Dangan Ronpa: Ultra Despair Girls [Video game review]

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After months of waiting, here we are. The localization of Ultra Despair Girls in the United States. For a while, the fandom was fairly convinced that the topics in this game would be a little too heavy to warrant a localization. The had every right to be worried, but despite that our prayers were answered and the game got an English translation. So how does this third person shooter/puzzle game stack up against their light novel with mild adventure game element brothers?
Can Komaru Neagi’s game be anywhere near as good as her brothers, will this game fall to hope or into horrid despair? Let’s jump right in and find out.

Spoilers for all three games lay below this point, so if you must, turn back now. Here’s a picture of Shirokuma to keep you from accidentally looking down. Isn’t he cute?

ShirokumacgAlright, still with me? Good, let’s break this review up into a few sections. We’ll proceed to go through plot, game play and then discuss extra content/replay value.

plot:
You begin taking a look at the life of one miss Komaru Neagi, little sister of Makoto from the first game. She’s been living a year and a half, in a two bedroom apartment. As a captive, unable to go outside.
One day she hears noise outside of her door and believes she’s being saved. Only to be met by the steal claws of a Monokuma ready to kill her. She proceeds to run out and meet with Byakuya and other members of the ‘Future Foundation’. The Future Foundation is an organization that was formed to combat the despair and tragedy caused by Junko Enoshima.

You’re given the hacking gun to combat the Monokuma’s and get about 5 to 10 minutes of over powered gameplay in which breaking them is easy.
Then Nagito happens, and he reworks the gun to scale it for game purposes. I say Nagito, because we know that’s who it is. However, in this game he is merely known as ‘servant’.
You get tossed into this killing game, where these 5 kids known as the Warriors of Hope are slaying ‘Demons’ [Adults], to create a paradise for children. They are the ones controlling the Monokuma’s, the Monokuma kids, and the robots of the city. [I feel like their robots were also the basis for the Monobeasts in Dangan Ronpa 2]

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The Warriors of Hope are a group of kids from Hopes Peak Elementary, because that was a thing. [Since WHEN was that a thing? Neither of the previous games mentioned any branches of the school outside of the academy. Which had like, extreme rules to get into…unless you paid them a ton of money and got into the reserve course…but we all know how that turned out.]
and we’re all in the trouble maker class. They also all had completely horrible home lives and were almost all going to commit suicide together when Junko ‘saved’ them. Of course, let’s be honest with ourselves here. She was totally using them to spread despair, of course. At least these kids aren’t that delusional and know that she was using them.

The game is set up in a series of 5 chapters as opposed to the other two games 6 chapter format. Which I suppose is why it felt a little short to me, each chapter you fight a different warrior of hope while slowly discovering more and more of what’s really going on. Which is that Monaca, the small girl haired child in a wheel chair is trying not to create a paradise for children but instead to create the successor to the Ultimate Despair.

We are led to think through most of the game that the one she’s trying to make into Junk’s successor is herself, in the last chapter though. We discover the one that she was trying to turn into the Ultimate Despair the whole time. Is you, younger sister of the Ultimate Hope that killed Junko.
Not going to lie, if Toko hadn’t of been there with Komaru. It probably would of worked, when it shows the image of Matoko and Komaru’s parents dead. Even I snapped a bit, I wasn’t even really paying attention to what I was clicking and thought for a moment that I made the wrong choice. Which, ultimately I was told later by someone else playing that both choices at that time were to press the button.
Well it’s good that Toko was there to slap the despair out of you.

This is honestly the most base summery I could give of the plot. A lot of the finer details are a lot more unsettling and disturbing. I should say that this game should carry a lot of trigger warnings. The subjects talked about include but are not limited to physical and mental abuse, child rape, suicide, graphic death scenes. I thought the last game jumped the shark when it was talking about people having sex with a dead body. There were moments in Ultra Despair Girls that really churned my stomach.

I did enjoy the scene in the ending that showed the AI’s in both Shiro and Kurokuma and revealed that they were prototypes for the AI Junko that appears in the next game. I enjoyed seeing Izuru and the hints that are dropped, such as saying that he’ll be a different person the next time she sees him. The only thing about the ending that really bothered me, was that Monaca lived. Not only lived, but is still out there somewhere working on becoming the Next Ultimate Despair.
Since she doesn’t show up in DR 2, there is no real info on her whereabouts or if the Future Foundation is sure that she is still out there. Will that tie into the next game? I really hope I don’t ever have too see this psychotic little brat again…

Monako

Alright, now let’s get into the game play. I played on the easiest setting because I wanted to get a feel of the story. So I can’t speak for the higher difficulties but…IF I HAD IT ON THE EASIEST SETTING. THEN I THINK I WOULD KILL MYSELF IF I TURNED IT UP ANY HIGHER!

The hit boxes on almost everything are nearly impossible to hit. Ammo is limited enough on the easy setting, forget what it would be any higher. The puzzles are fairly easy and make for fun game play and make you feel rewarded with special music and animation for beating them. It’s honestly the shooting part that drove me crazy, perhaps it’s just that I’ve never been very good at 3rd person shooters.
Or shooters in general. So I can’t speak for everyone else, but for me the game play was kind of annoying. I missed the almost graphic novel like style of the other two games.
I understand trying to move a game into a new Genre, but this was sort of like…the Chain of Memories of Dangan games.

Now for the extra content/replay value. Well, as in DR 2 there is a hide and seek. Inside of Hidden Monokuma’s, it’s the hidden Warriors of Hope. Finding them helps your overall score, which is based on your battle, your puzzle solving, how many times you retry and finding the hidden Warriors. I never got higher then a C, but each chapter is ended with a fantasy Toko is having of Byakuya getting whipped.
…..
Hot. I MEAN, -cough-

Aside from that, post game you can of course unlock the background music, cinematic scenes and images from the game. There is also the novel Ultimate Despair Hagakure which is a side story about Yasuhiro and Leon’s cousin battling their way through the Monokuma filled city. It’s formatted in the style that DR: IF was when you could read in during DR 2.

So is there replay value? Yes, if you mess up puzzles or just want a better score. Want to find the Hidden Warriors, or since this IS a Dangan Ronpa game. Maybe all you want to do is double back and catch all the subtle foreshadowing that lies before the final chapter. If this game is anything like the other two, it’s there for sure.

Overall? I liked the game. Not nearly as much as the two that came before it but it was still fun. I will say though, they jumped a few sharks this game. I’m also really glad that we didn’t end up killing any of the kids really. A picture post game tells us that they all lived. Monaca aside, i generally feel bad for most of the kids in the Warriors of Hope. They had legitimately horrible lives, Monaca…oh no, people in her home ignored her.

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In comparison to ANY of the rest of those kids, she’s just…GAH. They created her with the idea of making a completely unsympathetic character that the fans could hate. They worked to give her no redeeming qualities and I feel as if they really succeeded. She’s a psychotic bitch, that’s all there is too that! Now, Spike Chunsoft. Get to work on DR 3 amd let’s not venture back into this 3rd person shooter style.
It’s nice for one game, but it could get tiring fast.

~Midnight

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