Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls

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Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls game cover

ConsolePlayStation Vita
DeveloperSpike Chunsoft
PublisherSpike Chunsoft, NIS America
GenreVisual novel, third-person shooter, puzzle
Release Year2014
Purchase (Vita)Click here to purchase from Amazon.

For those who saw my review on Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, you’ll know that it’s one of the livelier games that I covered for this month. And of course, I loved the game for its grandiose murder mystery plot, unique gameplay/presentation and in-depth writing.

So, I decided to give both the sequel and the spinoff a try as well. But for the purpose of this review, I will cover the video game spinoff that came later: Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls.

 

The Chaos in Towa City

Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls Komaru Naegi

Storywise, Ultra Despair Girls takes places right after the events of Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc. You will be doing yourself a service if you play that game first before bothering to look at this game. This time, you take the role of Komaru Naegi, the younger sister of the previous game’s protagonist Makoto Naegi. Much like her brother, Komaru is an average kid who no one understands. While she’s fairly optimistic and has a love for manga, she actually has very low self-esteem and is emotionally sensitive.

In the wake of the Tragedy mentioned in the first game, Komaru is forced to live in an isolated apartment and attempt to cope with a lonely existence. Eventually, the pressure causes her to snap just as someone attempts to break into her apartment.

Also, big spoilers coming ahead…

Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls Byakuya Togami

Komaru escapes the apartment and finds herself in Towa City, an urban city previously ruled by Towa Corporation. The city is overrun with killer Monokuma robots, who are slaughtering adult civilians left and right. She receives a Hacking Gun from Byakuya Togami, now a key member of Future Foundation and survivor of the Killing Game. Then she later meets up with Toko Fukawa, another survivor of the Killing Game and a socially awkward girl with an obsessive crush on Byakuya.

Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls Toko Fukawa

Komaru and Toko form a partnership in an attempt to escape Towa City and stop the evil masterminds behind its siege.

I’ll stop right here since there is a lot of story to take in. I will also mention that you need to have a stretched suspension of disbelief to enjoy the story, as there is a lot of absurd plot choices and goofy moments in an otherwise mature setting. If you don’t like these kinds of plots, then this game is definitely not for you.

 

Fighting Off Mechanical Bears

Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls gameplay

Unlike Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, Ultra Despair Girls is primarily a third-person shooter in a similar vein to the Resident Evil series. It also has some RPG elements since you can customize your weapon with different effects.

In each chapter, you have to guide Komaru to various goals in Towa City in order to advance the plot. But along the way, you must fight off the Monokuma army to survive.

Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls Monokuma

Individually, the Monokumas are not a huge threat. But in groups, they can be bothersome. The standard Monokuma must run up to you in order to perform a melee attack, but there are also many different varieties of Monokumas with different abilities.

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Your Hacking Gun, this megaphone-shaped weapon, has the ability to shoot eight different Truth Bullets. Your default Truth Bullets are Break and Move. Break is the basic projectile attack used in combat, while Move is used to activate machinery. You can shoot the Monokumas at the red eyes using the Break bullet to kill them off quickly.

Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls gameplay

The other six bullets are unlockable throughout the story. Each one is either a utility or a strategic attack that allows you to bring down as many Monokumas as you can with as little bullets as possible.

This makes Ultra Despair Girls more of a tactical shooter than something you can go batshit crazy in. But if you WANT to go batshit crazy, then there’s a nice little feature.

Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls gameplay

Toko Fukawa can immediately use her taser to switch over to her Genocide Jack persona, using quick and powerful melee attacks against the Monokuma army. However, you can only use her as long as you have enough battery life for your taser. After it runs out, you’re back to using Komaru.

It’s generally better to use Genocide Jack as little as possible in order to increase your score as well as saving her for the most chaotic battles. She can be a real lifesaver in a pinch.

While exploring Towa City, you may find items that grant special skills to both Komaru and Toko. The skills themselves somewhat allude to the abilities in the other Danganronpa games and even require skill points in order to equip. And of course, you can collect Monocoins to purchase upgrades for Komaru’s Hacking Gun or Genocide Jack’s scissors.

 

Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls gameplay

Aside from the main exploration and combat sections, there are also these smaller areas with an arcade machine. The usual objective is to destroy all of the Monokumas over in the next room with a single attack and using only specific Truth Bullets, which is possible with some puzzle-solving. You also need to remain hidden the entire time without triggering a single Monokuma to attack you.

While you can brute-force your way through these rooms, I don’t recommend this. It just wastes your Truth Bullets and lowers your score for the entire chapter. It’s more satisfying to find the right solution to defeat all of the Monokumas and complete the challenge the correct way, which will give you a higher score by the end of the chapter and have a nice congratulatory screen.

Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls gameplay

 

Overall, the gameplay is decent. It has mixed elements of survival horror, third-person shooter, puzzle and RPG games. While it is a lot to take in and it feels like it’s missing something, there’s nothing really wrong with it. There’s a lot more I haven’t discussed, but I’ll let you figure that out if you decided to pick up the game. I guess if I have to make a minor complaint, I’d say that the beginning is pretty slow-paced. Otherwise, I had some fun playing Ultra Despair Girls.

 

The Aftermath of the First Game

The story of Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls is… WHAT THE FUCK?!?!?!?!?!

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So right away, you had to process a lot of information based on what the hell’s going on. If you haven’t played the first Danganronpa game and you’re reading this review right now…

[[{{SHAME ON YOU}}]]

So yeah, this game is definitely not for newcomers to the series. Like, no shit, right? It’s not like it’s a spinoff or something.

So basically, there’s a war between adults and children in Towa City. The majority of the kids are wearing Monokuma helmets to show that they’re sided with all of the Monokuma robots. However, there are five children calling themselves the Warriors of Hope.

  • Masaru – Li’l Ultimate P.E.
  • Jataro – Li’l Ultimate Art
  • Kotoko – Li’l Ultimate Drama
  • Nagisa – Li’l Ultimate Social Studies
  • Monaca – Li’l Ultimate Homeroom

The Warriors of Hope hold a grudge against the adults for all the terrible things they did, so they slaughter the adults without remorse all over Towa City. So basically, they’re like a terrorist Kids Next Door. But for a select few prisoners such as Komaru, they make her part of a Demon Hunting game where they must kill their targets like hunting deer.

From there on, the story follows Komaru surviving while Toko searches for her beloved Byakuya. For the most part, the story is rather predictable but there are some legit good moments that focus on gray morality.

And of course, there are story connections to Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair.

Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls Nagito Komaeda

As for how the story of Ultra Despair Girls connects to the main Danganronpa storyline, well… it really doesn’t.

Mainly, Ultra Despair Girls shows exactly what happened to the world after the events of the first game. But ultimately, the story is somewhat inconsequential. It’s really more like a “gaiden,” a side story. And once you embrace that, it’s really not too bad.

I really do wonder what compelled Spike Chunsoft to make a third-person shooter Danganronpa game. The two main series games were visual novels with point-and-click mechanics and deductional reasoning mini-games similar to the Ace Attorney series. Did anyone really ask for this kind of game? I am curious.

However, I will admit that it’s an incredibly silly game. And I mean it’s a silly silly SILLY game. You almost can’t take the drama that seriously. From Toko Fukawa’s 50 Shades of Grey fantasies with Byakuya to about 80% of the moments with the Warriors of Hope, this game is just ripe with silliness. It’s more over-the-top than either of the main series Danganronpa games.

I mean, look at this!

Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls Nagito Komaeda
Hey, Nagito, you have a little something on your face there…

Even during the game’s serious plot-related moments, stuff like this happens. It really puts you off that dark and serious tone the series was known for. The main games give time for the dark stuff to really sink in for you to feel the tragedy. Here, it’s… odd.

 

But what I like the best about this game is the complicated relationship between Komaru Naegi and Toko Fukawa.

Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls Komaru Naegi and Toko Fukawa

Anyone who played the first Danganronpa game would know that Toko is not only socially awkward but seems to despise the idea of getting close to ANYONE, which makes her out to be a confrontational and paranoid character. Her serial killer personality, Genocide Jack, is also a very oppressive and intimidating figure with an unpredictable personality—though I find her dark humor hilarious. However, Ultra Despair Girls attempts to get Toko out of her shell in order to function as a big sister and mentor figure to Komaru.

And truth be told, I really like seeing those two interact. Because Komaru believes herself to be so average, she comes across as a friendly personality but is actually very timid under the surface. And Toko is normally not the kind of person to give encouragement to others, so seeing her trying to cheer up Komaru when she’s down is a joy to see. They also share some of the funniest banter in the game.

So overall, it’s a pretty stupid game. But it’s enjoyably stupid. And for the fans of the series, it more than qualifies as entertainment. Did I enjoy the game? Yes. Is it for everyone? No. But if you like goofy Japanese games with some adult central themes to the story, then you might like this one just fine.

Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls

$29.99
Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls
7.8

GAMEPLAY

8.0/10

STORY

8.0/10

GRAPHICS

8.0/10

SOUNDTRACK

7.0/10

Pros

  • The absurd plot is enjoyable for Danganronpa fans.
  • The chemistry between Komaru and Toko is well developed.
  • There's quite a bit of depth and strategy in defeating the Monokumas and bypassing level hazards.
  • The visual and sound designs are okay, but nothing too spectacular.

Cons

  • The plot is probably confusing to newcomers of the series.
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