Thursday, August 17, 2017

Root Letter

Finished my first playthrough of Root Letter this evening.  It's...interesting.

The fact that said first playthrough took about eight hours but I've had the game since it came out last autumn indicates the game's quality.  The writing (and I'm not sure if it's the original script or the translation) is frequently terrible to the point of being a) hilarious, b) incomprehensible or c) both, and the gameplay is similar.  While presented as a typical visual novel, it tries to ape the peerless Ace Attorney with investigation sequences and bits where you quiz characters, but they're so poorly done that you frequently end up employing a trial-and-error approach.  And as for the bizarre "Max Mode" sections where you basically have to press X at the right time to shout at someone with precisely the right amount of vigour...well.

And yet, I'm planning to go back and get the other endings, and eventually the true ending.

The base script may be frequently awful (although it does have its moments), but the overall story is excellent, and the characterisation is spot-on.  It's essentially a meditation on growing up - the core plot is that your character is trying to track down his penpal from his teenage years by using her old correspondence to identify her former classmates.  It might help that all the characters are close to my own age, but at times it really resonated as these well-rounded individuals reflected on their teenage years and how near or far they've stuck to their childhood goals.

It's also almost comically pretty.  The game's set in Matsue, the capital city of Shimane prefecture, and was apparently developed with the aid of the city's tourist board and dammit, it worked.  I definitely want to visit Matsue now.  (The soundtrack and voice acting are both very good, too.)

Basically, it's kind of successful at what it does.  But what it really needs is a good anime adaptation so you can skip the whole "game" bit.  In the absence of same, back to my save file to see the other endings I go.

Friday, August 11, 2017


I finished the Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School anime last night.  I've rarely punched the air in joy so many times at a piece of television.

The Danganronpa series is a pretty hard one to get your head around.  First you need to play the two original games, Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc and Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair.  Then you need to play the spinoff game, Ultra Despair Girls: Danganronpa Another Episode (which is set before the second game but requires you to have played it to make full sense of certain bits of plot).  Then you need to watch the above-mentioned anime, except it's split into two arcs: the Future Arc, taking place after the second game, and the Despair Arc, taking place before the first game.  And the way you're meant to watch them is Future Arc Episode 1, then Despair Arc Episode 1, then Future Arc Episode 2, etcetera.  Confusing.

(There's also a novel, Danganronpa Zero, set before the Despair Arc, which I haven't read.  Not even sure if it's officially available in English and my Japanese is still at far too low a level to consider anything beyond a kids' picture book.)

Anyway, the series is excellent if you can get your head round it.  Sometimes the gameplay of the two main games can be a bit irritating but the story and characters are well worth sticking with.  They're not always an easy watch/play (pick a character as your favourite!  They will almost certainly die a horrific, agonising death!) but they're always gripping, always clever, and frequently very, very funny.

And the Despair Arc of the anime has an utterly gorgeous opening sequence.  Bear witness.  I love it.