The Glorious Return of Phoenix to the Courtroom!

Dec 05, 2013 // Janet Hsu

Welcome one and all! Especially those of you itching for more AA goodness! I am Janet Hsu, Localization Director of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies, and today, we’ll be taking a trip to Shipshape Aquarium with Ms. Yuki Namamura, the scenario writer for the special DLC episode “Turnabout Reclaimed”!

Now, before you download this extra full-length episode please read the following blurb and swear unto me your first-born child! (No, wait! Keep your babies! I forgot that I am -50 against soul-piercingly cute toddlers!)

You must have purchased the main game “Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies” prior to purchasing the special episode “Turnabout Reclaimed”, which you can do via the DLC and Extras option on the main menu. To play the special episode, you will need to have first finished Episode 1: “Turnabout Countdown”.  For more details on the DLC and how to download it, please visit our DLC Info page here .

There! With the obligatory legalese out of the way, here’s Ms. Nakamura to tell us a little about the special episode, “Turnabout Reclaimed”!

Hello! I’m Yuki Nakamura. I’m a game designer here at Capcom and the scenario writer for the DLC episode.

How do you like Dual Destinies so far? I wonder how many of you have already finished the main game and are feeling a little sad, wishing there was a way to stay in the world of Ace Attorney for just a little longer? If this describes you, then I highly recommend that you download “Turnabout Reclaimed” and jump right back in! In fact, let’s go see what the gang over at the Wright Anything Agency is up to today, and see if we can’t get any info about “Turnabout Reclaimed” from them!

: It’s not very nice to spring interviews on people, but I suppose that’s what I keep Apollo around for.

Apollo : What?! Me?! But this episode is all about YOUR return to lawyering, Mr. Wright, so shouldn’t you answer something this important yourself?

Phoenix : Hahaha, but what’s there left to say after your wonderful explanation?

Apollo : I can already tell that there is going to be nothing wonderful about any of this…

Athena : Someone’s frown needs to be turned upside down! The murder of the director of the pirate-themed “Shipshape Aquarium” – I mean, what about this case isn’t wonderful?

Apollo : Everything. Just everything – starting with that pirate-themed aquarium…

Athena : A-ha! I KNEW you’d want to talk about that! Well, the entire aquarium and its staff are decked out in pirate gear – there’s even a sunken pirate’s ship in the aqua tunnel’s tank and a room that looks like a pirates’ hangout!

Trucy : Shipshape Aquarium is really something, huh, Daddy? I can see why Sasha would want to work there.

Phoenix : Yeah… Sasha Buckler – she’s the one who came to the office to ask for my help when her friend was charged with murder. After listening to her case, I headed out to the aquarium to begin my investigation. Little did I know…

Phoenix : …that her “friend” was an orca.

Trucy : That was pretty shocking, to say the least! I thought you were going to pair up with her to start a whole new whale of a stage act as a flashy showman-lawyer!

Phoenix : Being a lawyer-lawyer suits me just fine, Trucy…

Athena : Besides, Sasha and Orla are the stars of their own pirate show at the aquarium. Their teamwork is so tight that not even Mr. Wright could entice them to split up!

Apollo : You really love that show, don’t you, Athena?

Athena : That’s why I’m a true fan of the “Cap’n Orla’s Swashbuckler Spectacular” and you’re not. I could talk about the show all day! Go on, ask me anything!

Apollo : It’s not like I have NO interest in the show, but we’re supposed to be talking about how the episode was created. So far, all we’ve talked about is the actual case itself.

Phoenix : That’s true. Well, turnabout is fair play, so why don’t we ask Ms. Nakamura a few questions and see what we can get out of her!

Question 1: How did this story come about?

Initially, the only things that I knew I wanted to do were feature an orca as the defendant and have it take place at an aquarium, so it took a few tries before I nailed down the rest of the story. Among my mad brainstorming was this idea for a “sure-to-be-unforgettable” opening !

â– The Great Escapeâ– 
Backstory: Treasure has been plundered time and time again from a supposedly impregnable aquarium, and now, that pilfering pirate of a killer whale that’s responsible for the thefts is making his grand escape to the sea! Why is he attacking the humans down by the shore? What’s the real story behind the whale’s unusual behavior?

Guard A: He’s escaped?! Quickl! After him!
Guard B: What?! How does he keep stealing away like this?!
Fulbright: I-I can’t believe this happened right under my nose!
Guard C: Look! The punk’s down by the shore!

”Could it be? Did Prosecutor Blackquill making a break for it?” Just as the player is thinking this, the camera pans to the ocean and…!


Because Prosecutor Blackquill is a convict, this was supposed to be a joke on how he “stole away” from Detective Fulbright and made his escape yet again. So the opening was supposed to make players initially think that the thieving escapee is Blackquill instead of the killer whale – a simple case of mistaken identity due to a word play – but creating an impactful first impression is no joke! Needless to say, this idea fell flat on its face. Ah, well. So what is the real opening like? Guess you’ll just have to watch it for yourself in the game!

Question 2: What sets this episode apart from the others?

The core concept behind this episode is “lighthearted fun” – from the joy of Phoenix getting his Attorney’s Badge back to the thrill of investigating a themed aquarium with the various members of the Wright Anything Agency – every character’s animations and even the backgrounds themselves move in such interesting ways, you’ll have to see them in motion to believe it!

Trucy : Ahh, all this talking about the aquarium! I can’t take it anymore! I’ll see you guys there, Daddy!

Phoenix : Huh? W-Wait! Trucy! Aren’t we… going together…? *sigh*

Apollo : I think we hurt her pride as an entertainer with all that talk about Sasha and her pirate show.

Phoenix : Yeah… Pearls is waiting for us at the aquarium, too. Maybe we should get going ourselves.

Apollo : It’s going to be great to finally see the show in person. I’m going to go on ahead and save us some seats!

Athena : You’d better hurry if you want to get some in the front row! Those are the best in the house! You can see everyone up close, and you’re guaranteed to get splashed!

Apollo : …I’ll pass on the splashing bit.

Phoenix : Ha ha. Well, are we all ready to go?

With everyone heading over to the aquarium, I guess it’s time for me to wrap this up. I certainly hope you’ll head to Shipshape Aquarium with Phoenix and company in the downloadable special episode, “Turnabout Reclaimed” and when you do, I hope you’ll enjoy yourself and have a lot of fun!

Thank you for that entertaining look behind the scenes of the special episode, Ms. Nakamura! It sounds like the Wright Anything Agency gang had tons of fun solving that whale of a case. (Ouch! Okay, okay! That was the last whale pun! I promise!)

As Ms. Nakamura said, there are a ton of interesting motions in this episode, some of which I’m sure you will be pleasantly surprised by. There are a few that even the whole team was like, “Is that even feasible?” at first.

As for how we get these animations to line up with the English text, they are done with codes through a process the Japanese team calls “scripting”. It’s slightly different in nuance from what a Western programmer would call scripting, so let me explain what I mean here.

“Scripting” on our team is the process by which we add dramatic tension and character animation changes to the game’s dialogue. We have special codes (or actual “scripts”) that can cause the text to stop displaying mid-sentence, or proceed to the next text window automatically, or even change a character’s animation at any point in the sentence we choose. They also control how thumbnails for evidence or other special effects are displayed or take place. As you can see, this is separate from the game’s actual programming or actual scripting, in that what we’re doing is we’re embedding pre-programmed scripts into the game dialogue. This is no small task, let me tell you. Think about how often the characters in the game move, or the camera pans. Each of those commands had to be placed there by a member of our “Script Team”. They had to envision how the scene would play out, what animation would flow into the next, and just how long that pause after a long sigh had to be for dramatic effect.

For the localization, we used an internally developed tool to transfer the codes in the Japanese text over into the English text, and then the Japanese staff put the codes into the general area where they belong in each sentence. After that, I would go through and adjust the exact placement so that the dramatic pause or the sharp finger pointing animation would occur on the right word for maximum dramatic impact. This is the first time we’ve been able to have this much control over the scripting of the English, and I hope it’s made Dual Destinies read more like dialogue than simply text on a screen.

Every game, novel, TV show, movie, you-name-it has its own voice and style, and as any Ace Attorney fan already knows, this series is all about being over-the-top overly dramatic and campy. Therefore, the timing of the motion changes and dramatic pauses is important. Unlike a lot of games where characters might not pause at the beginning of a sentence, this game does that a lot, so even though it’s not grammatically correct to use more than 3 dots in an ellipse, the actual time it takes to display them on-screen forces the dramatic pause in their dialogue that would otherwise be impossible to replicate without actual voice acting. (This is why the team and I don’t recommend playing with the B Button the first time around – you miss out on all the hard work the Script Team puts into the game.) The same also applies to the way the text is sometimes written. Japanese sentences are constructed in almost the exact opposite word order as English, which leads to some interesting issues when translating a big reveal. How do you get the end of your sentence to line up with the dramatic pointing or the “big face” dramatic zoom in when in English, the sentence might sound more natural if structured the other way around? Sometimes, it’s a matter of adding a few words before the impactful phrase to force it into the second half of the sentence. Other times, it’s re-arranging the order in which the facts are revealed so that the lead-up and final reveal feels as impactful as it should.

I could go on and on (and I really want to), but unfortunately, my brief time here has come to an end. Thank you very much for reading these blogs . I hope you enjoyed them as much as I enjoyed writing them. I also really enjoyed reading each and every one of your comments, and even though I didn’t have the chance to respond to you individually, I do hope we will have the chance to talk again someday.

For those of you aspiring to be a game localization expert, I hope I’ve been able to give you a peek into what we do, and more specifically, more of how we do localization at Capcom. Localization Director is an internal position we created because that’s what works for us, so it’s a position that may not exist in other companies. Still, as cliché as it may sound, the best way to prepare to be a localization expert in any environment in my opinion is to be curious about everything and to be constantly learning about the world around you – even about your own country! Learn to be a nuanced writer first and foremost so that your translations can fully convey the range of emotions the source text presents. Be open to the possibility that the text does not mean what you think it means and be unafraid to ask the original writer to clarify their intention or confirm your interpretation when necessary. You are at once both a steward of the source text and the gatekeeper of its contents to your audience. Just knowing Japanese isn’t enough as every bit of skill and knowledge you possess will be put to the test (when I said “I did/made a decision on XYZ,” it really was me!) so take that creative writing class you wanted to take, go take a bunch of pictures and turn them later into a collage, remix that favorite song of yours, fiddle with some free game engines – you won’t regret the time you spend developing yourself. Trust me.

Last but not least, the fan response online to Dual Destinies has been absolutely amazing. The team and I have been looking at your fanart and cosplays, going through your character analyses and game reviews, chuckling at your photo edits and many, many screenshots/reaction posts, and reading your headcanons and fanfics. Speaking for myself, I have been floored by how much love you all have for this series, and by just how talented everyone is. When I show your works to the Japanese dev team and explain what you’ve written, they are amazed as well at how impassioned their Western fans are (One of you even got a tattoo?! Mr. Yamazaki, Mr. Fuse, and Mr. Daigo were all very impressed! Also, “It looks so painful!”). Thank you again for all your support and love for the Ace Attorney series. I know I personally could not have made it through this project if not for all of you.

Before I dissolve into a puddle of tears, I hope you’ll join me in one more “Objection!” when you finish the special episode. I’ll be playing it too, so I’ll see you all there on the other side!

Until then!