Ten Minutes With Danganronpa Producer Yoshinori Terasawa
By Steven Brown
GameCritics was recently invited to sit down for a quick interview with the producer of Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc. The recent Vita release has received several positive reviews including ours since its North American launch. Mr. Terasawa's schedule was crowded so we dove right into the questions to make the most of the ten minutes that we were given. Working with a translator, Mr. Terasawa kept his answers brief, but to the point.
GameCritics: First off, I would like to congratulate you on the North American release of Danganronpa in the United States. It seems to be getting rather positive reviews.
Yoshinori Terasawa: Thank you.
GC: Visual novels are still a niche genre in the US, but have a loyal fan base. What do you think makes this game stand out for those who might never have been interested in a visual novel before?
Terasawa: The parts of the Danganronpa series that stand out the most are the class trial scenes. In Japan they call it a high-speed, crime-solving visual novel game because the class trial is very hands-on for most players. Unlike several other visual novels, the player actively interacts with the game during these scenes. That is the part that's unique when compared to other games in this genre.
GC: Danganronpa has been compared to games like Phoenix Wright and Persona, but was there anything that directly inspired it outside of other games? Where there any movies or books the creators used for inspiration?
Terasawa: I was especially inspired by movies such as Saw, Cube, and Battle Royale. As for books, I was inspired by several mystery novels such as Closed Circle.
GC: Was there any reason for the stylistic choice to make all the blood hot pink?
Terasawa: I wanted to tone down on the grotesqueness and I wanted to increase the "pop" feeling. In the end I feel it positively impacted the game.
GC: With violence in schools being a hot topic in America right now, were there any troubles in bringing over a game that is essentially about students having to murder each other?
Terasawa: You would have to talk to NIS America if there were any localization issues like that, but we had no problems with it in Japan. In Japan it was given a rating of D which is the equivalent of an M rating for North America, so it's only meant for ages 17 and up.
GC: Danganronpa applies a lot of pressure on the player via several timed scenes — it induces a sense of panic and a need to rush. How did the team go about finding that "sweet spot" between making sure the player has enough time to think while making them feel constantly under pressure?
Terasawa: Our main purpose of the class trial was to put pressure on the gamer all the time, but if you get along with the students during the free time you can obtain several skills that can lessen that burden to make things easier for you. In addition, we also created three levels of difficulty to allow the player to find their own level of comfort.
GC: The cast of the game is rather diverse, with everyone filling out a specific school stereotype. What were some of the surprise fan favorites that turned out to be popular?
Terasawa: Thanks to the anime when it aired in Japan, Kiyotaka Ishimaru, known in the game as the Ultimate Moral Compass, became really popular.
GC: Did the development team have anyone they wanted the players to enjoy as much as they did?
Terasawa: Oh, everyone had their own different one. [Laughter] Seriously, everyone had their own favorite.
GC: With Danganronpa 2 having just been announced for a US release, are there any plans to bring over any of the spin-off materials to North America?
Terasawa: Well there is the anime that just aired here. In addition we just announced in Japan a spin-off game for the vita called Absolute Despair Girl: Danganronpa Another Episode. No plans for a US release yet, but if NIS America makes an offer we would love to see it come here.
GC: Thank you very much for your time, Mr. Terasawa.
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