Ding Dong Ping Pong. Welcome to a murder spree! Danganronpa was a revelation for me. I’d gotten tired with visual novel games being terrible dating sims wrapped in a text and image bundle, then along came Danganronpa on the PSP to show that they could be a twisted unique murder mystery and my world has never been the same since. Would I have given Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors a go if I’d not completed Dangan1&2? Probably not and I’d have missed out on many other classics.
Monokuma has now started to appear in other titles and has become the titular mascot of the series (despite the jarring change in voice actor for the 3rd entry) and given his personality and lines you can easily see why. If you have a villain obsessed with despair it’s best to have them as over the top and well written as this. The sequel almost fails because of this (Monomi is possibly the most irritating character created) but it’s self awareness and occasional 4th work poking for how you’re only really there for the murder and despair is one of it’s charms.
The package is basically a Vita port of the same collection. It’s a shame as Dangan1 hasn’t aged particularly well in some aspects when you take it to the big screen. The large artwork pictures don’t stretch particularly well and could have used a little more tlc but the 3d/2d models are fine as is the text and voices. Essentially taking a PSP resolution game to the TV was always going to be a challenge and it works better than expected for the moments that matter. Dangan2 however is a little crisper and stretches to a TV screen with less issues although this is unlikely from work completed to the game and more likely due to the material being newer and a higher definition to start with.
Gameplay is the same as the originals with minor updates to reflect the android and vita re-releases. It’s the same old Free time > Investigation > Class Trial. Free Time being the filler that fleshes out characters by picking one and spending your time with them in the hope it unlocks a skill for the class trial. It does get quite morbid with you hoping you’ve picked a doomed character to hang out with and not one that will last the game (as you cannot hang out with a corpse).
Investigation is your Ace Attorney point and click adventure moment where it successfully gives the illusion that your against the clock to find all the clues to the murder but in reality you cannot progress until you’ve collected all of the truth bullets. This feels fairly natural in Dangan1 but Dangan2 does feel a little “use everything until it progresses”.
Class Trials is where the game and all the build up prior pays off. They work nicely on the TV and feel well scaled. This is where the difficulty option makes a difference as the mini-games you complete and how many shots you have to fire through arguments can change depending. Reload does make minor changes to the closing argument mini-game where you have to place the missing pieces to a comic to get the final sequence. Although it’s now more varied and based on your difficulty it can lead to frustrating “I’ve tried everything at least once” moments that don’t really fit the flow of everything so far. That being said the Logic Dive where you snowboard to conclusions, the Hangmans Gambit which has you shooting letters and DDR style PTA rhythm sessions are back for better or worse (I’ve found everyone’s tastes vary with each of these). The only odd thing to note is that there were moments in Dangan2 where the vita version used the touchscreen and these aren’t implemented for the PS4 version, not a game breaker but seems like an odd omission. All in all the class trials can be frustrating but when you nail the right word to either argue or agree the resulting dialogue is picture perfect.
It’s worth mentioning the Tamagotchi style pet system in Dangan2 is still present (and still just as pointless) as is School Mode and Island modes are in this as well but only unlockable once you complete their respective games. Essentially running you through a long period of free time with occasional time management and little extra cutscenes thrown in for good measure. The reward for each persons relationship level being maxed out? Their underwear. Well you also get a little nice cutscene that doesn’t feel like canon to but it’s little things like that which I’m not the target market for and leave a little disappointment.
Overall Danganronpa 1-2 on the PS4 does achieve something special over the Vita in it’s own way. It’s the first visual novel game I can think of that’s felt comfortable to play on the TV without the font being too big or too small. It’s the porridge that’s just right, that the interface and movement works brilliantly. Spot on in that aspect and I’ve mentioned being surprised at how well it works on a big screen before when trying the demo for Danganronpa v3.
Audio is almost perfect throughout but it’s strangely spotty in quality at the start for the first game and the title screen with some parts sounding under water, Almost down sampled in a way that it’s hard to tell if it’s intentional. I also can’t say I noticed that on the Vita version even with headphones on. Still the vast majority of the game is crisp and perfect. The addition of the Dangan2 having more voice work is a benefit (but then the original Dangan1 was on PSP and Dangan2 was a Vita exclusive so this makes sense). The noises are a lot more irritating than I remember though, when you press triangle to get a hint for where to interact with the noise is a lot more frustrating as is some of the menu noises and yet for some reason I find myself not relying on them as much as a result. The strange effect being that it encourages you to search and think instead of relying on it. Oh and the music is as strong as always. If you’ve never heard Masafumi Takada’s brilliant title track it’s just fantastic and the background music fits each moment of twisted horror perfectly.
Is it a big hit then? I’m pretty torn on this. I’m sold but then I’m a big Danganronpa fan and when I look at it objectively it’s just not the best version of the titles. So here’s the deal. My score for me personally 10/10 I literally feel the first game is strong enough to overlook anything and everything else about it and I’m likely to give it a lot more time. However it’s not just about me (obviously it is but humour me – because it’s all about me) I’ve broken it down for you lovely people;
If you’ve played the games before on PSP/Vita and you enjoyed them but wanted to play them on a bigger screen and share them with the room. Oh and you obviously don’t already own Danganronpa 1-2 Reload on Vita already as it’s the same game. Your score is simple. Stop reading and get yourself a copy. It’s literally what you need in your life. 9/10
Oh and if you want them on a big screen but only have a PC get them there. (same 9/10)
If you’ve never played Danganronpa before I would love to say the PS4 port is perfect and send you out to get a copy not but it’s not. Your best off getting this on Vita (yes that Vita criminally underused in a drawer somewhere with Uncharted). It’s perfectly formed there and you won’t regret a second of it. The first game is on most people’s top 10 for a reason and the sequel although slow to start ends leaving a much bigger impression. Vita/10
Have them already on Vita? Keep them there. It’s got a lot of niggly issues mentioned above that do start to add up after a while and if it’s not your first time playing it then you do start to notice. 7/10