As readers may remember, one of my favorite Vita games is definitely Virtue’s Last Reward, with Persona 4 Golden ranking right up there.
Meanwhile, the Phoenix Wright series has always ranked up their high on Nintendo handhelds as well. So, when I heard about Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc and how it seemingly melded the three games, I was instantly intrigued. Thankfully, I wasn’t disappointed.
Play centers around Makoto Naegi, the “Ultimate Lucky Student” that won a raffle to enter Hope’s Peak Academy. The academy only admits “Ultimate” students, although one average student makes the cut each year.
Upon entering the school, though, you’ll find yourself knocked out, along with 14 other students, and taken from hope to despair, courtesy of Monokuma. Like VLR’s Zero Jr., Monokuma is a teddy bear that wants to let students escape after murdering another student, only if they’re not found guilty of murder.
Before the murdering begins, though, you have some time to get used to the student life. When you aren’t investigating murders, you’ll have “free time” where you can explore the school and spend time with other students, similar to P4G. You need to build these friendships to get special skills to use later in the Class Trials.
Helping to build up friendships are gifts you can purchase from a vending machines with coins that can be randomly found in the game. While you can get repeats of items, using more coins can help lower the chance of getting a repeat.
Once the killings begin, you’ll then start investigating. You’ll wander the school as you investigate the crime scene and other areas for Truth Bullets in the “Deadly life” section of the game. After finding all clues, the game will advance to the next day.
It’s worth noting here that sections of the school close down after 10 p.m., but most of the time not much else is done at night.
The Class Trial is where things really pick up. During the trial, you’ll have to contradict statements given by students with the Truth Bullets you found. However, there are actually four different types of styles used in the game to find the culprit: Nonstop Debates, Epiphany Anagram, Machinegun Talk Battle and Climax Logic.
The styles change the courtroom debates up quite a bit. Machinegun Talk Battles, for instance, have you maintaining rhythms while debating 1v1 against a student. Other styles change it into a type of shooter to blast false statements, or has you recreate a scene like a comic strip. This changes the gameplay up nicely so that repetition doesn’t set in. The game also ramps up the difficulty in these styles, making later cases an impressive challenge.
Throughout the game, you’ll notice that the writing is top notch. Like VLR, you’ll want to keep going to see the truth behind everything and to see who the next person to die will be and who the next killer is. There may be a few dragging parts, but they were few and far between as I kept pushing forward to find the truth.
The cast of characters is also great. Even some of the annoying characters have a distinct charm to them that will have you sad with who dies next and who has to get executed. I had a hard time figuring out who I wanted to spend free time with and figuring out who would be offed next. Plus, with each trial comes another death with an execution of the murderer, meaning characters you know and love may drop quickly.
Another good thing for gamers that don’t like other visual novels is that the game moves faster than most other games like this. Sure, you’ll have investigations and such, but there really isn’t much lull between chapters and big happenings.
The graphic style is also done interestingly. It’s a mix of various styles. The majority of the game is a 3D environment with 2D characters plopped in to talk to. However, it goes from the standard graphics to stylized murder scenes, complete with neon pink blood, to really set the murders apart from everything else.
The voice acting is great as well, but I did have some complaints here. The voices seem to be used at random times. Sometimes, you’ll just be reading text and a random sentence will be read. I’d have like to have seen the voices be used more, but it’s a minor complaint in an enjoyable game.
Different types of gameplay styles really change up the trials.
Character development is done nicely, even with 14 characters.
Voice acting seems to be used sparingly.
Some of the later trials will really challenge you.
Many gamers may not like this style of game.
Danganronpa may miss the mark with many gamers because of the style of game it is. However, if you’re ready for a solid story and intriguing characters, it’s a great time to bust out the Vita and give the game a try. What you’ll find is a great adventure title that will find you guessing at every turn.
The blend of 2D and 3D is great in this game, and the way the murders are handled really make them stand out.
The gameplay changes quite a bit to make sure the visual novel doesn’t get stale, and the courtroom cases are great and offer a good challenge.
Both the music and voices are solid, I just wish they used the voices more.
After beating it, besides seeing all the items in the vending machines, you won’t have a reason to go and revisit.
I had a blast throughout the game, whether it was walking around or figuring out the murders.