“Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc” will be making its North American release on the PS Vita on Feb. 11. Danganronpa (literally meaning “bullet retaliation”) came out in Japan in November 2010, and it developed a following in the U.S. last April, three months before the game was announced to be released in the U.S.
The fanbase grew almost instantaneously after “Homestuck,” a popular webcomic, went on hiatus. During that time, most of the fans read through the Let’s Play (a type of walkthrough) of Danganronpa.
On July 4, Danganronpa received its own anime, and two days later Nippon Ichi Software announced the video game would come to the U.S.
The story of Danganronpa is very unique. An elite high school, Hope’s Peak Academy, only takes students who are at the top of a particular field, like a baseball star, a fashionista, a gambler and a clairvoyant, and gives titles for their skills, like Ultimate Baseball Star and Ultimate Gambler.
Along with all of these “Ultimate” students, Hope’s Peak Academy also chooses a student out of a lottery of every student of that grade in the nation to be accepted fully into the academy and dubbed “Ultimate Good Luck.”
The main character, Naegi, is the Ultimate Good Luck of this class. On the first day of school he steps through the doors, and, next thing he knows, he wakes up on a desk.
The windows are covered with steel plates, the entrance has been replaced with a locked mechanical vault, and he discovers that he is trapped in the school with his classmates.
Their “principal,” Monokuma, a robotic stuffed bear, informs them that they are trapped in this school forever.
The only way out is to murder a fellow student and not be discovered during the School Trial, when the students must find out who the murderer is so they alone will be punished.
If the murderer isn’t discovered everyone but the murderer will be punished.
The punishment is execution.
What kind of game is Danganronpa, though? Most say that it is like the Ace Attorney series, with many of the mini-games in the School Trials being exactly the same as in an Ace Attorney game.
The murders are complicated, with many twists and turns until the very end of the trial. The game has two areas to set difficulties for, the gameplay itself and the logic.
Both have three difficulty levels: Friendly, Lenient and Malicious. The soundtrack stands out from any other game and will take some time to adjust to. The art is distinct, with very bright backgrounds yet softer colors on the characters.
The graphics aren’t 2D or 3D but are labeled “2.5D” by Spike, the makers of the game. The graphics are essentially very well made 2D images of characters and items from the front, but on the sides and backs they look like cardboard cutouts.