By Justin Guillou / September 19th, 2014
|Title||Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair|
|Release Date||September 2, 2014(US), September 5, 2014(EU)|
|Age Rating||ESRB – M|
I will not spoil anything major here!
With that out of the way, raise your hand if you want to be in despair? For those of you who raised it, Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair wants to put you and 15 other students in despair, effectively making Itoshiki-sensei happy enough to hang himself! Anyone else watch Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei? Before getting into the review I asked myself what kind of name is Danganronpa? Turns out it is a combination of two Japanese words: Dangan(弾丸 – Bullet) and Ronpa(論破 – Refutation or Objection) .
This game takes place after the events of Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc. I highly recommend that you either play it or watch the anime based off the first game before picking this one up. There will be references made to the previous game and the last couple chapters in the story will make a lot more sense if you knew about the characters from the first game. In Danganronpa 2, a new set of students enter Hope Peak Academy and are sent to an island run by a rabbit named Usami who happens to be a magical girl. Nothing unusual here. The students seemed to have lost their memories of events prior to coming to the island, other than their specialty. Speaking of which, in order to be accepted into the academy, you have to be the best at a certain skill or hobby and, when you are accepted, you are referred to as an Ultimate. For example, you have the Ultimate nurse, gamer, dancer, singer, athlete, mechanic, swordswoman, etc…
Usami is trying her best to get the students comfortable on the island and with each other until Monokuma comes to crash the party. His opening act: turn Usami into Monomi and strip her of her magical powers… by putting a diaper on her! Once again, not unusual. Stuff like this happens way more often than you think! Monokuma then informs the students on how things are going to play out for the rest of the game. The only way they can escape the island is if they kill each other. Before you start saying things like “Whoa, that’s a ripoff of Battle Royale,” well, it sort of is except that every time someone is killed, the students have to participate in a class trial. During these trials, they have to figure out who was the killer. If they succeed in figuring out who did it, the killer gets punished and killed by Monokuma. Should they fail, however, ALL of the students except the murderer are killed, and, thus, he or she graduates the academy and is granted permission to leave the island.
As you progress through the game you will discover the answers to questions like: “Why are the students on the island?” “Why can’t they remember what happened to them before coming?” or “Why is Monokuma back?” Expect plenty of plot twists and unexpected turns of events. When the students are not going on psychotic rampages due to the nonsense on the island, they are living with each other peacefully. In fact, this is where the game becomes a bit like the later Persona games. During the daytime, you can hang out with any of the students to get to know them better. It is not as fleshed out as Persona’s social links, but the dialogue exchange is still rather amusing. Even some of the dialogue choices are fun like choosing to “Happy Happy Joy Joy” with someone on the beach. Oh, how I want to go into more detail on that one, but I want you to experience it. I will just say, it results in you getting a ‘special’ item! The characters in the game are very diverse. For example, you have Gundham, the Ultimate Breeder, who is dressed like a ninja, but has an obsession with his four hamsters whom he calls the Four Devas of Destruction. My favorite character of the bunch was Chiaki Nanami. Chiaki is the Ultimate Gamer, and has a habit of relating what was happening to an old video game she used to play. I thought she was really cute. I mean, she was well-written. I felt a connection with Chiaki since I sometimes find myself doing the exact same thing in my life. So, it should not come as a surprise that I spent a lot of time with her. NO, I am not falling for a video game character, baka! *tsundere stare intensifies*
The game features 3D environments which are explored in a first-person perspective while most of the characters are 2D. The artwork is really well done. The sprites are only animated during cutscenes, but, even during normal gameplay, Chiaki looks gorge- I mean all the characters’ sprites look beautiful. In fact, you can actually hit the L button to remove the dialogue box so you can appreciate the artwork. The English voice acting is really good and suits the characters well. You can also press the R button to allow for the text to flow automatically so, during a cutscene, you can just relax and watch it instead of having to hit the X button ever couple of seconds. All of this is enhanced with a solid and varied soundtrack. There are some catchy tunes, including remixes from the previous game. When you are exploring the island the music is very tame and calm. After all, you will need to unwind a bit after witnessing some of the madness on the island. This is in contrast to the music played in the Class Trials, which is far more intense and dramatic, especially during the nonstop debates. One nice touch is that the name of the song currently being played is listed in the upper left corner of the screen.
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