Recently, Japanese entertainment outlet Denfaminicogamer interviewed Kazutaka Kodaka, the Danganronpa creator and writer for the upcoming mystery adventure Master Detective Archives: Rain Code.
Interviewer: First, what made you want to create Rain Code?
Kodaka: To begin with, I personally think that the Japanese adventure game genre is pretty much dead. Unlike other game genres, they rarely sell well or trend [in the country]. Therefore, from the very beginning with Danganronpa, I wanted to go beyond the usual boundaries of adventure games.
There is still potential for “mystery-type games.” I believe that anyone can enjoy the mystery and suspense of “solving a murder mystery with deductions” and “guessing the culprit,” so I felt the possibility of “reviving a dead genre” was a way to bring this to users.
Interviewer: But the Danganronpa series has sold over 5 million copies worldwide. Looking at these figures makes me think that Japanese adventure games and visual novels are instead gaining a global niche on Steam and other platforms, but do you really feel that this is the case?
Kodaka: Both Danganronpa and Zero Escape are considered visual novels, but at the time, they weren’t cost-effective to localize because going to the trouble of releasing games overseas that have only sold 50,000 or 100,000 units in Japan wasn’t practical.
But then Persona came out, and I thought: “Huh. So even a voluminous story like this can be conveyed…I wonder if Danganronpa can be the same.” Around that same time, I was reached out to localize it, so I decided to take the plunge, and thankfully, it was a huge hit overseas.
Furthermore, Doki Doki Literature Club, an overseas adventure game, became a big hit, but those who have been playing Japanese adventure games for a long time might think, “I’ve seen this before,” or “Is this the same pattern?”
Interviewer: In your view, what makes the game feel “new” to users?
Kodaka: For example, Fahrenheit and Detroit Become Human are well-known adventure games from overseas, but I think they are in a different context from Japanese adventure games. They are better described as “interactive movies” in the context of reality. On the other hand, Japanese visual novels are derived from manga and novels and incorporate interactive game elements.
Another example is the works of mystery novelist Hajime Orihara. Japanese creators are quite fond of narrative tricks, which is a good match for adventure games. I feel that this kind of experience was a fresh new thing for foreign users.
Interviewer: Looking back on iconic adventure games, I always think of the Ace Attorney series, Detroit Become Human, and 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim as examples. How do you think those transcended the boundaries of existing text adventures and visual novels in a genre that is supposedly “dead” or is generally a tough sell nowadays?
Kodaka: I think the main reason is that it “looks interesting.” For example, the art style of 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim looks amazing, doesn’t it? And Ace Attorney was also completely different from the boring text adventure games of the time. Although in recent years, one adventure game I can think of that sold well because it was actually fun to play was Steins;Gate. With the increasing importance of movies and trailers for a good impression, I believe it is essential to have an adventure game that looks interesting to play.
Interviewer: Rain Code mixes both the mystery genre and the adventure genre. Were there any conflicts when you tried to combine the two?
Kodaka: Honestly, that contradiction has existed ever since we handled Danganronpa! (laughs)
(the interviewer laughs as well)
Interviewer: Was Rain Code developed in-house by Spike Chunsoft?
Kodaka: That is correct. However, I have heard that this is perhaps one of Spike Chunsoft’s most expensive projects yet… (laughs).
The project was already in the works before I left [to form Tookyo Games]. Komatsuzaki and Takada were out of the company when I started working on the project, so I told them I wanted to work on it from the outside as well. Since this was a completely new project, we started by working on the world setting and scenario for about a year.
After that, the development phase came in, and everyone started to realize: “This is going to be a lot harder than we thought!” (laughs). But we couldn’t back down now. I’m happy that we were able to make something this big.
Interviewer: Rain Code was first unveiled in the Nintendo Direct. I had heard that the decision to release it on Switch was from Spike Chunsoft.
Kodaka: Yes. It was Spike who made the final decision.
Interviewer: I have the impression that it was one of the key titles people paid attention to at the Nintendo Direct.
Kodaka: There were many multi-platform games*, but the Switch-only Rain Code probably stood out more. I think the timing was good. The Nintendo Directs are also simultaneously livestreamed in Japan, and worldwide, so I felt that had a significant effect on the reaction.
*He is probably referring to the other announcements at the Nintendo Direct, which got multi-platform trailers later.
Interviewer: How do you feel about the response from overseas fans?
Kodaka: I feel there has been a great response from overseas fans. Hours after the broadcast ended, fan art was already being uploaded. Of course, releasing information for the first time and delivering it to a wide range of people is difficult, but I was impressed with the reaction.
In a previous meeting, we discussed the possibility of a multi-platform release, but this announcement made me realize the effect of narrowing down the platforms. It’s a different story with AAA titles, but I feel that with many AA or A titles, going multi-platform will make them get buried. So, we went with Spike’s decision on this, and I think it was a wise move.
Interviewer: Indeed. What we often see as a success pattern for indie games these days is that they initially release only on Steam, and if it gets popular enough and more people know more about it, they eventually also release it on other platforms. This is also true for the Switch, where a higher ranking on the Switch’s eShop brings the game to the attention of people who don’t know about it, especially those who aren’t really into following gaming news.
Kodaka: I agree. Going multi-platform is great, but if you do that, you just end up burying your game, and it won’t get as much attention.
Interviewer: The Nintendo Direct has also been around for far longer than, say, the State of Play, so I would say it’s also far more influential.
Kodaka: The Switch has limited hardware specs, so if other companies suddenly tried to create a new IP, I think it would be difficult if the main focus was on the graphics. Rain Code is possible on the Switch because the story is the main focus.
Interviewer: Finally, a message to all of our readers.
Kodaka: The “adventure game” genre is effectively dead. But I feel that thanks to the unique experience that Rain Code has to offer, it will bring a brand-new fresh perspective to it. I want those who have played past adventure games to see that this is what they’re like now. It’s made so that even those who have no interest in adventure games at all will see future trailers and official videos and think, “that looks interesting”, and I hope you’re looking forward to Rain Code’s release.
Master Detective Archives: Rain Code is a new project by the Danganronpa team where one experiences a 3D detective adventure set in a neon city. The title is currently scheduled to release for Nintendo Switch in Spring 2023.
Players will control an amnesiac detective who is followed by a Shinigami and solve cases by examining crime scenes and evidence. The Shinigami will create a realm connecting the crime scene to the truth. Mystery Phantoms will try to impede your progress, and defeating them by utilizing the truth is the only way to go.
- Nintendo Direct September 2022 Coverage
- November 2021 Coverage
- Collector’s Edition Now Available for Pre-Order
- Famitsu Info
- Setting & Gameplay Details; Renders, Screenshots & More
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