Developer: Spike Chunsoft
Platform: Playstation Vita
Genre: Adventure, Puzzle, Visual Novel
Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc is a murder mystery visual novel developed and published by Spike Chunsoft and the first game in the Danganronpa series following the successful anime series. The game was originally released in Japan for the PSP in 2010 then iOS and Android devices.
Danganronpa follows the anime story-line, set in an elite high school called Hope's Peak Academy which accepts talented "Ultimate" students or a few students at random. Makoto Naegi, is one of those ‘randoms’ an average student. However upon arriving he loses consciousness and wakes up locked inside the school, suddenly this doesn’t seem like a ‘ultimate luskuy raffle’ as described. After wondering around the premises he meets the Ultimate students who are in pretty much the same situation as him. It is there the signature Japanese torture device is introduced a sadistic remote-controlled bear named Monokuma is calling the shots and frankly he isn’t a very cuddly bear. He explains the only way to escape the academy...alive is to graduate, sounds easy enough. Well actually in order to graduate you need to murder another student and get caught!
When a murder occurs, a "class trial" is initiate where you must determine who the killer is. In a place where anyone could be a victim or the killer, who do you trust? It’s up to our protagonist Makoto to survive these class trials and solve the true mysteries of this messed up Academy. During the investigations, Makoto receives assistance from Kyoko Kirigiri, a mysterious girl with no amnesia, but possessing keen observational and deductive skills. This game reminded me so much of Phoenix Wright but more dark.
Monokuma instigates further strife by direct manipulation, threatening students' families, threatening to reveal embarrassing secrets. As much as he’s the villain he is the star of the show and I feel a comparison to Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last reward – I totally prefer Monokuma to Zero the physco rabbit.
Gameplay is similar in style to the Ace Attorney series, revolving around investigation and finding contradictions, but with faster gameplay and great animations. Each chapter features two styles of gameplay; School Life, in which the player explores the academy and progresses through the story, and the Class Trials, where the player must deduce the culprit of a crime. If you hate reading alot of text then best to walk away from this game. Pheonic Wright was frustrating but I enjoyed the mixed aspect in Professor Layton x Pheonix Wright which is a very similar game in mechanics just no puzzles !
During School Life, the player can explore the school grounds in first-person perspective, with more areas of the academy becoming available as the game progresses, had a bit of dungeon crawler feel, at least we didn’t have to map everything out like in Ertian Odessey. When you’re in a room you can move the crosshair on a character to initiate a conversations , once the cross hair is on them they jump which never failed to amuse me. Examining certain objects can get you Monokuma Medals, to use in the gatchapon machine in the school shop, yes I loved this feature!
School Life is actually consists of sections; "Daily Life" and "Deadly Life". In the Daily Life section – you can do the usual exploring, conversing with characters and trigger the next part of plot.You can hang out with specific characters and bribe them with presents, to gain more information about them and unlocks various Skills. This changes to Deadly Life whe a crime scene is discovered, the player now must search for. Evidence and testimonies gathered are stored in the player's e-Handbook, where players can also save their game. This is all important for the Class Trial.
The bulk of the game revolves around Class where students must discuss who they believe the culprit is. Class Trials consist of four main styles of gameplay: Nonstop Debate, Hangman's Gambit, Bullet Time Battle and Closing Argument. Closing Argument is usually a puzzle where you piece together a comic strip depicting the crime in motion. Yes there is some Professor Layton love in it, but not enough to make me hurl my Vita against the wall.
On the Vita we are also given an exclusive 'School Life' mode which unlocked after clearing the game once. Monokuma reigns in this ‘What if’ mode burdening the students with the task of building several backup units of himself. Each day, the player assigns students to scavenge rooms for necessary materials needed to build each concept. During Free Time, players can either hang out with the other students to unlock skills, like in the main game, or use Trip Tickets earned from completed concepts to take them on trips. I Wonder if we can go to the beach? Everyone loves the beach!
The Vita was the perfect platform for this game utelising the sharp graphics and features high resolution graphics and even optional touchscreen controls – the game is a work of art. It is polished and you get the overall dark sinister feel of the game. At the same time the voice acting is superb. This is not for someone who wants actions alone, this is very text based with lots of beautiful animation.
I rate it a well deserved 9/10