Ryu’s Musings – Danganronpa Trigger Happy Havoc (PS Vita)

Posted on March 10th, 2014 by Ryu Sheng |

Title: Danganronpa Trigger Happy  Havoc
ASIN: B00GD1ESMQ
Release Date: 15th February 2014
Language: English/Japanese
Publisher: MIS America
Format: PSN Store/Cartridge
Type: Game, Single Player
Genre: Shounen, Adventure, Visual Novel

Synopsis:

Hope’s Peak Academy is home to Japan’s best and brightest high school students-the beacons of hope for the future. But that hope suddenly dies when Makoto Naegi and his classmates find themselves imprisoned in the school, cut off from the outside world and subject to the whims of a strange, murderous little bear named Monokuma.He pits the students against each other, promising freedom to anyone who can murder a fellow classmate and get away with it. It’s up to you to find out who Monokuma really is, and why you’ve been taken from the world you once knew. But be careful what you wish for-sometimes there’s nothing more deadly than the truth…

Please note that the following post contains spoilers

So this past weekend was my Danganronpa weekend, played the game from start to finish and took me a little over 30 hours to complete. So even before i start my review i have to admit that that’s a good start, a good chunk of time needed to finish the game.

Over all i have to admit it’s a good game, once I’ve enjoyed my time with. However it’s not the game it’s been hyped up to be, claims that it’s an Ace Attorney and Persona 4 styled game just don’t follow through. What it is however is a 999 and Virtues Last Reward style game, in fact it’s pretty much exactly the same style of game; and it works. There’s something addictive about the story that kept me playing even though it had elements that i hated.

Art Style

The art style of the game is awesome, no other way of describing it. It’s like they decided using one style just wasn’t enough, so they decided to mix 2d, 2.5d and 3d all together, making for an interesting combination of styles. The game follows your typical 2d visual novel style, but you get a bit of movement with the camera which makes the 2d into 2.5d. I have to admit that as always when it comes to this style of game i found the format just a little off. Especially when you added in the 2.5d as well, however as the game progressed i really started to like it.

The 3d aspect comes up during the cut scenes, and i have to admit it looks pretty good. The actual art style doesn’t change all that much but just becomes 3d. The focus of the art however is the 2/2.5d.

Story

The story is bloody amazing, bloody being the operative word. The characters are well developed and their interactions are really well done. Toko and Byakuya for example are two of the best interacting characters throughout the game. I love the way she reacts to everything, and when her switch flips and she becomes Genocide Jill it just ramps up! The game makes an effort to make you feel attached to the characters, and i have to admit for the first chapter of the game it worked. Sakuya was an amazing character that i felt really attached to, i saw things playing out in my mind a certain way. Of course the game is twisted enough that it promptly shattered that dream.The problem with that however is that it makes you reluctant to get attached to any other character, since this chapter of the game shows just how anyone, anywhere can be killed.

Over the course of the story i did find i liked certain characters, but none of them really got under my skin in the way Sakuya had. However that didn’t really hinder the story or the atmosphere to much, i still felt pangs when characters died. The way the story ends was a bit of a let down, but still not bad. At the end there’s a choice you have to make, depending on what you choose you’ll either get the bad end or move onto the true final ending. The problem i have here is the the ‘bad ending’ isn’t really bad, and is actually a better ‘good ending’ than the good ending. However even if you go that way it turns into a dream sequence and takes you right back to the choice again.

If you ignore that and just go for the ‘true ending’ you’re treated to a bloody awesome ending that doesn’t really end. A lot of things get cleared up, and a convenient plot twist reveals the validity of the ending. However it’s not really an ending since the game itself ends with the door opening.

One aspect of the story i found weak however was Sakura, the walking mountain ultimate martial artist girl. After Sakuya i have to admit that she was the only one who really came close to having a major impact

Overall the story is the best part of the game, but it fails to make any of the characters have the same impact as Sakuya. Frankly i loved the way she was, but knew she was a goner. What i was expecting was some sort of interesting epic murder, something to get into and really feel emotionally. However it never really cropped up, in fact what we’re given is a rather weak story that was easily solved and was obvious from the outset. After the first murder (Sakuya), this was stupidly easy and lacking in any sort of depth. Even with the little twists the story takes along the way.

In the end the story was fun, and i enjoyed my playthrough, but it didn’t give the same atmosphere as Virtues Last Reward, which i do consider to be the better game.

Mechanics

The mechanics of the game are what kill it for me, truth be told i almost gave up on the game several times based purely on the mechanics. This was partly due to me just sucking at some of the mechanics, but also based on the mechanics being implemented badly on the vita release.

So the game includes several mechanics, Social, Bullet time, hangman and machine gun, lets go through them individually.

The social aspect is why people try and claim the game is like Persona 4, but i have to disagree. Persona 4’s social aspect has a lot of meaning to it, and rewards time spent in several ways. In fact the social aspect of Persona 4 is an integral part of the game. The social aspect here however is tacked on and feels rather weak. You get the option to spend time with others during the Free-time periods, which came up twice after each trial. During these you’d spend some time with the chosen person increasing your relationship with the person. If you reached a certain level with them you were given a skill they have, and every other time you were given an increase in your SP. At the end of each ‘date’ (?) you could give the person a present, which would increase your relationship level. The problem i have here is that no matter what you gave people they always seemed to love it.

You got these gifts from a vending machine in the shop, to get the coins you had two options: Searching, new areas you would find a few coins lying around. Trials, you got rewarded with coins based on how well you did on trials. However these are again badly implemented and i don’t see the need for them. After the first one i never bothered with them again, since they just seemed pointless. So i completed the game without using the gifts and it was still fairly easy to do. It’s a rather disappointing element of the game that i hope was improved in the second game.

The social system does seem to reward you with skills, which you can equip for boosts during the trials. However i personally found them to be pointless.

Sure they make the trial bit a bit easier, but the trials themselves are so simple and the mechanics used so weak that using the skills actually detracts from the difficulty. So rather than being an interesting addition to the game, it’s a show horned in detraction.

Bullet Time, i actually rather enjoyed this mechanic. Your ‘gun’ is loaded with bits and pieces of evidence you’ve found during the investigation phase. The higher the difficulty the more you have to choose from. The rest of the characters make statements, one of which you’ll have evidence to disprove and you shoot it. As the game progresses this gets harder due to other statements floating across the screen. Which you have to shoot first and then hit the false statement with your evidence.

Out of all the mechanics used this was by far my favourite!! Especially later on when you hade to convert your bullet by targeting a statement on the screen and then use that to hit another statement. While this could be difficult at times and i did get frustrated (though only with my own stupid miss pressing), i never got angry at the mechanic. I never felt like it was there to screw you over.

Hangman was the first of two frustrating elements, which is a shame since it’s a good mechanic. The whole point is, well, hangman:

Your trying to spell out the word you need. However it was badly implemented in the vita on two levels, one I’ll cover later. Controlling the crosshair with the thumb stick is atrocious, it’s sluggish and unresponsive for some reason; which i found weird given how smooth and responsive it was in the Bullet Time section. This was compounded by the game not always registering the button presses needed to hit the letter. I got so annoyed at this that i ended up just using the touch screen to do it, which worked a lot better. This felt like a pointless mechanic that served no real purpose, and was only added for variety sake.

Machine-Gun, oh how i hated this mechanic and it was the one that almost made me quit the game a few times. This is a rhythm mini game, as you hit the button over the target the tempo goes up. The person your talking with makes statements and every time you get the hit right you target a statement. You then hit another button and if you get the timing right it’s a hit, eliminating those statements and doing your opponent damage. If those statements explode they do damage to you, and as you’d expect the one who runs out of life first ‘dies’.

The problem however is that i hate rhythm games, with a passion, and frankly it has no place in this game. However it’s also badly implemented since i noticed that even though i was hitting it right a lot of the time, it wasn’t working, this was especially true for the times when i used the speed boost. The tutorial made a big thing about how the rhythm wasn’t important during your speed boost as all button presses were registered as a ‘hit’. However this just isn’t the case, you still had to nail the rhythm perfectly to get a hit, which i found difficult at the speed it was going at.

Another aspect of this i absolutely hated was the fact that no matter what you did you went into this element of the game with a serious disadvantage. You’re health and SP were always significantly less than your opponents, which meant their special abilities ran almost twice the length of time yours do, and you die a hell of a lot quicker. Even with the skills you can get from the social time you’re still at a disadvantage.

I think this part of the game would have been a bit more enjoyable if it were more balanced.

Conclusion

I loved Virtues Last Reward, and while i think it’s a better game i have to admit Danganronpa wasn’t half bad. Despite the problems i had with the game i still found it enjoyable to play. however unlike VLR this one just doesn’t feel like it has any replay ability to it. Judging from my last playthrough the characters are scripted to die in set ways at certain points and you always end up at the end trial with the same people. Unlike VLR which has multiple ways of getting places and consequences.

All of that aside however, if your looking for a game similar to VLR this is the one for you. I haven’t regretted my purchase unlike a few others I’ve bought of late.

I also have to give praise where it’s due, giving the option of either English or Japanese audio is well recieved by this fan!! Choice always be good! Well done NIS America!!

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