Gaming Insights: Danganronpa 2

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Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair is an interactive, mystery murder game which takes place on a tropical island. You interact with other characters and progress through the game’s secretive plot. When a murder occurs, players must determine the culprit through the Class Trials and pray that you do not accuse the wrong person. Various new mini games have been added and you can access a virtual pet in the pause menu. This Japanese game was released to North America and Europe in September of 2014. If you want to know our take on Danganronpa 2, we have put together these reviews for you to read:

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“Danganronpa 2 is larger than life. It pits outrageous characters against each other in unbelievable scenarios. It’s ridiculous, contrived, conspicuously self-aware, occasionally offensive to women, and way more fun than basically any other video game I’ve played in the last year.

Aesthetically, Danganronpa 2 is an improvement over its predecessor in most ways. The character design is more compelling than ever, and the story introduces critical plot points earlier than in the first installment, which helps get you up to speed. 2 takes easily in its stride facts that were huge reveals in the first game, and I was grateful for that — rehashing of those details would have been tiresome.

Speaking of characters, the greatest part of Danganronpa 2 is, hands down, Monomi (formerly Usami). The adorable pink and white rabbit breathes a breath of fresh air and sweetness into a pretty depressing premise, and while her bullying at the hands of the students and Monokuma sometimes adds to the despair, it’s hard not to root for her.

For all of the story and character improvements, some of the mechanics suffered in the sequel. I found several of the mini-games infuriating; I can’t imagine a metric any reasonable person would consider the Hangman’s Gambit “Improved” by, and everytime the game introduced it by that title, I wanted to throw my Vita. I also didn’t love the new Logic Dive mini game. What are we doing, Danganronpa? Who are you? Figure it out on your own time.

There’s also that pesky issue with the blatant fan service tableaus the game places one of its women in time after time. The nurse character is clumsy, trips, and ends up in the most humiliating positions, if you can believe it. I could feel the game winking and elbowing me in those moments, but even if you’re doing a gross thing as a joke, you’re still doing a gross thing. If I could cut those bits, I would; they added nothing to the game.

Blemishes and all, Danganronpa 2 still stands out as one of my favorite games of recent memory. The visual novel portions flow beautifully, navigation between areas is easy and fast (although a virtual pet mini-game encourages you to take your time!), and although the logic portion of the game isn’t quite as strong as what you’d see in an Ace Attorney title, there are fewer of those bizarre, impossible to see twists inherent to that series. It’s pretty nice to be able to figure out a puzzle yourself.

I’d recommend this game to fans of visual novels and adventure games (particularly the Zero Escape and Ace Attorney series) who don’t mind moderately graphic fantasy violence, but I would recommend playing the first game before diving into the second, with one spoiler-y word of warning: there is a character in the first game whose gender identity is handled in a pretty disrespectful way at times. Thankfully, Dangan 2 is much better with gender issues (save those nurse panty shots, of course).

I’ve finished the main plot of the game, but I’m not done yet. There’s still a Monomi mini-game to master, and a special story mode where you can explore social links. I think I’ll be playing this gem for several more weeks to come. I give it 9 out of 10 ‘LOVE LOVE’s.”

-Lindsay Pavlas aka @LindsayPavlas


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“Danganronpa 2 is a great little visual novel that seems utterly embarrassed to be one. Despite having its narrative firmly founded in solving murder mysteries, which if you ask me is possibly the greatest form of fiction there is, Danganronpa 2 drowns itself in needless “gamification”. Walking around earns you experience so you can level up, talking to people unlocks special abilities, and the trial segments of the game which should be predominately puzzle-based are padded with horrible mini games that only serve to distract and derail the pacing.

None of this ruins the game but it gives it a serious accessibility problem for no real reason. Your mom could play an Ace Attorney game with a walkthrough, your mom absolutely could not play Danganronpa 2. But speaking as someone who isn’t your mom, it’s still pretty obnoxious.

What I mean by “accessibility problems” is that the Danganronpa series are story-driven games that have superfluous action scenes, which are going to be huge roadblocks for people who aren’t very experienced with games. This is an issue the majority of other similar visual novels don’t have. When you’re listening to testimonies in the trial segments, the challenge is to deduce the correct piece of evidence needed to break through the weak point of their argument. However, actually doing this requires needless finesse and timing due to having to “shoot” the evidence correctly, which at best is distracting and at worst, just going to force you to cycle through the testimony again and waste your time.

It’s the same problem with the logic mini games. Almost all of the time the solutions are obvious, but you have to pass some weird little Mario Party mini game before the game accepts your answer.

I find all this frustrating not just because it’s annoying in itself, but because it makes Danganronpa a “gamers only” affair when its core ideas and storytelling methods could appeal to anyone interested in this brand of fiction. Even for people who are familiar with games, all these silly action mini games like having to feed your pet, leveling up and managing bonus skills are going to turn a lot of people off because it has nothing to do with Danganronpa 2’s core appeal.

Basically, by “accessibility problems”, the core game wraps itself up in a load of nonsense as if to say “no really, I’m a videogame! Videogames have stuff like this in them, don’t they!” It’s completely unnecessary and a large turnoff for a lot of people who might be interested in it otherwise.

Personally, I preferred Danganronpa 2 to the original game due to the scenarios being far more sophisticated and less reliant on reducing characters to single traits for the sake of puzzles. I won’t go into detail for the sake of avoiding spoilers, but I felt the ending of the game was more thematically on point too. The main issue the story has is other than a few cosmetic changes, it’s largely the same premise that hits similar plot points as the first game. I think a large part of why so many people prefer the original is because Danganronpa 2 feels like a remix of it in a lot of ways so it didn’t hit with as much of an impact.

I wouldn’t recommend the game to someone who hasn’t played the original as there’s a bazillion references to it and fakeouts that require knowledge of the first game to work. However, if you have played the original and like it, you’re near guaranteed to like this one too!”

-Matt Leslie aka @Lesmocon


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“It’s been more than a year since I was first introduced to Danranronpa 2. During that time, my fondness for the franchise has grown considerably, and yet my misgivings have grown at the same speed. It’s a rare franchise which I love wholeheartedly yet I understand when others don’t connect to it as easily. In many ways, the game’s inability to conform is what makes it so appealing. Danganronpa 2 is what it is: a murder mystery that is brimming with good humor and foreboding warnings. It doesn’t just put on a happy face to appease those who are put off for what it stands for.

Now here’s where things get tricky. Despite its rough exterior and bizarre sensibilities, Danganronpa 2 is a welcoming adventure. Its premise is built around stereotyping high school students, but it does so with the utmost respect. You see, both games, Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc and Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, take place inside (and outside) a school. The students are all the ultimate or best versions of people so you can expect the Ultimate Mechanic, Princess, Chef and many others. They all act kind of how you would expect.

But the brilliance of Danganronpa 2 is how it uses these stereotypes to tear down the walls that divide us instead of adding more fortification to the structure. Because everyone is trapped in this school (or island, like in Goodbye Despair), they must work together no matter how much they truly like one another. This allows alliances and even friendships to form that wouldn’t normally occur in real life. It’s a game about being a team, working as one, and letting our similarities bind us instead of dwelling on our differences.

We see very real issues being solved by the unlikely casts. Bullying, gender identification, and sexism are pushed to the forefront instead of being hidden below the surface. We see the characters confront these problems head on, because doing otherwise would create a toxic atmosphere that would hurt the teamwork needed to stay alive. It’s because of this that Danganronpa is such a remarkable franchise. It doesn’t matter if you’re an animal breeder or a male cheerleader, we’re all just people trying to make it from one day to the next.

Of course, the Danganronpa series doesn’t take itself too seriously, which is both its biggest strength and weakness. Once a game (or any story) tries to be humorous, you can bet that plenty of people will be turned off if the jokes fall flat. And that’s one of the reasons this franchise is so difficult to recommend. It’s text heavy with a plot that takes hours to get going and hours more to resolve. If you’re not laughing with the outlandish jokes, or drawing closer to the outsized characters, you’re not going to like the narrative or the game. It’s that simple. Danganronpa’s confidence in its own charms is one of the reasons that I love it, and one of the reasons I can’t recommend it to others.

There are so few games that center themselves around humor that I would forgive Danganronpa’s efforts even if I wasn’t laughing along with it. In both Trigger Happy Havoc and Goodbye Despair, Monokuma plays the adversary, even though it’s unclear who is the brain behind the beast. And even though he’s vicious at times, he’s also exceptionally weird so much that it was hard to keep a straight face during his outrageous monologues.

Still, there was some distasteful humor as well, such as the “fan service” shots of Mikan (the Ultimate Nurse) that happen far too often in the early game. Not every joke is going to work, but I’d like to think Danranronpa 2 is above cheesy revealing shots of characters, or situations like handing out panties as prizes when you form a relationship with one of the women. These are little problems when you’re talking about a 40-hour adventure, but even months after I finished the game, they still leave a bad taste in my mouth.

In a perfect world, everyone would give Danranronpa 2 a chance. Or, if they’re too intimidated by its bizarre storyline, people should at least try comparable games such as Virtue’s Last Reward or 80 Days. But there’s still an air of negativity that hover around text adventures. Because of this, I’m hesitant to recommend any of these sort of games. I know the writing is great and there are important messages if you’re ready to scratch below the surface, but that doesn’t mean everyone is willing to put in that time and energy to enjoy the game. This remains one of my favorite recent franchises, and I can only hope others give it a chance.”

-Tom McShea aka @TomMcShea


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“Hello everyone, my name is Zenithwillrule and I am a video game critic. Well, to be more precise, I analyze video games to explain why I like them so much and what they can do to improve. Video games have so many things to tell us about ourselves, our society, and our culture. They can inspire us to do great things and in this case, the DanganRonpa series  has inspired me greatly. I have been a fan of the franchise since the first game, however I have noted several problems in the original that kept it from achieving greatness. There were things that were far too obvious in several cases, a few characters that I thought were bland, and not enough of an explanation of the mystery at the end. With that said, the characters and story left a great impact on me and I was excited to pick up the sequel: DanganRonpa 2: Goodbye Despair.

Let me just say that DanganRonpa 2 was everything I wanted from a sequel. It fixed nearly every problem of the first game and it moved me to tears. DR2 works on a fundamental level because it has a cast of characters that I absolutely adore. Each person has their own quirks, charm, and motivation. There were a couple characters I initially didn’t care for: notably Hiyoko and Teruteru, but these characters go through an arc that redeems themselves and places them in a different light. Every character forms a connection with you and that is why you feel for them as they go through difficult times. People like Gundham Tanaka (one of the most epic characters to ever exist in a video game), Nekumaru Nidai, Chiaki, and Akane all felt real to me. They were fully realized 3-dimensional characters who I cared for deeply.

However, the purpose of this game is to induce hope, not despair. With each case, you and the cast overcome hard trials and gain the hope and confidence to live on. This game is pure inspiration to me, especially the final chapter. I don’t want to reveal anything, because this simply needs to be experienced, but after the ending, I felt like I could achieve anything. This is the same feeling I got after watching the Gurren Lagann anime. There may be obstacles in life that you need to overcome: Depression, Doubt, and Despair. If you give into it, you are doomed to fail and fall into a loop you won’t escape from. However, if you believe in yourself and are confident, you can accomplish anything. This is the true message of DanganRonpa and I simply love it. I think the first game in the series is good but this is on par with 999 and Virtues Last Reward in terms of how good it is. The twists and turns of the story, the emotions, and the brilliance of the design is simply wonderful. The look and feel of it is unique and breathtaking and the message of overcoming despair makes me want to make more content and improve myself like never before.

There is one problem that I found and it is a small one. It is far too much of a fan service game. As I played through the game, I posted pictures to Twitter making jokes about certain sections and there were many times people thought I was playing an ecchi game. It makes a lot of lewd jokes, which I’m okay with but I wish they would tone down the raunchiness a bit, especially when a lot of really messed up things are happening. I don’t need to see shower scenes when my classmates have just experienced great pain. With that said, there are plenty of hilarious moments with the innuendos on display. There is a scene where Akane tells the protagonist that she’ll let him cop a feel because he just solved a particularly difficult mystery but then another character tells her that she shouldn’t do it for free. It eventually devolves into a roundtable discussion about the Benjamins that I couldn’t stop laughing at it. This game is not for the faint of heart or for young children but it is quite funny and I enjoyed that.

Overall, this was a life-changing game for me. It is deep and memorable. It hit me with such great sadness and also the drive to continue what I love to do. I love to play games and make videos about them. The inspiration I acquired from DR2 will continue to spur me forward, even in the darkest despair. I loved this game and I highly recommend it to anyone above the age of 18, especially those dealing with their own personal demons. As someone who regularly deals with depression, this game has given me yet another reason to fight onward. I give DanganRonpa 2 a 10/10. This is the first 10 star rating I have given to a game, so I feel I need to explain my feelings. Normally, I give my favorite games a 9 or 9.5 because no matter what, every game has some faults. However, this game is as close to perfect as I can imagine it. I would give the same score to Virtue’s Last Reward as well. These are games that are not only technically perfect and have very few faults but they struck me on a emotional level. I connected to DanganRonpa 2 and I cannot wait for the next game in the series. Thank your for reading and happy gaming everyone.”

-David DeGregorio aka @Zenithwillrule

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Thank you, everyone, for taking the time to review Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair. This game was developed by Spike Chunsoft and is available for the PS Portable and PS Vita. If you want to stay updated on more Gamer Compatible reviews, you can follow us on Twitter: @gamercompatible or on Facebook: @gamercompatible.

Game on! And signing out.


Images taken from Photo BucketDualshockers, PSN StoresOperation RainfallGertlushgaming, Rice Digital, Gamespot, and Otaku Study.
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