Ace Attorney 3 – 2004 Developer Interview

Ace Attorney 3: Trials and Tribulations - 2004 Developer Interview

This lengthy Ace Attorney 3 interview originally appeared in the Gyakuten Saiban 3 Shinsou Kaimei guidebook printed in 2004. While conducted for the release of GS3, in their various recollections director Shu Takumi, producer Atsushi Inaba, and designer Tatsuro Iwamoto touch on all three games of the original trilogy.

Atsushi Inaba – Producer
Shu Takumi – Director / Writer
Tatsuro Iwamoto – Illustrator

—Tell us the story of how the Gyakuten Saiban series got started.

Takumi: There's this game called Dino Crisis that I directed… but the funny thing is, I didn't know anything about dinosaurs. I mean, I knew so little, that even after watching Jurassic Park I couldn't tell you what dinosaur was what. I worked on Dino Crisis for two years, and when it was done, section chief Shinji Mikami said to me, "Takumi, I feel bad for you since all the projects you've worked on have been for things that you're totally unfamiliar with. So I'm going to give you one year to do whatever you want." A big reason that I joined this company was because I wanted to make a mystery game, so that's exactly what I set out to do.

Inaba: I remember the topic came up when we'd finished Dino Crisis 2. That game was littered with puzzles, and Mikami guessed "ah hah, that must be the kind of game he wants to make."

Takumi: I'd submitted plans for a detective game once before. It was rejected right away, but I found the old plans then. It was a very standard, normal detective game though, not like Gyakuten Saiban.

—Was it like Famicom Tantei Club?

Takumi: Yeah. When I was a new employee, I made this very earnest list of ideas for the games I wanted to make, so I dug that up once Mikami gave me the go-sign. Unfortunately, seeing it again after so long, I realized most of the ideas weren't very usable. (laughs) One thing I'd written intrigued me though: "spot the contradictions"… so I decided to choose that idea to build my new game around.

L-R: Shu Takumi (director/writer), Tatsuro Iwamoto (illustrator), Atsushi Inaba (producer)

Inaba: Another thing was that we had a very large team for Dino Crisis 1 and 2. Big teams are very hard to control. One nice thing, though, is that in a big team things will move along on their own even if you can't personally monitor every nook and cranny. Giving Takumi a tiny team meant he had to manage everything personally, and it was a lot to put on one person's shoulders.

—When you say "large" and "small" teams, how many people are we talking about exactly?

Inaba: The Dino Crisis development ended up having around 50 people. Then Gyakuten Saiban was just 7, so quite small.

Takumi: It was rough for me. Normally when a development wraps up you're given some time to rest, and after Dino Crisis 2 they gave me about 3 weeks. But the seven-person team for Gyakuten Saiban had already been formed, so even though I said I was taking a vacation, the rest of them needed something to work on…

Iwamoto: I was on that team too. A complete newbie.

Takumi: I remember that. So yeah, as it happened, on my "vacation" I was ordered to draft entirely new game plans. It sucks, right?

—In other words, you had no break at all. (laughs)

Takumi: Yup, and that's how I spent my whole break, writing those plans. Luckily I had already been thinking about making a "courtroom game"… if I didn't have that idea on-hand I'd have been really screwed.

Inaba: Iwamoto, you were unlucky. Your project before this was cancelled.

Iwamoto: Yeah. (bitter laugh) My true "first game" wasn't Gyakuten Saiban, but a game that was cancelled.

—Did you work as an illustator on that?

Iwamoto: Yeah. I did the character design, and once that was over they told me I was being transferred to a new team—the Gyakuten Saiban team. But right in the middle of the Gyakuten Saiban, I learned that the game was cancelled. It was extremely depressing to me. This is getting a little ahead, but wasn't Gyakuten Saiban very nearly cancelled too?!

Takumi: Now that you mention it, yeah, it did nearly die out. People dropped off the project. Two right in a row.

Inaba: The whole team was in danger.

Takumi: Having someone quit on a 50-man team and having someone quit on a 7-man team, it's a totally different level of seriousness…

Iwamoto: I thought I might never have a game of mine released. (bitter laugh)

Takumi: When those two quit, we had an emergency meeting. Inaba casually said, "Well, should we throw in the towel...?" I remember everyone was in tears, it was like… "how dare he say that!"

Inaba: I recall someone saying to me, "If that's the extent of your willpower you should just quit this company right now!" As fallout from that, Iwamoto published that horrible illustration of me in his column.

Iwamoto's illustration of the intimidating Inaba.

—It looks just like you!

Iwamoto: I wanted to capture the sense of dread he inspired. (laughs)

Inaba: I look like the Ayashii Kage (Shadow) from Dragon Quest! Like I'm about to cast one of the instant death spells… In any event, Takumi had been given broad permission to do what he wanted, so my basic stance was not to interfere with that.

But when we started the project it was on the promise that he wouldn't expand the team any further. When those staff left Takumi came to talk to me, and I had to remind him, "I told you we can't hire any new staff." It made things a little strained between us.

Takumi: Ultimately, though, it all ended up being for the best. Thanks to their quitting, we got an small extension on the development deadline. On hearing that I immediately reacted with a guts pose. The schedule we'd been under was totally impossible.

Inaba: You asked for an extension in Gyakuten Saiban 3 also.

Takumi: Unfortunately I didn't have a convenient excuse for an extension, since no one had quit.

Inaba: For the Gyakuten series the final stretch is always a slap-dash-bang-up affair, it's practically a tradition now.

Takumi: Well, that's true of every development though. (laughs)

The Sabaiban Era

—Originally, Gyakuten Saiban had a different title, "Sabaiban". What kind of game was this...? 1

Inaba: We've brought some concept art and documents here to show you. The subtitle was "Bengoushi Tantei - Naruhodo Ryuichi" (Naruhodo Ryuichi, Lawyer-Detective)

Iwamoto: His hair was green!

Takumi: The final chapter was called "Kyoudaibune" (Ship of Brothers). Actually, Prosecutor Reiji (Miles Edgeworth) was originally an older man. Chihiro (Mia Fey) was an old dude too…

Inaba: Chihiro's "mentor" role was filled by a geta-wearing old rube. (laughs)

Iwamoto: I designed those early versions of the old-man Reiji and mentor guy, and I was quite sad when they went away. If possible, I wanted to re-use them somewhere. So I reworked that old Reiji a bit and he became Gou Karuma (Manfred von Karma) from the first Gyakuten Saiban.

The mentor character too, I made him bald but kept everything else, and re-used him for the judge.

The original "mentor" character was re-used for the Judge's design.

Inaba: When Iwamoto first showed those designs to me I went pale. "What the @#$%& is this!?"

—Why?

Inaba: Those weren't going to fly.

Iwamoto: They were too plain. And it was nothing but old men.

Takumi: It was the first time making a "courtroom" game for all of us, you see. When you think of a courtroom, one pictures a world of older men, and we had this stereotype in our minds that the main character's mentor had to be an older man too. We were criticized roundly for those designs. So we decided to be more flexible in our thinking, and that was how we came up with Chihiro's character (Mia Fey).

Iwamoto: All of those original illustrations were rejected.

Inaba: At Capcom all of our production staff is very hardheaded, especially about the kinds of characters they want to use. It's because of the affection they develop for them.

—Did you get to the point of a playable prototype for Sabaiban?

Inaba: Well, the game itself never really changed. It was just the title and characters that were different then.

Iwamoto: There was no game data at that point. It was just design drawings.

Inaba: We did code some of the graphics as a test though, I think it was with Kanoyama Usagi…? That character like Mayoi (Maya Fey). We were researching the Game Boy Advance hardware at the same time, and the results were very encouraging.

Iwamoto: The resolution was a big surprise. Coming from the Game Boy Color, the beauty of the Advance was extremely exciting.

—What made you change the title?

Takumi: We left it as Sabaiban for a very long time. Our team's name was the "Sabaiban Team" too.

Inaba: It happened in an instant. We realized we needed to sit down and properly think about the title, and it was then that "Gyakuten Saiban" emerged, just like that. From there it was just a sprint to the finish line.

Takumi: The beginning of the first Gyakuten Saiban development was the most chaotic period, of all the series.

Inaba: People quit, the design and title had to change…

Takumi: In that sense there's really not much to talk about with Gyakuten Saiban 3, that's how smooth it went in comparison. Well, excluding the scenario… (bitter laugh)

Posted by Shu Takumi in 2017, this page contains the original brainstorming notes for a "lawyer game" that everything started from. Some interesting notes: he imagined a single case would take a player about 3 days to solve, while one scene would be about 30 minutes of playtime. The scenes would be short and punctuated in order assure the player's anxieties re: whether they're doing well or not. You would "beat" witnesses by presenting evidence and objections at the right timing. He also muses about the feasibility of including a "Non-Verbal" system, where the player interacts with a pointer.

The Trials and Tribulations of Creating Gyakuten Saiban 3

—What were some of the challenges you faced in making GS3?

Takumi: For me it was the scenario, naturally. I felt like I'd exhausted all my ideas in the first two games, and I was at a loss here… I pledged to myself at the beginning that I wouldn't write about Maiko Ayasato (Misty Fey) again, but I ended up writing about her anyway.

Inaba: Let's not forget your producer's orders, "Include her!"

Takumi: Well, yeah. (laughs) For GS3, I had managed to write four of the stories before development began. But I just couldn't finish the final story. Trying to wrap everything up with a neat little bow, it's a huge pressure, and being the last story, I'd exhausted all my ideas. Thanks to my writer's block, I guess, every time we just barely make it across the finish line.

Iwamoto: Yeah, when Takumi is stuck, it causes delays in the character design too. For GS3, I couldn't draw anything until the story was at least partially complete. Shrinking down Sister Bikini was another late addition.

Takumi: Yeah, we were out of memory.

Iwamoto: I designed her after I learned we were running out of memory, so I made her short. Smaller characters use less memory.

—I thought the scene was funny where Sister Bikini is in the courtroom hiding her height. Who came up with that?

Takumi: I don't specifically remember, it was something someone just came up with on the fly.

Iwamoto: It's pretty common when we're all brainstorming together. Increasing the mikan boxes with each game was another such idea. Kyuta Otaki (Cody Hackins) stands on one in the first game too. We wanted to use the same gag for GS3 so we deliberately made a petite character for that purpose. I think it's fun for players when they spot little details that are shared between the games.

In the Japanese version, short witnesses use stacked mikan boxes to appear taller on the witness stand; it was change to "donut crates" for the localization.

Takumi: I wonder if everyone knows this, but the detectives in the police station, if you Examine them, you get a slightly different message each time. They've been our "secret" regular characters since the first game. (laughs)

—Were there any design challenges in GS3?

Iwamoto: In the first game, I was a total newcomer just like Phoenix Wright, but by GS2 I was promoted to main designer, and that was a very trying time. Things were easier in GS3. There was one character who gave me no end of trouble though… and that was Miyanagi Chinami (Dahlia Hawthorne). The instructions they gave me for her were very contradictory. She was a heroine, but she was the ultimate villain... she wore both western clothing, but also traditional Japanese clothing. And there had to be something about her that Wright would fall in love with too.

I had ideas for designs that would, individually, fulfill all those requirements, but synthesizing them all together into one unified design was very hard. To help concentrate, I had Capcom set up a dedicated design room for me, a place where I could hole up and do nothing but design. I'm still immature in that sense, in that I don't have a great workflow or workspace for creating characters.

—How many hours did it take, roughly, to finish Chinami's design?

Iwamoto: I don't really work on a single character in isolation like that very often. I usually work on multiple things at once.

Inaba: You did quit at one point though, when you weren't making progress.

Takumi: I think it took me two or three months to draw Chinami? Though, during that time I finished a lot of other characters who were easy.

—Such as?

Iwamoto: Sister Bikini, who we mentioned a minute ago.

Takumi: As soon as we saw the rough outline, we knew her design was a good one.

—Inaba, what were some of your challenges as producer?

Inaba: Chinami (Dahlia)…

Everyone: (laughs)

Inaba: Seriously though. Iwamoto can draw old men all day, but he's not good at girl characters.

—How do you instruct him in those situations?

Inaba: Bad! Wrong!

Dahlia Hawthorne (Miyanagi Chinami), the hardest character for Iwamoto to design.

—Now I'm scared...

Inaba: I don't think it's good to give the team too many specific instructions. It would end up injecting too much of my own personal taste, even if subtly. The characters have to be interesting, they have to have a unique personality, and the drawing has to be good… if all those are present, I give my OK. But if even one of those criteria is absent, its no good. There were lots of revisions, and I think I pushed Iwamoto to the point of a nervous breakdown sometimes, but… the characters have to be interesting.

Most of my work as producer is still to come. It's my job to sell the game, after all. I have to figure out how to make sure our promotional efforts will bear fruit. I guess by the time this book and interview is published, though, my work will be complete.

Oh, another thing, in GS1 and GS2 we'd talked about doing 5 full episodes, but it wouldn't all fit, then in GS3, yet again we talked about doing 5 episodes, but midway through they came to me saying that once again it looked unlikely, and I was like, "damnit, WHO is doing the math here?!"

Iwamoto: Yeah, I use Takumi's estimated amount of text when I'm making the characters and animations. It's a running calculation, but after Takumi submits the actual written scenario I often need to add one or two more bits of animation.

Takumi: But it goes beyond that, and extra characters often get added. (bitter laugh)

Iwamoto: Yeah, that happens.

Takumi: Suddenly we're adding a scene with Gou Karuma (Manfred von Karma), things like that. And so the number of characters in a scene can really increase past what I've initially plotted out. Young Reiji was one such late addition.

Inaba: That's partly why the Gyakuten Saiban team is isolated from the rest of the Capcom development staff. The way we make these games is different from the normal Capcom way, it's more like its own "Gyakuten Saiban Company" approach. Creating that independent environment… well, let's just say it's not easy.

—How do you mean?

Inaba: Creating an environment conducive to their creative style means walling them off from the rest of the company. It's a whole different, and strange, world. The Gyakuten Saiban team is the only place at Capcom where you'll see bottles of alcohol strewn around the office…

Iwamoto: Well, I don't know about the whole team, it's really just Takumi's desk. That's a no-go for me.

Takumi's Drinking Habits

—Takumi, I heard you used to hide and sneak your drinking during the making of GS1?

Takumi: That's right. I used to put liquor into energy drink bottles. To tell you the truth I thought about having a nip before coming in today, but since everyone would be here watching me, I decided not to.

Iwamoto: You were open about your drinking while working, weren't you?

Takumi: Well, at that time I was working in isolation from the rest of the team. (laughs)

—Do you drink hard liqour straight, without any ice?

Takumi: Yeah. I drink to light a fire under me. Slow and steady, nice and mannered... that way doesn't work for me. I need instant inspiration, now! So my routine is to have a drink every morning when I start work. Tell me, is that so bad?!

Iwamoto: Yeah, it is!

Takumi: So using that boost, I take care of the mountain of important work in the morning. Then in the afternoon, I do more routine work, or I write the Examine messages, little things like that.

Inaba: Wait, didn't your morning drinking start on GS3? You didn't use to drink like that before, right?

Takumi: No, I did that for the last chapter of GS1 too, and when I have to write something very important…

Inaba: Before you only drank when you had to write something important, right? But now in the mornings…

Takumi: …the first thing I do is drink. It's my pre-work ritual.

Inaba: Then you don't drink after work?

Takumi: No, I don't.

Inaba: It seems you've got a clear distinction between your public/private life then, and you take care not to mix them up. Publicly you drink, privately you don't.

These planning docs for GS2 were tweeted by Shu Takumi in 2017. Created before the release of GS1, Takumi explains that he had to write everything in just a few months, completing one full story every week. "Recipe for Turnabout" was deferred to GS3; and interestingly, the title here for Farewell, my Turnabout is "The Bear Saw it!", a reference to the stuffed bear with a spy camera from that episode.

Iwamoto: It totally shows on Takumi's face when he's been drinking. When he comes to see the designs I can tell right away. His ears are bright red. He's pretty lit by mid-morning. And I can smell the liquor, if I get close.

Inaba: Geez, it's just like Abu-san! 2

—How much do you drink each morning?

Takumi: Not that much. I get tipsy right away. But in the final phase of the development, say the last week or 10 days, I drink the bottle up.

Inaba: For bourbon, that's a face pace.

Takumi: I didn't drink so much in GS1, but it's gradually gotten more and more.

Inaba: …don't you think it might be a problem?

Takumi: I don't drink when I'm brainstorming or generating ideas. It's for when I need energy. For those times I need the energy, the vigor to write a certain section. Then it's my gasoline.

Inaba: Honestly, I don't think it's a good thing, but as long as it's just one guy at the company like this, I guess it's ok.

Iwamoto: Weren't you saying how drinking alcohol helps you not be embarassed with writing female characters? I seem to recall you saying that around the first game.

Takumi: Did I…?

Iwamoto: Yeah, you were saying how in the first game, most of the dialogue is stiff and formal. And how the women all speak very politely. Buy Mayoi-chan (Maya Fey), she talks in a cutesy way… it was Takumi who came up with that, right?

Inaba: Yeah, he did say that. About being too embarassed to write it properly.

Iwamoto: And if I remember right, you said when you drank, it made it less embarassing and you were able to write those lines.

Inaba: And I'm afraid it's only gotten worse…

Takumi: I don't remember saying all that.

Inaba: Takumi will always have a drink when we're heading into a stressful situation. He didn't drink today. Though for the interview we did the other day, for a different magazine, I could smell the liquor from a mile away. (bitter laugh)

Favorite Scenes and Characters

—What are your favorite scenes and characters? Let's start with Takumi.

Takumi: Naruhodo (Phoenix Wright) and Mayoi-chan (Maya Fey). I've been writing them the longest, and it's like they live in my head full-time now. I feel like I know them so well.

—How about the new characters in GS3?

Takumi: Godot. He's straight out of a hard-boiled story. Godot is voiced by Viewtiful Joe director Hideki Kamiya. He's a huge fan of Gyakuten Saiban, and he came to saying, "Let me be in it, I'll do anything!" I hear he snuck a song from Gyakuten Saiban into Viewtiful Joe too.

—Now that's a nice wholesome story. (laughs) And what was the most satisfying scenario for you?

Takumi: They're all satisfying to me. But in terms of being especially gratifying, I think the final chapter of GS3. The final chapters are always the hardest for me to write. And the pressure I felt in GS3 was particularly high. GS1 had a really fulfilling ending, but GS2's conclusion was just "ok", so I worried that if the quality fell any further in GS3 that could mean trouble for my position here at Capcom.

Inaba: Yeah, we might not have such a friendly "open bar" policy then.

Takumi: Exactly. (laughs) Also, I'm very fond of the first story in GS1. As an opening story, I think it's the best of the series. It's quite well done, if I do say so myself.

Inaba: We'll never be able to re-experience Naruhodo's first entrance into the courtroom like that, naturally.

Takumi: When I look back on it now, the idea is interesting too, the way it uses the passport… back then, I was just overflowing with ideas.

—Originally the second case "Gyakuten Shimai" (Turnabout Sisters) was going to be the opening case, right?

Takumi: Yeah. That's the very first one I wrote, but it would have made for too long of a prologue, so I set out to write something shorter. I think I wrote the tricks in just 10 minutes for that one. The passport, the time zone difference…

—Iwamoto, how about your favorites?

Iwamoto: For GS3, I love Godot. Even while drawing him I thought "this guy is f'n cool!" I was super psyched when I came up with the idea of having someone slide him his coffee on the stand.

—I burst out laughing the first time I saw that.

Iwamoto: Quite often those are the things I fall in love with, ideas that just come to you out of the blue, especially character gestures and movements.

Godot's signature coffee animation.

—Was it originally written in his backstory that he drank coffee?

Takumi: The standard hardboiled detective cliches would be bourbon, cigarettes, things like that. But both of those would be a bad influence on young people so we restrained ourselves and went with coffee.

Iwamoto: Another character I love, from GS2, would be Max Galactica. He gave me a ton of trouble.

—In what ways?

Iwamoto: His shoulders and arms feature that "deck of cards" design pattern, but rendering that on the game screen was difficult. There's a lot of other characters I love too, Sister Bikini and Igarashi (Victor Kudo) from GS3…

Inaba: Their designs are very plain.

Iwamoto: Yes, but when the characters are small, there's a lot of fun movements and animations you can create. I can't really do twitchy movements with larger characters, but because the smaller characters take up less memory, I've got a lot more options, and it's very fun to create all that.

—From your perspective as a visual artist, which scenario is your favorite?

Iwamoto: The final case of GS3.

Takumi: Wow, we're the same!

Iwamoto: I grumbled and complained about it a lot though, I think. While we were making it I said "we can't end it this way!", stuff like that.

—Was there ever a different ending?

Takumi: I wrote a first draft, but it was rejected. I asked Inaba his opinion, too, and he thought it had problems.

Inaba: The story itself wasn't bad, if I recall.

Takumi: The theme was the problem. I can't get into details, but it was a very fundamental problem. I had a basic idea of how it was supposed to wrap up, but for about half a year, I couldn't find the way to do it. I went around consulting with (and whining to) the entire team.

Iwamoto: Having the chance to share our opinions like that made it feel more participatory though.

—Was Godot always going to be the final villain?

Takumi: Yeah.

—So you knew the ending, you just didn't know how to get there?

Takumi: Yeah. How to handle the themes, etc

Iwamoto: You know how Godot's red mask is connected to his trick? 3 My design actually came first there.

Takumi: Right, right. I was having writer's block on that last case, then I saw your design. Iwamoto's illustration featured that red-lined mask for Godot. It makes me happy when I get directly inspired by another person like that.

—Inaba, who is your favorite character?

Inaba: From GS1, I like Konaka (Redd White) and Umeyo (April May) from Kona Culture (Bluecorp). From GS3, I like Shibakuzo Toranosuke (Furio Tigre)… like when he's impersonating Phoenix. I love that fake cardboard attorney's badge… it's so cheap, who would be fooled by that? (laughs) As a character I like that Konaka stands out, but as a producer, what I want is strong characters. Both in their appearance and their movements. So when I saw Konaka, I thought he was great.

—And your favorite scenario?

Inaba: Scenarios… there's two I can think of. The first would be Turnabout Sisters from GS1, and then the final episode of GS2. I think I called you about that one, Takeda, after I finished playing it. The ending really impressed me, it was so slick and satisfying. "The way you included the ending there was perfect!" Before the final episode begins, there's this cool scene with Reiji (Miles) where he appears in the lobby, and then the ending connects it up. It was awesome. So for scenarios, as a player, that final episode of GS2 is my favorite.

As for Turnabout Sisters, partly I love it because it has Konaka (Redd), but I also feel like it sort of set the tone and direction for the Gyakuten Saiban games as a whole. The death of Chihiro (Mia Fey) and everything.

Also, I know I didn't mention anything from GS3 as a favorite, and maybe some players will think that means the game is of lesser quality, but please rest assured, that's not the case.

Takumi: I'm crying inside right now.

Inaba: I know, I know. I think my mentality is closer to the players than the staff. I see them writing the scenarios, and then I play them later. But they're the ones actually in the trenches making it, so I think it takes them a little longer to process and digest those feelings.

Iwamoto: Yeah, our memories of GS3 are still too fresh.

Writing the Mysteries

—I think it must be a challenge to come up with the mystery plot points, the clues, the red herrings, the deceptions... what are some of your favorites from the series?

Takumi: In the final episode of GS1 (Turnabout Goodbyes), finding out what happened with the boat. It's simple but I thought it was very well done. No one ever said anything to me about it though. No magazine ever covered it either. Perhaps it didn't leave an impression because it wrapped up so smoothly.

—That's the episode with the flying air tank, right?

Takumi: Yeah, which turned out to be Gourdy. Gourdy is great too. I had just seen a news story on the comedy variety show Bakushou Mondai, about an air tank that exploded and went flying into someone's house, and it was really funny. The timing was great as the deadline for figuring out what to do about Gourdy was the very next day. It was just the flash of insight I needed.

The Japanese name for Gourdy was "Hyosshi", which is a play on "Nessie", the Japanese name for the Loch Ness monster (incidentally, the lake is called Hyoutanko--literally Gourd Lake--so it's a fine localization all-around).

—And the boat?

Takumi: I guess if you have to ask, it probably didn't leave much of an impression. But it's such a good well-constructed little mystery. I especially like the way you figure it out, with the question of when the gunshot was heard before or after Christmas.

—Oh right, the part where Yahari (Larry Butz) lets out that he was listening to the radio!

Takumi: I think it was great for a final episode. I know it's kind of plain, but still. Another one I love is Turnabout Big Top from GS2. It's a very well put-together story, I think. It has the Ringmaster, Tachimi Naoto (Russel Berry)… by the way, the kanji for Naoto's name (七百人) were inspired by my friend's father's name, who pronounced his name (五百人) as Ioto. But that would be too obscure for players so I went with Naoto instead.

—Do you have any other interesting stories about GS3?

Takumi: We received a lot of requests from players wanting to try a case that wasn't a murder, which is why we added the robbery case this time. I also thought it would be really interesting to have the start of the case and end of the case be about different crimes, so I wrote it that way… though it didn't turn out quite as good as I'd hoped. Also, many players told us they wanted to try a case that involved chikan (groping) on a packed train… but I wasn't so sure that would actually be fun.

Inaba: It definitely would not!

Takumi: Yeah, it's a little too close-to-home.

Iwamoto: There's no evidence involved in such a crime too. Or rather, evidence that would fit within the age restrictions.

Inaba: We get a lot of very serious letters and inquiries from players like that. We also have people tell us "Your game has inspired me to become a lawyer."

Iwamoto: This is such a silly game though, to want to be a lawyer because of it, I don't know… (bitter laugh)

Takumi: Nah, I think it's cool.

—You've mentioned that you originally planned to have five stories for GS1 and GS2. Did the ideas for those stories get used elsewhere?

Takumi: In Recipe for Turnabout, where Mako Suzuki (Maggey Byrde) falls under suspicion of being a murderer once again, that one was originally planned for GS2. Her life is marked by bad luck and disaster.

Also, for GS1, I had a concept in mind where the client who hired you really was the criminal, but I couldn't find a place to put it, so it was deferred until GS2 when we used it in the final story (Farewell, My Turnabout). We couldn't just kill off Miles Edgeworth so quickly!

Iwamoto: Yeah, that was a close one. If we'd used that idea then for Turnabout Goodbyes, where would we be now…

Takumi: It would have changed everything. The mystery of the mother's murder in GS2 would probably have been solved. And GS3 might not even exist as it does today.

—With GS3, I feel like all the mysteries have been neatly wraped up, but do you have plans for a GS4?

Inaba: At present, no. We feel that we've put a proper period on the Gyakuten Saiban series with this game. At the same time we're not in any rush to abandon the brand.

Takumi: It wouldn't be good to drag things out too long. I don't particularly want it to end here, and I think the series could continue… maybe it'd be best to change it up?

Inaba: For the time being, we're going to take a break, and if Takumi comes back and says he wants to do another Naruhodo (Phoenix Wright) game, then the 4th could be a brand new series. That would work. We don't have any particular restrictions or limits on that. Of course, the requests from the fans will factor in. But for now, this is a good stopping point.

Takumi: For the first time since joining Capcom, I'm going to take a long vacation where I don't have to think about anything. I'm very happy for that. (laughs)

If you've enjoyed reading this interview and would like to be able to vote each month on what I translate, please consider supporting me on Patreon! I can't do it without your help!


  1. Sabaiban is a typical Japanese mash-up of the words "Sabaiba-" (Survivor) and "Saiban" (Court).

  2. The lead character of the baseball manga of the same name, Abu-san is a hard-drinking pinch hitter.

  3. "Trick" here refers to a special Japanese term used when talking about genre mystery stories. There isn't a perfect English equivalent, as far as I know, but it's essentially a deception employed by a villain, or in a broader sense, the deceiving of the audience by the writer.

1 comment

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.