You may not have heard of Takeshi Yamazaki, but if you've played any of the Ace Attorney games released on the Nintendo DS, you've definitely read his work. He's been spending the past eight-and-a-half years working exclusively on the series, beginning with the English localization of the first Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (actually a remake of the Japanese Game Boy Advance original).
"You know how you have a little bit of time between when you get the job offer and you report to work?" Yamazaki said in an interview published in this week's Famitsu magazine. "My assignment during that time was to think of a story that'd work for Ace Attorney. So it didn't exactly take a while for me to figure out that I was joining the Ace Attorney team! I mentioned that I loved the games in my interview, so for me, it was a lucky break."
Yamazaki contributed design work to both the original Phoenix Wright and Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney before taking the helm of the studio himself, writing and directing both of the Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth DS games (only the first of which was released in English).
"Miles was the first time I worked on a game scenario," the director told Famitsu. "I felt like it was a really big chance for me so I immediately answered yes, but of course I had no idea whether I was actually capable of it. The scripts were written by [Ace Attorney creator] Shu Takumi up to that point, so I felt sort of like 'What's going to happen to this series if Shu isn't doing the writing?' Still, I felt like this sort of chance was never going to come my way again, so I was like 'I don't know if I can do it, but I'll try!'"
It was a gutsy move, but it's one he was willing to take, perhaps because he always dug story-heavy games. In addition to listing Grasshopper Manufacture's Goichi Suda as his favorite designer ("I really like his scripts and his dialogue; I'm always really impressed by the vibrant vocabulary he uses"), Yamazaki also demonstrated an eagerness to try out other genres besides Ace Attorney-style adventure. "I've always had a strong urge to work on games that are centered around telling stories," he said, "so genre-wise, I think it'd be fun if I would make an RPG. It'd be a different process from working on an adventure game, so it'd be pretty novel for me. I'd also like to make a game with a heavier puzzle aspect, something like Portal, which I played recently and really enjoyed."
Yamazaki is currently supervising the script for Gyakuten Saiban 5, the first Ace Attorney for the 3DS. Who does he make his games for? Good ol' Mom, it sounds like. "My mother plays all the games I'm involved with," he said. She finished Miles and the sequel and gave me her opinions on it and everything, so I do need to thank her for that. In that respect, I'm kind of glad I specialize in the genre I do, since it's never that difficult of a game. One of the concepts Takumi brought to the Ace Attorney series is the idea that we're making a game that even your mother can play, and that's something I want to continue pursuing."