Thursday, August 18, 2011

999 [NDS Review]

Yo yo yo interweb dwellers Akia here with her very first video game review for Augmented Reality! ... kind of fitting since this game in a way is about some form of augmented reality.

I finished 999 a few weeks back with plans to review the game right after playing so I wouldn't lose the "feelings" and "emotions" that were left after playing for a few days almost non-stop... but I just never got around to doing so. Sorry about that and I hope this review helps you decide to buy or maybe not buy this wonderful game, cause I sure adore this one! (also I used the review system 8bitfix uses but modified some of it.... hopefully I can come up with my own later but thanks to them for creating a good template)


Developer: Chunsoft
Publisher: Aksys
Platform: Nintendo DS
Genre: Puzzle, Survival Horror
Rating: Mature
Release Date: November 16, 2010
Japanese Title: Kyokugen Dasshutsu Ku Jikan Ku Nin Kyū no Tobira,
lit. "Extreme Escape: 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors"

This particular game is what we western audience have come to know as a visual novel- a game more heavily full of text than actual action or game play. There's usually more of a focus on a story that has multiple endings that a game aimed at challenging your reflexes. This is one of my favorite types of games to play, and the fact that a really good one is on the DS is a breath of fresh air from some of the not as good ones such as Hotel Dusk and Theresia.

999 opens with you playing as a male character named Junpei (ya, he has the same name as a quirky character from Persona 3) waking up in a locked room with a red watch looking bracelet attached to his wrist and a door with the number 5. He's a college aged guy and it seems like he has never seen this room before. After a small bit of racking his head as to why he's in this strange place, Junpei slowly begins to remember that he was kidnapped by a masked figure who's voice had been warped somehow. Once Junpei has discovered a way to escape from the room (or should I say once you've found the pieces to unlocking the number 5 door) he meets up with 8 other victims who seem to be in the same predicament as he; they all remember being kidnapped by a masked figure. They are soon told that they are trapped on a ship for what their capture is calling "The Nonary Game". Turns out this is now a game of life and death where death is more frequent than not because the victims only have 9 hours to figure out a way through 9 doors, of which the last door is the key to their freedom. To make matters worse, no one can escaped through a locked door with just their self, they have to rely on each other. Heads clash because of this, others go rolling.

999 proves to be one of the games the NDS was made for. I haven't played a game that utilizes the dual screen feature as well as 999 does since Trauma Center Under the Knife 2. Needless to say if you've heard of this game, you know it is a puzzle game. Puzzle games are really well suited to the NDS as the bottom touch screen can be used to turn shapes around, pick up items, combine them as well, and many other features such as searching a room. While this is a survival horror game there aren't any zombies or some weird virus, but I can't say much more without spoiling a key plot element for 999.

Like most visual novel type games, backgrounds are usually Photoshop edits of existing places and characters don't move much other than some mouth flap animation and a few motions. 999 is no exception to this rule, but it still has some pretty good graphics that make you feel eerily trapped with what seems like almost no other way out than to play by the rules of this "Nonary Game".

Sound & Music:
This is a non-voice visual novel, and there aren't any cut scenes that I recall other than an opening and ending animation. The soundtrack on the other hand is very very good as most games from Japan (from my experience) tend to be over American ones. Each track has moments of which they are played, and by using music Chunsoft was able to create an atmosphere that made you feel helpless and at other times like you were in control. Here is one of my favorite tracks from 999-

999 is a puzzle game, and its a challenging one at that. Each puzzle has a different set of directions, but to be honest a bulk of them are really easy. It's not til you get to door 6 or so that you actually feel challenged. Other than puzzles the game gives you very few choices other than which doors to pick, places to search and a few times you are asked a question. Don't get me wrong, these choices are very important as many lead to your death. This game has If I remember correctly about 6 endings two of which are happy and the rest of which aren't so much.

Replay Value:
You'll have to play this game at least 5 times to get all the endings (slight spoiler but two of the 6 are pretty much the same and there really isn't a need to replay if you've gotten one of them). I highly recommend getting them all because this game relies heavily on getting each ending in order to understand the premise behind this game and as to why the Nonary Game is being played.

999 is a game that defines why the DS is one of my favorite systems handheld or not. The game handles really well, has great graphics for the type of game it is, has one of my all time favorite soundtracks and has a story that will haunt you for days even after you have finished playing. The only reason I gave this game a 9/10 is because the localization is pretty wonky. There are some hilarious mistranslations and words that make no sense >.<

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