Danganronpa is a franchise in an awkward position right now. Despite the criticism I’ve given it as its grown or even the negative sentiments longtime fans have expressed on social media and message boards, the series is still arguably in its strongest position ever. It cannot be understated how important it is that as of next year, the entire series will be available on PlayStation 4.
The video game industry is all about sales and popularity. Danganronpa transitioning from just being on Vita outside of Japan to being on PC and now the best selling console in the world is a major development. It opens up the series to a much larger audience. The series being viable in other media – such as anime- has also undoubtedly added to its popularity.
In other words, the assertion that Danganronpa is currently in a negative state is only referring to how myself and others subjectively feel about the content itself. The critical reception of the series has never been lower than it is right now, but the series’ viability – its ability to make money for Spike Chunsoft – has never been higher.
With all that said, despite the struggles of the last couple of entries, I will likely be a day-one adopter of the Vita version of Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony when it comes to the west. Truth be told, a soft reset of the series is the best thing that could happen to Danganronpa.
Danganronpa‘s weakness since the first game has been trying to expound upon the strange world and backstory that the series is based around. However, the core mechanics of the two full-length games were solid. Kazutaka Kodaka and his Spike Chunsoft team have demonstrated that under the format that Trigger Happy Havoc and Goodbye Despair were made in, they can make engaging games with fun characters, intriguing mysteries, and… passable… mini games.
So, as bad as DR3 was to some, I don’t understand abandoning V3 over it. Danganronpa has yet to fail in delivering a good full-length game and V3 seems to be completely disconnected from the mess the previous story had become. If anything, I find the decision to go in a completely new direction to be reassuring.
There’s also the matter of production value that can be expected in V3 versus the first two games. I touched on this in the Ultra Despair Girls post. The production value in that game versus the originals was night and day. The user-interface and inclusion of fully animated scenes really brought UDG to life in ways the first two games hadn’t been, despite its obvious shortcomings.
V3 coming out two years after UDG, on the heels of DR3 which had excellent production itself, and also being co-developed for PS4 leads me to expect the best production value the series has had thus far. Granted, in what limited gameplay I’ve seen in trailers, I still think the game is designed for the Vita first with the PS4 version existing because it makes the game available to a much larger audience. In other words, expect the PS4 version to just look like a highly polished handheld game, similar to Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth after it was ported.
Still, that doesn’t change the fact that it should be the most well put together game the series has had so far. Hopefully it will also follow UDG‘s lead of having some fully animated scenes as well. If Kodaka can recapture the creativity of the first two games for this new installment, then V3 should fair just fine and be a refreshing return to form for the series after UDG and DR3 had muddied its perception among many.
In conclusion, my experiment with Danganronpa this fall was a success. I hit all the high notes and despite the shakiness of the recent adaptations, I’m still committed to playing the third full installment. Hopefully the release of Danganronpa 1-2 Reload and then Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony in 2017 will revitalize the series’ perception among the masses. By the end of next year, I think the video game world will be just a little bit better if the narrative around Danganronpa is that it’s still in its prime, rather than looking back at its golden days.