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Have you dreamed of being a great detective like Sherlock Holmes?  There is an allure to collecting clues, interviewing people and connecting the dots in an effort to figure out who was a perpetrator of a crime. NIS America has published a game that will let us play the role of the detective in Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc.

In the game, you play Makoto Naegi, a regular student who was randomly drawn and invited to attend Hope’s Peak Academy. The school is renowned for being home to Japan’s “ultimate” students; students are enrolled by invitation only. On the first day of school Makoto and 14 of his classmates find themselves cut off from the outside world by an evil looking robot bear named Monokuma. The only way out of the school is for a student to kill a fellow classmate without anyone finding out they did it. Can the students figure out who is the person behind Monokuma and can they find a way out of the school without murdering each other?

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The gameplay in Danganronpa is similar to the Ace Attorney games. It can be broken down into two different modes: normal gameplay and class trials.

In normal gameplay, you move throughout the school looking for clues and talking to fellow classmates gathering clues and evidence to use in the class trials. It’s important to also talk with your fellow classmates. As your relationship with each character grows different skills are unlocked, which will also help in the mock trials.

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One feature I like in this game is the “observe” function. When the triangle button is pressed circles will appear around different items or people on screen. These circles indicate that you can interact with the person or object. I tend to spend a lot of time making sure I have checked everything on the screen. The observe function makes this process go by very quickly.

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Class trials are the place where you put all those clues and evidence you gather to use. There are four different mini games that appear in class trials: nonstop debate, Hangman’s gambit, bullet time battle and closing arguments. In nonstop debate you have truth bullets that you must fire at lies or contradictions in comments from your fellow classmates. This gets increasingly harder as the story progresses. In hangman’s gambit mode, you must shoot down specific letters to spell out a clue. Rhythm game players will enjoy bullet time battle, you must hit the correct button for arguments at just the right time. Finally the class trial ends with a closing argument, you must create a comic on what happened during the crime.

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I’ve always been a fan of visual novels, and Danganronpa delivers everything you want in one. This game melds the gameplay from the Ace Attorney games, but the darker story of Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward into an enjoyable game that keeps you wondering what is going to happen next. The game looks spectacular on the Vita’s screen and I had zero problems with the controls. If you are a fan of visual novels I highly recommend you pick this game up, I have a hard time putting it down.

Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc is now available from in the US in both physical (NIS America Store, Amazon, etc) and downloadable forms (PSN) for the PlayStation Vita. European players will have to wait until February 14, 2014 to get the game (Isn’t it romantic?).

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