Danganronpa Decadence – A Brief Overview

Danganronpa Decadence , a four-game compilation dedicated to the 10th anniversary of Spike Chunsoft’s anime detective series, was released on Switch in early December . Even if you are not familiar with her, you probably have at least encountered her mascot – the black and white robotic bear Monokuma. However, the series definitely deserves attention – if you are not confused by tons of text and a minimum of gameplay. I will talk about which parts to go through and which ones to skip in this material.

Danganronpa’s plot is reminiscent of the movie ” Battle Royale “: a group of teenagers, isolated from the outside world, bite into each other’s throats. Only here is not an action game, but a psychological detective story. After all, in order to earn freedom, it is enough just to commit one murder and remain unsolved: the winner will receive everything he wants, the losers will be executed. Therefore, in court hearings, where everyone is trying to find out the identity of the perpetrator, the stakes are as high as possible. The heroes of Danganronpa are schoolchildren, but not ordinary ones, but quite the opposite: incredibly gifted in one area or another, and they are not at all shy about using their skills both in murders and in investigations. Their features are deliberately exaggerated, as in Ace Attorney … The series prefers pretentiousness and loudness to semitones, but you will not get bored with such colorful characters.
Danganronpa is similar in structure to Ace Attorney. In “peacetime” the hero can explore small locations and communicate with classmates, but as soon as a corpse is found, an investigation begins – a linear one, without the possibility of missing important clues. Upon its completion, a court hearing starts, where you need to refute the theses of other characters, literally shooting at their vulnerable points with your bullets-arguments. Deduction and other thought processes are performed here in the form of mini-games, so at the culmination of each mystery you will have to break not only your head, but your fingers as well.
Finally, Danganronpa also hails from handheld consoles. It originally appeared on the PSP, the English localization first came out on the Vita, so the anniversary re-release is the place on the Switch. After all, Danganronpa is almost entirely composed of text that would be difficult to read on a TV screen.
And there is something to read. The series skillfully combines humor and bloody murders, cunning multi-move plans and unexpected revelations. Through all the numbered parts, the leitmotif passes through the themes of truth and lies, memories and the role they play in the formation of personality. Everything is not limited to one detective, the narrative works on several levels at once. Since the games are story-driven, I will not risk spoiling your enjoyment with even hints of a script and will go through the series quickly, paying maximum attention to the new release.

The first part, as often happens, turned out to be a breakdown of the pen – not bad, but nothing more. There are few cute characters in it, as well as really interesting murders. The situation is saved by a strong antagonist: the robot-bear Monokuma makes fun of the schoolchildren in such a funny way, so skillfully incites them against each other and jokes so often that it is impossible not to fall in love with him. On his charisma, you can easily endure the entire game until the finale – and there will be plot twists, like Kojima’s.

The perfect sequel. Literally all aspects of the original in the second part have become better: what characters, what soundtrack, what script. The dodgy murders and emotional roller coaster starts immediately and continues non-stop until the end of the game. And if Trigger Happy Havoc could be compared to Metal Gear Solid , then Goodbye Despair is the flesh of Metal Gear Solid 2 : the narrative is replete with postmodern techniques, the player’s expectations are deceived at every step, and the denouement poses a difficult, almost insoluble dilemma for the heroes. Monokuma, of course, is handsome here, but this time he does not need to pull the whole story on himself. Danganronpa 2 is an excellent and very unusual detective story from all sides.

Anime Danganronpa: The Animation and Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope’s Peak High School

Misunderstandings that shouldn’t have existed. The first is an adaptation of Trigger Happy Havoc, cutting corners at every opportunity. Already not the best characters do not have time to reveal themselves before the plot throws them under the train; investigations without interactivity lose their last vestiges of charm. If for some reason you got to know the series thanks to this series, know: the games are much better.

However, the first two releases of Danganronpa have a big problem: the lack of a global denouement. The events of both the first and the second parts did not leave the limits of their chamber settings, and the finals were quite open. The Danganronpa 3 anime should have told about what preceded the events of the dilogy and how it all ended – but it is better to live in ignorance than to agree with such answers! Even the most vulgar and lazy explanation one can think of would not be as terrible as the “official” prequel and sequel.

Bad and not really necessary spin-off, made in the form of a shooter. Its events unfold between the first and second parts, but the plot does not provide any answers and does not resonate either in the terrible anime sequel or in Danganronpa V3. There are no investigations and trials here – only a curve shooting at boring identical opponents. Apparently, even the publisher realizes that the game turned out to be completely worthless – it was not included in the Decadence collection.

The final installment of the episode gives out the duty set of what the public expects from Danganronpa; so on-duty that Monokuma demonstratively does not try to entertain – he simply delegated a significant part of his powers to his offspring. As Danganronpa, this part is noticeably inferior to the brilliant Goodbye Despair, especially in terms of characters, but it stands out for its metanarrative. Refusing to dwell on postmodernism, history gives it an open battle, seeking to break out of this familiar paradigm; she tries to find a way to sincerity in a post-truth world. V3 is an unusual and bold ending for the series, after which it should be shameful to release new parts.

Danganronpa S: Ultimate Summer Camp

The new release, exclusive to Decadence, is a non-canon fanservice skit that brought together the heroes of all four games. Yes, including the uncombined Ultra Despair Girls, whose characters have been successfully forgotten even by most fans. In fact, this is a stupid “beach episode” stretched to an obscenely large scale: here in a peaceful atmosphere (and often without outerwear) heroes who never could have crossed paths meet and conduct superficial, often pointless conversations. Many of them look tortured, but what is there to be surprised at? The scriptwriter of all previous games did not participate in the development, and the number of characters that had grown several times could not but affect the quality of the dialogues.
The gameplay of Danganronpa S is the same as the Ultimate Talent Development Plan minigame from V3: a cross between a virtual board and a primitive turn-based JRPG. In standard mode, your chosen character gains experience and skills by spending fifty turns on the playing field, the cells of which increase the characteristics or throw them into battles with monotonous incarnations of Monokuma. The heroes pumped in this way can be assembled into a team of four people and sent to the Battle mode, where they will have to go through a series of battles. Both as a virtual board game and as a JRPG Danganronpa S is worthless: walking on the same field is boring for the third time, and battles lack a variety of enemies and depth of hero customization.
But the main ambush is that dialogs between characters open only on this very pumping field: to watch a new scene, you need to stand on a certain cell. To the main advantage of a fan-service episode through and through, you have to literally fight your way through with agony, hoping for the only winning number with each roll of the dice.
But this is not the meanest surprise of Danganronpa S. After all, what is the first thing every fan wants to do in such a skit? Of course, watch the scenes with your favorite character. But the game does not allow you to do this. All characters, except for the protagonists of the four parts of Danganronpa, are initially unavailable. You can open them for coins that are received as a reward for various achievements, but even this is not as easy as we would like: if you please, spin the gacha roulette. Be content with those who fall out. In seven hours of an exhaustingly monotonous, dull process, none of my favorites fell out to me. But in this case, Danganronpa S helpfully offers to purchase access to pets for real money. In short, the episode anniversary gift to fans turned into a shameful lottery with microtransactions.

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