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Danganronpa is a murder-mystery visual novel with action elements. The player takes the role of Makoto Naegi, a new student at the prestigious Hope's Peak Academy in Tokyo. Hope's Peak is a high school that only admits the most talented students in the country, whatever their talent may be, but Makoto is unusual even among his extraordinary peers. He was admitted to the academy through a lottery, giving him the title of Super High-school Level Good Luck.

Makoto's first day of school quickly takes a downhill turn when he learns that he and his 14 classmates are locked inside the school, and there is nobody else in the building except Monokuma, a sadistic, talking teddy bear with a black-and-white body. Monokuma offers the students a chance to escape, but only if one of them is able to murder a classmate without being caught. Once a murder takes place, a class trial will be held to decide the guilty party. If the murderer is not correctly decided upon, that student will be able to "graduate" at the cost of everyone else's lives. However, if the students do find the culprit, that single person will be messily executed in an elaborate display.

Now living in the school building with no contact with the outside world, the students try to figure out who's controlling Monokuma and how to escape to freedom. However, some of the teenagers do plan to take Monokuma up on his offer of graduation, and it's up to Makoto to unravel the mysteries behind each murder.

The game is divided into six chapters, which are further broken into Daily Life and Deadly Life segments. In Daily Life, the player can engage in Free Time conversations, in which Makoto gets to know his classmates by selecting the correct options in their dialogue trees. Completing Free Time awards Skill Points that can be spent for various beneficial abilities during trials. This part of the game also includes exploration of the school building and scripted scenes. Once a murder has been committed, Deadly Life begins, and Makoto must scour the building for evidence during the Investigation. When all evidence has been collected, the game switches to the Class Trial, a fully-voiced set of cutscenes and action-oriented minigames. The player must then use both their reflexes and logic to present the correct evidence, debate with other students, and draw the conclusions that will expose the true murderer.

A year after the game's initial release, it was given a discounted rerelease under the PSP the Best product range. This version contains some bug fixes, updated gameplay, and unlockable artwork, none of which were present in the original release.


Danganronpa: Kibō no Gakuen to Zetsubō no Kōkōsei PSP Hope's Peak admits students from any field or specialty imaginable - even delinquents and gang leaders.
Danganronpa: Kibō no Gakuen to Zetsubō no Kōkōsei PSP A conversation with Touko Fukawa.
Danganronpa: Kibō no Gakuen to Zetsubō no Kōkōsei PSP Exploring an empty classroom.
Danganronpa: Kibō no Gakuen to Zetsubō no Kōkōsei PSP Makoto Naegi stands in front of Hope's Peak Academy on his first day of school.

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Alternate Titles

  • "ダンガンロンパ 希望の学園と絶望の高校生" -- Japanese spelling
  • "Distrust" -- Working title

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Danganronpa began life as a game called Distrust. While the basic concept was the same, Distrust was said to be even darker in tone than the final product, including more realistic character designs and gorier death scenes. This version was also set to feature branching paths that would determine which characters would live or die. The team working on the game retooled the concept after deciding it was too gruesome and would appeal to too limited an audience.

Scrapped Ending

At a different point in development, a secret ending was planned that would allow all the students to escape before the first killing took place. Implied to only be available after seeing the true ending, it would have required players to have seen every character's Free Time events over the course of their previous playthroughs. Monokuma would have then offered the students a chance to leave in exchange for them giving up their Super High-school Level titles. Although this ending was never implemented, a similar setup was the basis for a novella included in the second game's PS Vita release.

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