Famitsu: What sort of [design] features have you included [to help series newcomers]?
Eshiro: For starters, we've added two save slots. And aside from the tutorials, we have designed the game in such a way that people can get used to the gameplay without having to read a manual. On the character side, we've made it so new players will understand that Phoenix is the main character, that he is a defense attorney, and that [Athena] is his partner. Things that help people transition smoothly into the story.
F: I see, so you've designed the game in a way that players will understand the gameplay and game's world pretty naturally.
E: Yes, and we've improved the interface as well. Previously, you had to first look for a piece of evidence, then re-select it to view its information. Now you can see the item's information without the need to keep selecting it, so right from the start. You know how vending machines are designed so people don't purchase the wrong item? We kind of had that in mind when we were designing the interface in this game.
F: It definitely feels like the gameplay is a lot smoother here.
E: The implementation of the back-log helps to remind players of the story, and where it's at. And another thing, this happened with me, but sometimes I wouldn't know where to present the evidence. I'd end up presenting evidence randomly until I got the right answer. This led me to start saving, presenting, then loading the save if I were unsuccessful, and this can get pretty tiresome. There's obviously the scare of a "Game Over" that pushes us to use our own thinking to find the truth, but for the casual player we've added the "hint-system" that appears after numerous errors. So new players will be able to play the game with minimal stress, too.
F: So the game is made to be kinder to newcomers, but also not handhold more experienced players or those that want to work on their own.
E: Exactly. When you make multiple errors, a "hint" icon suddenly shows up on the screen. But if this icon were to scream "Touch me!", people may feel a little bit obligated to press it. Then the player may end up getting a hint when they didn't want it and think "I didn't want this info! I wanted to find out on my own!"... So we designed the icon to show up quietly and not have too much of a presence.
Another thing is that sometimes you just can't figure out what to do next during investigations. This can get pretty stressful, so we included the Memo to let you know how far you have gotten and what still needs to get done. Of course, those that don't wish to use it can ignore it completely and play the game like they did the previous ones. You can also head from one place to another directly, without the need to first travel to a specific location.
F: It's much more user-friendly, I see.
E: I'd say so, definitely. It is without a doubt the most user-friendly game of the series. However we don't want make the game too friendly, of course. We tried to design the interface in such as way that fans of the series will not say "Hey, I didn't want these spoilers!" when they accidentally select these features. We had to design while keeping in mind the fans that think "I don't want to see spoilers so I'll avoid this..." and those that say "Okay, I would like some help here!"... and this was pretty difficult.
The difficulty of the Psyche-lock and the bracelet, the investigation gameplay, was a point we all thought long and hard about. There's a thrill about only being able to make a set number of mistakes, but if we take that thrill-level here and used it in the same way it was used 10 years ago, the game would be ridiculously hard. Almost like a one-chance-only or GAME OVER.
F: Yeah, some players may become truly upset if this were to happen.
E: Right, there's always that chance. The inclusion of the Psyche-lock and bracelet are sure to be a little nostalgic to fans, but we decided NOT to include penalties here. It is more for players to enjoy the interactions between characters. We thought people didn't want to be penalized out here, and that the "thrill" of failure should stay in the court room. This kind of balance was something we spent a lot of time thinking about.
F: So kind of a way to separate the different parts of the chapters/cases that players are going to really enjoy.
E: Yes, we worked hard to make each section of each case feel interesting in their own ways. So if players, after they beat the case, want to "read this part again" or "watch this anime scene again", they can jump straight to that location or watch the anime scene in the gallery. We wanted players not to waste any time in finding their favourite moments. I think some players want to present every piece of evidence they have, so we changed the dialog for every evidence presented. You won't be getting the same old generic "This isn't important." dialog. Nor will you get the same message when you search things while investigating. If this were the case, people would think us developer were too lazy, haha.
F: As far as the story is concerned, is it connected in some way to AA1-4?
E: The setting for AA5 is that it takes place one year after AA4. We created the story so you wouldn't have to know what happened in AA3 or AA4 to enjoy the story. That's something Mr.Yamazaki (scenario-director) really focused on. It's clear it takes place after AA4, but we wanted the story to take place entirely within the AA5 time period. There are definitely points in the game where series fans will smirk a little, but newcomers should still be able to enjoy these scenes. It's just that series fans will get the most kick out of the scenes.
To be honest, for us, we wanted the story to be created in a way where people who play this as their first AA game want to go back and play the previous titles. Then they'll find certain scenes/points and think "Oh hey, this is where AA5 got this from!" As a game in the series, the stories all wrap themselves up in one game, so it shouldn't matter where you jump into the series.
F: Yeah, but for those who want to play 1-4...
E: Haha, yes, it might be kind of tough...
F: So please make a "COLLECTOR's EDITION". Like... "Ace Attorney: The Unveiled Edition"!
E: So all of the games in one!? Well.. I'll think about it. It's true though that there are people who ask us for things like this. But right now we've got the same AA games on the GBA, DS, Wii, and even Smartphones. AA has actually branched into a lot of consoles.
F: So, yeah, AA1-4 with the 3D graphics and support system... Oh, the Investigation games as well.
F: It'll be a huge seller!
E: I've never seen a 6-title collection before, haha. Remaking the games again but in 3D would be quite costly... I mean, there are parts of the game even I want to see in 3D, but there are concerns about the presentation, how to support some of the more difficult areas, and we would have to think about whether or not we'd want to simply create a 3D-port.
F: Well if AA5 ends up selling real well...
E: Haha, well if the company says "Just do what you want in 3D." then there's a possibility, I guess.
F: So if lots of people play AA5, then there's a chance.