999 Screens Full of Words

Blurry camera phone evidence of my ultimate victory.
Blurry camera phone evidence of my ultimate victory.

Having played through ChunSoft’s 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors five times (I had to get all the endings, it’s a brain problem that I have) I am very impressed with a couple of things about the game specifically:

  1. Aksys’ smash up job with the localization. There are walls and walls of text in 999 (it’s a visual novel with some puzzles, afterall), all of which make sense. The story was clear, instructions and clues were easy to understand, and so on. It might seem like a no-brainer but Aksys is not a company with the resources of, say, Konami and deserve serious kudos for their job here.
  2. The puzzles and the clues given to solve them all make sense. This is so important in an adventure game but there are so many out there where this isn’t so and you wind up guessing or just trying to combine random objects. That is not fun. In 999 you know what you have to do and how it has to get done. No cat mustache affairs.

The story of 999 is not going to blow your mind but it was consistent and true to itself, with a lot of information to absorb if you go through multiple endings. It all ties together pretty neatly, though there are some questions left up in the air but I assume much of that was intentional. There is definitely wiggle room for a follow up of sorts if ChunSoft decides to go that way.

The variety of puzzles is pretty good–a bunch of them are number decoding which makes sense given the theme of the game, but there are also straight logic puzzles and your standard put XYZ together to get A deals. It’s not Professor Layton level but as I said earlier, they all make sense which is the most important part of an adventure game.

There are some parts of the game where you will read between action for an hour straight. It is a visual novel hybrid, afterall. I found myself getting a little antsy at times during the particularly long reading sections, mostly because I knew I was close to the end of a particular playthrough. The good news is that when do second, third, fourth, etc playthroughs on your save you can fast-forward through all the text that you’ve already seen.

Overall, 999 is an extremely well executed visual novel adventure and doesn’t suffer from localization issues (which I was worried about when I first picked up the game). If anything about the game sounds interesting to you, I really encourage picking it up at full price instead of sitting around waiting for it to drop. Hell, maybe you should even buy it straight from Aksys. If you help them make money bringing over niche games they’ll bring over more niche games for everyone to play!