An all-star cast of characters from the Danganronpa series, will come together to battle at a tropical resort!
“With an all-star dream lineup of characters from each Danganronpa game, gather Hope Fragments at a tropical resort. Explore Jabberwock Island and develop your Dangan characters. Gather money through battle and upgrade your equipment, then defeat bosses and move on to the next island!”
Release Date: November 4th, 2021 (Japan/Taiwan)
December 3rd, 2021 (NA/Europe)
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS5, Steam (PC), iOS, Android
Developer: Spike Chunsoft
Publisher: Spike Chunsoft
Genre: Board Game, Adventure
I had planned on releasing this review during the summer but that didn’t work with our schedule. Still, with how especially warm this fall has been it still feels like summer. >_>
So some history of myself and my relationship with the Danganronpa franchise: I had gotten into Danganronpa when the anime came out all the way back in 2013. I had heard of the game beforehand and was interested in it, excited that the anime was announced so I could watch it. Getting into the anime but seeing fans’ less than stellar reactions to the anime adaptation, I had downloaded a fan translation of the first game and played through it and the rest is history. I did fall out of the series for a couple reasons awhile back, but became interested again when V3 had came out but never delved into that. It wasn’t until the series came back with Danganronpa Decadence, where it was randomly announced in a Nintendo Direct earlier that year when I felt like getting back to the series and playing the third game. And with the series coming back into my life recently in a couple ways (thanks, Shadow), I’m knee deep into this series again.
Honestly I actually haven’t properly played Goodbye Despair and V3 properly, only watched playthroughs of them through Youtube. But with Decadence now in my hands, I’ll definitely revisit the games and actually play through it myself! Eventually!
No more killing games and no more despair, we’re going to have a summer camp now! Danganronpa S from what I understand is a more expanded version of the bonus game from Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony you unlock once you beat the game, Ultimate Talent Development Plan. I haven’t checked any playthroughs of that mode simply because I want to play it myself once I finish V3, but I didn’t think it would hurt me to check out Ultimate Summer Camp since it takes that concept but places all of the characters in a different setting. And it’s not canon or anything so it’s no big deal.
Where in Ultimate Talent Development Plan all of the students attend Hope’s Peak and interact with each other in a normal school environment devoid of killing games (everyone is alive!), Ultimate Summer Camp takes place in the Neo World Program from the second game and sends everyone to Jabberwock Island for a month and a half in order for them to get along with each other and further develop their Ultimate Talents, while collecting Hope Fragments. It’s basically taking that bonus mode and combining it with the second game, but with all the fun and without the despair. The cast contains every single student from all three of the Danganronpa games, as well as Monokuma, Monomi, and the Monokubs. But this also includes the characters from Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls, as the game starts off with Komaru heading over to Hope’s Peak to meet with Makoto and everyone else. Now, I haven’t played or checked any playthroughs of UDG and so far their interactions and references are lost on me, but they do seem like an interesting bunch. I have heard mostly mixed/negative reviews of the game so I’m not sure I’ll actually play it myself but the curiosity is there. Other than being a little lost there, seeing all of the students interacting with each other and being friends is the biggest highlight of the game for me.
The gameplay itself is pretty simple. Once Monomi and the Kubs explain how the island works and what their objectives as Ultimates are, the party gets crashed when Monokuma brings some chaos by creating Monobeasts to mess with the students. Nothing will kill them but they just stand as obstacles to them. However, students realizing that they can actually fight them opens up new doors and foils Monokuma’s plan. So the objective of the game is that: Create bonds with everyone, further develop your Ultimate Talents, and collect Hope Fragments while taking down the Monobeasts on Jabberwock Island. The game is just one big board game. You are able to collect cards of all of the students, some stronger and with better rarity than others. You collect these cards from the MonoMono Machines with the different coins you collect from the different game modes, and the missions/objectives you clear. It basically works as a gacha, where you can get cards but also present items like in the regular games. You aren’t able to play as a character until you get one of their cards so it’s really based on luck. And with such a huge cast of characters, getting your favorites might be tough. In the very beginning, the only character cards you have to start with are the basic cards of each game’s protagonist. Once you choose your character, you start the game. Think of it like Mario Party but without the minigames. Even the Monokubs sort of act like Bowser Jr. You roll a die and move your character around the board, hitting different tiles along the way that either raise your stats, give you cards, take you to the Shop, or trigger events where you’ll get a cutscene of character interactions. There are also mini boss tiles where you fight small Monobeasts in typical RPG fashion. The objective of the main game mode is to walk around the board and level up the stats of your character, give them skills, and create weapons in order to take down the main Monobeast bosses and unlock the other islands. You also level them up to use in the other game mode, VS Battle or The Tower of Despair, a mode where you create a team and take down waves of Monobeasts as you climb the tower. The main game is really simple and really easy to learn once you start playing. You have 51 days to play around and level up your character and it can be repetitive, but the main draw of the game are the cross interactions between the characters.
This is the perfect AU for all fans. All of the characters are alive, they’re all friends, and now they’re all having fun at the beach in swimsuits. What could be better than that? Each character has their own set of cutscenes all specific to them but there can also be repeats if you play another character that shows up in the same cutscene. For example, if I trigger an event with Maki and Chiaki while playing as Maki, I’ll most likely get that same event again when I play as Chiaki so there’s some repetition. There are also smaller events that happen with your character’s chibi sprites which are cute, but the actual cutscenes so far have been a blast. Seeing characters like Makoto and Nagito talking to each other, as well as Shuichi and Kyoko is both surreal but amazing and it makes me happy. Seeing Sakura, Akane, and Tenko all teaming up together in the beginning of the main story to take down the Monobeasts was pretty hype and at that point I knew that I would like this silly little game. And not just cross interaction, but even seeing characters of their respective games hanging out with characters they never would have was fun. Such as Chiaki and Peko having an intense gaming session with Akane in the background. Not all of the characters in their own games got to hang out all that much due to the killing game, so this really builds with even more relationships. That alone is the replayability factor to this game, even if you have to trudge through the boardgame. Trying the gacha to collect the cards is one thing for sure, but doing your best to unlock as much of the different character events for EVERY SINGLE character is what really brings you back. They’re all so fun, funny, and just wacky that it always entertains me and I want to see as much as I can. Maybe not for every single character, but at least for my favorites.
There are some downsides to the game though. I will say, it is really disappointing that you have to start a completely new game each time. At first I had thought that the board would reset with different characters. So for example, if I had unlocked a couple islands with Chiaki and made a lot of progress on the board, it won’t matter if I play as Hajime because it’ll be as if I didn’t unlock anything. But that’s not it, I have to start a new game if I play again with the same card! I had assumed that with the progress I made with my S Chiaki card, I would be able to pick up where I left off with the islands I unlocked and the stats and level Chiaki was at. I was shocked to see that I had to start from zero again and just play like I did before so I won’t lie, I was a little miffed.. When I had finished the round with the same card, it gave me the option to either save the new data I had on the card, or just keep the stats I had last time. So I wonder how I’m supposed to level up my S Chiaki card unless I’m missing something. So it doesn’t matter even if it’s the same character or the same card. It’ll basically just be a clean slate where you’ll have to start at the beginning so you have to do the same missions, defeat the same bosses over and over each time, and I won’t lie it can be really annoying and very tedious to do. You make a lot of progress but for what if you’re going to just have to start from the beginning again each time?
The gameplay and the animations itself is pretty simple, the combat being your typical turn-based RPG so it’s not anything too amazing or out there. Thankfully you can auto and change the speed of the battles to make it faster so you can get them out of the way. But I can see people getting frustrated or straight-up bored since you’d have to do the same thing over and over. Again, which is why it’s best to just focus on your very favorite characters and just take your time with everyone else. Still, not being able to start where I left off last time doesn’t make sense to me. I also wonder how I can complete the entire board and unlock all the islands in one round. Or if I want to level up a card to max level in one round. I was able to make it to the fourth island with my S Chihiro but only with two turns left, so I think I would need the highest rarity of a card to speed through all the bosses and islands. It’s a really strange choice, because if you don’t do a good job leveling up the stats you’ll have to start all over. And getting through VS Battle will be tough because I’ve been having a hard time.
(NOTE: It’s been awhile since I’ve written this review and as of publishing this, I still haven’t really been able to max a card or complete all the boards in one go. I haven’t sunk in that many hours into this game, and this is the main reason why.)
And if you’re not a fan of gacha games, this won’t be for you. Like I said, getting high rarity cards of your favorite characters is going to be really hard. Obviously the higher rarity cards are going to be the stronger ones and will help you out in both modes, especially in VS Battle. Thankfully I was lucky to get good cards of Chiaki, Chihiro, and Gundham but of course I want more of my favorites and it can get annoying when you get the cards of characters you don’t particularly care for. I feel like this could be a huge deciding factor for people too. Because if you don’t get any cards of your favorites, not even the most basic ones from the gacha, the game will be a lot less fun. And to get the coins for the gacha, you have to either play through the VS Battle or play over and over in the main game mode. Which…again. It’s REALLY tedious.
While the visuals are cute, it just uses the same sprites from the games. Same with the music. There’s some new backgrounds and they look fine, but I will say that the older sprites look a little strange next to the newer ones. Namely just Trigger Happy Havoc’s. The coloring on those sprites can look a little off and it’s not like the art style has changed all that much in Danganronpa, but the V3 sprites definitely have more polish to them. For some reason the Goodbye Despair sprites don’t look off, it’s just the first game’s. Maybe it’s just me but it does bother me a little and I wish they had maybe done some touch ups and updates on the older sprites. The chibi sprites however have always been adorable and I love watching them move around on the board, especially with their new animations. Another downside to the game is the fact that there isn’t any new voice acting. I know that most of Danganronpa’s voice acting is in the trials, or during CG cutscenes (which were plentiful in V3) but I always wished the games were fully voice acted. The dubs for all the games are great so I just love listening to them, but I understand that there would be SO MUCH to record. Also to somehow get every single voice actor back to voice them, some of them being super high profile seiyuu so it would be very tough. It’s a lot of characters so unfortunately the same sound bites from the games will have to do.
All in all, this is a very simple and silly game. You play on a board, you run around and fight, watch events, and just collect cards of the characters. The story and the character interactions are cute and funny, but that’s basically it. If you’re a big Danganronpa fan, this is something to check out on sale just for the hell of it because why not? I know I’ve seen very lukewarm reception to this game and I’m not really surprised. It’s not the most amazing game, especially when it comes to the actual gameplay, the gacha, and the extremely repetitive nature. I can say it is very fun just to see all the characters again alive and well, hanging out with each other and just doing regular teenager things. We had fun interactions like this to an extent in the main games but to see them chill around without the threat of death is nice. Brings a smile to my face. Still, I can admit that this is kind of a low effort game. Usually when you see a franchise have a spinoff Mario Party-type game, you know it most likely won’t be the best. I wouldn’t say that this game is awful, but it’s not amazing either. This is just a game where I pick it up and play it for an hour or two in short spurts and nothing more. I think it’s best to consume this game that way or you’ll burn yourself out and quickly find yourself hating it. I also just think it’s fun that the developers went out of their way to make a bonus mode its own game in a summer setting. And more Danganronpa is always good too. Yeah it’s low effort but…swimsuits are cool??? But not getting high rarity cards of Shuichi and Sakura is painful.