The rest of 2017 is a whirlwind of game releases and I’m already behind on reviews, so it’s time to bring back first impressions! If you haven’t seen a first impressions post on Chic Pixel before, they’re basically a way for me to share my initial thoughts with a game before (or sometimes in lieu of) a full review. In the case of Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony, one of my most anticipated games of the year, I just have to let you know what I think so far! If you’re a fan of Danganronpa and on the fence about whether you can jump into the series here, here are my spoiler-free first impressions!
After the success of my Splatoon nail tutorial, I thought I’d try my hand at another! Themed nails to celebrate the release of Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls earlier this month seemed only appropriate. I modeled this design after Monokuma and the stylized hot pink blood prominently featured in the Danganronpa games. This can also double as a great look for Halloween!
Why look at that, Japan is celebrating Ultra Despair Month, too! Well not really, but it’s a great coincidence that Patisserie Swallowtail is offering two rad Danganronpa-inspired cakes during the month of September. The sweets shop, which specializes in collaboration items for anime, manga, and game series popular with women, is located in Shibuya Marui on the 8th floor. If you happen to be in the area between September 9th to the 23rd, here’s what you could pick up:
The Monokuma cake is ¥750 (about $7) and contains white chocolate mousse and raspberry jelly. Yum!
The Monomi cake is also ¥750 and contains cream cheese mousse and passion cream.
Every cake purchase comes with a limited edition Danganronpa coaster:
Usually collaboration drinks are what come with coasters, but I certainly wouldn’t complain if I got one of those neat designs! Of course, which coaster you’re given when you order is random, but I’d have my eye on the Nagito or square Monomi one.
If you’re like me and have no hope of ever making it to Japan in time for this awesome collaboration, you can follow Patisserie Swallowtail on Twitter and drool over all of their various adorable creations there.
At the end of every month, I suddenly realize a whole month has already gone by and it’s time to announce the next Community Game-Along theme. I then proceed to scramble to the complete 2015 theme list I wrote many moons ago to refresh my memory and write up a post like this one. This month, however, when I turned to my handy list, I was shocked and awed to discover that I had some kind of telepathic foresight to deem September Spike Chunsoft month! Why, the heavily anticipated Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls comes out in September! Talk about awesome timing. Let that be a lesson to you all that sometimes things just happen out of sheer dumb luck, but there’s nothing stopping you from basking in the glory of a job well done anyway.
Who doesn’t love a good sale? While some companies are dragging their feet more on the digital sale front than others (I’m looking at you, Nintendo), Sony has been doing a great job of offering a lot of great deals for PS3, PS4, and PS Vita on the PlayStation Store (aka PSN). The North American PS store yearly summer sale is generally no different, but unfortunately the first week was not the thrilling kickoff I was hoping for. Luckily, they’ve turned it around with week two, which is chock full of super discounts on some great titles! But money doesn’t grow on trees, so I’ve narrowed it down to five games I think are most worth picking up this week.
Unlike the first two games in the series, however, this is one that I couldn’t wait for a localization to purchase, so I went ahead and preordered a copy of the Japanese version after having my mind blown by Danganronpa 2 back in September. Of course, like many Japanese game releases, Danganronpa Another Episode came with some extras, so what better occasion to show them off than the game’s English localization announcement?
The box art for the game is stunning, as has been the case with the past two two titles in the series. Already, it’s clear that two female characters, Komaru Naegi (sister of Makoto Naegi) and Toko Fukawa, are central to the game. I also really dig the Revolutionary Girl Utena-vibe I’m getting from the roses and overall design, but I haven’t played enough of the game yet to say if the comparison is at all relevant. Luckily, NIS America has preserved the original cover art for the English release, though I think something was lost in the logo conversion…
The back of the box isn’t extremely exciting, but I really like the focus on black, red, pink, and purple, and how that carries through not only the game’s overall design, but the character designs themselves.
And would you look at that – an actual game manual, packaged with a game made in 2014! Ok, it’s just a single folded leaflet that briefly explains some basic gameplay and controls, but it’s still a lot more than most titles get these days, especially Vita games.
Because I preordered the game from CD Japan, I received this nice A4 poster of the protagonists. Again, I really love the color scheme! I haven’t figured out where I’ll hang this one yet, though. Honestly, I much prefer the strangely off-putting art of the first two games – I’m not as much of a fan of this cleaner/more anime-esque art style.
Finally, all preorders of the game, regardless of what store the preorder was purchased from, came with this adorable Monokuma cell phone stand. Now I can finally say I own a piece of Monokuma merchandise! Unfortunately, the opening on the top is too small for my new iPhone 6, so I’ll have to find some other use for it.
Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls will release on Vita in North America and Europe this fall (spring for fellow Aussie folk). That should be plenty of time for me to finish playing through my Japanese copy – honestly, it’s been so fun so far, I don’t know why I haven’t stuck with it! While the new action puzzle-based gameplay isn’t quite as snappy as the trials in the first two games, the story and characters pack more than enough punch to make up for it. If you haven’t had time to play the first two Danganronpa games yet, be sure you do so before Another Episode releases later this year!
Earlier this year, adventure game/visual novel Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc quickly wormed its way into my heart for being one of the most fun and interesting titles I’ve played in recent memory, let alone this year. While NIS America announced from the get-go that they would release the sequel before the year was out, I had my doubts that it could be anywhere near as good as the original, let alone better, as many assured me. How exactly do you follow up a game that throws fifteen elite high school students into a situation where the only way they can escape is by killing one of their classmates and not getting caught?
Well, if you’re developer Spike Chunsoft, you take the stakes established in the first game and immediately turn them upside-down while making sure to slyly poke fun at the player’s expectations. Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair opens with the same basic premise as Danganronpa – a group of students, each so proficient in a specific skill that they’ve been dubbed things such as “ultimate nurse,” and “ultimate chef,” have assembled for their first day at the exclusive private high school Hope’s Peak Academy. Instead of being drugged and waking up in the prison-like school of the first game, however, they’re miraculously teleported to a tropical island, where they’re told to have fun and make friends. But just as the bewildered protagonist Hajime starts to enjoy himself, a very familiar face makes its debut…
To reiterate, I was extremely apprehensive that Spike Chunsoft could pull off even half of the style and pizzaz the first game had in Danganronpa 2. While the gameplay and presentation is all very similar to the original game, down to the same minigames and remixes of the first game’s music (which is surprisingly effective at bringing back certain moods), it was very hard to believe that the game could be as good as I’d heard, especially considering the goofy “island getaway” premise.
By the end of the first chapter, Danganronpa 2 had already proved me wrong. It really is just as good as the original, if not better, depending on which plot points and characters appeal to you more as an individual. While I didn’t grow to like the cast of Danganronpa until very late in the game, I found myself immediately attached to a surprising number of characters in 2 – a number that only increased as the game went on. In addition, though the individual trials of 2 weren’t as memorable as those featured in the first game, the overall narrative completely blew me away in comparison. While some may be tempted to jump into Danganronpa 2 first after hearing that it’s the superior game, I would highly advise against it, as it really is a direct sequel and builds on a lot of things raised at the end of Danganronpa.
Gameplay-wise, Danganronpa 2 features the same general structure as its predecessor. Most of the game is in a visual novel-style format, which means a lot of reading, but the writing is so snappy that I doubt many would find this a detriment. After a killing has taken place, there is an investigation period followed by a trial featuring a number of familiar yet improved mini-games, as well as a couple new ones.
Even in the original Danganronpa, I felt the mini-games were better as pacing elements than actual games. The newly-added Logic Dive was one of the most infuriating culprits, as I continuously found myself having to restart the snowboard-esque mini-game after I’d crashed into one too many obstacles. With the narrative being as good as it was, I often found myself wishing I could just skip the games and continue with the visual novel portions so I could see what would happen next. If the game didn’t have these segments, however, I imagine that I would find the pacing not as effective, so I hope the “fun factor” of the mini-games is something the development team can improve on further for a future release.
It’s not often that a sequel really does what a sequel should, that is, build on the framework of the game before it while improving it at the same time. After thoroughly enjoying Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, however, I’m thrilled to say that Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair delivers all that and then some, making it my favorite game, and subsequently favorite series, on the PS Vita to date. I had doubts going in, but from here on out I will look forward to great things from Spike Chunsoft and the Danganronpa team.