Some games have stories that are hard to describe without thinking that you’re going crazy. Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls, which takes place between Danganronpa 1 and Danganronpa 2, is one of those games.
Unlike the previous two titles, Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls decides to take a departure from the visual novel style of the first two games in favor of a third person shooter complete with 3D rendered graphics. There are still 2D stills during a lot of the dialogue scenes.
It begins with a cutscene that introduces the main character, one Komaru Naegi. She explains that she’s been trapped and living in an apartment for a long time, with her only contact being when her captors bring her the meals each day. This changes one day when she hears a noise on the other side of the door.
She goes to investigate, and is very nearly impaled by a giant robotic Monokuma’s claw as it bursts through the door. Komaru, with no way of defending herself (and scared out of her mind even if she did have a way) attempts to make a break for it. She is rescued by Byakuya from Future Foundation, who arms her with a megaphone gun and instructs her to get to the café.
You’ll continue on in a tutorial level of sorts, armed with an infinite amount of every type of Truth Bullet that the Megaphone Hacking Gun can shoot. The controls are as familiar as you’d expect from a game in the genre, and the main difference is the weapon you utilize. The gun manipulates electromagnetic waves by hacking them, and its main purpose is being a means to destroy the deadly Monokuma robots.
This Megaphone Hacking Gun has several different kinds of ammo, separated into offensive and non-offensive types. Some examples are the Break, which is the main type you’ll use to take down enemies. There’s also Move, which will let you manipulate various objects, such as shooting a car to make it run down the road, crushing any Monokumas in the way. Detect will allow you to view hidden messages, and then there’s one called Dance, which does exactly what you would think; It forces the robot shot to stop and dance in place. This is useful for making it easier to draw a bead on the Monokuma’s left eye, the weak point, and take them down with one shot, thus powering up your gun to one-shot the next in line without needing to hit the eye.
There are quite a few other types of ammo, and you’ll have a chance in the opening level to test them all out. That said, don’t get used to it, as you’ll soon lose access to all but Break, and even have the ammo on Break limited. From that point, you’ll need to conserve your ammo, as it’s easy to run out.
Once you lose access to everything, however, you’ll meet Toko, who has a split personality known as “Genocide Jack”. Jack is extremely powerful, not only able to make short work of any Monokumas you encounter, but also invincible. In short, she’s pretty much an “Instant win” button you can swap to. Of course, if you were able to use Genocide Jack any time you wanted, it’d make the game far too easy, so you need to keep an eye on the battery icons to determine if Jack is accessible.
Having played through quite a bit of the game for the preview, I rarely used Jack, preferring to keep the battery levels up for a truly tight spot. Honestly, she just seems too powerful so far, and, since I prefer a challenge, I try not to use her at all unless I have to. Of course, this is merely personal choice, and it is a nice option for those who may not be comfortable with the genre.
Everything is all just a game to the kids in the Warriors of Hope as they attempt to kill all adults.
So far, despite the wildly different gameplay, Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls feels like just another game in the series. The overall ambiance and interesting story are exactly what fans of the series would expect (from what I’ve played so far), and for those who haven’t played the previous titles, I’d suggest you do before you begin this one, as Ultra Despair Girls has several spoilers for the first and (to a degree) second games.
Readers will be able to expect a full review soon, providing the Monokumas don’t get me!