10 Things You Might've Not Known About the Ace Attorney Series
With the recent release of Ace Attorney: Spirit of Justice, this year marks the 15th anniversary of the series all about the hapless lawyer, Phoenix Wright, and his many bizarre cases. Over the years, we've seen him and his friends deal with spirit mediums, cross-examine animals and apprehend all manner of dastardly crooks.
So, what better way to celebrate than to comb every game and share some behind-the-scenes info and neat trivia that helped shape this awesome series. Just a heads up: there will be mild spoilers ahead.
1. The Original Voices
While the recent games have since got hold of professional voice actors to shout "Objection!" into a microphone, that wasn't always the case. In the games released on the original DS, character voices were provided by Capcom staff.
For example, Ben Judd and Janet Hsu, who were both part of the localization team, voiced Phoenix and Franziska von Karma respectively (Hsu still works as a localizer on the series today). The most infamous example, however, is the voice of Godot, the rival prosecutor from Trials & Tribulations, as he was voiced (in the Japanese version) by none other than Hideki Kamiya, former Capcom employee and founder of Platinum Games.
2. The Origins of Hobo Phoenix
Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, the fourth entry in the series, is not fondly remembered by a lot of fans -- one of the reasons being how our own ace attorney Phoenix ended up being disbarred and became a somewhat bitter individual. Why was this decision made?
Well, series creator Shu Takumi had intended for this game to not feature any of the cast from the original trilogy, but higher-ups at Capcom pretty much demanded that Phoenix be included because he was the main star, thus leading to the aforementioned story arc of Phoenix losing his attorney's badge.
This decision is pretty much considered to be a terrible direction for the series to have taken, which is probably why the next game, Dual Destinies, was so quick to have Phoenix return to being a lawyer.
3. Edgeworth Steals the Spotlight
Considering the popularity of Phoenix's first rival, Miles Edgeworth, it only made sense for him to be the star of the spin-off Investigations series. However, the original plan for the series was to have it star Ema Skye, a character first introduced in the Rise from the Ashes case in the first game.
It would've focused more on forensic investigations and would've most likely taken place during Ema's time as a detective. While she may not have been the star, she did make appearances in both Investigations games and assisted Edgeworth.
4. What's in a Name?
The Ace Attorney series is famous for many things; one of them being the rather pun-tastic names of its weird and wonderful cast. From Dick Gumshoe to Ahlbi Ur'gaid, they range from subtle and meaningful to just painfully obvious (looking at you, Deid Mann).
Of particular note is, of course, Phoenix Wright himself, as his name directly references the phoenix, which is well know for resurrecting itself (a reference to how Phoenix always turns seemingly unwinnable cases around) and the fact that he's always 'Wright.'
In the Japanese version, his name is Ryuichi Naruhodou - "naruhodou" being a term that means "I see" or "I understand."
5. Them's Fighting Words
Both Phoenix and Franziska were planned to be playable characters in the crossover fighting game Tatsunoko VS Capcom, but they were unfortunately cut due to the developers facing a certain problem regarding Phoenix's play-style.
See, one of his main attacks would be to yell "Objection!", creating a word balloon with the word in it to hit his opponent. The developers soon realized that this attack, in the Western release, would be a game-breaker, as the word balloon would be so big that it'd be unavoidable, as opposed to the much shorter "Igiari!" in the Japanese version.
In the end, it was decided for both characters to be cut, though Phoenix would later get his chance to shine three years later in Ultimate Marvel VS Capcom 3.
6. Write What You Know
In the first game, a flashback to Phoenix's childhood explains the reasoning behind why he became a lawyer. He was wrongly accused of stealing another classmate's lunch money and was put on "trial," which led to a young Edgeworth and Larry standing up for him against the rest of the class.
What's interesting about it is that it's loosely based on an event from Shu Takumi's own past. During second grade, he found a piggy bank in the school courtyard, was accused of stealing it and was forced to apologize to its owner. Too bad he didn't have an Edgeworth of his own to defend him -- though it did lead to the creation of this series, so it kind of all worked out.
7. Missile the Dog
One recurring character within the series is a police dog called Missile, who has helped Phoenix and Edgeworth solve some of their cases, and even acted as one of Phoenix's assist attacks in Ultimate Marvel VS Capcom 3. But why the name Missile? Simple. That's the name of Shu Takumi's pet dog. Interestingly, though, Missile is a Shiba Inu breed, while Takumi's dog is a Pomeranian.
Takumi would reference his pet again in Ghost Trick, a puzzle game on the DS that starred a ghost trying to reclaim his memory. The Missile in that game was not only a Pomeranian this time, but was also one of the main characters. Takumi must really love his dog.
8. What Could Have Been
In a different time and place, the cast that we all know and love could have been vastly different. For example, Maya was always intended to assist Phoenix, but she would've been a lawyer as well; one who was still in-training and preparing for her bar exam.
A weirder example is the original idea for Maya's adorable cousin Pearl. She was going to be a snooty, rival character who only appeared in one case -- but when it was suggested that it'd be dramatic for her to be much younger, Shu Takumi tried writing her as an eight-year old girl. He found the new Pearl so adorable that he decided to make her a recurring character.
Some character changes weren't as dramatic, however. Detective Gumshoe was pretty much unchanged from his original concept, with one small exception. See that pencil he always has tucked behind his ear? That's a leftover from when he was going to be a fan of horse-racing.
While the games were originally set in Japan, the localization changed the setting to Los Angeles, California, resulting in mass confusion from some Western fans since so many elements of Japanese culture were kept in and unchanged. This led to the location being dubbed by fans as Japanifornia - something that was confirmed as being true by localizer Janet Hsu, who has worked on the series since the second game, Justice for All.
In a blog post detailing other pieces of trivia, she revealed that the series takes place in an alternate Los Angeles where anti-Japanese sentiments and anti-immigrant laws were never enacted, allowing the Japanese culture to flourish. So, there's your explanation as to why the likes of Kurain Village from the original trilogy and Nine-Tails Vale from Dual Destinies exist.
10. It's Happening Right Now
Did you know that, technically speaking, the events of the first game are happening right now? According to the official timeline for the series, Phoenix's very first case as a lawyer took place on August 3rd 2016. Also, earlier this month, some fans took to social media on September 5th to pay tribute to Mia Fey, as that is the date of her death.
Capcom themselves seem to acknowledge this, as the Ace Attorney anime (which adapts the first two games) began airing earlier this year.