For those of you who love playing video games and detest reading books, but still want the in-depth plot and detailed character interaction and development, I have found the perfect game for you. In early 2010, Chunsoft released their latest visual novel video game for the Nintendo DS called “999: 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors”. Despite the ridiculously long name, “999” is one game that you will be unable to put down.
From the moment the game begins, the player is thrown into the complicated world of Junpei, a simple college student who wakes up and finds himself on what appears to be a sinking ship. As the game progresses, the player meets strange and unforgettable characters such as Lotus, a woman who has the appearance of an exotic dancer and the temperament of a teenage girl, and Santa, a man who’s intelligence is hidden by his language course enough to make a sailor blush.
The story revolves around eight characters who are all kidnapped by a man in a gas-mask who calls himself Zero. This mystery man informs the characters that they are players of the Nonary Game, a game that they must beat if they want to survive. Their objective is simple: seek a door with a nine and escape. However, doors one through eight stand in the way of escaping successfully.
“999” is essentially like the “Choose Your Own Mystery” books that were popular in elementary school. The player is faced with many choices throughout the game that affect the way that the game will turn out. Because of this, there are six different endings, though the true ending and the fan-named “safe” ending are very similar. During my first round of gameplay, I got the ending where Clover whacked Junpei in the back of the head with an axe. Not exactly the best ending to get on your first time playing the game.
While it seems like there is so much to absorb and remember (and believe me, there is a lot to remember), it’s all worth it when you get the true ending and everything is explained. Well, almost everything. Because there can’t be a video game without a few unanswered questions.
The word choice in “999” is phenomenal. Considering that the game received a mature rating, there are plenty of graphic things to describe. The description of the murders is written so beautifully that players will think that they’ve been taken straight from a mystery novel. Unlike several visual novels that I’ve played in the past, “999” doesn’t really get wordy, which is a relief because it means that players can find out what happened that much quicker. The music is incredible, matching perfectly with whatever scenario the characters find themselves in. When the characters find the bloody and mangled remains of a fellow player in the beginning of the game, the music literally sent a chill up my spine. A similar thing happened when I got the knife ending of the game
when Ace stabbed Junpei in the stomach before the latter fell into an artificial lake. Even though most of the music has players constantly looking over their shoulder (trust me, it will) , the song at the end of the true ending is melodic, sad and slightly hopeful all at the same time. Of course, this song is only ever heard at the very end if the player achieves the true ending of the game.
One of the things that I was most impressed with was the diversity of the challenges in the game. In one escape challenge, Junpei, Seven and Clover must use the atomic numbers in certain chemicals in order to determine a number to use for a safe combination. In another challenge, Junpei must play a piano with mixed up keys (the key that usually plays an A played a D) in order to obtain a
clue for escaping the room. In another challenge, Junpei, Seven and Snake need to obtain a certain combination in a slot machine in order to obtain information for an escape plan. Further still, Ace and Junpei use navigational compasses and maps in order to escape from the room. The game not only features logical problems, but requires players to use knowledge that is not usually
found in video games.
With amazing music, phenomenal characters and an outstanding plot, “999” is definitely worth the buy. Just remember to take notes on both plot points and numerical and alphabetic code combinations while playing the game. You’re going to need it in the end. Trust me.