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Karifean's Blog of Visual Novels

Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc First Impressions

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Well, with the recent Steam release of this game there was no way I'd leave it hanging any longer.

Danganronpa is set in "Hope's Peak Academy", a special academy which only ULTIMATE people may attend. There's the Ultimate Baseball Star, the Ultimate Fashionista, the Ultimate Gambler, ... ultimate people from all over the place. As for the protagonist? Well he's the Ultimate Lucky Student, being apparently randomly selected! Although how 'lucky' he actually is could be disputed...

Addendum: Actually, I'm not so sure anymore whether the protagonist is male or female. They seem to be implied to be female.

Addendum 2: Or maybe not. I dunno, I can't really tell.

See Hope's Peak Academy doesn't exactly have the most welcoming opening ceremony. No, wait, it's "welcoming" alright, but not exactly pleasant. Makoto, the protagonist, starts out by walking into the main hall only to faint and find himself in a classroom with barricaded windows. He soon meets up with the other students, but the way outside is now also barricaded by a massive... thing. Some kind of steel barricade, no hope of breaking through.

You get to talk to everyone for a little bit and get to know them (although somehow I feel like I got to know absolutely nothing about most of them =P) before you're rudely interrupted by an announcement: Gather in the gym for the opening ceremony. And that's where the headmaster makes his grand appearance!

Oh dear. This'll go splendidly, won't it.

Monokuma (is that literally "thing-bear"?) explains that the students will be living in these facilities together until the day they die. Naturally none of the students is particularly ecstatic to hear this, so Monokuma also explains the "Graduation Clause": the one and only way to 'graduate' from this place and go back outside.

The Ultimate Biker Gang Leader immediatly calls bulltrout and starts strangling the bear, only to have the thing explode with him narrowly dodging the blast. And with that occurrence, everyone realizes how serious their situation really is, and how Monokuma's words will affect their relationships with each other...

And with that, the prologue comes to a close. I haven't played beyond this point.

So how is it so far? Well the game seems to push this despair theme, yet at the same time it has this 'entertaining' vibe. Like, the atmosphere doesn't really match up with what the characters are probably going through. That's fine though, if this was a completely serious survival game kind of novel it'd have to compete against Ryukishi07.

There are investigation segments kinda like in Ace Attorney, although I've already fallen for the most standard trap imaginable; see that screenshot above? Well you leave the area and proceed once you click on the door, no confirmation or warning involved, and as luck would have it it was the first thing I examined. I promptly loaded my last save point just so I could examine the rest of the room and talk to the people around.

The controls are a little awkward. Mainly because it feels like not a lot of thought was put into the port. You have to use the mouse AND keyboard, and you can't remap buttons or anything, leaving you to advance text, for instance, with only the left mouse button. Which is gonna take some getting used to since I've been using the Enter key for so damn long now. I doubt it'll be a problem for long, however, it's just an awkward transition for now.


I heard a bit about how the game is structured, such as that there's trials for the murders, and unfortunately one particular name among the students has been showing up in "favorite villains in anime/VNs" untagged quite a couple of times, but I dare not read too deeply into it.

Man, if the text had suddenly turned red here this game would've instantly become the best thing ever.

I do have to say that I haven't really played a game with this concept before; where the survivors are simply told they have to kill someone (and get away with it) and then they're left on their own. I've played a bunch where there's a mysterious culprit who may or may not be one of the survivors, but in this game, EVERYONE could become a culprit at any point. It creates a different kind of tension.

As for the characters?

Click here for a gallery of introductory screens

Only a few of them stand out so far. Obviously the Ultimate ??? is a mystery, and as mentioned before I do recognize one name. There's also the totally-not-childhood-friend girl, and another who conspicuously seems to know Makoto. Most of the rest haven't got a lot of characterization beyond their individual quirks yet.

I'm looking forward to seeing what's to come!

Updated 02-28-2016 at 04:11 PM by Karifean

Internet , Miscellaneous , Video Games


  1. Fynn's Avatar
    If you played with the English VAs, you'd have no doubts that Makoto is, in fact, a dude, as he is voiced by Bryce Pappenbrook (also, isn't he voiced by like Romi Park in the Japanese version?)

    Also, damn shame you had the villain spoiled for you D: And it sucks to hear they botched the PC controls :/

    Oh, and I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that the "mono" in Monokuma is from "monochromatic". Because, you know. Black and white
  2. Karifean's Avatar
    Yeah I tried concluding a bit too much from the fact that his door "locks" =P

    Though I have to admit. The concept of a trans main character who unreliably narrates his or her own gender sounds interesting. Then again if it's a Japanese story that does that I fear it just ends up as a punchline...

    Monochromatic makes sense, of course :P

    Edit: Uh, I think I was supposed to write 'sex' there, not gender. ...right?
    Updated 02-29-2016 at 12:16 PM by Karifean
  3. Fynn's Avatar
    Yeah... you can kinda see how that'd end up by Chihiro. I don't think Japan really understands how a trans person works.
  4. Formalhaut's Avatar
    Mr. Carny (who's gay) was in Japan for four months on a study exchange, and when he told some Japanese friends that he made, they expressed surprised that he wasn't interested in female fashion and clothing.

    Basically, they thought gay men liked and wore women's clothing, which tells you the extent of education on sexuality and gender identities.
  5. Karifean's Avatar
    Somehow I'm not even surprised.
  6. Fynn's Avatar
    I watched this today and it was pretty fascinating, on that topic!

    (Also, Formy, PLAY DANGANRONPA!!!)
  7. Karifean's Avatar
    (Both of you go read Umineko)
  8. Fynn's Avatar
    All in due time, sweetie
  9. Formalhaut's Avatar
    I have a PS TV, but I think one of the Danganronpas is unavailable for some strange reason in the Europe region. Grumble.

    I'l look into alternative solutions though, it does sound great. I love 'one by one, they start dying' type stories.

    That's assuming that the deaths are unavoidable, right?
  10. Fynn's Avatar

    It's out on Steam now, and I'm not sure if the sequel is compatible with PSTV or not. The original isnt
  11. Formalhaut's Avatar
    On Steam? Interesting. I'll bear it in mind. I haven't actually played a visual novel in awhile.
  12. Karifean's Avatar
    B-but that's the very first thing I stated in this post. I feel so ignored ;_;
  13. Formalhaut's Avatar
    Huh, who're you?
  14. Fynn's Avatar
    Wow. Rude
  15. Formalhaut's Avatar
    I jest, I jest.

    How can I not notice Karifean's presence? Who else provides me with the best visual novel information, or solves impossibly tricky riddles? I'd be lost without him.