Sunday, August 2, 2015

Fun in the Sun... Until Somebody Dies

Taking off from my previous post (which was, lol, over three months ago), this time I’d like to discuss the second game in the Danganronpa franchise: Goodbye Despair

The cover design may mislead you with its bright colors and tropical theme, but I can assure you, the despair in this game says anything BUT goodbye.

Honestly, even the beginning of the game is a little misleading. Sure, you might start off at Hope’s Peak Academy, but then, this weird rabbit-thing — who is reminiscent of Monokuma except whose design is a little bit more influenced by Card Captor Sakura — starts talking about making friends with everyone and that your class is on a field trip. Cue sudden collapse of classroom walls to find that you and your classmates are on a tropical island. You’re left thinking: Wait, hold up. Just what is going on?

Ironically, it’s only when Monokuma shows up — a.k.a. when things take a turn for the twisted and grim — do bits and pieces begin to make sense. But only vaguely, because this is Danganronpa, and things don’t actually make sense until much later.

It was fitting that I played this game when I was on a trip to a tropical island myself, so it really added to the mood. Sans classmates killing each other, of course. I liked how this game gave you the ability to travel from one location to another via side-scrolling (it made getting from Point A to Point B much faster than it would in the previous game), and each step you took was literally another step closer to the growth of your Tamagotchi-esque virtual pet.

Actual  D E S P A I R
What I didn’t like were some of the mini games this time around. Gameplay in general was similar to that of the first game’s, though of course there were a few minor changes just to switch things up. Hangman’s Gambit was an absolute NIGHTMARE. Rebuttal Showdowns sometimes felt flimsy, where slashing the opponent’s argument sometimes didn’t seem to work no matter how many times I slaughtered my Vita’s screen.

I at least enjoyed Logic Dive, which involved choosing between two different scenarios/possibilities on a hoverboard. The Closing Argument still had the whole comic strip representation, but this time, not all the pieces of the story are given to you right off the bat. One part of the story also had you stuck in a room where you had to prod objects and areas and piece things together in order to get out — which was, according to the fandom, a very nice ode to 999/Virtue’s Last Reward. (I’m total crap at those kind of games, so admittedly I had to consult a walkthrough for this part.) When it comes down to it, I’d say this sequel is more difficult than its predecessor.

All the plot twists were great. Though I said this game was technically more difficult, for some reason I managed to identify the culprits a little sooner than I think I had in the first game. Having the game set on a tropical island — with its vibrancy and overall summer feel — also took away from the sinister mood of the game in spite of the impending doom looming over everyone’s heads. I’d say for the plot, the first game managed to pull off the despair aspect rather nicely, whereas it just wasn’t as consistent with DR2.

My absolute favorite aspect of this sequel are its characters. The character designs were so quirky and fun, and everyone was a lot more distinct in their own identities. With the first game, practically everyone was in some kind of school uniform, so it was ultimately refreshing to see several color schemes and outfits for the sequel. It was almost as if the character designs matched that of the games’ settings; with the first game being darker and more bleak, so were the color palettes for its characters. In the second game, each character really stood out from one another, and seemed brighter and more festive — just as DR2’s summer vibes gave a much more lighthearted impression.

I can’t express how much I love this franchise, and I’m really looking forward to being able to play Ultra Despair Girls (And DR3???) It’s hard to believe that I actually thought Danganronpa was boring at first. I think I’d go so far as to say the series is my favorite Vita entry now.

Then again, I still haven’t gotten my hands on an English version of Persona 4: Dancing All Night, so…

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