Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair
More of the same is a great thing
When I beat Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, I entered into a new world that prompted me to jump to the sequel almost immediately. The compelling narrative and mind-blowing plot twist made me want to get into Danganronpa 2 as soon as I beat it. As the second game in the Danganronpa Decadence compilation for Nintendo Switch, I was ready to give it a go.
Danganronpa 2 takes everything you loved from the first one and refines it. Class trials become more challenging and offer new mini-games and revisions from the first game. The title allows you to select various difficulties as well, from which I chose to play on the Kind (Normal) difficulty.
Somehow, Danganronpa 2 manages to be more insane than the first game in a number of ways. While I have to say I enjoyed the cast of the second game more than the first, I also feel this is because the series has found its footing and managed to make minute improvements. If you're a fan of visual novels like Ace Attorney and Zero Escape, this series was made for you.
However, I strongly, 100% recommend you beat the first game before you even touch the second.
Unlike Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, the second game takes place on an island trip. You'll venture with 16 other students to escape a "killing game" set up by the talking killer teddy bear, Monokuma. While the story will touch on the first game a little bit throughout the story, it won't truly connect to the events of the last game until near the end of the title. At this point, it opens the floodgates entirely and will leave your jaw dropped on the floor at least several times over the course of the game's ending.
In regards to character design, I love them even more in this game. You won't find total cringelords like Hifumi in this one. Though if you liked Hifumi, you will enjoy characters like the Ultimate Chef Teruteru, as well. I'm personally fond of Chiaki Nanami the most.
Like me, she loves to make game references. You'll find her making comments about Pac-Man, Tetris, etc. Even in one case which is related to an old video game, she talks about Twilight Syndrome, a Japanese-only mystery thriller title similar to the Clock Tower series.
As with the first game, I recommend not getting attached, though that's bound to happen anyway. It's only human nature that you find characters you like and Danganronpa purposely turns your hope into despair as your favorites either become victims or voted as the guilty party. With that said, enjoy your stay on Jabberwock Island!
Danganronpa 2 continues its use of a 3D world with its trademark flat 2D sprites. You will spend less time walking around in a 3D space this time save for a few locales. Most of your travel will consist of 2D exploration across Jabberwock Island and searching in a room without moving. As with the first game, the 3D models will probably not blow your mind but the 2D art is still a treat with the many expressions you'll encounter. My only gripe is the occasional framerate stutter while exploring, though this occurrence only happens in a few instances.
I ended up loving much of the music as well in this game. Not just because of the remixes of the first title's music but also from the 8-bit and 16-bit mixes you'll hear in the game. One, in particular, comes from the aforementioned Twilight Syndrome which plays a 16-bit version of the exploration theme. Also, like with the first game, you'll get a metal remix of the exploration theme in the final two chapters when shit really hits the fan to suit the mood and pacing.
As with the first Danganronpa, you'll uncover mysteries, solve murders, and try to find your way off of the island. New elements to class trials include different mini-games added to the mix. It also features revised versions of Hangman's Gambit and Panic Time Action. I can't say I was the biggest fan of the new Hangman's Gambit as it's both more challenging and also much harder to manage than in the first one.
This game is tougher than the first, as in of 1-3 bullets to present evidence with, you'll sometimes get half a dozen or so. All of the original game elements return, but it's not going to pull its punches. Hajime doesn't even give hints at the end of Nonstop Debates like Makoto did in the first. However, this may come as a welcome surprise to fans who found the first game to be a little too easy.
As with the first title, you'll get the dating sim elements during your free time. You'll use these to bond with your favorite characters and potentially unlock their skills for class trials. It's recommended that you use a guide to find their Liked and Loved items to boost their affection, using the former for the first few events and the Loved items for the last two. You know, before something happens to them...
Danganronpa 2 features new mini-games including one where you play as the new rabbit mascot, Monomi. It's a 3D action firefight mode where you'll run around and draw circles around enemies and take out bosses at the end. You can also play with a Tamagotchi and raise it into any of several types of creatures. These will also grant you skills to use in class trials.
The title also features unlockable modes including Island Mode which is a dating sim mode without the danger of execution. You can also unlock Danganronpa If, a What-If story about Mukuro Ikusaba from the first game, in novel form. You can read through the story and place bookmarks as well.
Honestly, it would be even nicer if they also included Danganronpa Zero and any other supplemental materials to catch up on the series. Danganronpa has tons of supplemental material yet several of them have yet to be officially translated into English.
Honestly, I was even more impressed with the sequel than I expected, as it fleshed out many of the scenarios and refined the overall gameplay. It doesn't really do anything more innovating or mindblowing but continues what was great about the first title and improves it.
If you love the visual novel formula and enjoyed the first Danganronpa, you will almost assuredly enjoy this one as much if not more. I strongly recommend giving it a try. If you have a Nintendo Switch, you can get all three games by picking up Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc. If you enjoy apocalyptic scenarios with conspiracies or you enjoy mystery anime and visual novels, this one is a highlight title for you!
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