How NIS America Localized Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc

By Spencer . January 24, 2014 . 5:30pm


Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc is a bit different from NIS America’s usual projects. The PlayStation Vita game is a mystery game where you help Makoto Naegi, an average guy at an elite school, sort through lies during class trials. Siliconera spoke with NIS America and asked about how they localized Danganronpa and about the new School Life mode.


Can you tell us about how NIS America got Danganronpa as a series? Were you waiting for the Vita version before picking it up?


David Alonzo, Marketing Coordinator: Our previous producer, Jack Niida, was a huge fan of the game and played a key role in initiating the licensing process. His enthusiasm for the game definitely got the rest of the company excited for it, and we were considering licensing the game just as the Vita version was in the works.


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How is the localization for Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc different from the fan translation?


Phoenix Spaulding, Script Editor: That’s actually hard to say, since we made a point not to read anything regarding the fan translation in order to avoid any possibility of their edit influencing our own. From comments we’ve heard from fans after the announcement, it looks like there are a few minor differences regarding character name spellings and things like that. Other than that, what we can say is that we approached the localization of this just like any other project, attempting to convey the spirit and tone of the story while still making it accessible for potential fans regardless of how familiar or unfamiliar they may be with the game.


Since Danganronpa is a story driven game could you tell us about the process of localizing it? Was there anything that Spike Chunsoft requested?


PS: The only specific request from Spike Chunsoft was to keep Monokuma’s name as Monokuma. Other than that, they have been extremely flexible and supportive regarding our choices, and they went above and beyond in terms of modifying graphic text, adjusting gameplay elements to fit English audio, and things of that nature.




What was the biggest challenge when localizing Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc?


PS: Because of the mystery aspect of the game, it was crucial for us to make sure that every detail regarding each case was fully understood and expressed so that the player got exactly the right information at exactly the right time – no more and no less. The process of discovery is core to the game, so our top priority was getting those details and key moments exactly right. We’ve never worked on a game of that nature, so that was probably the most challenging aspect for us.


Can you tell us about your favorite scene?


PS: I do have a couple of scenes that I really love, but they’re all later in the game, so to avoid spoilers I’ll just say that once you start to figure out what’s really going on and everything starts getting revealed, I loved how crazy it all got. Other than that, pretty much any scene with Monokuma was super awesome to edit and voice.




What is Monokuma like in the US version?


PS: We like to think he’s not all that different from the Japanese version – which is to say, kind of all over the place. He’s bossy, condescending, smarmy, goofy, quick to anger, quick to forgive, quick to anger again, devious, and totally lovable.


Vocally, we knew there was no way we could emulate the feel and meaning of the Japanese (since he was voiced by one of the most beloved voice actors in modern Japanese history), so we went in a direction that is definitely different, but I think still works within the feel and context of the character and world. Personally I’m really happy with how the final vocal track turned out, and I think it matches his hyperactive psychopath nature really well.


Which character was the toughest to localize? Which was your favorite?


PS: The toughest was definitely Toko. In the original Japanese, she has a pronounced stutter, which is a core part of her personality. We wanted to write her in a way that carried this speech over into English faithfully without overdoing it or letting it get in the way of the dialogue. So the first challenge was writing the display text in a way that got the feel across without making it unreadable, and the second challenge was finding an actor who could express that type of speech impediment without making it sound ham-fisted or insulting to people who have real-life experience with that kind of thing.


As far as favorites, Monokuma is the runaway winner. There’s just so much variety to his personality. He’s the kind of character you know you should hate, yet you can’t help but love, and that’s my favorite kind of character to write.




Can you tell us about the additional storyline Spike Chunsoft added to the PlayStation Vita version and School Life mode?


PS: Without giving too much away, School Life mode begins after beating the game for the first time. You’ll have the choice to begin this mode, which explores what might happen if the students were all trapped in the school together but weren’t forced to begin killing each other. So this mode will offer a new storyline and new gameplay mode, and on top of that you will be able to hang out with students one-on-one to explore different parts of the school, as well as learn even more about them than you did during the main game.


There is a smartphone version of Danganronpa too. Is NIS America thinking about localizing that or perhaps other games like Super Danganronpa 2?


PS: Right now it all depends on how the first game performs. We put a lot of time and resources into this game, and if fans respond positively and we see that there’s a real audience for this series in the West, we would definitely be open to exploring what else we might be able to bring over. On a personal level, I had a blast working on the first one and I would love to see the series continue over here, so we’ll just have to wait and see how the first game plays out.

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  • Ferrick

    hmm, interesting, seems like i will have to look forward to despair at early February

  • Really looking forward to getting this. Ordered the limited edition from NISA’s store, and I’m super hoping that this game is a runaway success for them. I really want them to do Super Danganronpa 2! And the upcoming spin-off game!

  • Jonah Paley

    Aww, I like Monobear better than Monokuma.

    I wish I had the money to buy a Vita and this game. :( Hopefully enough people pre-ordered it for NIS to want to bring Super Dangan Ronpa 2 and future games like Dangan Ronpa: Another Episode.

    Can’t wait to hear Syo/Jack’s English voice acting! (For those who didn’t hear, they reportedly renamed Syo to Jack. The reasons make sense, but I’m not sure how much I can go into them here since I don’t want to spoil stuff)

    • Oh, they renamed Syo to Jack? I guess in a lot of ways, while it’s weird, it does hold a lot more cultural significance. And really, Syo’s name… is subject to so many different romanizations anyway, might as well go with something else entirely.

      But yeah, looking really forward to their voice. That’ll be cool.

    • ThatGuy3190_7

      If it is any indication or any hope, the preorder version of the game sold out the same month it was available.

      While I am definitely getting this game, I am more than hoping they localize Super Danganronpa 2.

      • Dang, I just checked, and you’re right! The limited edition of the game is completely sold out. Really glad I ordered that as soon as I could!

        But this is definitely good news for the game and the series over here in America. DR fans are a terrifying force.

  • Lumi

    Wait, the official localization contains school mode and if? The vita exclusives right?

    • School mode was a given, but I doubt it’s an If storyline.

      As much as I’d really like it if it was If… (unless if you mean “If” in a different sense.)

      • Lumi

        Hm, the interview mentioned ’additional storyline’ and school mode as separate things, so I’m assuming it means If… haven’t been following news of the official release though

        • Ah! Well, it might be an additional “can do free time more easily” mode, but… who knows.

          Maybe the new storyline IS something based off of the light novel “what if” story.

          • Lumi

            But anyway, school mode probably means I’ll have to get a vita this year. Sigh.

          • Leon_Tekashi

            Nothing’s wrong with that. The vita’s library is building up slowly.

    • Laith Rem

      School mode is the if storyline. And yeah its vita exclusive.

      • Lumi

        Oh, the tvtropes entry seem to indicate they are separate things though

        • Mirai

          They are seperate what you’re talking about is Dangan Ronpa IF which is a short novel you can read after beating SDR2 which is basically “what if everyone came out alive” scenario.

          • SDR2 is a completely different game.

            Dangan Ronpa IF is based off of the first game– namely an easter egg/”alternate ending” you can get. It’s a really neat light novel, and has no relation to SDR2, other than a throwaway line about an island.

            What the person is asking though is if school mode is a separate mode, and if it’s based off of the “IF” storyline that was made into a light novel.

          • Mirai

            Sorry I don’t think I made myself entirely clear, I know Dangan Ronpa IF is on the first game as I’ve personally read it, however the source or where it comes from is in the second DR game. When you finish SDR2 you unlock a short novel which is IF. its based on the first game but its source is in the second game.
            If that’s his question then the answer is no. School mode and IF are different can’t go into detail as to why, as talking about IF would spoil alot from the first game.

          • Oooh, well I guess in this case, just assume that the topic would only cover things related to the first game, not anything with the second. XD

          • Mirai

            Yeah I guess I made things a little confusing there as apart from where IF comes from it has nothing to do with the second.

  • Leon_Tekashi

    School mode huh? Now that’s something I want to see. =)

  • Earthjolly

    I really hope this game sells well

    • Amagidyne

      Likewise, especially since they’re saying that how well the game sells will affect whether Super Dangan Ronpa 2 (or heck, even Absolute Despair Girls if I’m being optimistic) will be considered for localizing. Reading the lp’s is fun, but I’m all for being able to play the actual games.

    • Pdugna

      Done my job and pre-ordered the LE :D can’t wait to be listening to the OST

    • vileBrenman

      Me too. I really want Danganronpa to become successful in the U.S. So we can get the future installments. I’m really hoping Nisa doesn’t ruin this though by adding their own jokes or putting memes in the game.

  • Amagidyne

    I think it’s kinda interesting that they consciously chose to not read the fan translation of the game so they wouldn’t be influenced by the terms used. I guess that’s one of the reasons why expressions like ‘Ultimate’ popped up rather than SHSL most of us are used to now (but I love that Spike actually requested Monokuma – I was honestly expecting that to be the first thing changed).

    • I quite liked “Super High School Level” and “Monobear,” but I can see the reasoning for the final decisions made. “Ultimate” is simpler to read and would be much easier to work with when there’s a limited number of characters (i.e. text space) to work with on each screen. And as for Monokuma, I imagine this was just to maintain consistency for the character’s name around the world. For any Monokuma media or merchandise with his name on it for example, the name wouldn’t need to be changed for different regions.

      • Kurizu208

        I prefer SHSL only cause it emphasizes their great talents for their age. Plus ultimate is just so boring. :P

        • Raze

          Ultimate is better…
          Because that mean they still can digivolve more into Mega level lol…

          • Kumiko Akimoto

            Ultimate un(lucky) digivolve to Ultimate hope

      • Kumiko Akimoto

        Probably less text space as well might be the reasoning for the overall name change as well

  • DesmaX

    Anyway, how’s the trophy list for this one?

    The Japanese version had one list for both games

    • Phoenix

      They’ve fleshed out the trophy list for the US release. Counting the platinum, it will have 38 trophies.

  • School Mode is just extra and random gameplay or is it more like a ‘If’ storyline? Either way it sounds cool and can’t wait for this game! It’s nice to see the Vita library building up more.

    • Phoenix

      Without saying too much, it’s a “what if” scenario that starts you off back at the beginning of your school life, where things immediately happen in a different way.

      • Oh! That sounds cool! Why do we have to wait two more weeks!? :C

    • Detrimont

      it’s another take on the “What if” story (Since in SDR2 there’s a DR1 What if story written by Ryohgo Narita)

  • Varnes

    On another NISA note you guys haven’t reported on how Demon Gaze got a release date of April 22nd and a Limited Edition

    • Still need to preorder mine.

      • Varnes

        Ya i got my LE as soon as they sent the email to me lol

  • Mirai

    “I’ll just say that once you start to figure out what’s really going on and everything starts getting revealed, I loved how crazy it all got.”

    “As far as favorites, Monokuma is the runaway winner.”
    Phoenix Spaulding I’m glad our minds think alike and just like you I also hope you get the chance to localise SDR2.

  • Prinny Dood

    Awesome now if they can throw disgeae 4 and hyperdeminsion rebirth 1,2 our way I’ll be set for the rest of the year :-)

  • ZekeFreek

    Though I disagree with some of the localization choices made in this release, I’m still getting it day one to support this series. It’s journey to the west has been long overdue.

    • Which choices are you referring to? I didn’t see anything in the article that seemed to be bad. Or did you read something elsewhere?

      • ZekeFreek

        Cutting DR2, changing “Super Highschool Level” to “Ultimate”, using “Monokuma” instead of “Monobear”, etc. etc.

        • Hmm, I see. This is my first exposure to the series, so I have no preconceived notion on what things should be called, but I will agree that “Super High School Level” sounds much more creative and interesting than “Ultimate.”

          • I guess someone really likes the word ultimate!

          • ZekeFreek

            Ultimate doesn’t even make much sense. Ultimate means “Final”, not the “The Best”.

          • Cheesy12

            You are partially right. Ultimate is polysemous like many words in the English language, so “The Best” is also a correct usage.

          • ZekeFreek

            They could’ve used a word that only meant “the best” but they had to use one that could be taken different ways. Better to have something that can’t be misinterpreted.

        • Herok♞

          You know they even say in the interview that Spike wanted them to use Monokuma and an “fan” you should respect the original developers opinion

          • ZekeFreek

            Not really. I’m not one of those “the creator is infallible” types.

        • Ladius

          It’s understandable they decided to cut DR2, localizing two unreleased, niche visual novels at the price of one would have made this release a guaranteed financial failure. The Japanese version included both games because they were already released on PSP, but that isn’t the case in the west, and this version still has contents that wasn’t included in the original release.

          Spike Chunsoft asked NISA to keep Monokuma as Monokuma (they mentioned it in this interview), and as another user mentioned Ultimate can be used extensively to indicate the better version of something just as it means the final, most updated one etc.

          • ZekeFreek

            I realize not everything is NISA’s fault or choice, but it still affects the end product and that is disappointing.

        • Vodoka

          What “Monobear”? The fantranslation I’m familiar with used Monokuma as well.

          • ZekeFreek

            The LP on the SomethingAwful forums used Monobear.

  • Sigfried Silverblade

    Since I already knew the whole story, due to anime and then internet, I wasn’t very interested.
    Then they tell me there is a School Life more, with a new storyline and a chance to know better some characters.

    On to the “to buy” list you go.

    • alixraen

      Same here – I researched the game and characters before I knew anything about the story and basically spoiled myself, but the School Life mode seems really promising!

    • Kumiko Akimoto

      They added new cg and made everything shiny as well and i think they might have added extra minigames

  • Dylan Anantha

    I’m a little worried about the sales for this since most of the fanbase has already played in in English with the fanslation, which was absolutely fantastic as well.

    • Detrimont

      I played the game with the fan translation and am buying it again(mostly so i can play it on vita(since my psp is kinda busted).
      Also, Limited Edition has sold out on the NISA store, so I think it’s going to do well.

    • Trinity

      I haven’t played it at all, and avoided the anime. I hope it will do well.

    • ThatGuy3190_7

      I haven’t played the fan translation but watched the anime, but there is definitely more to the story and characters than the anime portrayed.

      • Ferrick

        yeah, you’re better off with playing the game than the anime

        the anime was just… weird

    • Amagidyne

      Yeah, but a lot of fans who’ve played the fan translation (myself included) also know that buying the game will most likely mean that SDR2 will get brought over, which we all wanna see. Plus, there’s the addition of school mode with this release, which obviously wasn’t in the fan translated version.

    • Pichi

      Also sure that new players and trophy hunters can add to the audience.

  • natchu96

    They had to pick THAT Asahina scene for the screenshot huh.

  • TheCynicalReaper

    ALL of the Danganronpa Limited Edition Pre-Orders at the NISA store are SOLD OUT
    I’m positive this game will do well over here.

    • They all sold out rather quickly too. I’m glad I went for it the day it was made available, lol.
      This is the game that pushed me to get a Vita! Looking forward to finally playing it. Really love all the characters, and hope this translation captures their personalities well.
      Really hope to play Dangan Ronpa 2 some day too… *Everyone* buy this game. Consume! Monokuma demands you consume!

    • Trinity

      I got my preorder in. I cannot WAIT to play this game. I’ve been hyping it at my job, too (I work at GameStop)

    • JohnNiles

      I’m rather steamed about missing that. They usually send out emails when they announce a limited edition… maybe it went to the spam folder.

      • Detrimont

        probably, since i got an email about it…
        (and i would’ve bought it too, if shipping for me wasn’t so expensive)

    • ZekeFreek

      On the flip side, they could’ve just produced a very small quantity of LEs.

      • Kumiko Akimoto

        Isn’t on the flip side for more positive alternatives to something

        • Nightmare637

          normally but it can be used either way.

      • Nightmare637

        The world may never know…(now I want tootsie pop)

      • Either way, they were sold out.

        • ZekeFreek

          Yeah but if it was only a small quantity of LEs, it may not be the best indicator of financial success.

          This has happened to NISA before, so don’t just assume sold-out LE pre-orders guarantees anything.

          • Nightmare637

            according to Houk it’s doing better then expected even before release.

            “I can guarantee that this and other
            localization choices will not affect sales (the game is already performing
            better than expected and it’s not even out yet) and would have no impact
            whatsoever on the potential of bringing the second game over.”


            In case your wondering it was in a post explaining the reasoning in Changing Syo’s name to Jack.

          • ZekeFreek

            NISA is generally pretty good at gauging numbers so I don’t doubt it. I’m just saying, doesn’t guarantee anything.

          • I’m not saying it guarantees something, but that the LEs sold out it’s a fact we can’t deny. Even if they were playing it safe and made small quantities, it means that their expectations of the LE sales were accomplished.

    • Nightmare637

      Pre ordered Day 1 and glad I did.

  • Detrimont

    If they do end up releasing 2(which i am REALLY hoping for), i hope they look at the Orenronen LP for a few of the characters, specifically Sonia, because she’s been translated into english perfectly in it.

  • Auvers

    Would have been nice if they could have gotten someone like Mickey Mouse’s current actor or something I always thought that would be a sort of equivalent being a beloved cartoon characters voice. I doubt that was something they could pull off though. Also does anyone know when you would need to buy the game after release to really help “support it”. I don’t have a Vita just yet and I kind of didn’t want to jump on buying it right away but I’d love to own it and help get the rest of the series a chance to make it here.

    • Spirit Macardi

      Yeah, this is a niche game and Nippon Ichi doesn’t have the money to pay for a union voice cast. Brian Beacock is a great voice actor though, and I can only imagine how ham-tastic he’ll be as Monokuma x3

    • Generally, companies look at the first weeks to first month’s sales for judging the impact the game made. After that, there tends to be no point. So I’d really recommend within the first month, if you want to support the game.

    • Aerii

      Wouldn’t have hurt to have someone do an imitation.

    • Ladius

      Preordering is the best option if you want to support a release such as this, waiting too much won’t send any message and it’s highly unlikely you will find a price drop for this game considering it will probably have a small print run.

  • Raze

    You all better buy DR1 for the sake of SDR2 localization and hopefully the DR Spin-off shooter + rumored DR3!!

    At the very least I hope this game can be as popular as 999/VLR or Corpse Party here….

    • otakumike

      I’ll tell all the otaku I know!

      That’s like, 2 guaranteed sales!!

  • Spirit Macardi

    If the Vita TV ever comes to the US, this game will be my first purchase for it. There’s just something about this game that’s extremely fascinating to me, but I can’t put my finger on it.

    • loopyduck

      While the Japanese and HK versions are compatible with the Vita TV, the US version is not playable. This is not because of some kind of region incompatibility; other US versions of games like Lumines Electronic Symphony work perfectly fine.

  • Hours

    I am so excited for this game. I hope it’s a big success and that future DR games make it to the west too.

  • Brimfyre

    As long as Vic Mignogogaramabambam stays far away from this, I’ll be trigger happy all over my face.

    • Detrimont

      He isn’t in it… but why do you want him to keep away from it? (just curious)

      • Red Veron

        Because he’s a big douche and everyone I know in the anime industry/press say the same thing. He did a good job on FMA but I don’t want to support any of his further work.

      • Brimfyre

        I think he is just a horrible VA. The rumors of his behavior are just icing on the cake. He’s also a bigot.

        I didn’t mind him in Persona 3 that much, but it made me hate the character of Junpei because his voice was so unnatural and irritating, and Disgaea 3 was the first Disgaea I switched over to Japanese because his voice was so unbearable.

        His voice is pretty much the embodiment of why I hate dubs. A good dub, like Cowboy Bebop or GiTS knows to play the characters like real people, and act like a real person would act. Most dubs, by Funimation or similar companies have their VAs sound like they are voicing a Loony Toons production. Vic would be great as a talking cat from the 90s, but a teenager? I don’t buy it.

        • Detrimont

          I get what you’re saying, but it’s ironic because japanese dubs are so far from realistic it’s not even funny

          • Brimfyre

            I can agree with that for the most part. But it helps that I don’t understand the language to cover any bad acting. That said, the Japanese do a better job at least casting people to fill the roles they fit as opposed to the US where they use the same pool of actors that live around the Denton County metroplex.

        • greg ayres is worse. In b4 greg fans (especially the girls) downvote me to all oblivion.

          I can handle Vic gaining a lead role over greg anyday; my day 1 Another purchase was cancelled once i heard he got the lead during that time. Dont get me started on Deadman Wonderland U.S. release O_o

    • Red Veron

      Me too. Good thing he’s not on it.

    • xXDGFXx


  • otakumike

    I am absolutely buying this the second the psn store updates. I’ve been wanting a game like this on Vita for a while. Thanks NISA!

  • Slickyslacker

    Though I read orenronen’s LP of it on SA (and liked it immensely), I might still get the game, eventually. Especially since new content was added. I’m slightly upset about names such as Toko’s alias being changed, but all in all, it’s one of the best visual novels I’ve ever heard of.

    • Detrimont

      wait… what’s the alias been changed too?!?!

      • Slickyslacker

        “Genocider Jack”, from what I’ve heard.

        • Detrimont

          this is the first i’ve heard about this, and i’m following news almost religiously
          EDIT: Erin Fitzgerald has confirmed it, it’s true, i don’t really mind to tell the truth(jack the ripper is obviously the inspiration)
          Sho/Shou/Syo is also just a common-ish male name in japan, so changing it to jack doesn’t really matter(because the first you hear about the killer is togami talking about it, and thus, from Sho/Syo, you’d think it’d be a male.
          Same thing in this case.

  • lordsofskulls

    Everyone buy three to five copies of this game so we can get a second one localized o.o

    • アティ

      True, or win a lottery and buy their whole stock~

      • icecoffemix

        Or just use that money to fund Danganronpa 2 localization, and maybe the rest of the series. :P

  • Red Veron

    Crap. I have to buy this along with Toukiden now. SO BROKE.

  • artemisthemp

    Looking forward to playing School life.

  • chibiwall
  • Mugiwara

    “and we see that there’s a real audience for this series in the West” <- This is the difficult part. We have too much "Hardcore gamers" out there. ¬.¬

  • Abysswalker90

    Is that Man-bear-pig?

    • Nightmare637

      lol I remember that episode, Al Gore and his cape.

      “I’m super cereal!”

  • Will John

    What do you mean its hard to voice Monokuma, just ask the guy that did it in the abridged series

  • Jumbokitty724

    Picking this up on its launch day <3 So excited!

  • Rinne111

    preordered so glad to see this getting localized:)

  • Why Why why. Why does this game have to come out the same month as FFXIII LR and Bravely Default. *cries* I barely have enough money. Hang on there Danganronpa, don’t disappear from the stores. I’ll be sure to buy you eventually.

  • Sinon

    I’m going to be getting this. Loved the anime and hopefully, a dual language option is in.

  • wowwowow HOLD IT?
    This has english Audio?
    Ok ,thx for warning, not going to buy this anymore then!

    • kardonius

      It has dual audio afaik.

  • Compton Boodhoo

    They should have used the voice actors from “Danganropa Abridged Thing” on youtube, not only are they hilarious, they really fit the characters, especially Monokuma.
    I bought the limited edition. I know it’s gonna be good but I’m more interested in part two since I saw the anime already. Of course all the fans say the game is so much better but when I know the outcome of a story I simply won’t be able to enjoy it as much as the first time.

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