By Karli Winata / February 21st, 2015
The Danganronpa series, as nigh unpredictable as the actual plotting might be, has at least been predictable in its genre as a visual novel. That ends the moment Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls for the Vita came into existence. This interquel takes place in between Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc and its sequel Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair and stars a new protagonist Komaru Naegi, the younger sister of Trigger Happy Havoc’s protagonist.
Half a year has passed since the events of the first game. Komaru finds herself running away from a robot Monokuma, those black and white teddy bears that’s become the mascot of the series. A lot of plot developments later, she gets a Hacking Gun, a real fancy name for a bullhorn that shoots colored orbs with different effects, finds out the whole city is being besieged by hordes of these robotic Monokumas, and teams up with Trigger Happy Havoc alum Toko Fukawa, who thankfully has managed to control her “condition” with a stun gun. Then Chapter One starts.
I was able to get some play time with the Japanese version, which came out last September, at NIS America’s press event. All of the above, and more which I’ve omitted mostly because it was all in Japanese, happened in the prologue. It was a lot to take in especially for someone who hasn’t played any of the other games in the series. All I know is that it’s a third person shooter.
Komaru’s bullhorn–sorry, Hacking Gun–can shoot different types of “bullets.” The default blue ammo acts like a standard bullet. It can kill a Monokuma robot provided they’ve been shot enough times, just one if you shoot them in their one red glowing eye. The green one doesn’t do any damage at all, but it is useful for interacting with electronics like a generator or a door. There’s also a purple bullet that doesn’t hurt the Monokuma robots, but it does make them dance. In all, the Hacking Gun has eight different types of bullets that can be changed at anytime provided you can find the bullets for it.
It’s not all shooting though. Toko gets to have a little bit of fun by unleashing Genocide Jill and her scissors onto the Monokumas. At a press of a button, she takes over and uses her scissors to slice to slice anyone that stands in her way. She’s much faster and more powerful than Komura’s Hacking Gun, but she can only be used sparingly. She only lasts as long as the stun gun that brings her out of Toko lasts. Afterwards, the stun gun needs to be fully recharged to bring her out again.
I was only able to play through the prologue and the early parts of Chapter One. It’s tough to tell if the playable aspect will get anymore complicated then taking down any and all incoming Monokumas while finding the right switch open the door blocking the way. Shooting down the Monokumas never really feels all that satisfying though. They don’t move all that fast and don’t have much intelligence beyond coming straight at you. There will be different types of Monokumas later on, but at first they’re just there to give you something to shoot at.
What little of the story I was able to pick up along the way was far more interesting, thanks in large part to how brutal it was. Komura stumbled into a diner that somehow remained oblivious to the massacre happening outside. That changed in an instant when the Monokumas crash through the windows eviscerating everyone in an instant. In what should have been a bloodbath, the scene is instead more like an accident inside a neon pink paint factory thanks to the series’ “stylistic” take on blood.
Taking on an entirely different genre was a bold move for a series that didn’t really need to do anything different. It’s unclear from the opening moments of the game if the shooting and the slicing gets more varied and/or interesting, but it’s pretty clear that the story will be the real standout of the game. Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls is slated for a Fall release for the Vita.
DanganronpaDanganronpa 2: Goodbye DespairDanganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair GirlsDanganronpa: Trigger Happy HavocNIS America