Interviews

Interview: Capcom talks Phoenix Wright mobile plans

Second episode, Turnabout Sisters, ready to put its case forward

Interview: Capcom talks Phoenix Wright mobile plans

Capcom Europe has announced the imminent release of Phoenix Wright: Turnabout Sisters, which is the second mobile episode in its lawyerly strategy game that started life on DS.

The plot of this episode sees you trying to uncover the truth behind the murder of a close colleague and follows on from first episode, Phoenix Wright: The First Turnabout.

You may remember we gave that a negative review, seeing as it was basically an intro to Phoenix Wright, with not much action, and which was being sold by some operators for �5.

However, that price point certainly wasn't Capcom's intention, and in fact the publisher's plan to spread Phoenix Wright over a number of episodes is actually pretty innovative. We talked to Capcom's Dominic Matthews to get the full story.

"Over the course of 2007, the original four episodes of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney on the DS will be released for mobile," he says. "Each of the four episodes are split into between one and four parts each, so in total the four episodes will be made up of 18 downloadable sections."

The episodes are being released through Capcom's WAP site (capcom.wap.com), as well as its i-mode portal, and through "a number of operators". On the WAP site, a new part will be released every month between August and December.

"We're always determined to give our customers value for money, so although prices are yet to be confirmed, I can say that the price of each part will be far less than what people are typically paying for mobile games," reveals Matthews.

"Once mobile gamers have played through Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, then Phoenix Wright: Justice for All is where our attention will turn in 2008."

Few publishers have tried this kind of episodic approach on mobile � or indeed on console, despite having promised it for years now. Matthews says Capcom's decision to break Phoenix Wright up into individual episodes was a deliberate attempt to cater to mobile gamers.

"It lets casual gamers dip in and out easily," he argues. "If you want to play Phoenix Wright for just half-an-hour on a train journey, you can, during which time you'll get the enjoyment of hunting for clues or dissecting a witness statement, while also moving closer to the conclusion of that episode."

He compares it to a TV series � where viewers keep coming back to find out what happens next � and also to books with regards to its overriding storyline.

On mobile, Phoenix Wright is absolutely faithful to the original DS version in terms of visuals and interface � apart from the lack of a touchscreen interface, of course.

But this faithfulness worries us a bit. If the mobile version is identical to the original DS game, in terms of storyline and particularly plot twists, why would anyone who's played the original pick up the mobile version?

"We've worked really hard on making Phoenix Wright as close to the original DS title as possible, and to be honest there are very few differences," says Matthews.

"So yes, Phoenix Wright is for those people who haven't played it already and want to feel the same experience as if they were playing the DS version. We believe there are lots of people who will enjoy this game, but just haven't had the chance to play it yet because they don't own a DS."

If you think about it, that logic makes perfect sense. Even though DS is a hugely popular device, it pales into comparison with the number of mobile phones out there. Will DS Phoenix Wright nuts also shell out for the mobile episodes? It's possible. Matthews says the game has replay value in the same way that you'd read a book twice.

Of course, we'd be more excited about all-new mobile cases. Any chance of that? "There are five Phoenix Wright games in total across the DS and GBA, some of which are released in the UK, and some of which are not, so we've got plenty of cases to work with," says Matthews.

"The Phoenix Wright structure works so well on the mobile, I don't think we could rule out the possibility of us either using the structure for a different title or for us making new cases in the future. But the focus for the foreseeable future will be giving mobile phone owners the experience of playing the DS cases on the mobile."