Nine Hours Nine Persons Nine Doors
Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors (or 999 for short) is a visual novel for the Nintendo DS. It’s about a college student named Junpei, who is kidnapped and placed in a giant 20th century passenger liner with eight other people to play a game: the Nonary Game.
I would argue that a good plot is often essential in creating a memorable and great game, especially since stories tend to stick with people more than just the gameplay.
Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors does not disappoint.
As I’ve said, the story follows the kind-of-goofy Junpei, who has been kidnapped by an enigmatic person who calls himself Zero and who has been put on a ship eerily similar to the Titanic with eight other people. Together, they must play the Nonary Game; if they can’t find the exit within nine hours, a bomb will go off on the ship and bring them down with it. Although they begin to get along to try to find the exit, more questions continue to arise: Who are these people who were kidnapped, and why were they chosen? Who is Zero? And what is Junpei’s elementary school friend, Akane, doing on the ship?
There’s not too much I can really say about the plot without giving away massive spoilers (and the game hinges on the plot twists), but I really enjoyed the game. The plot is extremely cleverly crafted, and with six different endings, it’s guaranteed to have you replaying it at least a couple times.
One of my favorite things in the game is the sheer amount of thought-provoking dialogue. This isn’t exactly a game to play if you don’t want to think about things while you play. For instance, characters will often talk about weird scientific theories, some of which include Sheldrake’s theory on morphic resonance and the Ganzfeld experiments, different types of crystallization (including the psuedoscience Ice-9, created by Vonnegut), prosopagnosia, and more. Though there is a lot of psuedoscience in the game, most of it hinges on real science.
Though a lot of the dialogue and narration gives way to a very tense, serious tone, a lot of the puzzle sections of the game are really humorous. Some of these include the infamous “ladder jokes”, where you, as Junpei, continue to click on one of the ladders in the cabin room (the first puzzle room) as Junpei begins to spew the worst and most ridiculous ladder puns. Another is Science Boy, in which you continue clicking on the mannequin in Room 8 and watch as Junpei soon grows attached to the thing. Most of the fun of the game is when you don’t really know how to get out of a room, so you click on different things and get a lot of interesting dialogue from Junpei and others in the group.
The gameplay is that of a visual novel. For those who don’t know what a visual novel is, a visual novel is a game that sort of plays like a book. It goes through parts that are a lot of narration, and other parts that are the actual ‘game’ part, where you can collect items and use them to further the plot. You can also make choices that will affect your ending, like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book you might have read as a kid.
The game separates itself into two sections: novel sections and puzzle sections. The novel sections are extremely text-heavy. Most of your time playing will probably be reading the narration on the bottom screen and reading the dialogue between the characters on the top screen. However, none of these sections are ever boring, as the dialogue is more than likely extremely interesting, and oftentimes suspenseful music will play in the background during particularly tense moments.
The puzzle sections are when you and several other people from the group go into a room. From there, the door locks, and you have to use the items in the room to try to find a way out of the room. You’ll do a lot of poking around, just collecting items, seeing if other items combine, and using them on different things. I also suggest examining items several times (and examining items while on your person) for entertaining dialogue from your fellow teammates.
There are six different endings in total: five are ‘bad’ endings, in which you die, and one ‘true’ ending. What rooms you go into and what you do in those rooms affect which ending you will get.
This is by far one of the best games I have ever played. The plot is so tightly written, and there is so much foreshadowing you’ll find yourself playing over again just to see those little points. The characters are extremely likeable and fun; the way the game is designed is brilliant and ties into the plot beautifully. I highly recommend checking this video game out!