Episode 19: Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc

Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc is as zany and mind-blowing as you expect it to be. There's something to be said for a game that's bright and colourful, but also full of despair. The blood is pink but murder is anything but rosy in Hope's Peak Academy. I had an absolute blast exploring the school, socialising with the characters and uncovering the mystery behind Monokuma's killing game. The game is full of laughs, and gripping from start to finish, and more than once did the game pull the rug out from under my feet and surprise me. The end-game twists are especially delicious, keeping you guessing with each and every discovery.

Although some of the mechanics are extremely frustrating, the Class Trials are without a doubt the highlight of the game. Watching all your friends turn on each other as they're consumed by despair, confusion and desperation is fantastic to watch. Each one of the 15 students are quirky and interesting, and it's brilliant to see how they adapt to their situation. It's these reasons that make Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc the best visual novel I've ever played. To say I'm excited to go to Jabberwock Island for more despair is an understatement.

Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc

Holy wow. Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc has been on my to-do list for quite some time, and I'm so glad I had the chance to finally experience this macabre murder mystery along with the Retro Encounter crew. For a game so filled with despair, playing through Danganronpa was an incredibly enjoyable experience: the characters are lively and endearing, the plot holds up to its own twisted internal logic and presents a satisfying mystery to solve, and Monokuma... oh, Monokuma is just the best. As of this writing, I have a copy of Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair sitting on my shelf, and I look forward to returning to its quirky and blood-soaked world.

Also, Byakuya x Genocide Jill for life.

Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc

Danganronpa takes place in a locked-up school run by omnipresent, superhuman bear robots. Danganronpa's characters are cartoon stereotypes. Danganronpa counts grisly murders performed by teenagers and ludicrous plot twists among its selling points. Danganronpa is one of those games that is probably a little uncomfortable to explain to inquisitive parents.

But I love it. All of it. The over-the-top exchanges, the dramatic trials, the whodunnit aspects of the mystery, and Danganronpa's delightfully insane final boss. I played the first Danganronpa in mid-2015, and since then I've played two full games, watched two Japanese anime series, and read two short manga series. I'm in Danganronpa for the long haul, and I enthusiastically recommend it to any fan of visual novels or murder mysteries, and also for anyone that REALLY hates teenagers.

Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc

It is always a really good sign when every moment you are not playing a game, all you can think about is playing that game. And if for some reason you cannot fulfill your desires, you pester everyone around you by talking about how great the game is. That was my month with Danganronpa: Happy Trigger Havoc; I would like to take this opportunity to formally apologize to all those I annoyed in my fervor this past month.

At the same time, I'm not sorry in the least bit. Danganronpa is a fantastic game and it is a shame that the generalized video game community isn't more aware of this. It is easy to label it as niche, too Japanese or even anime nonsense but that is being spectacularly reductionist and amazingly short-sighted. At its core, Danganronpa is a sublime story with fully realized characters that will keep you enthralled from the second you turn it on.

That is not to say the game has no shortcomings. I overall found the court case mini games to oftentimes be annoying and ultimately more of a distraction than additive to the narrative. In all fairness, the mini games are not terrible but when you are on pins and needles waiting for the story to progress to its next twist or gut-wrenching moment, anything that detracts from that progression by default becomes a nuisance.

It is Danganronpa's willingness to 'go there' which at the end of the day really earns my respect. No character is safe, no relationship sacred and things are never as they seem. Danganronpa revels in its brutality every time it reminds you of this. Since you come to either care, like, love or at least understand each of the characters, each savage reminder is like a punch to the heart as the game successfully mimics the stress and paranoia one would feel if they were forced into a killing game.

Whether you play this on PS Vita, PC or wait for the PS4 release next year, you would be doing yourself a disservice by not experiencing Danganronpa. As someone who is not a fan the game's two core tenets, visual novels and crime/murder procedurals, this game shines as one of my favorite games I have played in a long time. So don't keep Monokuma waiting, make sure you too can enjoy the barbaric syllabus of Hope's Peak Academy.

Final Thoughts Archive
Episode 1: Trails in the Sky Episode 2: Final Fantasy X Episode 3: Final Fantasy Tactics Episode 4: The Last Story Episode 5: Terranigma Episode 6: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night Episode 7: Deus Ex: Human Revolution Episode 8: Parasite Eve Episode 9: Pokémon Episode 13: NieR Episode 14: The World Ends With You Episode 15: The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask Episode 16: Xenogears Episode 17: South Park: The Stick of Truth Episode 18: Valkyria Chronicles Episode 19: Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc Episode 20: Child of Light Episode 21: Diablo III Episodes 70 & 71: Shadow Hearts: Covenant Episodes 73 & 75: Chrono Trigger Episodes 79 & 81: Tales of the Abyss Episodes 82 & 83: Darksiders Episodes 86 & 88: Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride Episodes 90 & 92: EarthBound Episodes 95 & 97: Grim Fandango Episodes 101 & 102: Final Fantasy XII Episodes 104 & 106: Digital Devil Saga Episodes 114 & 116: Breath of Fire IV Episodes 122 & 124: Valkyrie Profile Episodes 126 & 128: Planescape: Torment Episodes 135 & 137: Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars Episodes 140 & 142: Mass Effect Episodes 143 & 144: Lunar: The Silver Star

Twitch Schedule & Status

Sunday, July 22
Disgaea: Hour of Darkness • 10am PDT/1pm EDT

Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth • 3pm PDT/6pm EDT

Star Ocean: Second Evolution • 2:30pm PDT/5:30pm EDT
Lunar 2: Eternal Blue Complete • 5:30pm PDT/8:30pm EDT

Octopath Traveler • 5:30pm PDT/8:30pm EDT

Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep • 2:30pm PDT/5:30pm EDT
Octopath Traveler • 5:30pm PDT/8:30pm EDT

Final Fantasy IX • 3pm PDT/6pm EDT
The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel (Speedrun) • 6pm PDT/9pm EDT

Octopath Traveler • 5pm PDT/8pm EDT

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Retro Encounter 145

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Retro Encounter Final Thoughts ~ Lunar: The Silver Star

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