Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls (PS Vita) Second Opinion Review

By Drew Hurley 27.12.2015

Review for Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls on PS Vita

The Vita has been the most polarising handheld since Nintendo's migraine inducing Virtual Boy, with opinions being split between it being one of the greatest handhelds ever, or a platform devoid of any worthwhile titles. Sony no longer supporting the handheld with first party titles turned out to be both a blessing and a curse, since it lost its audience in the casual market, but had it replaced with the niche and hardcore ones. It has become home to some of the best and most original games out of Japan, many of which would not have been localised previously. Danganronpa falls firmly into this category, but now with a new addition that completely changes the core gameplay, can this iteration live up to what has come before it? Following the original review, Cubed3 takes a second look at Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls.

This latest story is based around Komaru Naegi, sister to the protagonist of the first game, Makoto. Komaru has been kept locked up in a hotel with no idea as to why, and without a clue as to what is going on in the world outside, or who her captors are. This Oldboy-esque scenario is ended when the door to her apartment is suddenly unlocked and the series mascot Monokuma appears, and, unlike the psychotically loveable one seen in previous titles, these mindless robots are just there to kill, maim, and destroy. As Komaru flees from them, some familiar faces from the first title arrive to save her, leading in a life-or-death game of hide and seek, trying to escape an island overrun by these Monokuma killing machines, as well as a group of children known as the Warriors of Hope, who idolize the antagonist of the series.

The first amongst the familiar faces is Byakuya Togami, who grants Komaru with a weapon to fight against the Monokumas; a megaphone-shaped "Hacking Gun". The second one, Toko Fukawa, becomes the partner of Komaru, and journeys throughout the game with her. Seeing characters return older and wiser, is always fascinating for fans, progressing the story, and giving some further development to the overarching plot. It's not just Toko and Byakuya, either; there are a handful of other characters making guest appearances that many will be pleased to see. The pairing of Komaru and Toko is superb; they play off each other nicely, and their scenes are well written, and it's fascinating to watch their budding friendship grow despite their drastically different personalities and their motivations often being at odds - Toko wants to save Byakuya who has been captured by the Warriors of Hope, while Komaru wants to get as far away as possible and to try to find her family.

Screenshot for Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls on PS Vita

The story develops into a dark and twisted tale that manages to keep players interested and enthralled despite extended sections of exposition. While Komaru and Toko attempt to escape the city, there are plenty of obstacles trying to stop them: not only are the Warriors of Hope chasing them down, but the city is overrun with Monokuma robots along with their "kids;" kids made up from all of the other children in the city, now fitted with Monokuma style helmets, and actually worse than their "parents." Rioting through the city, slaughtering any adults they fall upon (firstly their own families), and causing wanton destruction, and, even worse, they seem to even take joy in what they do, often seen playing with the bodies of their victims...

Ultra Despair Girls breaks totally from the established mechanics of the series, doing away with the visual novel storytelling and the interactive trials, instead replacing them with a third person shooter… it's a bold choice, however, it is sadly one that doesn't pay off. Dull and linear levels make up the majority of the adventure, broken up with occasional puzzles and easy boss fights. The gameplay gets repetitive very quickly, and it's down to the story and the characters to keep things interesting.

The majority of the game is played as Komaru in the third person shooter style, while switching to Genocider Jack is a time-limited ability, Toko can zap herself with a taser to transform, and defeated enemies have a chance drop batteries, acting as consumables for the transformation. Jack tears enemies to pieces with a quick mash-able series of hacks and slashes using her signature set of scissors, and can also use up more batteries to take out all the enemies on screen. When playing as Komaru, her Hacking Gun has numerous different types of special ammunition. On top of the standard simple attack, there are knock back bullets, bullets to make the enemies dance, a hacking bullet to take control of enemies, and plenty more.

Screenshot for Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls on PS Vita

Then there are the special enemies that require a specific ammo to be dealt with. Enemies with shields, for example, have to be knocked over to drop it. This aspect of the combat can actually be interesting and fun, using knockback on giant ball Monokuma to force them to go rolling off smashing up enemies in their path. Each of the bullets are also upgradeable. "Bling Bullets" extra modifiers can be applied, which can alter the amount carried, make for large bullets, stronger effects and more. Again these new enemies and bullets are sadly underutilized, though, making them quickly grow as tedious as the rest of the combat.

The game has some side activities scattered throughout the levels to help break the monotony of the gameplay, with the majority being puzzle rooms that require the use of a limited amount of a set ammunition type. While simple these can be fun distractions, since having to move Monokuma enemies around and making use of the environment to clear a path is a rather plain but enjoyable brainteaser. On top of the mini-games, there are, of course, some collectable files to track down. These are interesting additions to the canon of the series, expanding on existing characters from past and present Danganronpa while also giving a little exposition and background to the state of the world after the tragedy.

While the gameplay is a complete diversion from the original, the story, themes, and characters are Danganronpa through and through. The dark humour and disturbing themes are prevalent throughout, and in today's culture of "Trigger Warnings" there is plenty here to test the limits of the players. There are references to physical, mental and sexual abuse, with some of it towards children. It's definitely something to be aware of before starting, due to some truly disturbing moments.

Screenshot for Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls on PS Vita

The new characters keep with the style of the series, capturing a fantastically dark and yet whimsical style. The highlight of the new cat is the antagonist of this story, the Warriors of Hope. These children, only aged around eleven or so, have each suffered through a life-altering trauma and have come out the other side quite deranged. After crossing paths with Junko Enoshima, they were coerced and manipulated into her machinations, and are now progressing a plan to make a new world without the adults that tormented them. The designs of each of the Warriors are superb, personifying and embodying aspects of their traumas. Plus, while every Danganronpa needs a new plush two-tone mascot too and, the Ultra Despair girls have not one but two! Kurokuma and Shirokuma representing the best and worst of the AI in Monokuma, though their origins and motivations remain a mystery.

It will be interesting to see just how much impact this title has on the upcoming Danganronpa V3 and the finale to the original story Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak, which will be released as an anime next year. There are some major plot points here that deal with the aftermath of the two original Danganronpa titles and the characters within them along with some plot points that are setup and left dangling by the end of the story that will hopefully be addressed in one of the upcoming releases.

It's obvious that some real love has been put into the title, with the music, graphics and voice-work all knocking it out of the park. The voice cast has some fantastic talents like Cristina Vea, as well as the returning Bryce Papenbrook as Makoto. These talents are enhanced by a soundtrack that is full of the familiar tunes of the visual novel games, with some new movements and arrangements added. The graphics are smooth and capture the signature tone of the series, while the cut-scenes are made up of some high production anime style moments which look gorgeous - it's a beautiful package! Just a shame about the core content, though.

Screenshot for Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls on PS Vita

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 6 out of 10


While Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls manages to capture the tone and feeling of the series, it detracts too much from what made the original titles so special. It's hard to judge the game so harshly when there is a great story and further development to the Danganronpa saga here, but the gameplay really ends up leaving a sour taste. In conclusion: a terrific story to experience; it's just a shame it's not more enjoyable while doing so.


Spike Chunsoft


NIS America


Action Adventure



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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