It translates, roughly, as ‘bullet refute’. Danganronpa, that is. Which makes more sense than it sounds, as the game is about taking part in murder trials and literally shooting truth bullets at lies as they spill out of suspects’ mouths. It’s not enough to say “If the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit”; the glove has to be loaded into the chamber and fired through a tangle of distracting words to hit the fib you want to destabilise. It’s a bizarre hybrid of Ace Attorney and Time Crisis, then; a game that feels life-and-death murder trials aren’t already exciting by default. It is quite odd.
To be honest, the Danganronpa’s execution (not be confused with Danganronpa’s executions, which are fab) leaves me a bit cold. Truth bullets I can handle, but the introduction of rhythm games where you angrily debate to throbbing trance music, or a weird hangman number about picking a word out of a sea of letters, are more intrusive. It’s quite annoying to work out the solution to the (often brilliant) mysteries and then stumble because you suck at a minigame.
But despite this it remains the best Ace Attorney clone out there. In fact, I’d say the construction and complexity of its crimes are often better than Phoenix Wright’s. This is a world of locked rooms and impossible killings. Japanese crime fiction tends to lean towards howdunnits over whodunnits and it’s reflected in these wicked schemes. The setting is a particularly perfect breeding ground for malice: a school-meets-prison where kids can only escape by killing a fellow student and not being found out in the subsequent trial.
On top of that, these are gifted students. Each attendee is the ‘ultimate’ in their field, and these specialisations allow for twists and turns that traditionally ungifted murderers don’t. When potential suspects include the ultimate clairvoyant, baseball star, programmer or, er, fanfic creator, there’s a lot more room for oddness and surprises. If you find yourself rolling your eyes at such anime daftness, this probably isn’t for you. Get past that hectic outer layer, however, and this is a crime adventure it’s hard to object to.
At the very least, it’ll keep you busy until the Ace Attorney Trilogy arrives on PC.