Video Game of the Day is a daily show available on Amazon Alexa devices and here on this website. Each day, we briefly discuss the history of a single game, randomly chosen. If you would like to listen on your daily flash briefing, you can enable Video Game of the Day here: https://amzn.to/2CNx2NJ.
Hello and welcome! My name is Katosepe and I’ll be your host for today’s Video Game of the Day.
I want to give a brief warning about today’s episode. This description will contain some discussion of violence against kids similar to what you may see in The Hunger Games so if you’re sensitive to that, maybe just skip today’s show. We’ll be back tomorrow with something a bit lighter. Promise. Alright, everyone on board? We ready? Today’s game is Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, developed by Spike and released on the PSP in 2010.
To get Danganronpa, it’s probably important to understand a little bit about Japanese media. See, years before The Hunger Games was ever a thing, there was a Japanese novel called Battle Royale, which saw a class of students brought to an island and forced to kill each other with the survivor being allowed to live. The story was a social commentary about Japanese schools and work culture that would be way too much to get into on this show but the point is, the idea of kids having to fight and kill other kids to survive is something that some Japanese relate to quite heavily.
So 11 years go by since that novel, and we get a bright, colorful visual novel called Danganronpa. You play as Makoto Naegi, a kid recently accepted to the venerable Hope’s Peak Academy, a high school that caters solely to the most elite students in the world. Typically, scouts go out and search for students who are the Ultimate’s in their field. The Ultimate Chef, the Ultimate Chemist, the Ultimate Belly Dancer. These are the kinds of people who attend Hope’s Peak Academy. Makoto is accepted as the Ultimate Lucky Student by winning a lottery.
On their first day, however, things quickly go sour as Makoto and 14 other students wake up with the school barred and bolted, completely blocked off from the outside world. A remote controlled teddy bear named Monokuma tells them that they are trapped in this school unless one of them wins the Killing School Life game. Basically, one of the students will need to murder another. When that happens, all of the students gather for a class trial. If the murderer gets away with the crime, they will go free and all the other students will die. If the class determines the killer, they are killed and the students continue the game.
Danganronpa is a visual novel with some detective work and puzzle solving thrown in, similar in many ways to the Ace Attorney games. The primary difference between the two series, other than the stark tonal difference, is the active approach Danganronpa takes to figuring out the killer. When trials are taking place, the player will be asked questions about the crime. Answers are sometimes chosen from a multiple choice list but typically, the player will need to play a short mini-game to provide the answer. The Non-Stop Debate is similar to Phoenix Wright in that you will need to present evidence refuting the correct phrase but there’s no pausing while people speak so players have to think quickly. Hangman’s Gambit forces players to spell out an answer by shooting at the correct letters in order. Giving a wrong answer in any of these games results in a loss of Influence, basically the game’s health meter.
Danganronpa received high critical praise and has been awarded numerous game of the year awards. Since its original Japanese-only release on the PSP, it has been ported to the Playstation Vita, PS4, and Steam in all regions. Danganronpa received multiple anime and manga adaptations, two main series sequels, as well as three spin-off games. The series writer is currently working on his first independently released game, Death Come True, which comes out in June of 2020.
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