Patrick Hope: It’s punishment time!
Note: The following contains a couple major spoilers for "Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc." Actually, under pretty much no circumstances should you play "Danganronpa 2" without playing the first game either. You're doing yourself a huge disservi...
Note: The following contains a couple major spoilers for “Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc.” Actually, under pretty much no circumstances should you play “Danganronpa 2” without playing the first game either. You’re doing yourself a huge disservice not playing it.
It’s time to draw back the curtain and give you an inside look at how Welcome to Bonus Stage works. I keep a Word document with every Tuesday for the foreseeable future listed and fill in topics as needed. It helps to make sure I have new releases or holiday editions of the column covered. Well, I’ve had the Sept. 16 column penciled in with “Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair” for several months. Good thing it doesn’t disappoint.
OK, so “Danganronpa 2” is a direct sequel to everyone’s favorite Battle Royale simulator developed by Spike Chunsoft and was released Sept. 2 on the PlayStation Vita. If you played the first game - and if you’re still reading this, you should have - you’re going to feel right at home. In fact, the major game elements are back, pretty much in their entirety.
Just like the last game, you take the role of a student at Hope’s Peak Academy, the school which only recruits the greatest students in the world. This time around, instead of being the Ultimate Lucky Student (there is an Ultimate Lucky Student this time and he’s completely insane), you’re Hajime Hinata, whose talent is, well, he has amnesia and can’t remember.
Anyway, instead of chilling at the school and being forced to kill each other, this time you’re on a tropical island paradise with 15 other students and are forced to kill each other. You have an entire new cast of Ultimates - one, Byakuya, is a repeat. He also somehow got fat in between games. Your new high school buddies run the gamut of anime tropes, like Hiyoko, the foul-mouthed loli/Ultimate Traditional Dancer; Nekomaru, the super-intense coach and Ultimate Team Manager; and Peko, the stoic fighter with a weakness for cute things and Ultimate Swordswoman. They’re a pretty likable bunch, to be honest. Oh, and Monokuma is back.
Yes, the evil teddy bear, who is still around despite the death of his controller, criminal mastermind Ultimate Despair Junko Enoshima, in the last game, is here to wreak havoc. And this time he’s joined by Monomi, a morally ambiguous magical girl pink bunny who wants everyone to live in peace and is abused by Monokuma a lot. Actually, having someone for the bear’s over-the-top personality to bounce off is pretty fun this time around.
And making a return from the last game is the black humor and a metric ton of references to video games and anime. Monokuma still makes a lot of jokes at the cast’s expense. There’s a book entitled “My Little Sister Can’t Be This Incompetent.” One character says that being at the supermarket reminds them of running over zombies with carts. This is a game that knows its audience really well. There’s even a “Chappelle’s Show” reference, of all things. The localization crew at NISA did a really good job with this one.
But you’re probably wondering about the gameplay additions. So, by and large, this is the same game as “Danganronpa.” The basic premise of killing another student and getting away with it to escape the island is still there and you’ll be investigating and doing trials to reveal the killer behind each extremely complicated murder. But there are a few changes.
First, a couple new minigames have been added. The first are arguments, where you have a one-on-one showdown with another character to make your case. In the argument, you “cut” their arguments by swiping the Vita’s screen and use a Truth Bullet, though it’s a blade here, just like during the debate segments. It’s a cool idea, though not one that makes the game better or worse. The best thing about it might be when you get into an argument with Sonia, the Ultimate Princess, and she yells “Bow down!” And then there is the Logic Dive minigame. Oh, the Logic Dive game.
In their review of the game, RPGFan had a caption below Logic Dive that said “Worst minigame ever.” They’re not that far off. In Logic Dive, you’re on a snowboard in a virtual halfpipe and you have to answer questions about the case to come to a conclusion you probably already knew while dodging obstacles. It’s terrible and I lost half of my health in one case once because of one round of this stupid, stupid game. Also, the Hangman’s Gambit is back and still really annoying. Just FYI on that one.
OK, so verdict time. Like the first game, “Danganronpa 2” has its faults, notably in some really bad minigames that completely take you out of the zone in trial. But the narrative and characters are really strong and you’ll want to plow ahead to solve the mystery. If you liked the first game, this is a no-brainer and explains most of the loose ends from that game while, in true Spike Chunsoft fashion, giving you some completely bonkers plot twists near the end. We can only hope that Monokuma has one more ride in him and gives us a third “Danganronpa” game.
Hope is a local attorney and video game enthusiast. In both games, his favorite character ended up being the killer in the third case. So that happened.