DanganRonpa Has Its Own Take On Social Links

By Jack . February 10, 2014 . 11:01pm

Life isn’t going well for Makoto Naegi. Recently he’s found himself trapped in a school run by a sadistic bear named Monokuma, worried that his classmates might start killing each other to escape. Tensions are high, and anyone could snap into a murder spree at a moment’s notice. What better time to make friends, right?


A large bulk of DanganRonpa takes place in a mood referred to as everyday life, where things are a little less insidious and more relaxed. When things are calm, Makoto is free to explore the school and spend time with his fellow classmates.


Making friends works a lot like Social Links in the modern Persona games. Makoto can talk to anyone he chooses, and spending time with them levels up their relationship. Getting to know each of the students not only helps to flesh out the characters, but also give special abilities that help him later in the game.


Makoto seems to be crushing on Sayaka Maizono, the Ultimate Pop Sensation, so I figured I should start by helping him out. Before I could play matchmaker, I had to find her first. Thankfully it’s a pretty simple task to find someone, as not only will every student’s location appear on the map, but there’s also an option for fast travel. I think the map and I will become very good friends.


Sayaka’s right next door to Makoto’s dorm, so tracking her down was easy. Things seemed to be going well; the omniscient narrator assured me that they had a good time. That’s when I realized I had made a fatal mistake: near the end of every hang-out session, you have the opportunity to give a gift. Seeing as I went straight to Sayaka’s room, I was empty-handed. Giving presents gives friendships an extra boost, making it more likely to see the next event in a relationship. I got the event anyways that time, but tomorrow I wanted to come prepared with my redemption in hand.


Gifts are obtained from the MonoMono Machine, located in the strangely convenient gift shop.  The MonoMono machine exchanges prizes for Monocoins, the local currency and yet another wrench in plans. There aren’t any job openings at Hope’s Peak Academy, so getting paid might be tricky. It seemed like my best option was to hope that somebody dropped their change.


In addition to making friends, Free Time mode also lets you explore Hope’s Peak at your leisure. You won’t find a ton of new information by searching at random, but you will receive Monocoins for your efforts. It’s a nice incentive, but at the end of the day it’s a fairly boring way to earn money (thankfully, better ways appear later on). With my wallet stuffed with some coins, I headed into the gift shop to test my luck.


The gift exchange process is a lot more addicting than it has any right to be. Coins are put into the MonoMono machine, and it spits out a gift at random. At the bottom corner of the screen are the odds of getting a repeat gift, and betting more than one coin increases your chance of getting something new. I’ve never been one to go all in a bet (and when you first start out, there’s really no reason to), so I found myself cautiously putting in one coin at a time, hoping for another bizarre prize.


Almost anything can come out of the machine, physical capacity be damned. Potato chips, thongs, tumbleweeds, and swords were just a few of the treasures I came away with. Despite accumulating so much random junk, I wasn’t sure if any of it would appeal to a pop idol. I didn’t want to give her the wrong impression with the thong, and handing out potential murder weapons seemed like a bad idea. Eventually, I settled on a nice, subtle engagement ring.


Things went well, and I got to learn a lot more about the musician. My first impressions of a lot of the characters came off overly strong, to the point where I was a little worried that they were more obnoxious stereotypes than people. One of the most overt themes of the game is that all of these kids are the Ultimate in their field, and as a result have an overbearing amount of pressure on them. Makoto’s optional relationships with them make them feel just a little more human.


Everyday life is an oddly sedated change of pace compared to the foreboding opening of the game, but I think if any game could use a nice reprieve from all the madness, it’s DanganRonpa.


Food for Thought:


1. The HUD is pretty interesting; there are some neat touches like it changing color depending on the time of day. Yellow for daytime, blue for night time, and green for when the time unknown. There’s also an audio visualizer at the top right corner of the screen. I’m not really sure why, but it’s there.


2. Speaking of things I don’t understand, there’s also a “Re: Action” system available in certain conversations. Basically, if a purple word or phrase appears, you can press a button to react to it, which opens up more dialogue. There’s a bit of a choice element to it, where if you don’t react to the correct line the conversation comes to a halt. Sometimes all of the phrases are necessary to react to though, so you have to go through the same dialogue multiple times, reacting to each new thing. It just seems kind of tedious, as the reactions could easily be rolled into one conversation instead of killing the pace. Yes, DanganRonpa, I’m still awake and paying attention.


3. It’s amazing what a change in music and context can do for a situation. Previously, I was exploring the school with some trepidation, but with some cheery music and presence of other human beings, it’s almost like a different building! Well, mostly. The hallway lighting is still a little creepy.

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  • karldeck

    So it is the best part Ace attorney, Persona and Battle Royal all in one game? Awesome.

    • Paulette

      The relations are not as satisfying as in Persona (well, they keep on dying off), but it’s a cool feature !

  • Saifer Emmerich

    This game is supposed to release today, right?
    I’ve avoided anything DanganRonpa specifically so the game could surprise me when I start it today. It did have a Persona feel to it and if it is anything like Ace Attorney then I’m first in line. Off to PSN!

  • Raze

    I think I will get this game either tomorrow or the day after tomorrow….

    Toukiden has to wait for its turn….

  • neocatzon

    Good HUD is often forgotten. We spend time with them as much as we spend with the MC (or more) and can change our perception about the game. Ubisoft obviously aiming for minimal/no-hud but atrocities like RO2 outdated hud can still happened. Heck, for visual novel an engaging HUD can be the deciding thing whether the reader asleep or not.

    • Shippoyasha

      Yep. The thing with interfaces in heavily text based and story based games is that it is a major component of the game and not a trifle it may be in other genres.

      • neocatzon

        I would say the importance is same for any genre. Take for example Metro 2033/Last Light and Ghost Recon Future Soldier. Both aiming for HUD that make sense plotwise. Adding immersion instead reminds us constantly that they are a game.

        Of course, information heavy HUD still important for MMORPGs and nothing can stop players from playing games with any HUD even the most confusing ones.

        Nowadays, it’s less likely to play a game with eye-hurting interface due to conflicting colors or bad font like say.. 2006. One of the small little things that could be improved is the HUD. “Breathing characters” in vns and rpgs maybe a bit luxury but playing with color like Danganronpa is often more than enough to make any difference.

  • Tiramii

    Waiting patiently for my copy to arrive in the mail. Hoping it gets here today and not Wednesday.

  • Dragon24680

    The game has exactly the same storyline as the anime. Am I right?
    It would affect my decision about buying it.

    • Yes, the anime followed the game’s story.

    • Detrimont

      Yes, but there’s the bad end, and all of the “social links” with the characters were cut from the anime to save time(meaning character backstories and stuff)(plus if those were in the anime, it would have been just endless talking)

  • MrGlitters

    Here to comment. This game is really a treat to pick up if you love murder mysteries. It’s fresh, fun, and easy to get absorbed into the storyline. For those who saw the anime, it’s a shame that you’ve been a little spoiled by the story but it definitely piece the puzzle together at a much steadier pace than the rushed anime.

    The game has its flaws but I definitely recommend this game.

  • Detrimont

    This is the reason why people who watched the anime and decided not to get it because they know the ending should get the game

    • Sigfried Silverblade

      The problem is that it is a mistery murder game.
      And peopl who already know the story will have so much less involvement, knowing who will die by whose hands already.
      I don’t blame them for not wanting the game.

      • Epitome

        Seen the anime and will still be enjoying the LE tomorrow

      • The way I see it is an entertaining story is an entertaining story, really. Yeah being spoiled sucks(and I would never want to spoil anything in a game like this), but I don’t think it’s the end of the world if you know X was killed by Y or whatever. How things unfolded is what’s really important, and based on the few episodes I watched of the anime, the game does a much better job of conveying the important details.

        If you liked elements of the anime then I think you would still enjoy the game because it’s the same story told in a much better way. The court room segments especially really do not have the same impact unless you’re experiencing them yourself. Not to mention the social aspects fleshing out the characters that I wrote about in this article. Just my two cents though, this is coming from someone who replays the Ace Attorney games at least once every year or two, so I might just be weird.

        • Barrylocke89

          While I agree to an extent, there’s something to be said about the shock or wow factor of watching or playing through a twist in the way it was originally designed. That’s a big reason that I’d never spoil myself on a media thing by reading a wiki, or even going on message boards about that thing, unless I know it’s something I don’t plan on playing/reading/watching.

          In the case of this game, I don’t have a Vita yet, but I think I’d get it if I did, and I might even try the PSP version with the patch, so I’ll be sure to try to stay away from a lot of Daganronpa stuff until then.

        • Sigfried Silverblade

          I replay Ace Attorney too.
          I just wish I could erase the shocking revelations from my memory so I could go trough them once more.

          And I do want to play DanganRonpa. It is just not on top of my list since I already who lives, who dies and all else.

          My fault for spoiling thing for myself, I guess.

          • Yeah, I think it’s totally reasonable to wait on it a bit. Gives more time for plot details to fade away, too. I’m just saying there’s definitely value in checking out the game adaptation sometime. I checked out the anime a few weeks after playing the game and felt a little bad that this is the way some people were experiencing the thing.

  • Raltrios

    Question: Is the story set? As in, is it possible for different characters to do the murdering depending on choices or is it all set in stone? If the anime was an accurate-but-rushed telling of an unchangeable story, that’s okay. But I wanna know before I go and buy a Vita for this and Demon Gaze.

    • Jesse

      The murderers and victims are the same each time. This feature is mostly to get closer to and learn more about the others. ^^

      • Raltrios

        So there’s no real romantic relationships to pursue, considering some of the targets die off without your control then?

        • Jesse

          I don’t think so, though I’ve never seen the dialogue for these parts. ^^;

        • There are no romantic relationships. The best you can do is really good friendships and a “new understanding of the other.”

        • Detrimont

          I think there’s romantic options in School Mode(but you have to play through the main game to get to that first)

        • DaiRaiOh

          Pretty much. Getting close is mainly for backstory and getting more of their personality along with getting abilities that aren’t really required.

  • Warren

    Wow so Yukiko, Rise, and Chie will be in this game with different skins. I guess ill pick it up!

    • TheExile285


    • Kaetsu


  • resuri

    Hoping to download as soon as I get home from work tomorrow. I wasn’t able to load up my PSN so I have to buy it tomorrow.

  • Jesse

    I’ll be getting the game today, but I don’t have a Vita yet, so it’ll just be sitting there for a bit. XD;

    • icecoffemix

      Make sure to get yours before Super Danganronpa 2 hit. ;)

  • Yan Zhao

    Need a Junko social link :3

  • Pandakids09 .

    Lol i already pre-ordered this but im just thinking of picking this for the psp since it has a English patch

    • Detrimont

      this version has something called School Mode which isn’t available in the psp version.(also, better resolution, etc)

      • Pandakids09 .

        Yeah was just playing that it the free time which is cool

  • Nice article! I’m looking forward to going through some of the various social links, some of which will be new to me since they weren’t all covered in the LP I read almost a year ago. Also looking forward to whatever the school mode entails; I’m presuming it’s more of this sort of social linking? (But in an alternate setting?)

  • AkiraScare

    Time to check mailbox (0_0)

  • Detrimont

    Just found out that i have to wait til the 20th since the NZ supplier has delayed it….(at least it’s only a week though(still kinda pissed though))

  • Tenabrus
  • Kaetsu

    I find it strange to form “Social Links” with people who could possibly die at any moment.

  • Nightmare637

    Getting my LE tomorrow in the mail.(if this tracking things anything to go by)

  • Aoedem

    I finished the game last night, and I was not disappointed.
    I would easily recommend this game to any of my friends even vaguely interested in Ace Attorney or the social links in Persona.

    My only ire in the game is that I find the free time given in between murders to be really short so getting to know the character in depth can be really difficult, especially if you’re playing it for the first time and have no idea who’s gonna get killed next. It’s a shame because I found the characters to be really interesting once I’ve filled out their report cards during school mode.

    • I feel like the uncertainty over who to spend time with actually adds a lot to the experience. If someone dies before you really get to know them, it gives you a feeling of regret in not getting to know them better. If you maxed someone out and they die, then their death is given more impact because you lost a character that you (probably) liked. Either way it gives a dimension to the situation you might not have had otherwise. I don’t think you’re supposed to be completely satisfied with who you spent time with your first time through.

      I do know what you mean, though. If you don’t hang out with certain characters you miss out on a lot of their true personality and they appear significantly more one-note and forgettable as a result. I wish they had a slightly better balance.

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