Monochrome bears, word battles, and a school where you have to kill to graduate? That’s the setting of Dangan-rompa, a genre bending game where players investigate crimes and enter into word bullet battles. Inspired by shoot ’em ups, an argument in Dangan-rompa turns into a rapid fire battle.
We spoke with Kazutaka Kodaka, the scenario writer of Dangan-rompa and the Jake Hunter novels in Japan, about their machine gun talking battle PSP game.
Can you start by introducing the concept of Dangan-rompa?
Kazutaka Kodaka, Scenario Writer: It’s a chaos game which includes a lot of elements. This title has many opposing elements such as “psycho” but “pop”, “intellectual” but also “shooting”. Users will be swayed because the game goes back and forth between those conflicting elements. It doesn’t have the elegance a like fine French meal, but has an addictiveness like junk food.
The story’s premise sounds similar to Battle Royale. What works inspired the story?
It has some similarity as both the situation of both works is “killing each other in an extreme condition”. And in some points, I was actually inspired from the movie. However, I think Dangan-ronpa the feeling of various games, animation and movies are well-blended within with respect to humor, respect, and malicious intent.
Dangan-ronpa seems to blend a lot of different genres into a single game. Are there any particular genres you wanted to mesh together what genre do you think describes Dangan-ronpa best?
I dreamt of blending an intellectual, problem solving part and the action part of shooting game. The reason why I thought of this is because it’s a deliciously evil combo that no one will combine. And I thought this would be a brand new experience.
After mixing the style, I thought it was so well-blended and wondered why no one ever done it before. We are aspiring to offer a brand new experience, so calling it “Detective Action” may be the perfect way to describe Dangan-ronpa.
Why did you pick a pop art style?
I wanted to make the design completely opposite from a ghastly accident that would occur in a cruel situation. Regarding the graphics, I thought I can shake user’s heart by showing a devastating accident in not devastating ways. But, by some measure, it might be more shocking than showing a devastating scene.
When you think up the plot for a story-intensive game like Dangan-ronpa, how do you go about the process? Is it deciding upon the setting first and then thinking up characters that fit the story or do you build the scenario around the characters?
We start building the scenario, characters and game system at once. At the beginning, we build the basic settings and then combine those three pieces to create a story. This is how we build the story that players can only experience with a game, but not with animation or novels.
Can you tell us about how you created the characters? Where did the idea for a headmaster bear and muscle girl in a sailor suit come from?
For the headmaster bear, Monokuma, we kept providing ideas with three colors, black (a reminder of being a criminal), white (a reminder of innocence), and red (a reminder of blood). As a result, the simple ideas were adopted into Monokuma’s design.
For the muscular girl, Sakura, I wanted to create the strongest high school girl. Not only strong for fighting compactions, but also strong as user harbors the illusion. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the strongest human-beings was a high school girl?
Something that stands out very much is that each character looks different in their own way. However, in the case of the guys, you could try to guess their personalities from their looks, but I feel like that isn’t possible with the girls. Was this somehow intentional?
It is not intentional. For male characters, we had defined images before we actually create them, but for female characters, it was not like a defined single image. We wanted to include a number of feelings into them in order to create a deep personality. That might be why you couldn’t guess their personalities.
However, we are preparing scenarios that go beyond the image for all of characters.
Dangan-ronpa comes out for PSP on November 25 in Japan. As of now, an English release has not been announced.