Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc

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Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc
Danganronpaboxart.jpg
Cover art featuring Monokuma and Hope's Peak Academy
Developer(s)Spike
Publisher(s)
Director(s)Tatsuya Marutani
Producer(s)Yuichiro Saito
Designer(s)Takayuki Sugawara
Programmer(s)Kengo Ito
Artist(s)Rui Komatsuzaki
Writer(s)Kazutaka Kodaka
Composer(s)Masafumi Takada
SeriesDanganronpa
Platform(s)PlayStation Portable, Android, iOS, PlayStation Vita, Microsoft Windows, OS X, Linux, PlayStation 4
Release
Genre(s)Adventure, visual novel
Mode(s)Single-player

Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc[a] is a visual novel adventure game developed and published by Spike as the first game in the Danganronpa series. The game was originally released in Japan for the PlayStation Portable in November 2010 and was later ported to Android and iOS in August 2012. Danganronpa was localized and published in English regions by NIS America in February 2014, and for PC, Mac and Linux in February 2016.[1][3]

A sequel, Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, was released in 2012. A compilation of both games, titled Danganronpa 1・2 Reload, was released for PlayStation Vita in Japan in October 2013, and worldwide in March 2017.[1] Two manga adaptations, two spin-off novels, an anime television adaptation by Lerche, and a stage adaptation of the game have also been produced.

Gameplay[edit]

A screenshot from a conversation with the character Mondo Owada

Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc casts players in the role of Makoto Naegi, a student of Hope's Peak Academy, who finds himself trapped in a game of mutual killing among his peers. Gameplay is similar in style to the Ace Attorney series, revolving around investigation and finding contradictions, albeit with an emphasis on faster gameplay.[6][7][8] Each chapter of the game features two styles of gameplay; School Life, in which the player explores the academy and progresses through the story, and the Class Trials, where the player must deduce the culprit of a crime.

During School Life, the player can explore the school grounds in first-person perspective, with more areas of the academy becoming available as the game progresses. Whilst in one of the various rooms, players move a crosshair cursor which is used to initiate conversations with characters or examine parts of the environment. Examining certain objects yields Monokuma Medals, which can be used in a capsule machine in the school shop to unlock presents. School Life is divided into two sections; "Daily Life" and "Deadly Life". In the Daily Life sections, players converse with various characters and move the plot along. Certain comments can be 'reacted' to reveal new information. In designated 'Free Time' segments, players can choose to hang out with specific characters and give them presents, which in turn reveals more information about them and unlocks various Skills that can be used in the Class Trials. When a crime scene is discovered, the game shifts to the Deadly Life section, in which the player must search for clues throughout the academy. Evidence and testimonies gathered are stored in the player's e-Handbook, where players can also save their game. When all possible evidence is located, the game moves on to the Class Trial. Prior to a Class Trial, players can assign any Skills they have unlocked, which can assist them during gameplay.

The Class Trials are the main section of the game, in which the students must discuss amongst themselves who the culprit is. With the exception of occasions where the player must answer a multiple choice question or present a piece of evidence, Class Trials consist of four main styles of gameplay: Nonstop Debate, Hangman's Gambit, Bullet Time Battle and Closing Argument. The most common of these is the Nonstop Debate, where characters will automatically discuss their thoughts on the case, with potential 'weak points' highlighted in yellow. During these sections, the player is armed with "Truth Bullets", metaphorical bullets containing evidence relevant to the discussion. In order to break the debate, the player must find a lie or contradiction amongst the weak points and shoot it with a bullet containing the evidence that contradicts it. Players can also silence disruptive purple chatter to earn extra time and utilise a Concentration meter to slow down the conversation and make shots more easily. These sections become more difficult as the game progresses and more possible weak points are added, with later trials occasionally requiring the player to use one remark as ammunition against another. Hangman's Gambit is a shooting puzzle section in which the player must shoot down specific letters that spell out a clue. Bullet Time Battle is a one-on-one debate against another student featuring rhythm style gameplay. As the opponent makes remarks, the player must press buttons in time to the beat to lock onto the remarks and shoot them down. Finally, Closing Argument is a puzzle in which players piece together a comic strip depicting how a crime went down. The players Influence amongst the other students is represented by hearts, which is reduced whenever the player makes errors in shooting contradictions or presenting evidence and is slightly replenished when correct evidence is presented. The game ends if the player loses all of their Influence, or if they run out of time during a segment. At the end of a trial, players are ranked on their performance, with additional Monokuma Medals awarded for high ranks.

The PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4, and PC version features an exclusive School Life mode, based on the Island Mode introduced in Danganronpa 2, which is unlocked after clearing the game once. In this 'What If?' mode, Monokuma tasks the students with building several backup units of himself over several days. Each day, the player assigns students to scavenge rooms for necessary materials needed to build each concept, keep the school clean, or rest up to recover energy. During Free Time, players can either hang out with the other students to unlock skills, just like in the main game or use Trip Tickets earned from completed concepts to take them on trips. The Vita version also features high-resolution graphics and optional touchscreen controls.

Plot[edit]

Danganronpa takes place at an elite high school named Hope's Peak Academy (希望ヶ峰学園, Kibōgamine Gakuen), which accepts talented "Ultimate" students (超高校級, chō-kōkō-kyū, lit. Super High School Level) of the highest caliber in various fields each year.[6] Makoto Naegi, a fairly optimistic but otherwise average student, is selected in a raffle and chosen to enroll into the academy as the "Ultimate Lucky Student".[6] However, when Makoto arrives at the Academy, he loses consciousness and wakes up locked inside the school, where he meets fourteen other newly picked Ultimate students who are in the same situation as him. A sadistic, remote-controlled bear named Monokuma appears before them, telling them they will be imprisoned in the academy for the rest of their lives, and that they will be put to death if they violate any of the school's rules. He states that there is only one way that a student can leave the academy: murder another student and avoid being identified as the culprit.

After a murder occurs and the remaining students are given some time to investigate it, a "class trial" (学級裁判, gakyū saiban) is held, in which the remaining students must determine amongst themselves who the killer is. Makoto frequently takes the role of arbiter of the trial, providing most of the logical insights. Makoto receives assistance from Kyoko Kirigiri, a mysterious and distant girl with no recollection of her past, but possessing keen observational and deductive skills. In addition, prior to each murder, Monokuma provides the students "motives" to commit a murder, such as implying harm to their families, threatening to reveal embarrassing secrets if no one commits a murder, and offering a massive cash reward to the next murderer. Several murders are committed in the game's first four chapters: Makoto's childhood friend is murdered after her plans to murder her would-be killer and frame Makoto for it fail; a crossdressing student pretending to be female was murdered out of envy by an ex-biker gang leader; a gambling expert manipulates a fanfiction writer into killing the student council president, before she kills the writer; and a student commits suicide in the interest of saving her friends, but a suicide note forged by Monokuma left at the scene misleads the remaining students into thinking that the suicide was a response to the stress of events. In the first 3 cases, the culprits are all exposed and executed, and in the fourth case the truth of the suicide is revealed.

In the penultimate chapter, it becomes clear to the player that the person controlling Monokuma committed the murder. The only possible culprits from the surviving students are Makoto and Kyoko. A bad ending occurs if Makoto accuses Kyoko of the murder; she is executed while Makoto and the remaining students are forced to live out the rest of their lives trapped in the Academy, eventually having children. In the true and canon ending, Makoto, placing his faith in Kyoko, withholds evidence that could potentially implicate her as the killer, and is summarily declared guilty by Monokuma, without the usual vote from the other students. However, during Makoto's execution, he is saved by an artificial intelligence previously introduced into the school's computer network. After reuniting with his fellow students, they and Makoto band together to work against Monokuma, and find out the true mastermind behind the death game is Junko Enoshima, one of the students previously thought killed, who had in fact employed her twin sister, Mukuro Ikusaba, to impersonate her, only to ultimately kill her on a whim early on (which also demonstrated Monokuma's danger to the other students).

Junko reveals that all of the students had already been in the academy for two years and all knew each other. However, when an apocalyptic event instigated by Junko occurred, global societal collapse and anarchy followed; the headmaster of Hope's Peak Academy (who is also Kyoko's father), viewing the high amount of talent in the students as a sign of hope, decided with the students' permission to barricade him and themselves inside the academy to wait out the crisis. However, Junko's identity as the one behind the event was not known at the time, so the headmaster locked her into the academy with the students. She murdered the headmaster, took control of the academy, and erased all of the students' memories that took place after they first arrived at the academy two years ago, thus they were effectively strangers to one another. Her motivation was to spread despair among the few that remained of humanity by televising the world's brightest and most talented students resorting to murdering each other. With the help of Makoto, the students all overcome the doubt brought about by Junko's bombshells, and decide to leave the academy. Junko willingly executes herself due to her enjoying the feeling of despair that came with her losing the final trial. Afterwards, Makoto, Kyoko, and the other four surviving students exit the academy, uncertain of the current state of the world. In a post-credits scene, Monokuma mysteriously re-activates and swears that it will continue its quest to spread despair.

Development[edit]

Danganronpa uses a special graphics technique, termed "2.5D Motion Graphics", used to blend 2D character and item art within a 3D explorable environment.[6] The game uses pop art and a bright and colorful style, such as using bright pink-colored blood, as a way to contrast the dark subject matter of murder.[9] The game's scenario was written by Kazutaka Kodaka, with character designs by Rui Komatsuzaki. Kodaka stated he desired to "...shake user's heart by showing a devastating accident in not devastating ways. But, by some measure, it might be more shocking than showing a devastating scene."[9] Prior to release, a free demo version containing the first chapter of the game (with a different victim from the final game) was made available. A bonus key chain with a figure of antagonist character Monokuma on it was given to people pre-ordering the original PlayStation Portable version.[10] The game was ported to iOS and Android in August 2012, with new features such as retina display support, touch screen controls, and a new image gallery.[11] The game could be purchased either separately by chapter, or as a whole like the PlayStation Portable release.[12]

The fan translation group Project Zetsubou released an unofficial English translation patch for the PlayStation Portable version of the game on June 23, 2013.[13] Two smartphone applications, Danganronpa: Monokuma no Gyakushū (ダンガンロンパ モノクマの逆襲, lit. Danganronpa: Monokuma Strikes Back) and Alter Ego (アルターエゴ, Arutāego), were released for Android devices on April 27, 2012 and iOS devices on May 23, 2012.[14] Following the Japanese release of Danganronpa 1-2 Reload, a PlayStation Vita port of the game and its sequel, Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, NIS America released the Vita version of Trigger Happy Havoc in North America and Europe in February 2014.[1][3] Spike Chunsoft later released the game on Steam in February 2016.[15] NIS America also released Danganronpa 1-2 Reload for PlayStation 4 in North America and Europe in March 2017.[16] A virtual reality demo based on the game, titled Cyber Danganronpa VR: The Class Trial, was released for PlayStation VR on October 13, 2016.[17]

Other media[edit]

Danganronpa has received two manga adaptations. The first adaptation, illustrated by Saku Toutani, was published in Enterbrain's Famitsu Comic Clear web magazine between June 24, 2011 and October 18, 2013, and is told from the perspective of the other students.[18] The second, illustrated by Samurai Takashi and based on the anime series, began serialization in Kadokawa Shoten's Shōnen Ace magazine from July 2013. An official fanbook and comic anthologies based on both the game and the anime have also been published.

A spin-off novel based on the game written by Tsuyoshi Kodakazu and illustrated by Rui Komatsuzaki, titled Danganronpa/Zero (ダンガンロンパ/ゼロ), was released in two volumes between September 15, 2011 and October 13, 2011.[19] Another novel series written by Takekuni Kitayama and illustrated by Komatsuzaki, titled Danganronpa Kirigiri (ダンガンロンパ霧切), began release from September 13, 2013.[20] A mini light novel written by Ryohgo Narita, titled Danganronpa IF: The Button of Hope and the Tragic Warriors of Despair (ダンガンロンパIF 希望の脱出装置と絶望の残念無双, Danganronpa IF: Kibō no Dasshutsusōchi to Zetsubō no Zan'nen Musō), is unlockable in Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair after clearing the game once. The story tells of an alternate universe in which Naegi manages to find an alleged escape switch.

The game's original soundtrack, composed by Masafumi Takada, was released by Sound Prestige Records on February 14, 2011. The anime adaptation's original soundtrack was released by Geneon Universal Entertainment on August 28, 2013.

An official stage production named Danganronpa The Stage (ダンガンロンパ THE STAGE~希望の学園と絶望の高校生~) ran from October to November 2014 in Tokyo's Nippon Seinenkan, presented by Cornflakes. Its cast includes Kanata Hongō, Rei Okamoto, AKB48's Haruka Ishida, and NMB48's Reina Fujie.

Appearances in other games[edit]

Along with the Danganronpa series, series antagonist Monokuma has made multiple appearances in other Spike Chunsoft games. A costume of Monokuma can be worn in the action-adventure sandbox game Terraria (Japanese release) as well as Gachitora: The Roughneck Teacher in High School.[21][22] Monokuma also appears as a mini boss in two free DLC packs for the game Conception II: Children of the Seven Stars.[23] Both Monokuma and Makoto Naegi appear in the Spike Chunsoft game Mystery Chronicle: One Way Heroics along with Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls protagonist Komaru Naegi, where they are designs available for the game's Ultimate Student class.[24]

Reception[edit]

Sales[edit]

During its first week of release in Japan, Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc sold 25,564 copies, making it the top selling PlayStation Portable game of the week, and eighth across all platforms.[25] After three months of sales, the game had sold over 85,000 copies, a number Spike CEO Mitsutoshi Sakurai would label a success.[26] As of 2014, the game has sold 258,250 copies on the PSP.[27] Danganronpa 1・2 Reload for the PlayStation Vita sold 76,172 copies during the first week of release in Japan during October 2013.[28] As of 2017, Danganronpa 1・2 Reload has sold 187,202 copies for the PlayStation Vita and PlayStation 4 as of 2017.[29]

In the West, Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc and Danganronpa 2 combined to sell over 200,000 copies in the United States and Europe by 29 April 2015, which NIS America CEO Takuro Yamashita said was impressive since they were PS Vita exclusives.[30] The Steam release of the game had an estimated total of 234,000 players by July 2018.[31]

Reviews[edit]

Reception
Aggregate score
AggregatorScore
Metacritic(PC) 82/100[32]
(VITA) 80/100[33]
Review scores
PublicationScore
Destructoid8.5/10[34]
EGM9/10[35]
Eurogamer4.5/5 stars (US)[36]
Famitsu36/40[37]
Game Informer8.5/10[38]
GamesMaster86%[39]
GameSpot8/10[40]
GamesRadar+4/5 stars[41]
Giant Bomb3/5 stars[42]
IGN8.5/10[43]
Play85%[44]
Polygon8/10[45]
4Players87%[46]
Gamer.nl8.5/10[47]
Gaming AgeA-[48]
MeriStation8.5/10[49]
PSU9/10[50]
RPGFan90%[51]
Vandal8.4/10[52]
Awards
PublicationAward
GameFanGame of the Year,
Best Sony Portable Exclusive Game,
Best Adventure Game[53]
Game InformerBest Vita Exclusive,[54]
Best New Character (Monokuma)[55]
RPGFanBest Story,[56]
Best Graphic Adventure[57]

Upon release, Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc received positive reviews from video game publications in both Japan and North America. At the review aggregate website and Metacritic, the game holds an average review score of 82/100 for PC and 80/100 for PlayStation Vita.[32][33]

The discovery of the true gender of a character received mixed reception from some critics, such as Patrick Klepek, who called the discovery "a cheap plot device that's not handled with very much sensitivity."[42]

Both the Japanese and English releases have received critical acclaim. Famitsu gave the original PSP game a score of 36/40, based on four scores of 10, 9, 8 and 9.[37] GamesRadar gave the English Vita release 4/5 stars, calling its story one that "weaves a devilishly addictive tale you'll want to see through to the end."[58] IGN gave the game a score of 8.5, praising its writing and soundtrack and calling it "a must-own game for hardcore Vita owners".[59] Hardcore Gamer gave the game a 4/5 saying "it's exciting and has an uncanny ability to leave its players slack-jawed at the sights of the unraveling plot points." [60] Destructoid gave the game a score of 8.5/10, praising its art style and well thought out story. GameSpot gave the game a score of 8/10, praising its story and diverse characters, whilst criticising that the School Life mode is lacking.[40] MyM gave the game a total of 9/10 saying: "What makes Trigger Happy Havoc stand out from most visual novel games is how well it weaves other genres into its narrative.[61] British newspaper Metro gave it 8 out of 10, praising the writing and character development, but being critical of slow early pacing and anime-tropes.[62] Cubed3 awarded a 9/10, describing Danganronpa as "an absolute treat, and a much-needed welcome addition to the visual novel genre in the West."[63]

Danganronpa was chosen by GameFan magazine are 2014's Best Adventure Game and their Game of the Year.[53] In 2017, Famitsu readers voted Danganronpa the fourth best adventure game of all time, behind only Steins;Gate, 428: Shibuya Scramble and Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney.[64] Dontnod Entertainment creative director Jean-Maxime Moris also chose Danganronpa as his personal game of the year, praising its writing and gameplay mechanics. He also cited it as an influence on their own adventure game, Life Is Strange.[65]

Sequels[edit]

Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, the successor to Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc was announced in April 2012. The game was made by Spike Chunsoft (still known as Spike during development) for the PSP, and was released in Japan July 26, 2012. Danganronpa 1・2 Reload, a PS Vita version was later released alongside Goodbye Despair in Japan on October 10, 2013, and worldwide on September 2, 2014.[66][67] A virtual reality tech demo based on the game, titled Cyber Danganronpa VR: The Class Trial, was released in 2016,[68] while the third main game in the series, Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony, was released in 2017.[69]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Known in Japan as Danganronpa: Kibō no Gakuen to Zetsubō no Kōkōsei (Japanese: ダンガンロンパ 希望の学園と絶望の高校生, lit. Danganronpa: The Academy of Hope and the High School Students of Despair)[6]

References[edit]

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