Operation Backlog Completion 2024
Apr 222024
 

Every now and then I see a game that looks like exactly the sort of weird I appreciate, and that’s how I felt the other day when I saw the announcement of Zombie Police: Christmas Dancing With Police Zombies.

Zombie Police is a mystery adventure game from Japanese developers ALTERCIWS and Lobstudio, and it’s due out on Steam this summer in English, Japanese, and Chinese.

According to its Steam page, it stars a rookie detective who teams up with a zombie detective to investigate cases.

You’ll gather evidence and information about the case and use it to make deductions about the culprit. Different deductions will lead to different endings, so it sounds like you’ll be able to proceed even with an incorrect deduction if you can make a logical argument.

The announcement trailer, while not exactly informative, is cute.

I don’t know why it’s called “Christmas Dancing With Police Zombies.” I don’t really have a good grasp on what the game is about.

But a human-zombie detective duo mystery game sounds like the sort of thing I don’t want to miss. Heck, one of my first ever publications was about a zombie detective! (Sadly, the site my zombie detective story was published on no longer seems to load properly… maybe it’s time I finally revive it as an ebook like I keep saying I will.)

Anyway, I’ll be keeping my eye on Zombie Police: Christmas Dancing With Police Zombies. What do you think from the few details revealed so far?

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Dec 222023
 

After watching the Danganronpa 3 anime earlier this year, I was all set to play Danganronpa V3, and the winner of this year’s Celebrating All Things Spooky contest chose the game review prize and picked it.

Like the other two mainline Danganronpa games, Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony begins with a group of teenagers learning that they’ve been imprisoned and forced into a death game. Kill someone, and a trial will be held. If the killer is found, they’ll be executed, but if they get away with their crime, they’ll be allowed to leave while everyone else is killed instead.

The setting is back to a school this time, although much more grandiose than a normal school.

That applies to the cast, too. My first thought after meeting the main characters of Danganronpa V3 was that these people were eccentric even by Danganronpa standards. However, that didn’t stop me from liking them.

In fact, I’d say this is actually my favorite Danganronpa cast. There were several characters I wanted to learn more about from the start, and despite being so exaggerated and eccentric, they developed in a way that felt believable to me. Maybe that’s why this is also the only Danganronpa game to make me cry, with a particularly hard-hitting case.

V3 follows the same structure as its predecessors. While storytelling is largely presented as a visual novel, it also has point-and-click gameplay elements, as well as some areas with 3D exploration. During the Free Time sections, you can choose a character to hang out with to learn more about them, until the story reaches a new death. Once someone dies, you switch over to investigative gameplay and inspect relevant areas to gather evidence. A trial then begins, in which you must contradict statements and present evidence, all in the form of various mini-games.

In my previous Danganronpa reviews, I’ve made it clear that I’m not the biggest fan of the trial mini-games… but in V3, they’re not actually so bad.

I still don’t like having to aim and shoot evidence at contradictions instead of simply presenting it like in Ace Attorney, and I disliked the new “lie” mechanic that lets you reverse a piece of evidence’s meaning to lie during a testimony (on the other hand, it replaced the “grab a key phrase someone else said and use it as evidence against a different phrase” mechanic from 2 that I hated, so I’ll accept that trade-off), but it has much better versions of Hangman’s Gambit, Rebuttal Showdown, and the rhythm game, I prefer the new Psyche Taxi over 2’s Logic Dive, and the newly-added mini-games are… actually kind of fun.

There’s a place where you can play certain mini-games outside of trials to earn tokens, and I actually did so voluntarily, which is a big change from how much I hated the mini-games in Danganronpa 2.

So in short, V3 has my favorite set of trial mini-games, which made trials feel infinitely better to play.

Now, as far as the story goes, it’s not my favorite. The character interactions are top-notch and really helped elevate the story, but it lacked the tight storytelling of 1 and the thrilling climax of 2. It also added five new mascot characters in the form of the Monokubs, and they’re far more annoying than Monokuma ever was.

However, by the time I reached the final chapter, I was still enjoying it enough to consider it my favorite in the series… and knowing how divisive it is had me worried about just what would happen in the ending.

Then I played the final chapter and understood.

After having a little time to reflect on it, though, I… liked the ending. Some parts of it are brilliant, and the whole concept certainly had me thinking. It seems to me that there are multiple ways to interpret the ending, and the interpretations that get people the most upset aren’t how I took it at all.

Click for major Danganronpa V3 spoilers
The first, of course, is the view that it invalidates the previous games by making them fictional. I don’t really see that. They were always fictional from our perspective, and I don’t think V3 makes them more fictional. Nothing suggests the stories of 1 and 2 were a show with real people playing roles, because there are multiple lines that imply they started out as purely fictional media.

My takeaway was that V3 is set in a separate continuity where the Danganronpa series also exists. Danganronpa got to be so popular in this universe that they decided to do it for real.

Of course, another interpretation is that the mastermind lied about everything and the events of Danganronpa 1 and 2 were real. In that case, it seems their in-universe Danganronpa was based on those events. Either way, it doesn’t invalidate them.

Anyway, the the other main interpretation that makes people upset is the belief that the ending is telling us that we’re bad for enjoying Danganronpa, and I don’t think that’s true either. The in-game audience is enjoying it while real people are dying, seeing them as fictional because their memories have been replaced by invented backstories, which is a world away from enjoying a fully fictional story. While certain aspects of the ending did make me wonder if Kodaka had felt under pressure by fans to make more Danganronpa games (and having the main character shout about ending Danganronpa made me say “So we’re never getting a Danganronpa 4, huh?”), it never felt to me like the game was saying enjoying it was bad.

So I can see why the ending is divisive, because it was a pretty wild twist, but it’s one that I don’t mind.

(I was actually more bothered by case 1’s twist relying on the viewpoint character withholding information from the player, which felt like cheating.)

Actually, considering the story up until then had said that after scraping through for our happy endings in the previous games, the world was destroyed and only 16 people survived… yeah, I’ll take the actual ending instead.

Overall, I came out of Danganronpa V3 thoroughly enjoying my time with it. To me, 1 has the best standalone plot, and 2 has the most exciting endgame, but V3 has my favorite cast, my most appreciated version of the mini-games, and a story that certainly kept me guessing.

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Dec 152023
 

With all the exciting game news we’ve had this year, you might have forgotten about Another Code: Recollection.

Set to be released on January 19, Another Code: Recollection is a remake of the DS adventure game Trace Memory (here using its original name, Another Code: Two Memories) and its Wii sequel, Another Code R.

Those are games I never thought we’d see again. Between the games being somewhat obscure and the developer filing for bankruptcy in 2010, I assumed they were lost to time until Recollection was announced.

It’s even getting a physical release!

Another Code R was never released in North America, so I’m excited to finally get a chance to try that even though it got mixed reviews, and the remake also looks fantastic in general. I’m still shocked that they took a game as niche as Trace Memory and gave it a full remake.

For comparison, the original DS game looked like this.

Of course, this has led to hopes that Hotel Dusk and its sequel will receive similar treatment.

Anyway, a demo for Another Code: Recollection is now available. It covers the first chapter of the first game, and you’ll be able to transfer your progress to the full game.

I just hope it sells well despite when it’s coming out. While its audience might not overlap as much with the JRPGs coming out in the first two months of the year, it’s also being released just a few days ahead of the Apollo Justice Trilogy, which probably does have decent overlap. Trace Memory was a great game, and I want to see revivals like this succeed.

Are you planning to play Another Code: Recollection?

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