Note: I re-reviewed this title in 2016. Please disregard this review.
How long has it been since I cleared Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc? About a month? Well, I certainly did not want to wait very long before diving into its sequel, Super Danganronpa 2: Sayonara Despair… Except it is simply titled Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair because… reasons. Still, this shows how excited I was, and it was helped by hearing a few claim the title was better than the first one, which I loved if you don’t recall. A status the sequel is positioned in as well, but how much is the question I am here to explain to you.. and a bit to myself, I suppose.
Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair Review
Platform: PS Vita
Developer: Spike Chunsoft
Publisher: NIS America
From the onset, there is not a whole lot different from Danganronpa 2 than its predecessor. Once again, a group of sixteen high school students from the prestigious Hope’s Peak Academy being forced to participate in a game of murder and mystery because of a Despair loving stuffed animal named Monokuma. The difference is the cast of characters, the setting being changed to a series of islands instead of a school, and the fact the title has its predecessor to work off of, and advances the series’ ongoing narrative. The Hope and Despair theme advances to a more complex one, reveals and twists keep things plenty interesting, and things naturally go bananas near the end.
The first title naturally did something similar, but even aside from the massive spoilers the series’ spin-off, Absolute Despair Girl bolsters, I found the anticipated deluge of revelations near its conclusion to be far more impactful from a logical surprise aspect, and from a character standpoint as well. The latter is not surprising, as the cast of trope filled characters is rather delightful once more in regards to writing, voice work, and just overall presentation. Even though it is inevitable, I genuinely was a bit upset whenever anybody had perished, as I wanted to see them develop more and offer another set of screencap worthy dialog… Over 1,200 this time.
That said, in Trigger Happy Havoc, I recall being a bit confused by some of the localization decisions. Something that I felt came up less often in part 2, despite a few confusing instances where the title seems to go out of its way to not say the characters are from Japan, but instead there is another anomaly I did not see at all in part one. I fairly regularly ran into typos while playing the game, from the worthy to be infamous, “my thob is chesting” to text that passed outside of the dialog box provided, to what I believe is an absence of a style guide for formatting. It is rather bizarre that there was not a final look through the game, even though these typos are far from overly distracting, but being a visual novel, players are naturally going to notice when a character says “that’s bastard”.
Oh, but I suppose you could say that Danganronpa is only about 80% visual novel, and 20% a logic based rhythm game, which I would not disagree with. It mostly follows the formula of enjoying the engaging narrative, gaining the opportunity for the main character, Hajime Hinata, to hang out and learn more about his classmates via present distribution. Only for a murder to happen, often through a motive the Dastardly Monokuma gave the group, and it is up to Hajime and company to notice hints dropped in the story sections beforehand, and piece together the whodunit. Leaving the player to piece together the clues and find the killer during the Class Trial. As it is either they die, or everybody else does.
This is where the rhythmic logic puzzles come in, as the player must find both contradictions and support the claims of others in their pursuit for the truth, which is represented by shooting highlighted words with bullets that hold certain truths within them, because Danganronpa means Bullet Refuter. The main puzzles in the Class Trial are rather simple in how it mixes the avoidance of fairly basic obstacles with aiming and timing the release of a Truth Bullet, with the story progressing upon success, and the influence meter being punctured upon failure. That said, there were still a few instances where I felt I had found the evidence that proves the contradiction, but in a single correct answer system such as this, and one that can give the player a deluge of options, I suppose it is fair, minus a few (1-3) instances I could be petty about.
Though there is variety in the form of the very enjoyable snowboarding minigame, Logic Drive, which represents the Hajime’s thought process. It sadly is not as common as what I find to be a far more aggravating minigame, (Improved) Hangman’s Gambit. A diversion where the player must match letters to create a word or phrase, but doing so involves far more foresight and attention than any other aspect of the game, praising reflex far above any other aspect, and being downright unenjoyable in its overly hectic final instances. Even considering how Hajime has a time manipulation meter.
Though that amounts to about half an hour in a game that holds a playtime surpassing thirty, when I probably spent more time gambling with the gachapon machine, and giving the poor prizes to my tamagotchi so it will eventually give me more money to gamble with, assuming I flush its poops. That alone redeems any sort of interpretation errors in a series of events that are not difficult if success is the main goal. Well, assuming you interact with objects and walk around the environment to level up your influence and time manipulation meters.
That would in turn result in seeing more of the game’s world, which, much like the first one’s, I suspect to have not been updated in regards to replacing every texture, and as such some environments look a bit blurry. That does not distract much from the expectedly well designed characters, their often lovely expressions, and the plethora of “CG” scenes that show things otherwise impossible given the visual novel layout, and do so with an often very well drawn and colored image. As a whole, I felt the pop art style the first title had was quite subdued this time around, but that is partially from how environmental transitions are briefer and less common, and there is little reason to revisit every area every chapter. Even if that seems like a bit of a waste at times.
If I had to be reductive about this whole thing and give a tweet length summary, I’d just say, “If you liked Danganronpa 1, pick up 2.” As, this being a very story driven sequel, I would not recommend picking this one up on its own. Yes, there are minor hiccups in the translation, the Class Trials, and by extension gameplay, are not always the most sound. Yet the story is incredibly engaging, and the worst something gets in the game is a minor inconvenience, so I’d say it, Danganronpa 1, Persona 4 Golden, and likely a bunch of other Vita games I’ll end up playing, are enough justification to buy a Playstation TV. I mean, who wants to hold something that you need to rub with a microfiber cloth after about an hour of play? Or with gloves, I guess.
Problems very much exist, it’s just that there are too many good things that lie in between them and the far, far larger creamy center for them to be anything but an occasional distraction.
Oh, and if anybody wants to know, seeing as how I gave both games the same score, I prefer part 2, and it is a better value because it comes with a light novel that I have yet to read. I’ll do that when being driven home from work over the next few weeks.