It’s a two for one special this week as I have now emerged from a lengthy gaming coma wading through the two recent PC ports of previous PSP and Vita titles Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc and Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair.
The current trend of porting Japanese games to PC is largely something I’m all for, though granted not all ports have been acceptable, here’s looking at you Tales of Symphonia. But in the main so long as the port holds up PC gamers are being granted access to a game that were long locked away and that’s a bonus for everyone involved. In terms of Danganronpa the PC market is vastly bigger than that of the PSP and Vita in the west so this will be the first time many people will have had the opportunity to see the weird and wonderful tale of Hopes Peak Academy and its students; here’s what I loved and hated about both entries.
Love – Surrealism
If I told you that a basic synopsis of Danganronpa could be that a group of high school students get cut off from the outside world, trapped in a school and forced to play a game in which the only way to escape is to murder a classmate and not get found guilty in the following class trial wherein if the murderer is not successfully deduced and found out, everyone but the said dies. However if the class prove who the guilty member is and all agree and the overseer confirms they are correct, only the murderer is executed. Then rinse and repeat the above until the last man is standing, you’d probably think that was a little surreal. Add into this that aforementioned overseer and conductor of this is seemingly a mechanical stuffed bear and you’d then turn the dial to eleven. This is what makes the world of Danganronpa so wonderful, belief needs to be respectfully left at the door but once you throw yourself in you’ll see there’s so much whacky charm oozing out of the world in both games right down to the background music for each character and scenario.
Hate – Anime tropes
An avid anime fan I’m not, but I watch series every now and again and have more than a passing interest. It’s annoying, then, that both games have characters that lean very heavily on well-established tropes commonly found in anime shows and video games the world over. This doesn’t just mean girls with oversized chests but if you were to google stock anime character tropes and match them to the cast you’d be surprised by how many you could tick off. There are certainly a few that subvert the expectations and offer new takes on the format but the majority don’t, this includes the protagonists of both games but in particular the first game. Makoto Naegi is the atypical bland no character protagonist, an argument for projecting yourself onto the canvas of the player character does not apply in this instance either due to the entire script of the game being set in advance right down to his responses due to the visual novel presentation.