Thursday, April 30, 2015

Taking 'I Hate School' to a New Level

Q: What do you get when you put Koushun Takami's Battle Royale with the Ace Attorney video game series into the PS Vita?

A: Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, that's what.

That’s the easiest way I’d describe it: Battle Royale meets Ace Attorney. Add a touch of the Persona series’ Social Links feature and you’ve pretty much summed up DR in a nutshell. The premise of the game starts off with Makoto Naegi, some kid who got lucky in a raffle that allows him to be a part of this prestigious school that only accepts students who are the best of the best in their respective fields. Enter DR’s colorful cast of characters, whose superlatives range from the ‘Ultimate Martial Artist’ to the ‘Ultimate Fanfic Creator.’

School life turns bleak in no time when Makoto and his classmates are thrust into a ‘graduation program’ that entails students killing each other. Once a murder has taken place, a class trial commences, and the remaining students have to figure out who the culprit is. They make a vote on who they think committed the murder, and if they get it right, then the guilty student faces punishment (in other words: OFF WITH THEIR HEAD!) On the other hand, if they convict the wrong person, then they all get killed, and the actual murderer gets to leave the school, ultimately ‘graduating.’

The Persona factor in this game manifests through the building of relationships with your fellow captives. Taking control of Makoto, you get to spend some ~*~quality time~*~ with the classmate of your choice during Free Time, and building friendships can sometimes unlock skills you can use during Class Trials.

DR offers a vastly different and refreshing experience, despite being somewhat similar to Ace Attorney. In AA, you’re set up in a very classic court trial: prod the specific part of the testimony, show the piece of evidence that contradicts it, and the cycle continues until the big picture reveals itself in the end. With DR, Class Trials involve a set of mini games; besides the prod-and-show-evidence cycle (called ‘Nonstop Debate’), you’ve also got Hangman’s Gambit (a hangman game), Bullet Time Battle (a rhythm game), and the Closing Argument (a mini game that involves piecing together the entire crime via comic strip). Besides the Bullet Time Battle being an auto-fave, I also especially liked the Closing Argument segment of Class Trials. The comic strip-esque representation was a nice touch.

Closing Argument: recapping the entire crime via comic strip.

To be honest, it took me a while to get into DR. I initially thought it was incredibly boring; the introduction felt very slow-paced, and I thought it was just going to be a visual novel game down to the very end. It wasn’t until things started picking up with the first murder did the game finally capture my interest. Once the ball got rolling, I could hardly put the game down. DR became very addicting, and with all the plot twists appearing left and right, I was itching to figure out the mystery of the entire game.

One thing I liked about DR was its plot twists. I’d dive into the class trials, not knowing who the culprit was, and just when I think I’ve figured it all out halfway into the trial, the game just throws a curve ball at me and flips everything around. With the diverse roster of classmates, it becomes easy to divert the suspicion on anyone and confuse the player even more.


DEM PLOT TWISTS THO. Especially by Chapter 5 when things start slowly unraveling. I especially loved how crazy they depicted Junko during the big reveal and how she easily swapped between personas. It was insane. And the characters! Where would this game be without its cast of characters? My personal favorites were Toko (mostly for Genocide Jill), Byakuya, Junko (because PLOT TWIST!!! and also for her character design) and Mondo. And let’s not forget Monokuma, of course. PUHUHUHU~~~

Junko my queen.

This is definitely a game that really makes getting a PS Vita worth it. To this day I feel like there’s still a bit of a stigma around the Vita, which I don’t understand, but with a game like Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, it’s really worth a shot to just pick it up and give it a chance. But, if you really can't be bothered, then I'd recommend taking a look at the anime adaptation. I managed to get Alex into it as well! Having played the game, I can safely report that the anime gave an accurate depiction of the story. However, it did feel rather fast, especially after spending 598347 hours turning over every nook and cranny of the school and crime scenes in the game, whereas in the anime, the pieces of evidence were pretty much fed to you with the snap of a finger. Either way, Danganronpa is something worth checking out, be it the game or anime. (But if you have a Vita, please just get the game. You won't regret it.)

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