Thursday, August 11, 2016

Gyakuten Saiban Blog Entry 6: Lecture on Law (2001)

Title: Lecture on Law / 「法律談義」

Summary: In the sixth blog post for the original Gyakuten Saiban (Ace Attorney 1 GBA) for the Game Boy Advance, Takumi talks about the role of the actual legal system and trials in Japan in his own game. While few would ever believe the legal system in the game is realistic, there's an unfounded belief that the game was designed to be a parody of some sorts on the actual Japanese legal system. As Takumi himself already explained over the course of the developer's blog however, that never was the intention: he just gathered all kind of stereotypical images of the courtroom to make a mystery game.

Lecture on Law

November, 2000. The characters were coming together, and I was working desperately on my first scenario (the current Turnabout Sisters). One day, I was asked about the one thing I didn’t want to be asked about.

“Mr. Takumi. Don’t we need to do some research on law?”

The knowledge I have about the law, pretty amounts to the one fact that in Japan we have the Roppō Zensho ('Complete Book of The Six Major Legal Codes').

“Don’t bother with that. This is a detective game. “

It should have been over with this one line, but…

“But this isn’t a detective game, it’s a lawyer game!”

“If it’s not going to be realistic, I don’t see why this should be about trials.”

“People who play this might get wrong knowledge from the game!”

“We might get sued by the Bar Association!”

“They’ll start complaining!”

…As everyone started to say things like that, my own confidence started to shrink. Sweat started to pour out like a waterfall, and I was starting to look like prosecutor Auchi (Payne) in his last moments. And finally, I started to think: “Maybe we do need a real lawyer to oversee this…”

I called for an emergency meeting.

“Any of you know a laywer?”
“Someone studying to be a laywer?”
“Someone studying to be a spirit medium…?”

But people like tht aren't lying around for picking. So I calmed down, and took a good look at the concept again.

Gyakuten Saiban (Ace Attorney GBA) is simply a “mystery game.” “Being realistic” is not what is important. What’s important is emphasizing, and recreating the unique “atmosphere” and “tension” of the courtroom. That is why the judge uses a gavel, even though no judge uses that, and why Naruhodō shouts "Objection!" even though nobody does that either. This game does not need a “realistic courtroom”!

Chasing the true murderer down to the end, and then getting applauded for that in the courtroom. That feeling of thrill and excitement. It was only by February of the following year when we finally manage to recreate that in the game. The couple of months after this had happened, we looked around, got lost and troubled our minds in search for the answer of the big question of “How do we make a trial into a game?”.  Fall was passing by, and the cold winter was close upon us.

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