Visual novels are a niche genre in the West, as the number of titles that are actually localized pales compared to their Japanese counterparts. But when a niche series picks up traction in the West, the entrenched fanbase becomes as loyal as it comes. The most popular of the mainstream VN franchises to ever come to the West include Nintendo’s beloved Phoenix Wright, the immersive and dark Zero Escape series from famed writer Kotaro Uchikoshi, and the whacky, zany franchise that combines elements from the previous two, Danganronpa.
The recent news out of Japan is a cause of celebration for western fans, then, as the creators have Danganronpa and Zero Escape have announced a joint partnership in a new game company named “Too Kyo Games”. Heading the new studios are some huge names in the industry, including Uchikoshi himself, Danganronpa director Kazutaka Kodaka, Ever 17 co-director Takumi Nakazawa, and Danganronpa illustrator and character designer Shimadoriru, among others.
Both of these critically acclaimed visual novel series have drastically different art styles, story, gameplay mechanics, and tone, so how these two creative teams will mesh remains to be seen. However, given their immense and well-established aptitude in creating fascinating worlds, engaging plot, and mind-blowing twists, the titles they produce will surely make a huge impression at the very least.
Other than the news of the merger, the livestream announcement also gave a sneak peek at the four new projects the new team is already working on. Four concept images were displayed for viewers to generate even more excitement for the future of the visual novel genre. Each of the revealed teasers shows staggering diversity in tone and art style, with recognizable influences from both Danganronpa and Zero Escape.
While there are no set release dates or titles for any of the ongoing works, just the thought of four brand new titles coming from these esteemed industry veterans alone sent ripples throughout the gaming world. Fans can only wait and see what is to come from the minds of these venerable storytellers. In the meantime, Uchikoshi’s upcoming AI: The Somnium Files and Spike Chunsoft’s Zanki Zero can surely tie players over until then.