Release Date: Nov 25, 2010/July 26, 2012/Jan 12, 2017
Platform Played On: PS4
2018 Placement: #53 (+3)
What It Is:
The Danganronpa series is part visual novel, part murder mystery, part point-and-click adventure, and all fun. The premise of the game is 16 students, each with a special skill that they have world-class talent in, are locked together in a game where they must kill each other. Each chapter of the game involved a murder and a class trial where the group has to come together and figure out who the culprit is, otherwise they’re all killed except the murderer, who gets to walk free. The time before each murder is mostly visual novel-esque, where some story beats happen but you also get to spend time with other students and learn more of their backstory. Investigating the murder itself is a point-and-click investigation where you find all the clues before heading into the trial.
But the trials aren’t just present your evidence like Ace Attorney: no, your evidence is loaded up into bullets and you have to shoot at contradictions in statements that the other students make. This, along with many other mini-games peppered in, makes the trials part revelatory and part frenetic action. It wouldn’t be as gripping if the characters weren’t amazing: each game has character you love, characters you hate, and characters you love to hate. And these characters are truly what make the games worth playing, as the entire premise lives or dies with the cast. Thankfully, Danganronpa nails it in that department three times over.
Why It’s Important To Me:
For my 2018 ranking I only had V3 listed. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized you can’t have V3 being such an excellent game without its two predecessors. Really, the reason V3 left such an impression on me can’t be disconnected from the other two. So as I said before with the Nonary Games listing: my countdown, my rules. And the Danganronpa series as a whole gets the first spot in the top 50 because they’re all awesome.
While V3 I think is the overall best game in the series (and has a perfect finale), 2 has two of my favorite characters of all-time: Gundham Tanaka and Nagito Komaeda. Gundham is just perfect in every way and Komaeda is the greatest, most lovable complete asshole in gaming history. The original also has one of my favorite moments in the entire series (Chapter 5’s ending, if you know, you know) so it’s just impossible for me to separate each of these games into distilled entries because the love I have for the series is intertwined with moments shared across all the games. You can’t have V3 without 1 and 2, you can’t have 2 without 1, and 1 is just plain awesome on its own.
The anime kinda sucked though.
My Strongest Memory:
Danganronpa originally wasn’t available in the U.S. It gained popularity, though, partly due to a Something Awful let’s playthrough where a poster played through the game and posted translations of the game on the board, allowing the board members to vote on who to spend time with between murders and adding cliffhangers and suspense to all the proceedings. I read through these and instantly fell in love with the characters and setting. The added bonus of seeing the highs and lows with other people as they also read through what was happening just enhanced the experience.
When I finally played them myself when 1+2 Reload was available on PS4, even though I already knew the story I was still blown away by the characters and fell in love with the series all over again. And playing V3 without having already been spoiled about who the murderers were was even better. I can’t even begin to get into the ending of V3 because I don’t want to give it away for anyone, but my favorite moment of the entire series is the final trial of V3. It’s just balls to the wall bonkers that had me on the edge of my seat grinning from ear to ear the entire time. It’s three games worth of build-up, but by god the finale knocks it out of the park. It’s basically the antithesis of how the Nonary Games ended and why this series gets all three games together instead of just the first two.
Also, again, fucking Nagito Komaeda. What a shitlord. I love him. I hate him. He’s been my profile pic on Steam for years. Fucking Komaeda. What a dickhead. I love him.
Why It’s #50:
There’s a certain type of movie my friends like to call the “Atma Movie” where everything takes place in one location, the people are pitted against one another and lots of people die. Danganronpa is that but a video game, so of course I’m going to love it. But add in quirky characters, weird-ass shit going down between murders, and the murders themselves being complicated as hell and an absolute blast to solve…well, you’ve got a recipe for Ultimate Success in my book.