s primary setting with the lawyer being the protagonist instead. Although the project was in danger of being canceled at one point due to two staff members leaving the company, development went smoothly, as it only took ten months to finish. The game, Turnabout Trial, was released in October of 2001 whereupon it received a dedicated following, though Capcom expressed no interest in expanding their audience to include overseas fans.

This all changed four years later when the game was remade for the DS, Nintendo’s next handheld console following the Game Boy Advance. Capcom decided to take a chance by outsourcing the burden of localization to a company called Bowne Global. It was handled by a writer named Alexander O. Smith, who had experience translating works such as Final Fantasy VIII and Star Ocean: Till the End of Time, along with editor Steve Anderson. October of 2005 would mark the debut of Turnabout Trial in the West under the name Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. It seemed as though it was doomed to fall into obscurity thanks to its dismal initial sales figures, but it received exceedingly positive word of mouth, and the game suddenly became very difficult to find as demand exceeded supply. The third printing sold out within a week, and online auctions would see enthusiasts pay double the retail price for a copy. How was this game able to strike such a chord with its newfound Western audience?

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Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney - Box

In 2010, Level-5, the company behind the Professor Layton series of puzzle games, announced a new project. It was to be a crossover with one of Capcom’s franchises: Ace Attorney. Akihiro Hino was noted by a colleague to be a huge fan of the series and sent the proposal to its creator, Shu Takumi. Despite some initial skepticism from Capcom’s R&D Management Group, Mr. Hino ultimately convinced Mr. Takumi to accept the idea, and the latter was subsequently given full creative control over the project as both director and the main scenario writer. The game was eventually released in Japan in 2012 for the 3DS, Nintendo’s newest handheld console at the time. Many international fans believed that it wouldn’t receive a localization like the sequel to Ace Attorney: Investigations. Fortunately, after being met with much enthusiasm, Level-5 and Capcom decided in 2013 to give their game a Western release, making good on their promise by 2014.

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