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Review: Danganronpa S is Tedious

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Review: Danganronpa S is Tedious

When Danganronpa V3 ended the trilogy, it included a number of time sinks in addition to a robust adventure. Among them were Ultimate Talent Development Plan, a board game about building up characters, and Despair Dungeon: Monokuma’s Test, a dungeon-crawling RPG with turn-based battles. The two tied into each other for a satisfying gameplay loop. Danganronpa S: Ultimate Summer Camp, the only new game in Danganronpa Decadence, combines elements of both into one. The downside is, while it can still be compelling, the way it’s handled can also make things tedious. In review, Danganronpa S pales in comparison to the minigames its based upon.

In Danganronpa S, things are slightly more peaceful than usual. All of the characters from the three main games and Ultra Despair Girls attend Hope’s Peak Academy. They’re in a VR program “visiting” Jabberwock Island. Except Monokuma is wreaking havoc. His Monobeast minions are everywhere and you have to recover five stolen scrolls. But also even though that is a “goal,” the real task is improving each character over a certain number of days (turns) in the Development mode so you can do well in the Battle mode. Which means earning medals you can spend on gacha machines in the School Store to get more and better versions of characters to build.

You’re probably wondering how it’s different! Well, Danganronpa S retains the Ultimate Talent Development Plan board game approach in Development. You have panels for different events. You might land on a battle square. That triggers a fight against Monokuma’s minions. The Event Square involves a quick question-and-answer scene that boosts one stat. Friendship Squares boost stats. Talent Squares give you fragments to teach characters skills. Growth Squares level you up. Shop Squares let you buy cards and equipment. You can roll dice or use cards to move. If another character from the series is on the square, you get a stat boost.

Review: Danganronpa S is Tedious

How it changes is the board approach. Since Monokuma’s taken control of Jabberwock Island, you’re basically fighting to take it back. You have 50 days (turns) for each run. You start on the first island. You must make your chosen character strong enough to reach and defeat the bosses of each of the five islands and show Monokuma who’s boss. Depending on their “type,” which can be intelligence, sports, or variety, they will have different special skills or perks as you play. For example, sports might get fired up. Variety types have a Barrier skill in-battle that restores Influence (HP) and shield you for a turn.

Though since you don’t get the “best” elements unless you’re also playing through the separate RPG versus mode, you also are starting with only five N-rank character cards, and getting presents from the gacha can make characters grow more, you’ll be lucky if you beat the third island’s boss by the end of your first run.

Which is one of the reasons why Danganronpa S can feel more tedious than Ultimate Talent Development Plan. The original minigame offered different “courses.” Those were the boards. You could have 30 square runs, but it could also be as long as 80. Here you have that time limit. If your character takes a lot of damage or “dies,” you’ll need to burn a day recovering your influence (HP). For a game that’s supposed to be more hopeful, it starts off pretty discouraging! By the time I reached the first boss during my first run with an N-rank Kaede, I knew I wouldn’t be “beating” the main mode anytime soon.

Review: Danganronpa S is Tedious

The other reason it gets tedious is because of the selection of characters. Like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, everybody’s here! (Well, everyone from Danganronpa’s here!) But you only have N-rank cards of the main protagonists from all four games to start. Want more? Play the board game and stripped-down RPG (or spend real cash) to get coins for them! Pray you get the U-rank ones. They are “better,” as they can learn more skills. They often look a lot cooler. (I only got Jataro and Hifumi.) You can also get upgrade Hype Cards that do things like increase character damage limits. Or maybe equip Presents that make them develop faster in the board game. All of which also unlock via the gacha. (Though you’ll need extras of presents to build a supply.)

Knowing that paying to get a guaranteed “great” card, rather than the very common N-rank ones, isn’t fun. Neither is getting a lot of characters you don’t really care about. It can also add to the tedium. Because you’ll know you must improve characters you don’t like to get coins to try for one you do. But also, even if you do get a U-rank card, it might not be worth building it up yet in Development. Because if you don’t have the Hype Card that, say, breaks the attribute cap so you can go to 999, rather than 255, for a stat, you can’t really maximize them.

But we haven’t talked about the RPG mode yet! Danganronpa S’ take on Despair Dungeon: Monokuma’s Test no longer lets you explore a dungeon. You still make parties of four from characters you built in the board game. You create equipment for them. But now you go through a 200-story Tower of Despair. Each block includes a set number of levels levels of it. When you choose a floor, you go through waves of turn-based battles. Defeating them while meeting certain “missions” means you can climb higher and get gacha coin rewards. I really preferred the Despair Dungeon: Monokuma’s Test experience. Though I will say that if you’ve started getting some really great rank cards and build a party with four of them, you can set a floor on autobattle and have a pretty easy go of things.

Review: Danganronpa S is Tedious

Also, the gacha odds are bad. Which is disappointing, as this is a $20 game. If it was free-to-play, fine. Sure. I’d accept a 3% chance of getting a U-rank card from the MonoMono Yachine. (You get medals from it from Usami Flower plateaus or certain Battle tower accomplishments. It also offers S-rank characters at 20% odds.) But one of the most common medals you’ll get is for the MonoMono Machine. Your odds of getting a U-rank character there is 0.2%. S-rank characters have 2% odds there. You know it is bad when it makes Genshin Impact‘s 0.6% rate for five-stars and pity system look good. (Speaking of which, I haven’t encountered any pity system in Danganronpa S‘ gacha.) The Golden MonoMono Machine machine only has the best U-rank character and Hype Cards. However, even though you can get those medals from Usami Flowers and the Battle mode, it won’t happen often. Since the Vending Machine wasn’t functional ahead of launch, I wasn’t able to see how much it would cost to buy Medals with real coins. But it wasn’t a good sign that, after about 10 hours and only getting two U-rank cards, I felt ready to pay to get someone I’d like to help make this review go faster.

The thing about Danganronpa S is that as I play, I can think of how it could be better. Giving a player all N-rank cards at the start would have been nice. Especially since there are four variants of each character and nine Hype Card upgrades for each of them. Not to mention 30 presents are there. It’d mean you’d be able to build people you like immediately. Even if they wouldn’t be great. Also, given that people are paying $20 for this, the gacha rates shouldn’t be so terrible. Rather than play Danganronpa S, I’d suggest people get Danganronpa V3 and play through its minigames (and review its story) again. Given it’s $29.99, compared to Danganronpa S’s $19.99, it is worth it. As is, I can’t help but feel like this should have been a free-to-play game.

Danganronpa S: Ultimate Summer Camp will be available alone or as part of Danganronpa Decadence on the Nintendo Switch on December 3, 2021.

Danganronpa S: Ultimate Summer Camp

4

Food for Thought
  • Danganronpa V3 is fantastic, with a main campaign that will easily take about 40 hours. And given how engrossing Ultimate Talent Development Plan and Despair Dungeon: Monokuma’s Test are, that could honestly take 10-20 hours of your time too.
  • Danganronpa V3 features some of the best written and most identifiable characters in the series. Its cast is full of well-designed people with both merits and flaws.
  • Danganronpa V3 is available on so many platforms. It's on the PS4, Vita, PC, Android devices, iOS devices, and on December 3, 2021, the Nintendo Switch.
    If you want to know more, check out Siliconera's review guide.
    Jenni Lada
    Jenni is Editor-in-Chief at Siliconera and has been playing games since getting access to her parents' Intellivision as a toddler. She continues to play on every possible platform and loves all of the systems she owns. (These include a PS4, Switch, Xbox One, WonderSwan Color and even a Vectrex!) You may have also seen her work at GamerTell, Cheat Code Central, Michibiku and PlayStation LifeStyle.