Back in August, I played Danganronpa on the PSP. While eager to play the sequel, I decided hold back and wait a month for the Vita re-release of the second game before I played it. But whether it's on the PSP or the Vita, Super Danganronpa 2 is a game that improves on the original in every way.
Good -- Great Mysteries
Like the original, Danganronpa 2 follows a group of students trapped with the only way out being to kill one of their classmates and get away with the crime. However, instead of the school building from the first game, the students are now imprisoned on a tropical archipelago -- filled with a large variety of different locations.
And while it does take a while to get going -- there's an awful lot of build up before the first murder -- once it does, the mysteries prove to be worth the wait. The mysteries are always multifaceted and far more complex than they seem on the surface. Moreover, having a whole new cast of characters, some with completely psychotic motivations, keeps the story going strong even in the safe time between the murders as you try to work out how, after the events of the first game, there is another death game going on.
Good -- Improved Minigames
Most of the non-visual novel-style gameplay in Dangaronpa 2 is reserved for the class trials that occur after a murder. The gameplay comes in the form of several different kinds of logic mini-games that take place as the remaining class members argue in their search for the truth. The most famous mini-game element, shooting a contradiction with evidence bullets, of course returns; but now you are able to shoot bullets to support a friend's argument as well. The final rhythm game, time line manga, and inspiration mini-games have all been tweaked in beneficial ways as well.
But the most interesting new mini-game is the counterargument game that begins when someone objects to your objection. In this, you cut through your opponent's arguments while avoiding any with weak points (as those require evidence to break). But there are so many arguments and they move so fast that these sections are always as frantic as they are frustrating and fun.
Good -- Overworld Improvements
It's not just in the trial sections, however, where major gameplay improvements have been made. Gone are the endless hours spent tapping every object Layton-style once per chapter in search of coins. Now there are five hidden Monokuma dolls to find in each chapter which award coins. And instead of requiring you to click on everything in every room, these appear visibly in the backgrounds if you keep a careful eye out.
More than that though, the often cumbersome FPS hallways have been replaced with an easy-to-navigate world map; and in an interesting twist, you are rewarded (in exp which increases the amount of skills you can equip in the trials) for using it instead of teleporting to your destination directly. These and other small changes really serve to streamline what were the most tedious parts of the first game.
Good -- Another All-Star Cast
The first Danganronpa had an all-star cast, but Danganronpa 2 delivers even more in the voice actor porn department. Not only do the voice actors of Doraemon (Doraemon) and Shinji (Neon Genesis Evangelion) return but also they are joined by Kyon's voice actor from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and several different voice actresses from Persona 4. But the really big name voice acting addition to this game comes in the form of Kotono Mitsuishi. You may know her as Sailor Moon (Sailor Moon)... or Misato (Neon Genesis Evangelion) or maybe even Excel (Excel Saga).
Good -- The Vita Graphics
I've talked about the general improvement of the visuals in the first game between the PSP original and its remaster for the Vita but the same improvement holds true for Danganronpa 2's Vita version. The backgrounds are clean, the character models smooth, and the animated objects just look awesome. When it comes to the visuals, the Vita is definitely the way to go.
Mixed -- Few Other Improvements
But sadly, other than the updated coat of paint, there are no major updates to the Vita version of the game. There is no new or (re-recorded) voice acting and the gameplay itself is identical to the PSP version. (Though, I will mention that the Vita version of the first game does have an extra "school mode" to make it easier to befriend all the students which is unlocked after you beat the game once.) This lack of new content in no way makes the Vita version of Danganronpa 2 bad (or the PSP version, for that matter), but it is a little disappointing knowing how much more could have been done with the Vita's increased capabilities.
Super Danganronpa 2 is a great follow-up to a great visual novel. It's full of complex mysteries, colourful characters, and logic puzzles galore. And now that it's on the Vita, it's never looked better. If you like games series like Ace Attorney or Zero Escape, this is definitely a game you should check out -- after you've played the original game, of course.
Super Danganronpa 2 was released in Japan on October 10, 2013, as part of Daganronpa 1・2 Reload for the PlayStation Vita. While the first game in the collection, Daganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, is scheduled for a Western release in early 2014, there has yet to be any official announcement regarding the release of Super Danganronpa 2 in the West.