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Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls Review

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While the Danganronpa franchise has been around since 2010, it quickly gained popularity when the first game was re-released February 2014 in the West for the Vita as Danganronpa Trigger Happy Havoc. Since then fans in the West have been clamoring for more of the vile antics of Monokuma, in which they only had to wait a few months as the second game, GoodBye Despair, was released. By the second game’s release, fans were very interested in the world of Danganronpa, reading the prequel novels and wanting to learn what happened in between the two games. These answers and more were told in Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls.

 

Ultra Hope

Gives more details about the overall story- Here’s what we know about the overall story so far using information given between Trigger Happy Havoc and GoodBye Despair: We know that Junko Enoshima was the mastermind behind The Tragedy and the School Life of Mutual Killings. We also know that she formed a group called Ultimate Despair to do her bidding in spreading as much despair as possible. we are also introduced to the Future Foundation, who battles Ultimate Despair in order to return peace to the world.Other than that, nothing else is known other than that The Tragedy was tearing the world apart. In Ultra Despair Girls we learn more details about what happened in between the two games. Such as the location of the relatives of the students from Trigger Happy Havoc and the origins of Monokuma. We also learn that somehow a group called the Towa group is involved and Junko also recruited a group of kids called the Warriors of Hope to help her (more on them later).

 

Normal girl vs despair- While Ultra Despair Girls gives us more info about the world of Danganronpa, the game itself has a pretty good selfcontain story. The person in despair this time around is Komaru Naegi, little sister to Makoto Naegi from Trigger Happy Havoc. The last time she was seen was in Trigger Happy Havoc in a video meant to encourage Makoto to do his best in school. She’s a pretty normal girl who can be a bit hypersentive at times especially when faced with a very difficult problem, in which she often shifts from having hope to despair. This is a running theme with her throughout the game as she sees other characters able to fight back against despair even though the odds are heavily against them. She then often says that those people are amazing and that she’s nothing like them because she’s just a normal girl. Komaru using being normal as excuse can get annoying, especially early on in the game. But as Toko/Genocide Jack and other characters tell her, it’s not being special or having a special talent that makes them fight against despair, it’s that if they don’t fight back at all, despair will come anyway, and it is better to fight back with a chance of hope rather than just wait and have despair take you. So as the game progresses she starts to gain confidence in herself.

Changes up gameplay from previous games- In the previous two games, the gameplay was similar to Ace Attorney: look at the crime scene for clues and then try to find the contradiction and the killer during trial mode. In Ultra Despair Girls, the gameplay is shifted from first person and investigative to third person and survival shooter. Think Resident Evil 2 meets Running Man, but instead of zombies on the loose it’s a hoard of Monokumas. To fight against the Monokumas, Komaru is given a device called a Hacking Gun. This device shoots out word bullets that can be used against the Monokumas. These bullets actions range from destroying them outright to stunning and even taking over their bodies. Players will have to get creative on how they use the hacking gun as some forms of Monokumas won’t go down easy, as well as having to solve various puzzles. As for Toko, she has leaned how to call out Genocide Jack out at will  without having to pass out or sneeze: by shocking herself with a stun gun. Once she blacks out Genocide Jack/Jill takes over. She is a brawler who favors using razor sharp scissors to slice, dice and pierce her prey before making the killing blow. When playing as Genocide Jack, players are invincible for a limited time, which gives Genocide Jack as she puts it “Kill, kill , kill! BWAHAHHAHAH!!” Once time runs out, players are switched back to Komaru until the stun gun is recharged and Toko is able to shock herself again.

Darker tones than in previous games- In video games, at least in the West, it is a taboo to kill children. There are exceptions, such as depictions of terrorist attacks, natural disasters, deadly outbreaks, etc. However some Japanese developers do not shy away from children and teens getting killed in games, as the majority of the protagonists are children and teenagers/young adults. In Trigger Happy Havoc and GoodBye Despair you had these group of teenagers forced to live in a confined area in fearful peace with each other, or try to get away with murder and betraying your friends in order to be the last one standing. In Ultra Despair Girls the tones are even darker, especially when concerning the Warriors of Hope and the Monokuma Kids. I don’t want to give too much away, but by the time you get to know all of them, you feel kind of sorry for what they went through, especially Kotoko Utsugi.  

  

Ultra Despair

 

Komaru can be annoying at times- Even though the player is supposed to sympathize with Komaru’s situation, the fact that she constantly goes “Poor me, I’m just a normal girl. I’m not special, I can’t fight back. I don’t want to hope because I’ll just be disappointed and submit to despair…..etc etc etc” can get annoying at times. In the words of Rocky Balboa:

 

“Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get it and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward.”

 

Komaru tends to just give up just because its easier than trying. She has to be costed into moving forward by other people instead of moving forward on her own. Sure the situation she was thrown in is bleak and even looks impossible, but wanting to give up and not even try is worse than trying and failing.

 

Ultra Despair Girls: Danganronpa Another Episode is a great side addition to the overall Danganronpa story. We got to learn more about how the world got to be where it’s at during the game, how The Tragedy started, the origins of Monokuma, and even foreshadow events for GoodBye Despair, The animated cut scenes (both anime and CGI) were very stylistic and they did a great job in keeping with art style of the previous games as much as they could. For a game to explore darker themes and tone with children involved is very rare but I believe that Spike Chunsoft did a great job. Komaru can get a bit annoying however she does get over it as the game goes on. A proper thrid Danganronpa game has been revealed so if you are looking for something to keep you busy until it releases, Ultra Despair Girls: Danganronpa Another Episode shouldn’t be missed.

 

8/10.00

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