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on September 20, 2016
When I bought this game, it was already a little older, but wanted to play the series in its entirety. I unknowingly played the sequel first. It being older, I didn't have high expectations. But it turned out to be great regardless. the animation wasn't even bad just older. The puzzles were still fantastic, as is known for the series, and the storyline, writing, plot, etc. is out of this world. I was very impressed. I HIGHLY suggest playing the series in its entirety. It is well worth it. Virtues Last Reward follows this one, and is concluded by Zero Time Dilemma. My only, absolutely, only complaint is that you do have to repeat some puzzles and the time line is a little difficult. They have "fixed" this in the following two games. But with the internet being accessible, if I got hung up, or just didn't feel like remembering everything I had already done, there are great walk throughs out there.
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on April 17, 2016
Part Danganronpa, part SAW films. Suspenseful, eerie, mysterious, and more. I've never played a game like this before, though there could be a large library of games out there in this genre for all I know. I recently got sucked into this title as a result of Nintendo's big Spring sale currently underway, which included a heavy discount on this games sequel (Zero Escape). Reviews for that game a incredible in spite of the title receiving much publicity and select fanfare. The same could be said for this title as well. Upon reading reviews for Zero Escape, I was informed that playing this title wasn't necessary, but was highly recommended based on its own merits. After much hype, I bought in. Totally worth it.

For me it was a unique gaming experience. Very engaging. This game is quite a few years old by now, but here I am loving it on my 3ds in 2016. I just beat it earlier today and got the bad ending & now I absolutely must go back to experience the other 5. The bad news is that my ending solved no mysteries or saw the game to a conclusion, but I will keep playing til I get my answers!

If you like puzzles and enjoy death games this title is a no brainier.
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on September 14, 2015
This is one of the most unique experiences I ever had with a videogame.

Before I say anything else, note that this is a visual novel, meaning it'll have too much dialogue and focus mainly on the story, you'll be spending more time reading and following the story than actually playing, it's similar to reading a book but with puzzles inside.

That being said, even if it doesn't sound interesting to you, I highly recommend this game, at least as a new experience for you.

This game has very good story telling, although it does get boring sometimes, and you can't skip or adjust the speed of the text unless you're replaying the game to get another one of the six endings, however, rest assured as you can save the game any time you want, so you don't have to force yourself to read anymore when you want to take a break.

As for the game play, you basically solve puzzles and investigate, as the game is all about 9 people trapped in a huge ship, have to solve puzzles in order to pass through the 9 numbered doors, within 9 hours (9 hours, 9 doors, 9 persons), the puzzles are pretty smart and require too much concentration, and of course the game gives you enough hints and explains everything to you.

Also, there are six endings to this game, as in every play through you can decide on which doors you want to go through, and you have to finish the game at least twice to get the real ending, which is not an issue since the "True ending" is pretty much connected to the "Safe ending" and has different plot and puzzles.

Last but not least, the entire mystery of the game is genius, some things are left unexplained at the end, but the ending is still satisfying.

Again, I highly recommend this game for anyone who likes to experience something new.
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on April 25, 2013
I just unlocked my fourth of the six endings, and I'm trying to convince myself to do chores instead of continuing to play. I think my efforts to convince myself of this will be in vain.

I have never been one for story lines in games, but this one is not only necessary but incredibly interesting. The characters have intertwined relationships that slowly reveal themselves through game play.

As other reviewers have mentioned, with each play-through, you do have to go through every conversation again. Even with fast-forwarding, I find this at least a little bit annoying. However, it's completely worth it. I keep thinking that each play-through will reveal very little more than the previous, but I have always been wrong so far. I've only played 5 times so far, but I would still call that excellent replay value (which was obviously the intention).

It's pretty obvious that they put way more into the budget of the story and general programming than images/animation, but the former are so good that it does not matter even the slightest that there are just a few sprites per character.

My advice is to take very detailed notes with each run-through. Note whom you take with you, which path you take, how you respond to people's questions, etc. Most definitely note which doors you go through and solutions to puzzles as well. Draw out maps of each level, and write where you find each key and key card as well as where you have to go to use each.

Every run has been an absolute blast. The music gets your heart racing, and comments the other characters make get the gears turning about the story's background. They're often funny in their wit as well.

I most definitely agree with others that this game is in no way for children, which honestly makes it a great go-to game for adults like me who love the DS (because so much is geared to a younger audience with the DS). If you are easily offended by curse words, gory descriptions, and the occasional highly suggestive comment, this game is certainly not for you. For the rest, you need to make this the next game on your list and prepare to be hooked.
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on September 23, 2014
I never thought that I was a visual novel kind of person. I love reading, and I love manga, and I love video games, so it seems like it would be a no-brainer. But picking up this game... I was blown away. This is brilliantly written, and all of the characters feel fleshed out, and very real. The story is revealed perfectly, with you not knowing everything until getting the best ending. This does require a few playthroughs, but thankfully you can skip the dialogue, as it doesn't change with each playthrough, and it automatically stops skipping when you get to content you haven't seen before. You still need to re-do the puzzles, but it's not too bad. It also skips really fast, which is nice. Unless you follow a guide, you're not going to get the best ending the first time through unless you're extremely lucky... Plus, you should experience everything the game has to offer.

There aren't any voices, instead when characters speak you get different sounds when the text appears on the screen, different for each person. The music and sounds are pretty good, not going to win any awards but still better than decent. The art style is anime-ish, but still very pretty on the DS screen. The actual gameplay, the puzzles, are fairly inventive. It does deal a little bit with math, but just a little, and the game explains everything to you. The story is really everything. It really gets you hooked right at the beginning, and you truly want to find out how everything happens.

The best part? The story doesn't end here. They released a sequel, Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward for 3DS and PSVita, and it's been announced that it's the second in a trilogy.
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on August 19, 2016
I just finished one of the endings, and I have to say so far that this game has the best story I've ever encountered in a game so far. At first I was hesitant because this is the first of its genre that I've ever played before so I was pretty much going into it blind, but man... You get so involved in the story that it starts to not bother you how much text you are reading. I kept coming back wanting to know more about the characters and how things would turn out for them. There are a total of 6 endings and the decisions u make affect what ending you will get. The ending I got had me scratching my head cuz I wasn't sure if I had beaten the game or not. Now I am on my second playthrough and it's just as exhilarating as my first playthrough. It's nice that your next playthroughs, you can skip thru text that uve already read, and go straight to the parts that you haven't gotten to yet. I highly recommend this title to anyone that is looking for a puzzle game with a HUGE emphasis on story telling.
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on October 20, 2013
Sometimes I ask myself on what makes a good game. Does it need to be based on gameplay, in which control is in the players' hand and they have full control over their surroundings? Or can it be based on story, in which control is taken away from the player, but they experience a fantastic story and sympathetic characters? Or maybe a mixture of both?

999 is a puzzle game in which it fits into the latter half to a T. 999 stars Junpei, a college student who awakens himself on what appears to be a large cruise ship. Upon escaping his room due to it starting to flood, he finds himself alongside 8 other characters each into the same situation he is. Then a intercom speaker comes on, someone who calls himself "Zero" has selected Junpei and the other 8 and forces them to play the Nonary Game. The objective, to find the door number 9 in a total of 9 hours or the ship will sink beneath the waves.

I say the words "puzzle game" to a minor extent however. 999 has two "phases" to it. The first is almost all reading. To say that there is a lot of text in this game is a massive understatement, 999 has miles upon miles of dialogue and exposition (as well as small sprite based animations and pictures) to move its story. Mind that its a fantastic story, but its still a lot of reading that may turn off gamers that are used to jumping into the action instantly. The second half are the puzzle segments, or as I like to call them "Escape the room sequences". Basically, your put into a room, room has some obligatory theme based puzzle to it, and you must solve the puzzle to escape.

The puzzles themselves are very well thought out. Some range from using picture ciphers, to musical composition, to even spelling out words in Base 16 and then converting them to numbers. The game comes itself with a calculator even, which is pretty damn useful especially since 75% of all the puzzles in the game are Math or Logic based. They are not hard per say, I only needed help on one of the puzzles. Your cohorts also give hints on the puzzles as well, so it doesn't feel like the game is cheating you in any way. In fact, this game takes pride in doing something I wish more games do more, which is making the player feel like a genius.

Yet the real selling factor to 999 is its characters. Each of the 9 characters in this game are full fledged people. They are not stereotypes or cardboard cutouts, instead each character has their own mindset, their own reason to escape this situation they found themselves in. Each character is in someway connected to each other, and finding those connections are some of the joy this game has to offer. Junpei himself is an interesting protagonist, growing into a confident leader who is willing to stake his life to escape the ship with everyone in tow. His moments of brilliance, when he goes Professor Layton on the Nonary Game had me jumping up and down with joy. Other characters include June, a young women with a fascination toward mythology, Lotus, a sharp-tongued computer wizard who apparently dresses with questionable clothing, Seven, a giant man with amnesia, Ace, the calm minded adult of the group, Santa, the obligatory Take-No-S***-From-Nobody character and the siblings Clover and Snake.

999 has a total of 6 endings to it. More like 3 "Bad" endings, a prelude ending, a completely infuriating ending, and the True Ending. The only real problem to 999 is that to get the True Ending, you must get the Prelude ending first, or otherwise you will wind up getting a large "To be Continued" screen and then the credits coming right after. 999 loves hints, it will even give you a hint to obtain the true end. So its a must to play this game multiple times.

999 is an embroiling adventure with a serious plot and one of the best casts of characters to grace in a video game. It is a game that sticks with you, and generates a massive hole in which only another game like this can fill.
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on March 31, 2013
I stumbled upon this game when I read some top ten Nintendo DS/3DS lists. I had never heard of it, but went ahead and purchased it based on the strong reviews it had received.

I really enjoyed the story; the premise is engaging and the characters are interesting. The dialog among the characters seemed realistic for the most part and was fairly entertaining, too. It's really more of a visual novel than anything else which is very different than a lot of other games; it helped of course that story itself is so engrossing.

A few things about the gameplay mechanics were a little distracting, which I think other reviewers have mentioned:
- You cannot advance the text as it's being spoken for the first time; you can only speed it up once you have reached one of the endings. I'm so used to doing that in other games that I found it annoying that I couldn't do the same here.
- Whenever I selected an object to enter into a puzzle scenario, I would need to scroll through the instructions again. While this would be helpful if I was just returning to the game after a long break, it's not as much when I already know what I need to do. Since I wasn't able to advance the text, it was distracting. (Some of those instructions could be pretty long, too).
- When I did reach an ending, I was eager to go back, adjust decisions and then advance the storyline in a different direction. At this point, I was able to advance the text which was welcome. However, it wasn't very clear to me what I really needed to do to get to a decision point that affected the storyline. Not only that, but I needed to solve the rooms again, which seemed pointless. As such, I quickly lost interest in reaching the various endings.

From reading reviews of this game, the gameplay issues have been identified and resolved in its sequel. However, reviewers highly suggested playing this game before the next one, so I went that route.

Regardless of the gameplay issues, I'm glad I purchased and played the game and am looking forward to the next one.
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on October 23, 2014
I read an article on a gaming website that pointed me towards this game, I had a few extra dollars to spend so I said sure why not. I fell in love with the game almost instantly. I love the way it hooked me from the beginning with the mystery and intrigue surrounding the main character and those around him. The puzzles are stimulating, you do feel a great sense of accomplishment when you figure them out and solve them, and when you do it quickly...you almost feel like a genius, but there is always another challenge ahead. The multiple endings storylines is great...I've never really been of fan of exploring multiple endings...but here in order to get the "best" ending, you have to play through the story multiple times making different decisions and it never really feels like a chore. There are some far fetched concepts thrown around the storyline, but I guess thats part of what hooked me. It's a definitely an entertaining game.
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on January 6, 2013
In "9 hours, 9 persons, 9 doors," you take on the role of Junpei, who wakes up on a ship after being abducted by a strange figure known as "Zero" along with 8 other people who are given 9 hours to escape by solving puzzles through 9 possible doors. It's a premise similar to some of the Saw or Cube movies, though based around puzzles in the rooms rather than traps. This is not to say there is no danger, though. Without spoiling anything, there are some very gruesome descriptions and an atmosphere of mystery and dread hangs over the whole game. The story and dialogue are definitely adult-themed. The gameplay is point and click where you search rooms to find objects to solve puzzles. None of these are terribly difficult, but they are fun enough. You are not actually timed, either. The 9 hour limit is entirely a story point with no bearing on the game.

The real draw to this game is the story and all of the twists and endings. Depending on which doors you go through you will end up with a different ending. You cannot get the true ending without seeing a certain ending first. This might sound annoying, but it is actually masterful the it ties into the plot, and you get new bits of information and character development from the characters when you choose different rooms each time through. To accommodate multiple playthroughs, the game allows you to fast forward through the dialogue you have already seen on new playthroughs, though you cannot completely skip it. All of the endings are interesting, and it as advised that you go for the bad endings before the two main endings to preserve their mystery. One of the endings is simply the "true" ending cut off with a "to be continued" if you haven't seen the requisite ending, so you can skip that one. Also be advised that the true ending is the only one that requires you to answer certain questions in specific ways. It is advised to look up an ending flowchart to avoid frustration and unnecessary playthroughs. Without this foreknowledge there is a small amount of tedium in replays, which is why I knock off a star in "fun." The true ending is definitely worth going for. It adds a ton of story content with twists and answered questions as well as a few more puzzle rooms.

If you are looking for a great story with shocking plot twists, then 999 is definitely recommended.
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