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on December 1, 2010
This is not a game for children. Do not buy this title for your ten-year-old; the "Mature" ESRB rating on the package is very accurate. The storyline is very heavy in expletives (up to and including the f-bomb) and periodic sexual innuendo.

I first found out about this game about two months ago while reading a synopsis on Amazon. As the title implies, nine people have nine hours to escape from a sinking ship. They were put there by a maniacal person named Zero, who kidnapped them from all over the world to participate in "The Nonary Game", a life-or-death challenge that will thrust the nine kidnapped people into a world of puzzles.

The best comparison that I can draw to this game is a mash-up of PC classics Zork and Phantasmagoria. If you are not old enough to understand this reference, I offer another: Saw (the movies) meets Professor Layton. What Aksys has done is create a visual novel; you must solve puzzle elements in order to progress the storyline. If you ever played the classic point-and-click adventures on the PC (Myst, Phantasmagoria, Zork, & etc.), then it is fairly intuitive (and obvious) that they can be reincarnated on the DS. The touch-screen interface is a perfect way to introduce this style of mystery/puzzle games to a new gaming generation.


Nine Hours, Nine Person, Nine Doors (lets call it 999 for short) excels in intuitive gameplay. The concept is fairly simple: the game is divided into two sections: narrative and escape puzzles. For each puzzle, your character (Junpei) will be placed into an area, comprised of a room or a series of rooms, and he must find items and solve puzzles in order to open the door and escape.

Now the title and the game itself does indicate that you have only 9 hours to escape. This is true, but the gameplay is very forgiving. Time does advance, but it is "suspended" while you are working to solve each escape puzzle. In addition, you are able to repeatedly attempt to solve each puzzle without fear of locking yourself out or dying. Solving the puzzles themselves is fun without being overly complex. Do not take this to mean that the game is easy; it isn't, not by any stretch of the imagination. The game's producer, Aksys, has done a masterful job in balancing how you have to find items and how you solve the puzzles. Granted the puzzles themselves can be somewhat math-heavy (two key concepts are a digital root and the hexadecimal system), but the game is generous about allowing mistakes to occur and even provides a calculator to help those who may not be as adept at mental math.

Now, here is the caveat [minor spoiler]. 999 is a game that requires more than one playthrough in order to find out everything about the storyline. You may think this sounds like a cheap gimmick, and I assure you that it is not. Each playthrough gives you the opportunity to try different things (choose a different door to go through, choose different party members for each door, and so forth), and subsequently, each character will reveal slightly more about themselves and their past. Thrown in for even more mystery is the seemingly random interjection of history: the Titanic, glycerin crystallization, a priestess of Amun-Ra, and more. Aksys makes each playthrough easier by allowing you to "fast forward" through dialogue that you have already read. In addition, whenever a choice menu appears, previous selections are greyed-out so that you can easily remember the last action you took at that point in your previous playthrough.

The only complaint that I have to this system is that you cannot "fast forward" through puzzles that you have previously solved. Since the narrative part of the game can be rather text-heavy, the option to speed through it is much appreciated; however, I would infinitely prefer not having to repeat the "prologue" puzzle in the 3rd class cabin over-and-over. If I had to open that danged red suitcase one more time, I would've gone looney. Fortunately, if you need to walk away from the game, you are permitted to save at any point. In addition, after you beat the game for the first time, you can access each escape puzzle in the main menu and re-enact the escape if you wish to hone your skills.

In order to access every puzzle room, it is necessary to play the game at least more than once. Also, to get the "best" ending, you have to complete a specific "bad" ending first. Finding the "best" ending is at best a crap shoot, as there is no readily obvious way to find it without trial-and-error or consulting a game guide. The best ending, though, is worth it. In addition, each of the "bad" endings reveals a little bit more of the history of each character and can help you solve loose ends that may not be resolved in the "best" ending.


This is where 999 excels. The story is not forced. You will actually delight in reading the text and learning a little bit more about each character. Thrown in is a lot of humor (many of it adult); there were a lot of interactions with the characters that had me laughing so hard that I was wiping away tears. The author of the story is amazing, and it was truly a joy to play through the game several times (I completed it four different times, I still have two endings to watch) and learn a little bit more each time.

In addition to having one of the best "true" endings of any puzzle game that I have played to date, the mystery and motives of everyone involved will lead to a rousing debate between members of the gaming community for a while to come. Personally, I have inserted myself into a board discussion on the Gamefaqs website, trading theories with other 999 players as to the purpose of a specific character as well as a secondary storyline within the game. I will not specify anything here, as I do not want to spoil the surprise for anyone, but suffice it to say I am very pleased that a game has had me thinking about it ever since I beat it.

Graphics & Sound

This game is one of the better games for the DS. While the narrative itself is text, each character has a unique design and the backgrounds are very appropriate for an early 20th century ship. There are only a handful of animations within the game (usually limited to puzzle-solving), but they are well done. The backgrounds are detailed, but not overly cluttered as to make it difficult to find items for a puzzle. Overall, the graphics are a 10/10.

The sound is good, nothing over-the-top, and does help to set the mood for the game. I usually play my games with the sound turned off, but while I did have it on, I found it appropriate to the atmosphere without being too cloying. It would have been nice to hear some voiceacting (reading about a character screaming, usually described in great detail, would have been more realistic), but the lack of it does not really detract from the game. The narrative itself is written with great detail, to the point that the desription of a dead body almost made me nauseous. That said, where the sound falls short the narrative itself picks it up. A solid 8/10.


If you are a puzzle fanatic and love a good mystery, buy this game. The puzzles are fun without being overly complex, the story is extremely well done, and the game is a pure joy to play. I can find little fault in it. If you are sensitive to expletives, it may try your patience, but by-and-large, I did not find them to be overwrought. For the most part, the bawdy language did fit the action and situations presented, so I was able to forgive it.

As stated at the beginning of this review, this game is NOT for children. While it would be lovely to give to a child to solve the puzzles (nothing like some mental exercise), the storyline, some of the graphics, and the language would not be appropriate. The game is very heavily peppered with the f-bomb, s***, b***h, and a few more. While there is nothing overtly sexual within the game, a few campy jokes do allude to some pretty erotic stuff, although it is tastefully done and I found myself chuckling.

999 is perfectly balanced with comedy, a compelling storyline, a great soundtrack, and deep characters that will stay in your heart for a long time. If you are looking for a fun puzzle game that is truly a gem, this title is for you. This game should be one of the games of the year.
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on November 28, 2010
I've played some mystery/puzzle games before but this one REALLY take the cake. Out of all the M rated games so far released, (this being the 11th M rated game out for the DS system) this is really hard to put down once you started playing.

The game itself is a mixture of a graphical novel and a "escape the room"/solve puzzles. So if you hate reading, puzzles, or math in general, I would stay away from the game. However, if you enjoy complex puzzles, memorable characters, great story lines I would definitely pick this game up.

What make this game even better is once you "finished" the game, you can play back through the game and have a completely different ending. Which really adds onto the replay value of this game and no two endings are the same!

I would like to warn parents though, this game is rated by ESRB as M for Mature for a reason. There is blood (tons of blood and a very detailed description of said blood), drug reference, strong language (and when I mean strong language, STRONG LANGUAGE! Not just the f-word is being thrown around), suggestive themes, and of course, violence.
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on November 25, 2010
9 Hours to escape
9 People caught in this mad game of numbers
9 Doors that will determine their very fates within a ship

These people are put into a game known as the "Nonary Game" where they must escape within 9 hours from a crazed person only known as "Zero" and make it out alive.

This game is very. very interesting. The moment I put this game into my DSi and played for the first 10 minutes, I was sucked into these people's lives that hang in the balance. The first few minutes put you in a room with the main character, Junpei, where he must escape from a room being filled with water, and FAST!! This game uses the whole point and click system where you look around a room and use your stylus to tap on objects to find clues and items that will help you escape from different situations in the ship.

**Some spoilers**

My favorite part in this game is not only the puzzles, but the dialog. The narration isn't bland like some other games. But, is literally made like you're reading a book. When you're stuck in the water-filling room with Junpei, the narration is very, very thorough and very detailed. Some parts will tell you about the description of the room to the restlessness of the characters to (I'm not kidding you) the full description of a body after it was blown up. It's not, "the body was blown up into a million pieces", but rather tells you something like, "the blood splatter was all around the room and chunks of the flesh where strewn around the room" blah blah blah. I'm not kidding, this is how detailed the narration is.

**End spoilers**

If there's anything else I like about the game, it's the 9 characters you encounter and must escape with.

Ace, Snake, Santa, Lotus, Junpei (the main character who doesn't have a codename), June, Seven, Clover, and the 9th Man. Each have a past that connects them all together and Junpei must find out why they are all connected so that they can escape from the ship.

If I were to say whether to buy this game or not, I would say, "buy the damn game already". This game might be a sleeper title, and is already one of my favorite games for the DS. The story is good, the characters are all intriguing, the puzzles are all there to make you think, and the short amount of time that you have makes it so that you have to rush the puzzles.

So, 5 stars to this game, story, gameplay, and all others.

Just to note: this game has a long of history in it, from the Titanic, to real people that changed the very world to chemistry. So, if you're not into reading a lot, don't buy it, but you are missing out on a great game!!!!
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on December 5, 2010
I almost didn't buy this game. Reviews sounded good, but I didn't like the price. I almost missed out. I would have paid double for this game. Highly addicitive, great puzzles, captivating story - I literally couldn't put it down. I have completed 4 of the 6 endings and will be going back to hit the other 2 soon! Definitely for mature audiences. Lots of reading, but it is very interesting. If you like suspense, novels, and puzzles, then this game is perfect for you!
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on May 13, 2012
I'm a big point-and-click adventure game fan, so I was naturally interested when I heard about this game. It had awesomely positive reviews, so it seemed like a winner! Unfortunately, I was busy with other games in my backlog so I didn't get around to playing 999 until now. So, does it hold up to my high expectations? Let's find out!

Graphics (score 8/10): The art style of this game is best described as "anime-inspired" without being over the top about it. It also seems very familiar to me, and I think I know why: it reminds me very much of the art style in the Persona games. I don't know if they are actually related or not though... As for the animation, there's some fully animated cutscenes here and there, but for the most part, there's just static images paired with text. The characters are also 2-D and they do move their eyes and mouths occasionally, but compared to a game like Phoenix Wright, it feels like there's far less movement. It also feels like there are less static images in general compared to other games in the genre. Limited budget perhaps? Oh well.

Music (score 7/10): No voice acting, but there IS some sound effects and some music. It's pretty understated music. There's just enough of it to be background noise, but it doesn't really stand out as much as I'd like. That being said, I can't really say the music is bad, it's just a bit bland and unnoticeable. That's really all I can say for this section.

Characters (score 9/10): There are eight major characters that you spend the majority of the game with, all of them with cool codenames (everyone decides to use codenames instead of their real names when they meet in case that psycho who kidnapped them is listening in - more on that in the story section). I'm not going to go through everyone, but you play as a young man named Junpei (who is just your average college student). He's pretty likable and it's obvious he's supposed to represent a sort of "everyman" character for the player to relate to. Even though the game is pretty short (it takes about 10 hours to get through one playthrough), it does a very good job of making you feel like these characters are real people through the use of very little actual knowledge about each of them. That's a hard thing to do and I'm truly impressed. Plus, even if you don't necessarily like all of these people, you at least empathize with them and their plight. That, too, is rather impressive. This would've gotten a full 10 points out of me except for one ending of the game that features a character acting like a complete psycho when it was rather out of character to do so (I'm not going to say who, but it so stunned me that I couldn't like her after that no matter what).

Story (score 9/10): In a genre that's absolutely saturated with games themed around being a detective/investigator of some type, 999's story is a really refreshing change of pace. Don't get me wrong, I love detective-style adventure games, but it's really nice to see something new - and it's a horror-themed game no less (the only other horror-themed adventure game I can think of on DS is Theresia)! 999's premise is that your main character, Junpei, has been kidnapped by a mysterious (aren't they always?) psychopath who's trapped him and some other random people on a sinking ship and is literally going to kill everyone if they can't solve his/her puzzles and escape. Sounds intriguing, huh? Well, the story is pretty good. I do have a bit of a complaint, though. I'm sure you've heard the old phrase "show, don't tell"? This game has a bad habit of doing to opposite. Rather than show you something, it just has long bits of text to exposit it. So, for example, instead of showing Junpei's face reacting with fear, it'll just have text saying "Junpei reacted with fear". I suppose it's related to the limited animation (see graphics section above), but I've certainly seen this sort of thing handled better elsewhere (namely in Phoenix Wright and just about every other adventure game on DS ever...). In fact, if you are the sort of person who hates long cutscenes, then this game may have you huddled in a corner, begging for the sweet release of death... I thought this wouldn't bother me; I mean, I played through all three games in the Xenosaga series (an RPG notorious for its long cutscenes), but it started to grate on me after awhile (I clocked one round of scenes as lasting at least 1 ½ hours!). When you have to hit the X button or tap the screen after every few sentences, the scenes get tedious really fast. It's especially annoying when you're fast-forwarding through stuff you've already seen before (on previous playthroughs, more on that in the gameplay section) and you just wish you could press one button and skip it entirely. I will say one thing, though, the multiple endings ALL add some value and enjoyment to the story (once again, more on that in the gameplay section). Well, anyway, if long cutscenes don't bother you, then I can safely say you'll enjoy the story immensely like I did since it's quite good!

Gameplay (score 7/10): This is a bit of a catch-all category for me. Games in the point-and-click adventure genre can have the best stories and most compelling gameplay ever, but usually they don't have much replay value. I mean, if you're like me, you'll want to replay them eventually just to re-experience the story, but most of them don't have anything past that. Well, 999 has very kindly tried to fix this problem by giving us multiple endings! In fact, you really can't get the good ending without replaying the game. Now before you start moaning about the tedium, the game let's you fast forward through dialogue you've already been through so it doesn't feel like such a slog fest. I do sorely wish though that you could skip the entire scene by just pressing a button once instead of having to hold down a button to fast forward. Oh well. The really cool thing is that each ending (even the bad ones) is that they all add something to your knowledge about the story/characters and don't feel like a waste of time. All I can say is that I appreciate the developer's attempt to add some replay value to this game when it's in a genre that often lacks it. As for the actual gameplay, all the controls work well enough, and it's just what you'd expect for an adventure game; there's (long) scenes, then there's times where you wander around to explore various rooms, and there's puzzles to solve. It's pretty standard stuff. The puzzles themselves aren't too bad, but some of them are kinda tricky, especially if you don't understand math concepts like hexadecimals and magic squares and stuff too well (like me - sigh). This is a very math-centered game. Other than that, there's not much to say!

Overall (score 8/10): NOTE this score is not an average; it's my subjective overall score. Well, this is an interesting game... As for my expectations, I'm surprised that people gave this game such high scores. I mean, I've seen tons of professional reviewers giving this game perfect scores when games like Ghost Trick got good, but less awesome, reviews. If I were to be completely honest, I'd have to say that I enjoyed Ghost Trick a great deal more than this game because the whole experience (from storytelling to gameplay) just felt more polished to me. That doesn't mean that 999 is a bad game; quite the contrary - it's got a great story and great characterizations. I've heard that the developers are releasing a sequel to this game on the 3DS. If they manage to balance out the length of the cutscenes vs. actual gameplay while still maintaining the same story and character standards, then I'm sure it'll turn out fantastic. Even if they don't improve on anything, I'm still looking forward to playing that game. I'm sure it'll still be a great experience!
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on August 10, 2011
I'm a big fan of mystery and adventure games like Phoenix Wright and the Professor Layton series, and have to say even stacked against these, this has turned out to be truly one of the best written games I've ever played. I say "game" but it's more akin to a "visual novel" with puzzle mini-games.
To get an idea of what's in store, just imagine if Lost was written or directed by Wes Craven, or you mashed up Saw with a Choose Your Own Adventure book, but in actuality that is only the tip of the iceberg for this game. You play as Junpei, a normal college student who, for no apparent reason, finds himself trapped with 8 strangers, on a ship that is about to sink and forced to play a twisted life or death game called "The Nonary Game". In order to escape, you must solve puzzles (involving maths or logic for example) within the locked rooms of the ship.
At first glance, the characters may appear to be simple animé stereotypes - a large mountain man, an eye candy woman in an exotic dancer outfit, and a pink haired schoolgirl type, but as you play more and more to discover the mystery, you begin to uncover their personalities and they really do seem believable and like real people. I grew to care for them as if they were my friends.
How you react to certain characters genuinely affects the story if you, for example, go through a different door or team up with other people.
The graphics in the game may seem basic with not much actual animation of characters (though each of them is very well drawn) but there is much more detail in the background so they work well, and much of the games' tension and atmosphere is accomplished through the use of text and sound. The soundtrack is fantastic, with (among other things) splendid creepy moments achieved with simple piano cues. Whatever you do, try not to play this at night.
I was really moved (I won't spoil anything for you, but in fact at some points I was crying) and also piqued by genuine fear in other places. The descriptions in this game are very detailed and graphic with some strong language so, with good reason the game has a US Mature rating (and would probably get at least a 15 rating in the UK). I'm not a prude but the imagery (for example of a dead body) and what it feels like, is so on the button I often felt queasy. The salty language used by some of the group and their reactions, seemed realistic to me however, given the terrifying situation these characters were in.
Also, if you don't like reading this may not be the game for you, as there is a great amount of text and I mean a LOT. But it's so well written and localised sometimes I thought it could make good material for a movie or actual paper novel. What we have here is not just amazing "game" writing but material that deserves to be compared with other media in my opinion.
Despite the darkness there is also humour and some jokes in this game which was genuinely funny and some things your companions say made me laugh too. The writing does a superb job of conveying how the characters feel, at times highlighting their sense of dread, confusion and helplessness and we are at one with them, so often you too will be thinking to yourself "What are we doing here?! Just what the hell is going on?!"
The game also excels for me because you really need to complete it multiple times in order to learn more and truly understand everything in the story. When I had completed it once I couldn't wait to start it again. This makes the game have excellent replay value.
But with this comes a drawback (unfortunately), which is that I sometimes found it annoying having to play through the puzzles that I'd already done before when replaying, even if I can speed through the text. This also had the effect of making the urgency in the game (which is very well done otherwise) feel uneven at times.
The puzzle mechanic is wrapped up with some pretty complex ideas (for starters, actual historical events, scientific theory) in a genuinely moving and engrossing story that blew my mind. Seriously, few games if ever have made me think as deeply as this about the overall mythology and enigma of the events taking place, and what I've been involved in. In fact it's not just a game, but an experience. One which I was honestly pleased to have had, but was also very upset when it was finally over.
I loved it so much, I didn't want it to end.
I really would recommend this game to any lovers of mysteries. Its' incredible, compelling storyline, often challenging puzzles, humour, many scenes of emotion and pathos, and profound characters make it a treat to play. I really hope more games like this will be released on the DS and other systems.
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on December 27, 2010
To put it simply, this game is wonderful. There are minor points of frustration to be sure, but overall, 999 delivers.

First of all, the writing and story are spectacular. And the character development is nearly unparalleled in today's games. 999 serves up a deep, gritty, and rich narrative that absorbs you into another world.

The gameplay element, comprised of various puzzles, while not the strong suit of the title, are fairly engaging as well. They are usually a welcome pace breaker. However, they can be tedious at times, especially when completing them for the third or fourth time.

This brings up my final point. The game has 6 (not 9) endings, so multiple playthroughs are required to see them all. After the first playthrough the game grants a "fast-forward" feature to blow past things already read, but it does not allow you to skip puzzles. This is a little annoying, but again, it is a minor complaint.

All in all, 999 is a gem that deserves to be played. And its "true" ending is definitely worth the multiple playthroughs necessary to reach it. So get it now before it's really hard to find!
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on February 7, 2011

9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors (999 for short) is essentially a point and click adventure game with heavy text (or a "visual novel"). The main character, Junpei, wakes up to find himself trapped in what appears to be an extremely large, old ship. He and eight others discover have been kidnapped by a mysterious figure named Zero and forced to play the "Nonary game": A game, in which they have 9 hours to escape by solving elaborate puzzles behind numbered doors or they will die. They must also follow certain rules that, if broken, will also result in death.

Gameplay: 4/5

As suggested by the genre, you tap on objects in a mostly still-picture screen, looking for items that will help you escape a specific area of the ship. You must discover how to use or combine these items to solve complex puzzles. It doesn't sound like much, but if for those who have never played a P&C game, it can be more engrossing than you think, especially when you're checking every crevice in an effort to find some clue that will help you solve a given puzzle. As in most P&C games, you don't have many options, but there are a few very significant decisions that will involve determining which door (of the "9 Doors" in title) you wish to pass through. A typical playthrough will require passing through 3 doors (NOT in any order, so you don't have to worry about 9 Choose 3 = 84 whopping possible playthrough combinations), and this sequence will determine your ending, though you won't have any idea which one it will be without outside help.

Speaking of endings: Multiple playthroughs are not only encouraged, but really required to get the full experience of 999 (explained further under "Story"). After playing through once, the game will allow you to fast-forward through any repeated dialogue, which is handy not only for quickly getting through some of the more text-heavy sequences, but also for keeping you from missing any new information by accident. This will be true for all subsequent playthroughs. Unfortunately, the game will force you to solve the exact same puzzles, likely because there are other dialogue options during these sequences. This is cumbersome, but having solved them once, you should easily be able to speed through them quickly (or consult a FAQ if you're really lazy). For example, my first playthrough took me about 7 hours, but most of the subsequent ones took only about 2.

Story: 5/5

Now, it's possible solving puzzles may not be enough to keep your interest, but as luck would have it, this game features an engrossing plot as well. As a game, the text-heavy exposition may turn you off at first, but it is written and translated well enough (there are quite a few spelling/grammatical errors, but no outright Engrish). Maybe it's not Shakespeare, but it's also no Stephenie Meyer or Dan Brown. If you've ever read a book in your life, then you'll know that words (even badly written ones) can be strong enough to ignite your imagination on their own, so it shouldn't be a problem.

Much of the intrigue involves discovering why you and your companions were specifically kidnapped as well as the motivation and identity of the game's perceived antagonist, Zero. The narrative is shaped so that when you pass through a specific numbered door (e.g. "4"), you will be required to take pre-set companions with you. This is why the complete experience requires multiple playthroughs: With every new path you take, your companions will offer certain details about their own lives or peculiar observations that will allow you piece together a complete picture of the events. For instance, if you solve the puzzles in one door with a specific companion, then team up with that companion for a different door, he/she will be more susceptible to offering up new information. And every ending offers a new perspective on each of your companions. In fact, you are unable to obtain the "True Ending" without first completing one of the others.

As for details on the actual plot itself, there's an interesting element of sci-fi to it. You're not going to discover anything crazy like aliens, but the game will attempt to take some real-life myths and offer a possible pseudo-scientific explanation for their occurrence. As different characters offer you similar explanations for different events, you'll begin to get an eerie sense that your perception of what's possible isn't entirely accurate. You'll also encounter seemingly disparate motifs that will have you wondering what their connections are. You'll find that not only does the story ingeniously weave all of these plot threads into a brilliantly told and satisfying conclusion, it also ties the plot to the gameplay mechanics, namely the use of multiple endings and the dual-screen. This creates a unique experience that would be difficult to pull off in another medium, or even a different videogame system. Even better, the story isn't deliberately confusing, which some authors, filmmakers, and game designers think is equivalent to "depth"; you will likely be asking questions at the end, but you won't be scratching your head in frustration, and Aksys has even posted a very informative Q&A session with the lead game designer and story's author on the official 999 site to answer any concerns about possible plot holes and more.

The bottom line is, the story will engulf you with the who's, why's, and how's, and the (true) ending will not disappoint the build-up, which when you think about, is a tough feat in and of itself.

Presentation & Graphics: 3/5

As a P&C adventure game, graphics are not a large concern and there's not too much to look at here. Most of the backgrounds appear to be pre-rendered, though there are some low-texture 3D objects scattered about. Very little, if any, animation occurs. For instance, in the beginning of the game, you'll find yourself in a room where the window has cracked and water begins pouring through...only the water is "frozen" in time, which looks a little strange and deflates the sense of urgency a bit. However, the game relies on you to find little details in every area, which the graphics are perfectly capable of relaying, and that's good enough. The game's locales also do a good job of creating a subtle, unsettling atmosphere; you'll find mannequins, dead animals, torture chambers, coffins...absolutely nothing is graphic (the game refrains from showing you the more gruesome death scenes, although it does describe them in detail), but you will be suitably creeped out.

The characters themselves are only shown during dialogue and have few animations. Hence, the game is more inclined to describe events and body language than to show you. But as mentioned before, once you start reading, you won't care too much about the unspectacular visual component.

Sound & Music: 3/5

There is no voice-acting, which may be a pro or con. I'm not so sure a game like this would've so well with voice-acting. A bad voice actor for Junpei could've ruined the game and may not be worth the effort.

The music, composed by the veteran videogame composer Shinji Hosoe (recent efforts include Tekken 6 and 3D Dot Game Heroes), is geared toward an atmospheric and tense aesthetic to fit with the game's premise and settings, so it's not really suited for casual listening, but it gets the job done well and can be very effective, particularly towards the end when things get heavy.

Overall: 5/5 (not an average)

You can tell that the game developers put a lot of time and thought into crafting a consistent, engaging plot with multi-dimensional characters, something that is rarely seen in videogames. The puzzles will keep you entertained, but it's the story that's the real gem here, and it's something that should be experienced by anyone who's interested in more than shooting aliens and Nazis as a floating gun and would like (more) definitive evidence that Roger Ebert doesn't know what he's talking about.

As of now, the game seems to have sold pretty well, but I'd personally like a sequel, so buy it new (once it comes back in-stock).

Other details:
- Total game time for me was about 20 hours for all 6 (really 5) endings. First playthrough was 7 hours. Each new Door you encounter will likely take 1-2 hours to complete. The True Ending can only be obtained after completing another specific ending and is fairly lengthy on its own (about 3 hours).

- This game is rated Mature, probably for some graphic textual descriptions of violent scenes and an oddly-placed sexual joke that goes on a little long. There's no actual sex in it though (pictorial or descriptive). But 17 is kind of an arbitrary age, and the game is so much more than violence and sex jokes. I would suggest a parent play this game his/herself and then give it to his kid if he thinks it's okay.
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on December 25, 2010
I'd give this game a 9.9999/10, and would definitely recommend it!

Game Play
Difficulty is good
You can skip parts you've already read


No way to change text speed (such as slow, normal, fast)(excluding skipping)
Can get a bit repetitive trying choices over and over again.

Overall, really good game. I stayed up hours doing first route. If you don't like tons of text, you might not want to try this, but again, the story is really good. It's a Visual Novel-ish type of DS game, and if you liked Hotel Dusk 215, Umineko No Naku Koro Ni, Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni, Trace Memory, etc. You would probably like this game. (And vice versa.)

((Also, cool watch. Don't expect it being easy to read the instructions/putting it on though, if you get it.))

I dunno what else I can write that others haven't so yeah.
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on February 18, 2011
"999" managed to keep me hooked through multiple playthroughs - with different endings each time, you can't help but want to go through it just "one-more-time" to learn more about the back story and who the culprit is. If you are an anime/manga fan, then you'll notice plenty of cliches in the story and dialogue, but it is still an extremely interesting story. Very adult themes makes this definitely not for kids - it deserves the Mature rating.

The only reason I gave this a 4-star rating rather than 5-star was because after the first playthrough, you can fast forward through dialogue you've already seen by pushing right on the D-pad, but you can't skip it entirely so you sit there holding down the button until you get to a new part of the story. Also, you always replay the puzzles (no skipping), which can be annoying when you've already solved it in previous playthroughs.
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