The latest addition to the Danganronpa series hit the PS Vita with a bang. I had no idea what I was getting into when I was asked to review this game seeing as I’ve not had the chance to pick up the first two, but man I’m glad I accepted. The Danganronpa series is a reason to own a Vita – the games are very Japanese, very violent and very good.
Thankfully, this game allows a newcomer to experience the story while playing and not be confused by anything. At first, I was worried about not being able to understand the story line, but once I got my hooks into the game, I knew what was going on, and was very interested in finding out all that I could about this world. Spike Chunsoft was even nice enough to give a little bit of backstory during the opening scenes and the Prologue which made getting into the lore of the third game very easy.
When the game started up I thought that I had been given the code to the wrong game; the scene opens up with a girl in a room, and she’s talking about how she’s been trapped there for a year and a half. As she narrates about her life in the room she lets you know her name, Komaru Naegi, and that the only contact with the outside world is when one of her three meals is delivered through a hole in the wall. This particular morning as Komaru receives her breakfast, a pair of claws cuts through the wall near her. The claws continue to rip through the wall until it is no more, and slowly a half black and half white bear slinks in, intent on killing anything that moves.
Komaru escapes and is rescued by The Future Foundation, who gives her a Hacking Gun that is useful against the Monokuma (the monsters of the game). Sadly the rescuing doesn’t last long, and soon she finds herself in the hands of The Warriors of Hope, the group who runs the Monokuma (black and white bears). Komaru’s fate takes a turn for the worse when she upsets The Warriors of Hope by calling them children, and they banish her back to the city where total carnage is taking place. Luckily she still has that Hacking Gun.
The controls in this game work very well on the Vita, much to my surprise. I wouldn’t think a shooter would do well on the platform as they usually are difficult to control on a portable device, but I was wrong. The controls are very simple; the left stick is walk, and while you push the left stick forward, you can hold down “circle” to run. The right trigger resets the camera while not battling. When you’re in battle mode, these controls change a bit. When you need to use the Hacking Gun you hold down the Left Trigger to lock on.
In addition, the Right Stick aims the Hacking Gun and the Right Trigger fires the Hacking Gun. The Hacking Gun fires Truth Bullets, these Bullets have different qualities throughout the game. You start off with two and must find the rest to survive Towa City. As you continue your survival throughout the city, you meet a few interesting characters along the way that help you in your journey; controlling them is easy, and their presence helps Komaru greatly.
I was actually quite surprised with the visuals in this game, I didn’t expect them to be so vivid and of such high quality. The opening anime cut scene looked amazing on the screen, and when I finally got to take control of Komaru those visuals looked great as well. Sometimes when I’m playing my Vita, and the game goes from cut-scene to in-game scene, the visuals get really muddy and are not a pleasure to look at.
Danganronpa is not like that at all; the in-game scenes are crisp, and even with all the running and action they hold together great. The character designs are unique as well. The main characters that you control, the ones you meet, and the The Warriors of Hope all have a nice distinction about them. I never wondered who I was talking to, or what was going on in the scene due to a lack of creativity in the design. The game is very pretty, and should be seen by as many people as possible.
Anyone who has a Vita should pick this title up; it is a great addition to the small collection for that handheld. Sure there are a few things that detract from this title, but they are minuscule in the grand scheme of things. There are a few scenes that I encountered that were just a bit too, for lack of a better term, “Japanese” for me, and made me feel a bit uncomfortable as I saw them play out. It didn’t make me want to put the game away, but I was like, what just happened?
The other thing that really bothered me was the usual game trope where you start off overpowered, and then lose your powers to “balance” the game out. That has always bothered me, and this game makes a joke out of it, but the Hacking Gun after the Prologue is insanely weak, and it takes a while to upgrade it. If I can look past those tiny offenses, – any gamer can, and any gamer with a Vita should pick this game it – it’s a wild trip that needs to be enjoyed by many.
A Vita code was provided by NIS America for review purposes.