Monday, July 21, 2014

Danganronpa Review

The Month of Misses continues onward, and now I finally get to talk about the Playstation Vita again! For those of you that have no idea what a Vita is... I don't blame you. The handheld has been selling abysmally in the U.S to the point where Sony is no longer developing first party content for the platform. Let's just get this perfectly straight. SONY, the company that created the Vita, is no longer supporting the Vita after it launched a mere two years ago. That's pretty bad in all honesty to just give up on your console after two years because of how poor its selling. So why is the Vita still relevant now even though it's a complete failure? Because developers are still making games for the console, and the games that are made are all very interesting, dynamic, and unlike any other game on the market. In short, they're making Trigger Happy Havoc, which is more commonly referred to as Danganronpa.

So why'd I miss out on this game this time? Actually, the reason I missed out on this game was just cause I somewhat forgot about it. I remember hearing about Danganronpa from a friend who is absolutely in love with the game and the characters, but when it actually came out back in February I didn't have any feelings towards it. It just seemed like a cool looking game, but I didn't have enough money to spend for it. I was too preoccupied with other games to go out and buy it, so I put it on the backburner. That's when I heard about its sequel, Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair's localization. The game was being brought over in a snazzy collector's edition, and I kinda of caved. I preordered the collector's edition, then went out and bough the original just so I can experience the story and the world. I essentially made a forced blind buy because I bought something I had no idea I would like. So did I make a good call? Beats me. The game comes out in September, so I'll have to wait until then, but for now we can talk about the original Danganronpa.

Danganronpa takes place in a prestigious school called Hope's Peak Academy. The school is meant to be for the best students in the world, each of them exhibiting traits that would describe them as being the "ultimate" in something, so the Ultimate Gambler, the Ultimate Programmer, the Ultimate Fashionista, stuff like that. Makoto Naegi however, is not an ultimate student. He's just your average guy. There's nothing special about him in the slightest, except for the fact that he attends Hope's Peak Academy. However, once he sets foot into the school, the school is taken over by a devious stuffed bear named Monokuma, who has turned the school into a giant game. The game? Murder another student and get away with it to escape from the school.

Welcome to Hope's Peak!
Danganronpa is what's commonly referred to as a visual novel. It's a game with mostly dialogue inside with very little gameplay. Here, the story is the most important aspect of the game, taking you on a whole variety of emotions and feelings throughout its 20 hour run time. You'll get to know most of these characters (provided they don't get murdered), and you'll be able to develop friendships with a few of them. But all of that relationship building is all just to set up a foundation for Monokuma to destroy all of that hope and goodwill.

Yes, Monokuma is a stuffed animal shaped like a bear. While you may not be able to take that seriously, Monokuma is by far the most recognizable thing about this game. He's a devious and monsterous little creature that lives for only one thing; despair. From the very beginning, his goal is to make sure that you all suffer in horrific ways so that you'll be driven to kill people to prove his point. What is his point you may ask? To make sure that all of the students suffer and squash all of their hopes and dreams. That and make horrible bear puns. But mostly the destruction of your hopes and dreams.

He encourages murder at every turn, which some students will eventually commit. Yes, several people get murdered in this game in gruesome fashions, and its all up to you to figure out who the murderer is for each murder. The investigations play out like your standard Ace Attorney game, with you finding clues, evidence, and/or listening to people's accounts to try and piece together how the victim was killed, who killed them, and what their motivations were, and trust me, it can get pretty complicated. After collecting all of the evidence you can possibly find, a class trial will begin where every student argues with each other as everyone tries to find out who the murderer is. It's a lot to take in and do, but it's pretty simple once you get used to it.

Ooooh myyyyyyy...
Okay, let's be honest here with ourselves for a second. Not a single one of you is probably going to buy this game. Not a one. But that has less to do with the actual game itself and more about the platform that this is on. It's a Playstation Vita exclusive. That means that you can't get this game anywhere else, which is a real shame since this game is a phenomenal murder mystery. There are 6 chapters in the game, each of them featuring a murder and a class trial, the latter usually goes on for about two hours per trial, and all of them are very well written and also keep you thinking. I love a good mystery, and this game constantly provides new mysterious at every turn, not just for the murders, but for the overall reason as to why Monokuma started the game in the first place and what his motivation are. Everything is well thought out and has a great art style to it as well.

The art style is crisp and incredibly clean, with each character portrait looking phenomenal and very clear. Even though all of the models are 2D, this game is still a graphical marvel. However, it's on a system that no one owns. I have yet to meet a single Vita owner, and I struggle to find anyone who has ever played a game for the system, let alone hear about this game. I know how unappealing it may be to buy a new console for one game, but thankfully there is an alternative if you want to experience the world of Danganronpa. There is an anime adaptation that was released last summer that covers the main points of the game, though it doesn't go into the same amount of depth as the game. It instead covers the main mysteries and murders while leaving out some character backstory, which is totally understandable. There's also an abridged series for the game, which is essentially retelling the plot of the game in a comedic fashion.

Please, for the love of all that's holy, at least try out one of these three methods. I don't care which one you choose, but at least try to expose yourself into the world of Danganronpa. It's not the best game ever made, far from it, but it's still enjoyable enough for anyone who enjoys a good story and a good murder mystery. I know that this review may seem kind of short and serves as more of a recommendation than anything else, but that's kind of what Danganronpa is. For lack of a better word, this game is a really good interactive mystery novel. If I could offer any comparison, imagine if a bunch of quirky and insane teenagers were thrown into Saw, but instead of Jigsaw running it, it was run by Teddie from Persona 4. If that analogy left your scratching your head, imagine if Chuckie took a lot of cocaine and started hunting teenagers. That's what you get. And here are the students of Danganronpa, as told through the Danganronpa abridged series.

If that doesn't make you want to learn at least a little bit about the characters, then this game probably isn't for you. It's inspired heavily by anime and has a very anime storyline with several anime tropes included. It's just anime personified pretty much. Try this game out if you're interested in a really cool world with a lot of eclectic characters and if you want to have a good murder mystery. I wish I could give more away, but the game is pretty much all cutscenes and story, so my lips are sealed! Oh, and when people get murdered, they die in really horrific ways. And by horrific ways, I mean someone gets turned into butter. Try not to wrap you head around that one.


At least give the anime a watch! It's right here!

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