Game Review - Zero Escape: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors on Nintendo DS

Written by Lithiumbattery on August 25, 2015 @ 10:58 pm

999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors is a visual novel for the Nintendo DS developed by Chunsoft.

The story follows a college student named Junpei, who is kidnapped by a mysterious masked man named Zero and brought aboard a cruise ship with eight other strangers, one of whom just so happens to be his childhood friend, Akane. The nine strangers are forced by Zero to take part in what Zero refers to as "The Nonary Game", where the group has to venture into the ship, solve several puzzles, and seek out a door with a 9 painted on it in order to escape the ship. However, the group has only nine hours to do so, and if they fail to escape the ship within nine hours, then the ship will sink with everyone on it.

Since 999 is a visual novel, the game play isn't really anything too complicated. If you've ever played the Phoenix Wright games, you'll feel right at home here. Basically, 999's game play can be separated into two sections. There's the novel section of the game, which just tells the game's story, and the escape section. During the escape section, you'll search a room using the touch screen on your DS to find clues and solve puzzles so that you can escape the room and advance the plot. Theses sections are very similar to the investigation sections of the Phoenix Wright games. However, unlike Phoenix Wright, you'll also have to solve various logic and math problems in order to escape the rooms. I personally enjoyed the logic portions of these escape sections, but the math portions frustrated me. It's not that they weren't done well, it's just that I have personal struggles with math. Whether or not players will enjoy the escape sections is really up to the individual. For the most part, these sections are handled well, however, there is one large problem that they have.

999 has multiple storylines, each with it's own ending. It's not completely necessary to view all endings in order to fully understand the story, in fact, two of the game's endings will cover almost all of the details that are briefly hinted at during the other endings in the game. If you try to unlock all of the endings of the game, or if you're trying to get the true ending without a guide, you will end up repeating several escape sections multiple times, which can get very aggravating. There are some escape sections that you can skip large portions of if you remember or you already know the solutions to the puzzles in the room (like the first escape section, which you will have to repeat six times in order to see all of the endings), however a majority of the escape sections have puzzles you can't skip over even if you already know the solutions.

Unlike other vn's, 999 doesn't allow for multiple save files, so there's no way to unlock all of the endings without going through this over and over again. Thankfully, you can skip over text you've already read in the novel section of the game, but you don't just press a single button and skip over to where you need to go. You have to hold right on the control pad to skip over all of the text, which you're going to be doing a lot if you're trying to get all of the endings.

I initially didn't see the point of doing multiple endings, but it actually ties very well into the overall plot and the true ending of the game. Despite this, however, I feel that a more linear method of story telling would have benefited this kind of game, and that a lot of headaches this game caused could have been skipped if Chunsoft had done away with the multiple endings.


CAUTION: SPOILERS FOR THE STORY FROM THIS POINT FORWARD. PLEASE DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVEN'T PLAYED OR FINISHED THE GAME.

Another issue I have with the game's multiple endings is that they only touch on details that are explained much more in depth in the safe/coffin/June endings. But I guess that's the point of them. If you're playing the game without a guide, they're meant to tell you that you screwed up so you're only going to get a few itty bitty details about what's going on behind the scenes before you die (hence, the ax, knife, and sub endings). The first time I played the game, I got the coffin ending. After that I decided to follow a guide to figure out what I'm supposed to do to get all six endings, which eventually turned out to be just a waste of time. I could have learned all I needed to know through the safe/coffin/June endings.

The story for the most part is great, albeit a bit predictable. I correctly guessed several aspects of the plot (Snake was hidden inside the coffin in the room with the number 9 door, Clover had taken the ax and killed everyone in the ax ending, the fact that the nonary game wasn't actually taking place on the ship, rather they were in the Nevada location) but the fact that the bottom screen of your DS was actually from Akane's point of view from 9 years in the past took me completely by surprise. It was a great twist, and handled very well, the final puzzle was incredibly emotional.

The ending, however, left me confused and a bit unsatisfied. I just found it incredibly hard to believe that Akane was the one who planned everything as Zero. Even if she did have help from Santa, I would have liked to see exactly how she and Santa planned everything out, how they came to know that they needed to do this nonary game in order to save Akane's life, how they were able to take control of the Nevada desert location, and how they were able to kidnap everyone and bring them there.

Another issue I have is that the Alice sub-plot wasn't really explored all that much until the end of the game, where it's implied she will have a much larger role in the sequel. I also hope that the sequel will expand on the questions I had about the ending.

SPOILERS FOR STORY MODE END HERE

Overall, however, I was very moved by the game and it's story, and thought it was pretty good. However, it's very repetitive in order to see all of the endings, and get all of the details of the game, and a majority of these endings aren't worth the trouble it takes to see them. The game makes up for it with it's great cast of characters, and (mostly) nail-biting plot.

Over all, I give it an 8.


Comments


AP974
September 26, 2015 @ 12:08 am
Anyways, a great game on DS. Best storyline I saw in a video game.

Game Information

Alternative Titles
999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, Kyokugen Dasshutsu 9 Jikan 9 nin 9 no Tobira: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors
Platform
Nintendo DS
Developer(s)
Chunsoft
Publisher(s)
Aksys Games
Genre(s)
Adventure, Visual Novel
NA Release Date
November 16, 2010
JP Release Date
December 10, 2009
ESRB Rating
M
PEGI Rating
C
MVGL User Score
8.8
Composer
Shinji Hosoe
Official Website
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