Some of you may be familiar with the wide variety of Japanese educational software available for the Nintendo DS in Japan, much of which is useful even to non-native learners of the language. But if you’re looking for something a bit less “dry” and want to pick up some legal vocabulary, have a look at the 逆転裁判 (Gyakuten Saiban) series. You may also know this series by the name it was given in North America: Ace Attorney.
逆転裁判 roughly translates to “Turnabout Trial” and places you in the role of a defence attorney who must overcome seemingly decisive evidence and testimony to ultimately prove his client innocent by revealing the true culprit in a series of murder cases that are tied together by an overarching plot.
Gameplay is split into two parts: investigation and trial, which are alternated until the final verdict is rendered by the judge. In the investigation portions, you move from place to place, looking for clues which could be useful in presenting your case. In the trial portions, you face off against the prosecution, dissecting their arguments and cross-examining their witnesses to bring out the truth. The story is told mostly through on-screen dialogue and narrative, which makes each case effectively a reading exercise which tests your comprehension every so often by challenging you to discover contradictions in the evidence and testimony.
There are currently 4 逆転裁判 games. All are available for the DS, and the first three games are available for Gameboy Advance as well. The DS versions of the first three games also come with the English localization on the same cartridge, so you can play the cases in both languages. In addition, a spin-off game was recently released featuring one of the prosecutors called 逆転検事 (Gyakuten Kenji or Turnabout Prosecutor). And for those of you who are drama or theatre geeks, a Takarazuka show was produced as well.
Below is a trailer that runs through the 4 games in the original series to promote the “Best Price” edition:
Here are just some of the words I’ve learned through playing these games:
Are games a part of your Japanese study regimen? What other games do you recommend for learning Japanese?