-by Dylan DiBona
When I was a kid glued to my DS, I always knew there was one series of games only I was playing in my 6th grade class: Phoenix Wright. Everybody played Pokemon or Mario Kart, but Phoenix Wright was like a hidden gem for only me to enjoy. Sure I had fun jumping on Goombas, but in Phoenix Wright I was solving crimes and locking criminals away into prison. I was sold on visual novels.
I played 999 a few years later and enjoyed it. Escaping a demented game was interesting, but it wasn’t as fun as solving crimes. Finally years later, Danganronpa came into my life.
Danganronpa is a series of murder-mystery visual novels. It’s like a combination of 999 and Pheonix Wright; murder happens because of a sick game held by an even sicker mastermind and you have to figure out the killer in court. For the sake of full enjoyment, I won’t spoil anything serious about a truly addicting story.
If you can’t tell by the artwork above; Danganronpa is an extremely Japanese, weird and hyper stylized game. It is full of anime tropes, bizarre moments and pink blood. If you’re one to typically enjoy that kind of stuff along with mysteries: you’ll love Danganronpa. Get the 1.2 Reload on PS4 right now, it’s only forty dollars.
If you’re not to crazy about this style or even visual novels, let me try to sell you onto it.
Danganronpa 1: Trigger Happy Havoc
Amidst the world of Danganronpa stands a high school known as Hopes Peak Academy. You cannot apply to Hopes Peak; they choose who is eligible for the school. How do you get chosen? Be the very best at what you do. Students that are the best are called “Ultimates”. There are characters who fit these categories realistically like the “Ultimate Programmer” and “Ultimate Swimmer”. Then there are the weirder ones like “Ultimate Fanfic Writer” and “Ultimate Motorcycle Gang Leader”.
I told you this game was bizarre.
The fifteen main students of Trigger Happy Havoc are invited as freshman to attend Hopes Peak. What happens after is the main pull. These students are held captive in the school by Monokuma, the half-cute half-scary bear you see above.
Monokuma lays out this rule:
The only way to escape Hopes Peak is kill a fellow student and get away with it.
Once a body is discovered (because of course the bodies will start piling up), a class trial will be held. If you figure out the killer during this trial, they will be executed. If you cannot, the killer will get out free from the school while everybody else dies. To put it simply, the stakes are always high in Danganronpa.
Each character has their own quirks and unique personality you’ll either love or hate about them. That’s part of what made the overall experience to me. With some characters I’d think “Please be the next victim, please!” and with others “Oh God, please no, stay with me!”
Part of what’s great about the characters is the ability to hang out with them and learn more about them. It’s reminiscent of the support conversations in the 3DS Fire Emblem games. My only complaint here is the relationships have no value on the actual story, and don’t do much but give you certain abilities later on that don’t even feel too helpful.
Now onto the the main chunk of gameplay. In Danganronpa you walk and talk. This is a visual novel, so there are tons of dialogue and while some is voice acted, most isn’t. Get ready to read and think. The main trials aren’t too puzzling. I set my difficulty to kind (medium) and it was a cake walk. People who want any type of challenge should go to the hardest setting. The trials consist of minigames like hangman, a rhythm game and more unexpected stuff. I’m a little disappointed that the trials weren’t more Phoenix Wright style. In Phoenix Wright it felt like I was solving everything and turning the case to better my point of view; in Danganronpa it’s more of watching what unfolds and chiming in every now and then.
I’ll be honest, Trigger Happy Havoc is not the most exciting game you’ll play. I found it to be a very good palette cleanser. In between my JRPG’s and Action-Adventure games I like to just read a good story. And that’s the thing, if you like anime then you’ll love this story. By the way, there is an anime adaptation but I’ve heard bad things about it.
I wholeheartedly recommend Danganronpa not just anime fans, but for people interested in jumping into the visual novel genre. If you like reading, but haven’t had a good book to read in a while, I’m serious when I say try out this series.
Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc is a great game.
Any Danganronpa or visual novel fans here? What’s your favorite game in the genre? Any questions about this game? Leave a comment down below and I’ll try my best to reply. As always, thanks for reading.