9 Hours 9 Persons 9 Doors

I know, I know – two posts in rapid succession.  Separate topics.

We don’t get visual novels much over here.  In fact, even one of the most popular ones to come out of Japan, Umineko no Naku Koro Ni, is fan translated but still has only a niche following.  Granted – it’s too large for me to get very far into even the second chapter of four – and that doesn’t count the “Chiru” chapters.  Many VNs have been translated, but the genre just hasn’t caught on in “official” channels.

Aksys, however, has (in their wisdom) granted us the chance to experience a fantastic sample of the genre on DS.  It has some great artwork, a thrilling plot, and some pretty cool puzzles to solve.  It deserves support, and you deserve to play it.

Unlike Umineko, 9/9/9 is very easy to get into.  After all – there are only nine characters and nine doors.  How complicated could it be?  The game certainly took me longer than nine hours, but I went through it five separate times.  Yes, I went through it five separate times and I just complained about not having enough time to play RPGs.  That’s because the writing in this game puts RPGs – or at least, the ones I’ve been playing recently – to shame.

Final Fantasy XIII, for example – for all the effort they put into deliberately wrenching around the player emotionally and intertwining the backgrounds of every single character – has awful characters.  9/9/9 is how all plot-centered games should be written; gradually getting to know the characters bit by bit.  This doesn’t mean finding out their life story, or even their hidden eccentricities – it means getting a feel for how they react to situations, how they start plotting against the other “players”, and so on.

I only have two complaints about this game.  The first is that text is incredibly slow the first time through, so I think my DS’s A button has nearly worn out.  Second, the requirements for getting the “intended” endings are not hinted at.  I accidentally got the least conclusive ending the first time through, and I was initially convinced all of them were that bland.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.

To conclude my meandering proto-review: play this game.

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