Review – Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc

By: Louis Edwards

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Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc sends us to an exclusive high school where only the best of the best get to attend. Things may not always be what they seem, and when some sort of freaky robo-bear is involved, things might get interesting.

Is the game worthy of it’s trip from across the Pacific, or should it have stayed in Japan? Read our review to find out.

High school can be a wonderful experience or a terrible experience, depending on how you are treated by your peers. Find yourself in the clique of all of the ‘cool’ kids, and your experience should be one to remember. Get sent to a very exclusive private school that guarantees lifelong success to all of those that graduate, and you got to start thinking you are set for life with nothing but sunshine and rainbows ahead of you on your life path.

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Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc opens with you playing as Makota Naegi, a hopelessly average high school student who just got lucky and won a national lottery that gains him entrance into the ultra exclusive Hope’s Peak Academy. With this win making him the Ultimate Lucky Student, he is allowed to join fourteen other Ultimate students from around the country, each with their own area of Ultimateness. With students from just about every walk of life, from pop stars to sports, and fashion to fandom, it’s truly a cornucopia of talent.

Upon your early arrival at the school, you black out for some unknown reason while sitting at your desk and wake to a still empty room. Knowing that the meeting time has passed, you rush out into the hall and find your fourteen schoolmates just as bewildered, and groggy, as you. After some brief interactions, a crazy little remote controlled robo-teddy bear introduces himself as your Head Master. Enter Monokuma.

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Now this is one creepy little kritter.

Monokuma gives all of you the breakdown on how your school life will unfold. No reading or writing or arithmetic to pass your days and to get your grades, there is only one way to graduate from this high school and it is killer. Literally. In order to earn your diploma you’ll have to murder one of your fellow students and get away with that murder. This takes high school shenanigans to a whole new level. Killing someone might seem like a simple, albeit gruesome task but to have to get way with it as well, not so simple. You are trapped within the walls of this place, and the education you’ll get isn’t the one you were expecting.

Hope seems lost as soon as you get there

Hope seems lost as soon as you get there

The game is a broken down into a couple of different styles of game play, depending on which stage of a chapter you are on. The opening stage gives you the chance to talk with the other students and is separated into days. Within each day you’ll have Free Time where you can go around and get to know the other students as well as checking out all of the rooms of the school. When checking out a room, you can press triangle to highlight areas of interaction, and then either move the cursor with the left analog stick or just touch the screen and press x to check items out. You’ll earn Monocoins for being thorough, so make sure you check everything out in a room.

Monocoins can be used to try your luck in the vending machine in the school store. You can earn prizes to give to your fellow schoolmates that can strengthen your bonds with them. While interacting with your classmates in this free time, you can unlock skills that can be used in the last part of a chapter and you’ll be filling out their report card with your interactions.

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The second part of each chapter will commence once one of the students has been murdered. Your friendly neighborhood bear will let you know when this has happened, and you”ll have to be a digital CSI sleuth to find all of the clues in and around the crime scene and the school. Don’t worry too much about missing anything, because you won’t be able to leave a room until you have found everything you need to know.

The investigating part of the game is pretty straightforward and easy to complete, and you’ll probably figure out who killed whom early on in the investigation, but don’t assume you know everything that has transpired. Things aren’t always what they seem. The story for the game is well written, and the plot twists and turns will surprise you. This is a story driven game, and the story drives it well.

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Once all of the clues are found, Monokuma will come along and announce that the final phase of the chapter is ready to start. The Class Trial will have all of the remaining students gather in a circle, each in their own podium, and discuss the clues that you and others have uncovered. Here is where the action finally picks up the pace. During your investigation you’ll uncover facts (known as Truth Bullets in the game) and these facts will be at your disposal during this debate.

The debate will have each of the other characters making statements that may or may not be accurate. It is up to you to decide which statements are to be taken down with your Truth Bullets, and this is how you’ll ultimately decide who is guilty and will be taken into the final round of the debate. Come to the wrong final conclusion though, and the murderer will graduate and everyone left will be punished. Punishment pretty much means some sort of diabolical and gruesome end, so that’s never a good thing.

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The final round is a rhythm based minigame that will have you pressing buttons to the beat of the BGM. The culprit will be making statements along the lines of “I’m innocent” and “You’re stupid” and timing your button presses will cause damage to the culprits life gauge. Take out his life gauge and he’ll be found guilty by everyone and he will face a gruesome end. After the end of each chapter the bear will come along and load you up with a pretty heavy guilt trip, but also let you know that new areas are now available to you. The bear might be a bit of an ass, but at least he’s consistently an ass.

This is a game that you can easily sink twenty plus hours into, and with chapter select for finished chapters, you can revisit areas to get better overall grades for them. The game looks great, albeit in a 2D way, and the  map of the school almost feels like dungeon crawling at times. Don’t get me wrong here, that’s not a bad thing. As you unlock more areas of the school, you’ll be glad that a map transport system is available to you. You can travel from area to area pretty quickly.

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Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc falls into a genre of gaming that is lacking here in the U.S. and adds to that genre with a fun game that will keep you guessing throughout. the twists and turns of the plot will leave you feeling like you just read a graphic novel from one of your favorite authors.

Developer Spike Chunsoft created a great game and big thanks to NIS America for having the wherewithal to bring this game stateside.

Well done folks!

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