Hello my internet peeps! I missed you, did you miss me? No? Psh, you know you missed me.
Anywho, I might have said this before in my blog but I’m not much of a gamer. Halo, Portal, Left 4 Dead, any game that requires some level of skill and/or hand-eye coordination, it’s pathetically sad at how bad I am at these games. Don’t get me wrong I like games, I am awesome at backseat playing, but hand me a controller and the word noob flashes across my forehead like a neon light. That’s why I love my Nintendo DS, easier to play and the games don’t have people screaming at you in several languages because you accidentally blew up your own team (I said I was sorry! Didn’t wanna play in the first place… jerks). I also love it because with the DS it is easier to find the kind of games I love the most, puzzle games. I own every Professor Layton game as well as some Phoenix Wright games, if I’m having to mutter to myself and get out a piece of paper to solve the problem then I love the game.
When I say these games are easier to play what I mean is there isn’t a lot of running, jumping, climbing, shooting, and complicated maneuvers I need to learn. These games are by no means easy, don’t be fooled by their cutesy anime appearance it’s a lie, they are actually evil brain teasers I need to conquer. My newest obsession is called 999 (9 Hours-9 Persons-9 Doors). This game is so beautifully frustrating, stunningly intelligent, and wonderfully obscure that by halfway through the game I was filled with a mix of emotions ranging from elation of finding a game that was not only truly challenging but interesting in both new ideas that I had never heard of before and a detailed, twisted storyline that made me wonder if the writers for Doctor Who had a hand in the game to so friggen frustrated that I wanted to bang my head against the wall repeatedly to make all the thinking stop. I literally had dreams about this game while playing it because my brain was still trying to figure out the puzzles after my body had given up and decided to sleep.
I had wanted 999 for a while, this is not a new game, but I’m a poor kid so I was watching and waiting till the price went down enough that I could justify buying it. Luckily instead of gifts I didn’t want my family decided to give me money for Christmas (best. gift. ever.) and I was able to buy the game I had been wanting for well over a year. The wait was worth it. This game is excruciating mental torture to anyone short of Mensa members, and I loved every second of it (even if it did make me want to bang my head against a wall). I’m also letting everyone know now that not only will you need to play this game several times you will need to get a walk-through eventually to find the true ending. If someone can find it without a walk-through then congratulations you are a genius. Kudos to you, you win at life.
Possible spoilers (depends on your definition of “spoilers”)
999 starts out with your character, a young man by the name of Junpei, waking up in a small locked room not knowing how he got there. There are some bunk beds, a sink, and a window that looks like a porthole. So automatically you figure out that you’re probably on a ship. There is a number 5 on the locked door and there’s a bracelet on your wrist (something you didn’t have before) with a number 5 on it. While you’re trying to figure out how the heck you got there you hear a not so good sound, creaking metal and breaking glass, guess what? Yup the window’s broken and water is rushing into the room. Now you have to find a way out before you drown. One of the interesting things I liked about this game was the gameplay. It’s half visual novel where you read what’s happening and can make choices sometimes to move along the story, and half interactive investigating where you find clues and put together items you find to solve the puzzles presented to you. Nothing is highlighted, all the text is important, and there are no hints when investigating. All decisions and brain work are up to you.
Once you figure the relatively easy introductory puzzle (relative being the optimum term here) you escape the room of watery death and head up the stairs, stairs that look suspiciously (exactly) like the stairs in the Titanic, where you meet a group of strange-looking people (there’s one dressed like a belly dancer and some guy who looked like a thug etc. I just shrugged it off as anime logic). These people seem to be in the same boat as you, literally and figuratively, all don’t know how they got her (or so they say…) and all have a bracelet similar to yours, numbers 1-9 (excluding 5 as that is your number). A person’s voice comes in over the intercom in the ship claiming to be someone called “Zero” and saying he/she had brought you here to play a little game known as the Nonary game. The object of the game is simple; go through the numbered doors 1-9, they are not placed in order, looking for the number 9 door as that door is the exit and you win the game. What’s the catch? Oh, not much really. Just the fact that you have to figure out difficult and even deadly puzzles to get through the doors, also that bracelet on your wrist is connected to a bomb inside your body that if you don’t follow the rules of the game you blow up, and that ship you’re on? Yeah its sinking. You have 9 hours with 9 persons to get through 9 doors, or you die. Fun right?
This game had so many new topics and ideas, some of which I had never even heard of before, and it’s big on the tangential learning. You read something a character says, for example hexagonal numbers, and you’re going “I have no idea what that is and now I need to know” and then spend hours looking it up just so you can keep up with the dialog. Made my brain hurt from thinking so much. The people who made this game are either evil geniuses bent on torturing the masses for their own enjoyment, or it’s some kind of weird Japanese payback for WWII, or (this is the worst one) they just expect everyone to be this smart. If this is a normal game in Japan then I better start learning Japanese so I can easily take orders from my future overlords (unless the computers beat them to it, but I am not learning binary). The most interesting part of the game? There are multiple endings, I know some of you are like “So? Lots of games have that” yes but do those games use the hypothesis of morphic resonance and morphic fields to make you play it several times remembering tidbits you’ve learned with every new ending to get to the true ending of the game? Yeah, I didn’t think so.
999 is like Pheonix Wright + a Visual Novel + Saw (without the gore) + that evil robot GLaDOS from the Portal games, all rolled into one entity, iced in frustration and tears, with genius sprinkles on top. If you play this game, which I highly recommend you do (I’m evil like that), then I empathize with your pain. It really is fun, if you can hold on to your sanity. Good luck!