Shanghai-based game developer miHoYo just released a trailer for a new mobile game that seems to have taken a lot of the signature features of Capcom’s classic legal drama game Ace Attorney. Even the name, which translates as The Unknown Case File, suggests something about where the game’s inspiration comes from.
The real giveaway, though, is a line that seems ripped right from Ace Attorney.
Capcom protagonist Phoenix Wright is known for his one-word catchphrase, “Objection!” It’s been the subject of numerous gifs and memes across the internet. Even as a common lawyer trope, it seems a little too obvious when the main character in Unknown Case File is seen yelling out the same thing in the game trailer.
The Ace Attorney series might not be as widely known in some places as other Capcom hits like Resident Evil or Street Fighter, but it’s still been a huge success, especially in Asia. As of March 2019, it’s sold 6.9 million units worldwide.
So when miHoYo announced a new legal drama game with a protagonist that shouts “objection” with a determined stare, it was hard for Ace Attorney fans to miss. The fact that the Breath of the Wild knockoff is still fresh in people’s minds didn’t help silence critics, either.
“miHoYo is getting increasingly nastier,” one Weibo user wrote. “Not only did it move on Zelda, it’s now preparing to go after Ace Attorney. Does it want clone all the games in the world?”
“miHoYo doesn’t care about its image anymore,” another wrote. “Is it trying to beat Ace Attorney to the punch before it starts supporting the Chinese language?”
Despite the obvious inspiration, The Unknown Case File does seem to have some original elements. Some might find the differences cosmetic, but miHoYo has a specific demographic in mind. The description states that it’s designed for women gamers.
So gone is the bungling fool that is Phoenix Wright. In his place, Unknown Case File features a demure, more graceful-looking woman as the protagonist. The game also appears to have certain dating sim elements that bring in romantic tropes common to the genre.
Targeting women gamers is getting increasingly common in China’s gaming market. The massive success of a Chinese dating sim called Love and Producer made it clear how much untapped potential there was in this type of targeted gaming content. According to a recent report from Oppo, 46 percent of mobile gamers in China are female.
Maybe that’s why miHoYo doesn’t seem bothered by all the negative attention. It sees a new market opportunity where others see only another knockoff. The company said on Weibo that it “welcomes scrutiny” and “welcomes fans to fire shots” at the game once it’s released.