Interviews// Phoenix Wright Producer, Minae Matsukawa

Posted 5 Apr 2007 14:00 by
SPOnG caught up recently with Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Justice for All producer, Minae Matsukawa to find out more about one of our favourite courtroom-based attorney sims!

SPOnG: Could you detail a little about the story in the game?

Minae Matsukawa: Phoenix Wright was a rookie attorney in the previous game, but now he has a few cases under his belt and has gained a little more fame for his courtroom triumphs. However, running his own practice comes with a whole new set of difficulties. Also, to further add to his woes, poor Phoenix even suffers from amnesia caused by an incident that occurs right before the first case.

SPOnG: For those that have played the original game, what added features might we see in Justice For All?

Minae Matsukawa: The main new feature introduced in Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Justice for All is the new Psyche-Locke system where players try one-by-one to remove the mental locks guarding a witnessí deepest secrets.

SPOnG: Can you explain a little bit about this feature and how it works?

Minae Matsukawa: At a certain point in the game, Phoenix comes into possession of the mysterious Magatama stone. This allows him to peer into peopleís hearts and attempt to break through the Psyche-Locks that stand between him and the truth. Phoenix must press the witnesses by presenting the Magatama along with the right evidence and profiles to open these locks.

SPOnG: What new cases will be in the game?

Minae Matsukawa: There will be several intense and dramatic new cases including one where Phoenix must travel to Maya Feyís hometown to solve a murder and another one where he must investigate an incident at the big top.

SPOnG: Being a port of the Japanese sequel on GBA, how does this game use the functionalities of the Nintendo DS?

Minae Matsukawa: We focused a lot of our efforts on how to best optimize the game to use the DS functionality. One example we feel improved the DS version considerably over the GBA version is that players are now able to see the court record on one screen while pressing the witness on the other.

SPOnG: Which of the original characters will we see in the sequel, and will there be any new faces in this game?

Minae Matsukawa: There are going to be a lot of new people, along with some familiar faces players will recognize from the first Ace Attorney game. Fans of the first game can look forward to meeting an interesting cast of characters, new and old.

SPOnG: Is localisation an issue with Phoenix Wright?

Minae Matsukawa: Especially for a text game, good localization is critical to making it entertaining for players.

SPOnG: I would imagine some of the humour in the Japanese version might be lost on the Western player.

Minae Matsukawa: Obviously humour is something that cannot always be directly translated, so the development team and localizers would often meet to try and discuss ways to preserve the spirit of the original Japanese text while making it entertaining for Western players. The localizers would also play and replay sections of the game to fine tune the text and make it that much more interesting.

SPOnG: Can you describe the nature of Wendy Oldbag? She sounds like a bit of a nutcase.

Minae Matsukawa: Sheís a fast-talking, boisterous, and irritable old lady, but thereís still something unexplainably likeable about her character.

SPOnG: The series has only recently been introduced to the West, with many GBA titles only being released in Japan. Was there an intentional delay to ascertain whether the idea would sell in Europe and the US?

Minae Matsukawa: The dual screens on the DS enhanced the functionality of the game, making it a much more enjoyable experience. With that new addition, the timing was right for introducing it to Europe and the US. To be honest, I was definitely worried about how a text-based game would be perceived in Europe and the US, so I was very happy to see it do so well and enjoying so much success.

SPOnG: Are you surprised at the success of the series in the West or has it met all expectations?

Minae Matsukawa: I knew that once players had a chance to try the game for themselves, they would enjoy it. However, one thing I definitely didnít expect was all of the dedicated fans in the West who got absorbed in the game and enjoyed it so much.

SPOnG: The next game in the series, due for release in Japan soon, doesnít appear to feature Phoenix Wright. Is this the last we see of him?

Minae Matsukawa: Phoenix Wright does make his appearance in Ace Attorney 4. Since it hasnít even been released in Japan yet, I donít want to give away too much.

SPOnG: Whatís your favourite character and joke from the game?

Minae Matsukawa: Since it will be easier for one of the translators of the game to comment on the English version, I want to leave this question in Janet Hsuís capable hands.

Janet: I like all of the characters for different reasons, but Iím definitely an Adrian Andrews fan. I think she just has a very human feeling about her because of her weakness. As for a favourite joke, there is both a joke and a funny scene from the game that stand out in my mind. One character named Moe tells Phoenix and Maya about "welching" on the grapes. The original Japanese joke referenced a brand of Japanese grape juice, and the other translator on the project, JP Kellams, was able to pull off the same effect. My favourite funny scene is hands down the one where Miles Edgeworth offers Wendy Oldbag a stick of gum to stop singing in court.

SPOnG thanks Minae Matsukawa and Janet Hsu for taking the time to speak with us.

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