Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc (PS Vita) Review

Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc (PS Vita) Review

Ah high school! A time that seems to incite mixed feelings for those who have gotten past it and for those who are about to enter it. For those about to enter, their thoughts are filled with hopes and dreams with becoming someone in the world. Those who have gotten past, it was a time that can be looked upon fondly or filled with despair. In Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, hope and despair go hand in hand.

danganronpa-trigger-happy-havoc-eng-coverThe prestigious Hope’s Peak Academy, which attracts the cream of the crop, has the distinction of having their graduates being set for life. It’s this claim that has students clamoring to become the ultimate at a certain skill or sport. Ultimates such as the Ultimate Pop Star, Ultimate Programmer or even the Ultimate Clairvoyant have a shot of entering the school. Enter protagonist Makoto Naegi, who is actually the most non-ultimate student ever. He manages to gain entrance into Hope’s Peak Academy via a lottery, making him the “Ultimate Lucky Student.”Joining Makoto at Hope’s Peak Academy are fourteen other students, all of whom come from different walks of life yet are considered Ultimates in their particular “field.” Of course, all is not what it seems when the fifteen students have no recollection of what happened to themselves upon arrival at the school. Coupled with seeing metal sheets bolted over windows, surveillance cameras armed with guns and a mysterious cartoon-looking bear named Monokuma as the school’s headmaster, you can be quite sure that things are about to get interesting.

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From the twisted minds over at Spike Chunsoft (999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors and Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward) and published by NIS America (Disgaea series), Danganronpan: Trigger Happy Havoc offers a high school experience that you will never forget. As Makoto, you and your fellow students learn of Monokuma’s twisted plan for your time at Hope’s Peak Academy: either live in harmony with the rest of the students until you all die or kill one another without getting caught in order to “graduate.” Of course, even killing a fellow student is not without its own set of rules, the most important being that aside from not getting caught, you must not be found guilty by your peers in a class trial. Yes, you read that correctly: not only do you have to get away with murder, you have to convince your peers that you are not the killer.

In the same vein as previous titles by the company, Danganronpan’s class trial preparations takes it cues from another popular visual novel title, Phoenix Wright. In Danganronpan, Makoto will spend his days getting to know his new classmates until the first mysterious murder of one of them prompts the start of unravelling the mystery that has befallen all of them. Like Phoenix Wright, Makoto will work with his fellow students to gather various bits of evidence that will be used in the trial; at the same time, Makoto can choose to build friendships with the others, which may harken to another popular high school series, Shin Megami Tensei: Persona, while solving the mysteries. Of course, in true Spike Chunsoft fashion, Danganronpan has its own twist when it comes to not only murder (which was illustrated wonderfully in the introductory case), but also how the class trial works. Presenting evidence and piecing a story out can only get you so far, but shooting truth bullets to dispel lies, assembling your closing arguments into a comic book and engaging in a rhythm game-style “dance off” to debate against the accused one-on-one will ensure that even when deciding a student’s fate, you can still have fun doing it.

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Visually, Danganronpan is excellent as Makoto and his fellow students are distinctive in appearance while Monokuma manages to give off a feeling of menace, despite his cartoony look. Hope’s Peak’s locations have a cel-shaded look to them, while the use of neon and bright colors causes things to pop out on the Vita’s OLED screen. Music is excellent, particularly during the class trial and cutscenes. For those wondering about what language to play in, Danganronpan features both English and Japanese voices for one to enjoy. Finally, if this is one’s first time playing a visual novel, there are three difficulties to choose from upon starting the game and each chapter can be replayed as well.

Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc is definitely a unique game that has a bit of something for everyone. It has a murder mystery plot, several interesting characters with their own motivations, catchy music and the most off-the-wall courtroom battles since Phoenix Wright. If all that sounds interesting, not to mention you have an unhealthy affection for two-toned psychotic teddy bears, then check out Danganronpan: Trigger Happy Havoc for the Sony PlayStation Vita.

t-ono B


What I Loved:

Storyline is quite dark and twisted, much like many Spike Chunsoft games

Class Trials are just as fun as in Phoenix Wright

Music is fantastic

Controls are great as you can either use the buttons or touchscreen

What I Hated:

Gathering evidence can be a bit tedious

Despite the stylized pink blood, game can be a bit too over-the-top in the murder depictions

Bullet Time Battle can easily frustrate those not used to rhythm games

Neutral:

Characters are interesting but so far, development is on the thin side (played up to the end of chapter one)

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the distributor.

Last modified on Sunday, 08 November 2015 16:03