Danganronpa is a Japanese video-game series by Spike Chunsoft studio. These are detective thrillers you can play as an interactive anime experience.
Series games take months and years to reach international audiences, like Monster Hunter titles. Yet, when they do, Danganronpa often receives worldwide praise for its creative mechanics.
That said, Danganronpa doesn’t have a translation for international audiences. Much like the action-adventure series Yakuza, it ships with its Japanese name for all audiences.
So, we’re looking at the Asian game and see what you could have been missing. So far, we’ve seen three main games, three spin-offs, one bundle, and one enhanced port. The total is eight Danganronpa entries.
Every Danganronpa Games in Order
The Danganronpa series follows the Hope’s Peak Academy students, home of the brightest young minds in Japan.
Things go wrong when the school director Monokuma, a bear machine, forces the students to murder each other. He won’t let the students exit the academy unless they can murder another and get away freely.
In other words, the machine traps the students into a death game scenario. This is a popular genre in South Korea and Japan, with recent shows like Squid Game, Alice in Borderlands, or older classics like Liar Game and Battle Royale.
The gameplay has dating simulator elements, third-person shooting, and mystery board game parts across its adventure visual novel playtime.
Kazutaka Kodak is the series creator. Currently, Danganronpa has diversified into manga, anime, and novels. In fact, there’re also various anime, manga, and light novels that are part of the canon storyline of the series.
Overall, fans and critics praise the franchise for its characterization, atmosphere, and tone. The series has sold over 5 million copies worldwide. Moreover, the studio Pierrot took inspiration from Danganronpa to create the anime Akudama Drive.
Trigger Happy Havoc is the first game in the Danganronpa series. It debuted in 2010 for PlayStation Probable in Japan. Later on, it premiered for Android, iOS, Windows, macOS, SteamOS, and Linux.
Players control Makoto Naegi, a student involved in a battle royale in Hope’s Peak Academy. Robot-bear Monokuma trapped the 15 students with a condition to escape. They must murder another student and then not be voted as the killer in the trial.
The gameplay combines third-person shooting and dating simulation. Makoto must interact with his classmates to solve the “Class Trials.” Moreover, he must “shoot” at the arguments on the screen to choose an option.
You have to research every incident, search for clues, and talk to the students outside of the trials. The goal is to find the truth behind the brutal murders. You can use your dating and charismatic skills to make your classmates help you and give you information.
The second entry debuted in 2012 for PlayStation Portable in Japan. Later on, it became available worldwide for the PlayStation Vita, the PlayStation Portable, Windows, macOS, SteamOS, and Linux.
Goodbye Despair continues the visual novel adventure playtime. The plot happens after the first game and after the companion light novel Danganronpa Zero.
The story follows Hajime Hinata, part of a group of students trapped in Jabberwock Island by the headmaster Monokuma. Monomi, a sentient stuffed Rabbit, is the co-villain this time. So, as the first game, students must kill their peers while getting away as innocents.
Playtime comes in three parts: the dating-sim section, where you can interact with other students to get information and allies. The second part is the Deadly Life, where you must investigate the crime scenes for evidence. Lastly, you play on the Class Trial, as before. The difference is you can develop debate skills by talking to your classmates.
The first spin-off in the series debuted in 2014 for PlayStation Vita in Japan. Later on, it became available worldwide for the PS Vita, PlayStation 4, and Windows.
Its plot takes place in-between the first and the second entries. A year after the first title, Komaru Naegi, Makoto’s younger sister, tries to escape the city while Monokuma robots attack her. She soon joins the Warriors of Hope, a group of children looking to murder adults with robots.
This setting means the game is a third-person adventure game, unlike the previous visual novel gameplay. Komaru has a hacking Gun, various Truth Bullet types, and several hacking abilities.
Toko Fukawa will aid Komaru during the game. He uses a stun gun that allows players to temporarily take control of the game’s villain, Genocide Jill.
Danganronpa: Unlimited Battle – 2015 (Spin-off)
Unlimited Battle is the next Danganronpa spin-off. It debuted in 2015 for iOS and Android in Japan, but it’s not available anymore.
This was a free-to-play action mobile game. The players used the touchscreen to shoot enemies with billiards in confined areas.
Kirigiri Sou – 2016 (Spin-off)
Kirigiri Sou is another Danganronpa spin-off. It debuted in 2016 for Windows and macOS in Japan. This is a visual novel mystery adventure with suspense and horror elements. The plot happens between the Danganronpa Kirigiri light novel and the first game in the series.
You play Kirigiri Sou, the top detective of Hope’s Peak Academy. You’re investigating missing persons at a mysterious mansion.
The gameplay comes with 2D characters and background slides. The protagonist can make choices and move down across branching paths. Ultimately, the game has different narratives and endings, depending on the player’s choices.
The third main entry debuted worldwide in 2017 for PlayStation 4, PS Vita, Windows, and Nintendo Switch.
Killing Harmony follows the 16 high-school students in another survival game. Each character has a skill, an Ultimate Talent. You play as two students: Kaede Akamatsu and Shuichi Saihara, each featuring their own part in the story.
Monokuma is back as the game-master. There’re also Monokubs, smaller robot bears serving as secondary antagonists. As before, the bear machine promises freedom for those who can murder a fellow classmate and then be found innocent in the trial.
The title continues with similar gameplay as the previous games. There’re Deadly Life, Daily Life, and Class Trial segments. The game also introduces a character progression system to develop skills for the Class Trials. As before, the trials are non-stop debates where the different students discuss the cases. The player must fire Truth Bullets to select the arguments they like.
Lastly, the story reveals the students are taking part in the “Danganronpa 53 (V3), the 53rd season of a lethal reality show with millions of viewers. To stop the Killing Game, they must either convince the headmaster to stop or find a way to lower the viewing rate, so the show stops making any money.
Danganronpa 1-2 Reload – 2017 (Bundle/Port)
In 2017, the studio launched a PlayStation bundle that packs the first and the second game. It’s available for the PlayStation 4.
PC users may find further bundles:
Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair Anniversary Edition – 2020 (Enhanced port)
The Anniversary edition debuted in August 2020. It’s an enhanced port for Android and iOS. It also became available for Nintendo Switch in 2021.
Running Down the Danganronpa Gameplay
If you’re confused, here’s the overall rundown of what the game has to offer:
- Dating-simulation: During the “Daily Life” segments, you can talk to other students by selecting choices as an interactive novel. The goal is to develop romantic relationships or friendships to gather information and gain allies.
- Free-roam Interaction: There may also be more relaxing parts where you can simply interact with the students for no other reason than passing the time. It may reward you with extra skill points. These skill points can make you better for the Class Trial.
- Detective Segments: During the “Deadly Life” segments, you interact with the screen to gather and study evidence.
- Class Trial: The Class Trial is the most significant part. Every student gathers to discuss the current murder cases, launching arguments nonstop. Via third-person shooting, you “shoot” at a point of view with Truth Bullets if you think the idea is the truth. Meanwhile, Monokuma is jury, judge, and executioner.
The game ends when you discover the truth about the murder cases, and the Killer Games stop.
Every Danganronpa Games in Chronological Order
- Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc – 2010
- Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair – 2012
- Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls – 2014
- Danganronpa: Unlimited Battle – 2015
- Kirigiri Sou – 2016
- Danganronpa 1-2 Reload – 2017
- Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony – 2017
- Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair Anniversary Edition – 2020