When Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc initially came to the west on the Playstation Vita, it was acclaimed as one of the best Playstation Vita exclusives. While the game had been released as a Japan exclusive on the PSP, the port drummed up a lot of support for the series, and helped bring the second Danganronpa title, Goodbye Despair, from the PSP to the Vita and to the west as well. It also helped drum up release for the Vita exclusive Ultra Despair Girls. Now, Spike Chunsoft has begun the process of porting those Vita, westernized versions to the PC. However, as with several recent PC ports, Trigger Happy Havoc is seriously in need of some work.
Trigger Happy Havoc puts you in the role of Mokoto, a student who’s been accepted into the prestigious Hope’s Peak Academy. It’s said that graduating from this school will allow you to be set for life. However, this school is for the students described as “Ultimates.” The Ultimate Baseball Player, the Ultimate Pop Star, the Ultimate Computer Programmer, etc. Mokoto is not the ultimate anything, but rather was selected at random to go to this school. Upon his arrival, he goes unconscious and wakes up in a sealed up recreation of Hope’s Peak, along with several other Ultimate students.
They quickly learn from the schools headmaster, Monokuma, that because these students are the best, they need to be protected and as such will be spending the rest of their lives in this sealed up school. There appears to be no way out, aside from Graduating. In order to graduate, a student must kill another student and not be caught. While the students initially resist the temptation, Monokuma tempts them into trying to escape and students begin dying. The students of Hope’s Peak must find the killer among them and bring them to justice, otherwise the killer will go free and the rest of them will be killed by Monokuma.
Each of the games chapters is broken into two segments. Daily Life consists of talking with other students, developing a social link with them and learning about their past. The stronger your link with other students, the more abilities you will gain for the second segment, Deadly Life. Deadly Life is triggered when a student has been killed. You must investigate the school and look for traces of how the killer committed the crime. After finding all of the clues, the case is taken to student trial.
The trial has you firing “Truth Bullets” (pieces of evidence) at contradicting statements told by different students. You can also present evidence, or have a Hangman’s Gambit, where you are forced to spell out a clue that will help you dig deeper into the case. It’s similar to something like a Phoenix Wright game, except where Phoenix Wright tends to give you time to look through all of the statements to match them up to clues, Danganronpa puts you up against a time limit and has the statements literally fly across the screen. You need to be thinking on your feet in order to get deeper into the mystery.
Eventually, you will have to recreate the entire crime using different manga panels. Once you’ve discovered the culprit, you need to play a rhythm mini-game in order to get them to reveal the truth. While it all may seem silly, the crimes are so dark and the characters are so interesting that you really want to find exactly what drove them to killing another student. While on the surface, it’s obvious, each person has their own reason for wanting to escape and each person is hiding a secret that they don’t want others to know.
The Vita version was nearly flawless from a technical standpoint. There might have been some glitches here and there, but they were hardly noticeable. However, the PC version suffers heavily from frame rate drops and other visual glitches. For example, when you are prompted to advance the text, an “A” button prompt will appear. However, oftentimes this prompt will actually bug out and stretch itself across the screen. In other instances, the frame rate will drop while you are walking from a solid 60 frames per second to 30 FPS. This drop can be even larger when you have to recreate the crime, dropping to below 20 FPS in one section alone. This becomes especially frustrating as when you are trying to recreate the crime, you need to put specific panels into specific spaces and these drops can cause you to over or undershoot where you are putting them.
Finally, any time you visit the capsule machine (a place where you can buy items to increase your social link), you will get a series of visual glitches. It’s basically a guarantee that the screen will have jarring visual tearing, causing the images on-screen to move around and generally glitch out. What makes the glitches more odd is that, as mentioned in our “Let’s Look At” video for this port, running ShadowPlay seems to actively make these glitches disappear. You can have the entire screen tearing itself apart but as soon as you are recording with ShadowPlay, the glitches just disappear. However, running a different recording program like XSplit seemingly allows you to capture the glitches. The entire situation is incredibly odd and off-putting if you were looking forward to a good port of this title.
That is what makes this version such a waste. This is a port of a port and you’d figure that the PC would be able to handle it. However, with its heavy $30 price tag, it would be hard to recommend the PC port of Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc to new players of the series. This port needed more time to be worked on and it shows. From the glitches, to the odd circumstances surrounding the glitches to the fact that the NIS America logo was merely crossfaded away in the intro cutscene (as they did not work on this version) but is still clearly present, this port doesn’t feel complete. It is especially sad since this is the start of bringing Danganronpa to the PC where this series could continue more western mainstream success.
SCORE: 6.5 out of 10
A code for Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc was provided to Pixel Related for review.