Pulling Off One Of Gaming's Biggest Cons

Doctored screenshots? A demo that directly contradicts the actual game? In-game writing specifically designed to mislead the player? Producer Yoshinori Terasawa talks about crafting one of gaming's biggest cons for Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc. [Note: The following article contains spoilers for the first murder case of Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc.]

Before the release of Danganronpa in Japan, Terasawa and his team were busy weaving an elaborate hoax. The core of this hoax? The character of Sakaya Maizono.

Leading up to the game's release, it was obvious that Maizono would play a major role in the game. She was featured in many of the game's official screenshots and was clearly set up to be the player character's romantic interest.

The PSP demo only served to solidify this, featuring her prominently in the demo's version of the game's first case.

Even when playing the first chapter of the full game, all the flags for her being the player's assistant character/love interest are there: She knew him before the events of the game, always generally liked him, and quickly comes to rely on him once the death game begins.

There is only one problem with all this: Maizono is actually the first character to die.

The whole setup was nothing but an elaborate hoax.

Like with Metal Gear Solid 2, where pre-release screenshots that should have included Raiden showed Snake instead, the screenshots for Danganronpa were edited to show Maizono in scenes taking place long after her death in the full game. The demo's version of the first case not only changed who had been murdered, but came complete with many additional lines voiced by Maizono's voice actress that were never used in the full game. And the foreshadowing character clich├ęs in the game proper were all made to further the illusion that she was an important main character.

Why go to such lengths for this con? Simple. Danganronpa is a game specifically designed to shatter player expectations.

"The impact I really wanted to give was [one of surprise]. We set it up for Maizono to be the main character and make it so that she and the main male character might have some kind of relationship -- and really whet the player's appetite for this whole relationship... I thought right from the beginning, 'What would be a bigger shock than killing her off?'... If it worked and you were really surprised by it, it is exactly what I was going for," Terasawa told Kotaku.

Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc was released on November 25, 2010 for the PlayStation Portable in Japan. While the PSP version won't be localised, the upcoming Vita remake is scheduled for a Western release in 2014.


    That's nice.

    Never heard of it.

      Just think. You will never be able to say that again now. The marvels of modern technology whereby you can know something you didn't previously know just by reading it on the internet. It's magic I tell you.

    yep, i did not expect her to be the first one to die, and there's much more in the game that goes well beyond your expectations.

    everyone please buy it when its out!

    Last edited 22/09/13 10:58 am

    Wating to day one purchase the game but I recently saw the first episodes of the anime which follow the same troll and I went from rolling my eyes over the obvious girl next girl setup to being impressed with the troll. Good stuff.

    One of gaming's biggest cons? Really? Some obscure Japan only PSP title that barely shifted 10,000 units? Really?

    What a load of pathetic nonsense, bullshit headline, bullshit 'story'

    Not good enough Kotaku.

    The anime is terrible. It'd be something a child would write, real tryhard hardcore with the deaths, generic steriotypical characters. I could go on, but ugh, UGH, /rage.

      Actually some of the set ups are pretty elaborate and creative, and often keep you guessing. It can't really be try-hard if it wasn't trying to be serious in the first place, but rather just comically twisted.

      But if you know kids that can write stuff like that, I'm extremely impressed. You should give them a cookie.
      And also tell them to stop writing about twisted death games. I mean they're kids man, seriously.

        Not that twisted, pretty standard. Lots of kids anime try to do this thing, it makes the kids watching it go OMG SO COOL< THERES DEATH AND GORE AND STUFF. In reality, it's a lot less mature and well thought out than most anime by Bones or Production IG.

        There is nothing intelligent about those detective style mystery animes where something happens, and you are not given all the facts, until a later point when someone is explaining how they worked it out. It's a common literary trick, I call it being SHERLOCK HOLME'D.

        Last edited 23/09/13 6:47 pm

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