Review: Danganronpa S: Ultimate Summer Camp

Included alongside the release of Dangaronpa Decadence was a mostly new mini-game known as Ultimate Summer Camp. This is an enhanced version of a similar mini-game from Danganronpa V3, and here we have it included alongside the physical release as a brand new unique entry for series veterans to try out. While it might be a nice inclusion to go alongside the three mainline titles in the physical release, it’s also being sold by itself digitally for those who maybe just want to pick up the latest entry and not everything else. So is it worth snagging alone or better off just giving it a try as part of everything else? For a full review of the main three Danganronpa titles be sure to check out our review of Danganronpa Decadence right here.

The story of Ultimate Summer Camp is one that’s not meant for newcomers to the series and for good reason. It’s entirely intended for those who have played through the main three titles due to the fact that it spoils major plot points, characters and more. It would help to have played Despair Girls as well seeing as the characters from it also appear here, but unfortunately it was not one of the titles included to release on Switch, but it’s easy to say players aren’t missing much compared to the other main three. That said, the story follows an alternate scenario in which the characters from the various titles appear together and go into a digital space with one another for a break. Unfortunately due to the now expected interference from Monokuma they are stuck trapped in this place until they can gain max friendship with one another. It’s up to the characters to work together in order to escape or just enjoy their nice relaxing time on vacation.

Actual gameplay is perhaps the biggest unique twist that only those familiar with the original mini-game from Danganronpa V3 will recognize. It’s styled as a board game, complete with dice roles and tons of tiles and options to choose on each roll. From the very beginning players will select one of the characters they have unlocked to train up and begin their unique adventure. It’s not a linear experience like many board games, however, as the dice roll simply dictates how many spaces can be moved and not whether or not it needs to be forward or back. The main goal is to reach each section of the island and defeat the major boss of the area, but this must be accomplished in a mere fifty turns which may sound like a lot but so much of it depends on luck of the roll. The various spaces that can be landed on include event spaces which play out a short cutscene, training spaces that raise a character’s level and battle spaces among others. The battles themselves are turn-based and are mainly a simple event with unique mechanics. Unfortunately while playing through the main mode this isn’t experienced as much, and is instead left to the one optional mode that takes advantage of the full capabilities of battling.

Once a character has gone through their development, they get to keep all the levels and skills they’ve gained in order to take part in more challenging VS battle fights. This allows up to 4 trained characters to partake together as a team and face more deadly foes in increasingly difficult trials. Fights gift various drops from monsters which can be used to craft equipment and make stronger teams, with stronger enemies of course offering better rewards along the way. These are a key way to earn one currency to summon at the gacha machine to gain more characters, but fights can be difficult early on for those who don’t grind out development first to have a mostly consistent team. There’s also an auto mode available for all fights, but this is only recommended for easier fights as the AI generally tends to be on the stupid side and finds themselves regularly trapped in endless battles if left alone.

Ultimate Summer Camp’s biggest flaw is how it almost immediately becomes repetitive. The board itself never changes so it’s the same general approach every time. It’s a lot about mastering the board which works well, but at the same time makes it easy to feel burnt out when there’s just a distinct lack of variety. It’s exciting when getting further than ever before, but then it resets all over again and makes it feel disappointing. The gacha system for characters is exactly what one might think. It’s nice that players can’t get repeat characters, but it can also take a while to get new characters let alone someone’s favorite. The paid shop was unavailable to view during the review period so it’s hard to comment on in full, but regardless the gacha annoyance hits quickly and it’s frustrating having to grind one of three different currencies forever just to get a chance at even one more character to use.

Closing Comments: 

As part of the collection for Danganronpa Decadence, Ultimate Summer Camp is a nice bonus in addition to three solid titles. On its own as a digital title it may not necessarily be worth picking up unless players don’t mind the long grind that awaits them along their journey. The biggest single addition this spin-off could have used would be adding some sort of multiplayer support so at least players wouldn’t feel burdened by going at it alone and could instead take it on with a few more friends. It’s still a fine enough experience, but it’s just a shame there’s not a lot here outside of the board and continual fights. The unique little story scenarios are kind of interesting at first, but it’s quickly apparent that they don’t have a ton of actual substance to them either. Danganronpa S: Ultimate Summer Camp has a lot of charm at first, but it falls flat when it comes to the actual lack of interesting gameplay it offers.