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Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls Review

Replay Value:
Overall Rating:
Online Gameplay:
Not Rated
NIS America
Spike Chunsoft
Number Of Players:
Release Date:
September 1, 2015

Anime lovers have gravitated toward the Danganronpa games for a few years now. These titles offer a very original and appealing combination of courtroom class trials and detective gameplay elements, which is unlike anything else you’ve played. However, the latest entry is a departure from that original concept and instead embraces a more traditional action/adventure structure. This may annoy some die-hard fans of the series but don’t forget that we still have the IP’s distinct flair, as the wacky design and general tone of the production are very much in line with the franchise’s history. The only question is whether or not this more dynamic approach actually works and the answer is, “well, sort of.”

If you’re unfamiliar with these types of games, or with anime styling in general, your eyes might not be properly prepared to view Danganonpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls . The designers’ penchant for vivid, fluorescent colors is evident in every square inch of your adventure, as is the genre’s insistence on exceedingly bizarre – yet sometimes charmingly kooky – visuals. It won’t push the Vita’s prodigious graphical capabilities (and one wonders if we’ll ever see a game that will, given the lack of support for Sony’s handheld), but it’s precisely what anime fans expect. As I said above, Danganronpa has always had a singular flair, beyond that of general anime themes, and the latest installment is no exception.

Again, anime followers won’t be surprised by the audio presentation. There’s a slew of over-the-top effects and ridiculous voice performances, but they all meld with the game’s outlandish style. In other words, while one could argue that the voice acting is amateurish and even obnoxious, it’s important to remember the genre. The soundtrack is a potential high point for those who enjoy and appreciate the anime style; otherwise, the entire production might seem like an irritating assault on the senses. Taken in smaller doses, though, Ultra Despair Girls actually exudes an original and attractive atmosphere. Maybe it’s all those wonderfully bright colors that does it.

The city is destroyed and teenage protagonist Komaru Naegi must set things straight. As you’ll see from the outset, there’s a heavy emphasis on narrative and plot progression, which worked very well in past entries, but seems to lag here. I think the game’s fresh action-oriented focus has actually had a negative impact, because the lengthy dialogue sequences – many of which seem needlessly bloated – rankle after being involved in the fast-moving gameplay. When we were immersed in a more sedate and cerebral courtroom atmosphere, the long non-interactive sequences seemed to fit. But in the new effort, those same sequences, which aren’t any longer than before, are jarring and sometimes obtrusive. And that’s too bad because the story really is worth experiencing.

As for the action elements, they’re pretty well constructed and usually entertaining. You play with a traditional third-person camera (that sits too close, by the way) and you face enemies that must be destroyed with your only weapon: The Hacking Gun. It’s basically a megaphone that shoots out code that can disable or alter your enemies, and as ridiculous as it sounds, it’s pretty nifty in practice. Towa City is full of baddies and the Hacking Gun thankfully has a bunch of modes that you will unlock as you progress: The standard assault features break bullets that allow you to do damage, and this gives the game a regular third-person shooter feel. Then there’s the dance mode, which forces your opponents to – you guessed it – start dancing. The Hacking Gun can also be used to open doors and find treasure.