HEY! Before I jump into talking about 999, I wanted to let you all know I now have an Instagram for Video Game of the Day! We are videogame_of_the_day. Don’t expect a whole ton right now. I’m new to Instagram and am still kind of figuring out what I want to do with the platform but the plan is to start posting screenshots and images of the games we talk about on the show. Check us out!

When this game came out, I was in the middle of a hardcore Nintendo DS obsession. It’s going to come as no surprise that I love bizarre, unique games and the Nintendo DS was my first foray into games like Phoenix Wright and Hotel Dusk. So when I heard 999’s reviews, I didn’t even care what it was, I had to have it.

But it was damn near impossible to find. None of the game stores near me had it. I decided maybe it just wasn’t meant to be. My then-girlfriend decided that wasn’t good enough though. I will never forget her coming home late one day with game in hand. I asked her how she got it and she was coy about answering. I found out later that she went to over 10 (!) game stores and managed to finally get their last copy.

Sure enough, 999 not only became one of my favorite games ever but it completely revolutionized the way I think about video game narratives. I’ve always been someone who thinks way too hard about artistic mediums and I’d thought a lot about how video games differed from film, TV and novels. 999 was the first time I got a real answer. Here is a story that could not be told effectively in any other medium but video games.

If you have not played it, I encourage you to get a copy. It’s a lot easier these days than it was then. It’s available for download, along with the second game in the series, on Steam and PSN as Zero Escape: The Nonary Games.

2/22 – 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors

Hello and welcome. My name is Katosepe and I’ll be your host for today’s video game of the day.

Today’s game is the first game in the Zero Escape franchise, 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors, originally released on the Nintendo DS in 2009.

Casually referred to as 999, this game is a visual novel with some puzzle elements in which players follow the main character, Junpei. 999 begins with Junpei awakening in what appears to be a guest room on a sinking cruise ship. Players soon discover that Junpei is trapped with eight other people on the ship and each of them, including Junpei, have bracelets numbered one to nine. An unknown antagonist named Zero has trapped them all here and forces them to follow certain rules, entering certain numbered doors in order to escape the ship. If they fail, they die.

While most of the gameplay is story, players do have to solve adventure style puzzles in a variety of rooms and must choose various options throughout the game which changes the direction the story takes. Many paths result in death for Junpei and the other prisoners so replaying the game is encouraged in order to find the correct options. 999 allows players to skip dialogue they have already seen to save players from having to read the same text again and again with each subsequent playthrough.

Developer Chunsoft always wanted to localize the game into English but it was initially turned down by a number of publishers in the US. While the DS had received a number of similar titles recently such as Phoenix Wright or Hotel Dusk, visual novels were still not widely known and it was seen as a risky endeavor. Still, Aksys Games opted to take the chance for western audiences and published 999 in North America and Europe.

The game received significant praise from critics and developed a cult following upon its initial release. When the sequel, Virtue’s Last Reward, was created, the series adopted the title Zero Escape and all subsequent releases have been branded with this title. Since its original release, 999 has been ported to iOS, Windows, Playstation 4 and Playstation Vita. All versions other than the original DS and iOS versions have been updated with higher resolution graphics and voice acting.

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