As a huge fan of the Ace Attorney series, I’ve seen many a Tokyo Game Show (TGS) come and go over the last few years, and I always went in with the expectation that Capcom would finally unveil their latest follow up to 2007’s Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney. I’m pleased to announce that the wait is over and that development on both Ace Attorney 5 and Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney is in full swing. After nearly five years of silence, Capcom announced in early September that a true fifth entry to the classic courtroom franchise was underway and backed up their claims this week with trailers, demos, and new official art. Level-5 also made a terrific showing with a new trailer and demo for Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney, which is slated for release on November 29 in Japan. For all the latest news, trailers, and details, check out the summaries below.
Ace Attorney 5
Although fans of the Ace Attorney games have known since as early as 2008 that Capcom intended to continue the franchise, precious little was known about the latest entry to the main series until the developer finally made an official confirmation in late January 2012 that a new game was on the way. Fast-forward to September 4, when leaks from the Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu surfaced online touting not only information about Ace Attorney 5, but with the surprising news that Phoenix Wright would be returning as the main character presumably in lieu of rookie attorney Apollo Justice, who starred in the previous title. In addition to this, Phoenix also appeared to be sporting a new assistant. Fans were also shocked to learn that the first case begins with a quite literal explosive start as the courthouse in which previous games have taken place is destroyed in a bombing incident. The leak also stated that the first prosecutor would be “rookie-killer” Winston Payne’s brother and that Phoenix’s first client is a high school student accused of the aforementioned bombing. Days later, Capcom announced that the game would see a western release, which is particularly reassuring after the company failed to localize 2011’s Ace Attorney Investigations II. Despite the speculation that rose from these details, fans didn’t have long to wait.
On September 20, Capcom unveiled its first trailer for the new game at this year’s TGS, which confirmed everything announced via Famitsu and allowed fans a first glance at the new 3D engine. The game has the same feel as previous titles but with 3D models instead of 2D sprites, and while the visual advancement is certainly notable, the art style remains mostly the same. Improvements include smooth visuals, a richer feel, and new camera angels that provide a more cinematic feel during court sequences. For a franchise that was initially launched for the Game Boy Advance, it’s a satisfying and welcomed update to the series. The music has also been upgraded to sound more orchestrated, although fans have been quick to point out that some old favorites from past titles have been incorporated into the soundtrack.
The trailer also shows glimpses of the new in-court gameplay mechanic, which in this case appears to give Phoenix insight as to how the witness is holding up emotionally while testifying. Fans also learned that Phoenix’s new assistant goes by the name of Kokone and were later treated to her official art, which can be found on the newly launched official site. It was also confirmed that Bones, the Japanese animation studio best known for works such as Eureka Seven, Fullmetal Alchemist, and Wolf’s Rain, will be producing animated cutscenes to accompany the games, a first for the Ace Attorney franchise. Interestingly, Bones will also be supplying the cutscenes for Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney as well. While these animated sequences were not shown at TGS, Famitsu was later able to provide still images of both Phoenix and Kokone.
Finally, TGS attendees were also given access to a short demo of the game. While there currently isn’t too much information regarding the demo, screenshots from a TGS LiveStream show that the investigations phase will take place in 3D, and features larger, higher-quality environments than Ace Attorney fans have even see before.
Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney
Although the flow of information was slightly less bountiful than Capcom’s presentation of Ace Attorney 5, Level-5 managed to impress at TGS as well with new videos and a playable demo for the long awaited Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney. Officially confirmed at TGS 2011, the game is a collaboration between Level-5 and Capcom and is a true crossover between the two beloved series. After a chance meeting in London, Professor Layton and Phoenix Wright are tossed together into a brand new fantasy world and must defend a young woman from charges of witchcraft. Meanwhile, a mysterious figure appears to be pulling strings in the background by writing in a mysterious book that controls the fate of the land. The game will consist of puzzle-based investigation sequences led by Layton and court sequences led by Phoenix, although there will certainly be overlap between these segments.
Fans of both franchises were able to experience the game’s demo from two perspectives as the first part is centered around Layton and Luke, and the second part is focused on Phoenix and Maya. While fans were treated to early development screenshots and official art last year, the game looks pristine and polished the second time around and appears to use a similar game engine to Ace Attorney 5. As previously mentioned, Bones will be producing the animated cutscenes for this game as well. Layton and Luke will retain their voice actors from previous games, while Phoenix and Maya will be voiced by their respective actors from the 2012 Ace Attorney movie directed by Takashi Miike.
Currently, the game has not been confirmed for a western release. However, the speedy confirmation provided by Capcom on the localization of Ace Attorney 5 may be a good sign of things to come. For more trailers and screenshots, check out the official site.