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A Disappointing Example of Sequelitis
Like many others, I was enthralled by Dangan Ronpa. The game did an excellent job of having a quirky cast of characters, yet managing to balance it with serious subject matter and believable characterization. So, of course I was excited to see what the sequel had to offer.

It is terrible. The sequel's plot is a shameless retread of the first, continuing the already-shaky elements introduced in the first game's ending and trying to expand them. The result is an over-the-top mess that is impossible to take seriously. However, I would be willing to forgive this — as I did in the first game — if the characters and execution were good enough that the overall experience was still good. This is not so. They, too, are shameless retreads, with even their appearances being incredibly similar. However, unlike in the first game, the quirkiness and ridiculousness is turned Up To Eleven, turning almost everyone into one-trick ponies with no depth to them whatsoever, and who vastly overstay their welcome before the game is even halfway over.

In the first game, I was always on pins and needles, horrified over who would wind up dead next, and every death was emotionally affecting — even that of the culprit designed to be the least sympathetic. That was not the case here. No, by contrast, I was hoping for certain characters to die because they were just so grating. There were perhaps two or three deaths that surprised me and made me feel sad for the characters — but other than that, my only reactions were either, "Well, that was inevitable," "Whatever," or "Thank God." I simply could not bring myself to care about these cardboard cutouts who were so far into comic relief territory so as to completely alienate them from anything resembling realistic behavior.

Oh, and there's the tasteless vulgar humor, too. Everywhere. Constantly. I applauded the original Dangan Ronpa for mostly avoiding Fanservice and having a tasteful attitude in general, but that's been completely thrown out the window here.

Seriously, what happened here? The developers have clearly shown themselves capable of creating a substantial, emotionally moving narrative and a great cast of characters. Why did they choose to appeal to low-brow humor and Flanderize their characters to the point that it looks like self-parody? It's just...disappointing, honestly.
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Filled With SHSL Hope
When I first heard Dangan Ronpa had a sequel, I was reluctant to read it. The character designs seemed to get more bizarre, I had been often disappointed by sequels before, and most importantly I couldn't think of any possible way they could reuse the same premise from the first game and have it not be utter crap.

Then I started reading it, and all my fears were blown away. As with the first one, there are a wide variety of characters, given even more depth than in the first game. Furthermore, the relationship between the cast is developed further while in DR, with select few exceptions, the characters are willing to turn and suspect one another at the drop of a hat, in SDR 2 a greater emphasis is placed on the camaraderie of a group as a whole. This ends up making most of the murderers even more sympathetic than the cast of the original, as the bystanders feel even more betrayed by their actions.

Furthermore, the plot and the murders are even more devious than the original story, with several twists and turns that completely threw me for a loop. Again, going in expecting the story to make absolutely no sense, I was shocked at how well everything was tied together in an unexpected, but not at all unwelcome twist. All in all, I felt that this game had a great cast, interesting puzzles for the murders, and a thrilling plot that made it a SUPER HIGH SCHOOL LEVEL FUN experience.
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