Imagine Elon Musk and Grimes getting dragged by the cast of Ace Attorney. Or a courtroom debate arguing what the appropriate payment would be for teaching a rat to swim. Well, turns out you don’t need to imagine at all, because these are available as videos, created by a Twitter bot that reimagines them as tense Ace Attorney court battles.
Online generators have long allowed fans to dramatize their worst ontological debates, such as if soup is considered a drink, whether bodybuilders can count the days of the week correctly, and other famous online arguments. Generators have existed for a while, but with the advent of bots that do the hard work for you, more online disputes are being immortalized in this format than ever before.
Luis Mayo, who created the Twitter account Ace Attorney Court Bot, says he was inspired by an earlier Reddit version, but wanted to make it more widely available. He ended up creating a version that could be used on Twitter, Telegram, and Discord. “I was hoping that the Twitter bot would be fun, especially since discussions on Twitter are usually weird, so they match with the nature of Ace Attorney,” Mayo says. “People seem to agree.”
Since January, the Twitter bot has amassed 300,000 followers. The Discord bot is also available in 8,300 servers. “I don’t have stats about Telegram but based on the number of interactions with users I have, I suspect it’s the same level as Discord in popularity, probably even more,” Mayo says.
Mayo believes there are several reasons for the bot’s popularity. First off, it’s easy to use: all users need to do is tag the bot into a conversation on social media, and ask it to “render.” It’s a lot less effort than creating scenes using tools like objection.lol, a tool that allows people to make their own similar scenes step by step, with a lot more control.
But it also fits nicely with Twitter itself. “While there are serious and interesting topics on Twitter, there are also loads of silly conversations,” Mayo says. The kind of silly conversations that would be interesting to see in an Ace Attorney setting.”
He’s not wrong. And while the most popular videos generated by the bot may come from equally popular threads, the majority are groups of friends who just want their interactions dramatized for personal use. Scrolling through its latest tweets at any given time is a wall of in-jokes and lighthearted ribbing.
Ace Court Bot also has two other advantages over other tools. Firstly, it uses sprites and character sets from the original release of the game, which are notably dated compared with the re-released graphics used by other generators. But they’re also more nostalgic, and the newer sprites erase a lot of the style from the earlier versions of the game. The choice also makes the videos generated by the bot a little pixelated and grainy, which only adds to the inherent humor of, say, seeing Phoenix Wright talk about DILFs.
And while other tools might give users more freedom to choose which lines go with which characters, the semi-random nature of AceCourtBot is also one of its strengths. When something lines up just a bit too well, fans get an extra kick out of it. It’s part of the bot’s code to try to make that happen, Mayo explains.
In the videos, protagonist Phoenix Wright recites what the user with the most comments in the thread has said, while Miles Edgeworth — a regular opponent in court against Wright in the games — says what the second user wrote.
“This is made since the most interesting thing [in the games] is the Edgeworth/Phoenix rivalry,” Mayo says.
Arguments automatically fit with the back-and-forth tension between the series’ main characters, but the bot also takes things further by interpreting the tone of integrated tweets. “We analyze the sentiment … obtaining an approximation of whether it’s positive, negative, or neutral.” Each character’s animations, for example, have been split into categories and are aligned accordingly. “This sentiment analysis also affects the chances of an “Objection!” triggering,” Mayo says.
Considering the bot was only made earlier this year, Mayo is surprised by how quickly it took off. “I created it at the end of January, ending the month with only four followers, which were mostly my friends and I. In February things changed, getting 700 followers which I believed was huge. But the real boom was at the beginning of March. The bot got 87,600 new followers in that month alone.”
Mayo says he’s gotten used to the massive popularity, but remembers the early days when he would routinely check the bot’s account daily and be “amazed by the success.”
“I couldn’t really believe it,” he says.
Though most of the work is automated, Mayo still keeps his hand on the reins to ensure that takedown requests are assessed. “One day, some users reported to me that they were being harassed,” he says. “And that day I realized how badly my bot could be used.” He hadn’t considered issues like hate speech, but worked quickly to correct his mistakes as much as possible. “[Now] the bot avoids certain words and tries to guess if the content being discussed may be hate speech.” If it suspects that it is, it refuses to work.
Mostly, though, the threads that the bot is tagged in are silly conversations that Mayo created it to capture. It sums up the overlap of Ace Attorney and Twitter when they’re at their most fun: inconsequential bickering taken to absurd extremes. And it captures lightheartedness in a way that both can sometimes lose when things get serious.