The Ace Attorney series is one that's quite popular around the world, and has spawned a number of sequels and spin-offs over the years. That's what makes it crazy to learn the original game almost never saw release.
In an interview with Famitsu, Ace Attorney creator Shu Takumi shares a story about the original prototype for the first Ace Attorney. Apparently the prototype was quite different from what the series ended up being. That initial design approach confused play testers so much that the game almost never saw completion.
The original play testers just didn’t know what to do from the outset, and they all ended up feeling lost until they got game over. Everything just felt kind of disjointed. At that point we just thought, ‘this is useless’, and at one time we were on the verge of having development suspended.
At the time I just couldn’t see us finishing the game. Then one day everyone was called into the meeting room and our boss of that time told us that they would suspend development.
Later on I heard that those words were just to make us realize the danger of our current situation. But at the time everyone was really depressed. There were even some people who cried, and I felt like my heart had been broken. But somehow we had to get back on our feet. So we went through the faults of the prototype, fixing them all one by one. We added a set interrogation time with a prompt so the user knew when it was time for their deductions and also restricted the evidence to five items. So it was clear when certain actions could be used, we had commands appear on screen. When we brought forward all of our proposed changes it was decided we would go ahead. But that was definitely a close call.