Tag Archives: Nintendo DS

This could work: an Anime Adaptation of 999

Here’s a fun fact for you, did you know that the creators of Danganronpa and Zero Escape are friends? I’m not honestly surprised and in fact, I find that enduring, given the creators perchance for making dark video games with diabolic and white, cuddly characters. Although I have not yet played Danganronpa (mainly through lack of specific hardware) I have seen the anime and it’s quite good in all honesty. After seeing the anime, I really want to play the game even though I know the ending to it.

Video game adaptations to the small screen can be hit or miss but can be done right and even extremely well. In particular, the visual novel genre seems to hit a particular easy-adaptation and well-produced stride among other video games. It’s not surprising given how there is already a well-thought out story immersed with fleshed-out characters and plot twists galore. A simple elimination of the minimal player interaction combined with a full anime budget and you got yourself a decent miniseries on hand. Ace Attorney has finally gotten its own anime adaptation and I’m hoping that Professor Layton will follow suit soon. As such, why hasn’t Nine Hours, Nine Persons, and Nine Doors (or “999”) gotten its own anime adaptation yet? I honestly think it will adapt quite well.

I think 999’s biggest problem is the branching storyline that is absolutely essential to the game. 999’s alternate histories and complex plot could easily confuse new viewers who may lose focus even for a moment. What’s more, 999’s, and its sequel, loves thought experiments and hypothetical situations, which take time to explain and may further confuse a person who would question why these are here in the first place.

Before I offer suggestions how this could be resolved, let’s look at another visual novel-adapted anime that also has branching storylines, Umineko: When They Cry.

Umineko focuses on an extended family that visits their island after the head of the household dies. The greedy family wants to know who inherited what in the will of their now deceased father/grandfather. What follows are a series of supernatural events where many deaths occur and many alternate histories are explored.

What made Umineko easy to follow was how the main character was aware of these alternate storylines. Through him, he can remind us how things happened and how he was going to change them. What’s more, the anime made watching easy for the viewer and sped up certain already-seen events while establishing who was alive and when. In the end of the first season, we are left with a cliff hanger but we are not confused thanks to the excellent plot development.

The anime adaptation of 999 should follow a similar tract. Some events, mainly those at the beginning of the game, are ones that we will witness over and over again. A simple reminder of what happened and when will help orient the viewers of where they are in the timeline and what puzzle rooms have been solved. What’s more, Junpei’s ability to jump timelines should be more heavily explored near the beginning of the anime so the viewer is not confused why events are happening differently this time. The thought experiments, which are very dialogue heavy, is probably the trickiest part of 999 to adapt as the original flavor of the game would be lost if these aren’t included. I honestly think these can be done though given the right circumstances. If other, thought-provoking anime shows, like Death Note, are not afraid to be complex and not talk-down to the audience, then 999 shouldn’t be afraid either.

If you wanted to be poetic, the anime could be produced into nine episodes. I’m not honestly sure if that would be feasible or not but given the circumstances, it’s possible.

With the final Zero Escape game coming out this summer, I would welcome the possibility of a complete anime adaptation of this series but I stress that an anime adaptation of Virtue’s Last Reward would likely be insane. 999 had only five separate endings whereas Virtue’s Last Reward had over 20! True, you probably wouldn’t have to explore every single damn ending (quite a few of them aren’t necessary), but the amount of timeline jumping in that game is craaaaazy. The game had a helpful timeline chart you could look at but I bet the anime wouldn’t have it as easy as that.

I think the best course of action is just to stick to 999 as that game is more concise compared to its sequel. Video games are a form of art and sometimes, just like from books to movies, you can’t do the original media justice when you transform the source into something else. And maybe an anime adaptation of 999 will fall to pieces because of which. You just can’t adapt the player interaction into an anime. But hey, it could work.

Spoiler Free Review of 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors

9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors (999) is a visual novel game released on the Nintendo DS in 2010.  It is widely hailed as one of the best games on the Nintendo DS.  After hearing so much about it, I decided to try it out over the summer.

999 centers around nine people and their struggle to escape a sinking ship in nine hours.  They do this by going through a series of nine rooms.  These nine rooms are locked though and require you to solve a set of puzzles to unlock these rooms.

I’ve never seen a game use the Nintendo DS’ capabilities to this degree before.  The touch screen is lovingly applied and both screens are equally employed so there’s not a strong focus of one screen over the other.  I have also never seen a game take the DS’ hardware and twist it around in the game’s mind blowing ending.  It’s great.

999’s biggest feature though is its choose-your-own-adventure-style gameplay.  There are several endings to the game.  As you progress, you have to make a series of decisions that can affect the outcome of the game.  I guarantee you that you will not get the right ending the first time.  And don’t stress out about that!  The game highlights what decisions you have already made so when you reach that branching point, you can choose another path without having to worry if you had already made that choice or not.

Unfortunately, this means you have to go through a lot of dialogue and a few puzzles you have gone through before.  Luckily, you can simply press the B button and the game zips you through the dialogue and drops you to the first decision point.  You can’t skip through puzzles you have already done but since you know how to do them, you can breeze through them easily.  Even so, redoing of puzzles is probably the biggest criticism I have of this game.

Since this is a choose your own adventure, certain themes, ideas, and plot devices that are alluded to near the beginning of the game can be emphasized or dropped completely as you play through the different stories of the game.  That’s kind of cool.

The whole game has a definite creepy vibe to it.  I would say it’s tone is similar to Myst though with a great deal more character interaction and less mind-frustrating confusion.  I guess I should expand on this and say it reminds me of the classic point and click adventure games as the constant use of the touchscreen combined with the unsettling music really bring out the dire situation the characters find in this game.

999-nine-hours-nine-persons-nine-doors-box-artwork-ds

Speaking of which, definitely the biggest plus for this game would be the nine characters.  Each character is associated with a number such as the protagonist who is number 5.  Their numbers play a strong role in the game as you can’t progress through the nine different doors without using a certain combination of characters via their digital root.  So I can go through Door 5 for instance if I have say number 5, 6, and 3 (5+6+3=14, 1+4=5).

It’s through these different doors that you can interact with the nine characters on a more personal level.  As you play through the games, their slowly revealed backstories shed light on the mystery of why they are trapped on this sinking ship.  And boy these characters are great.

My favorites characters are probably Seven and Snake.  Seven at first seems like a dumb oaf but the more you get to know him the more you realized that he’s smart and pretty funny.  Snake, who’s blind, is a sympathetic character but is still nonetheless quite capable in taking care of himself.   Even the protagonist’s love interest, June, at first seems like the stereotypical, childhood friend-turned-sweetheart but holy crap the things she says to the protagonist can be either very funny or insane.  At first I outright didn’t like her because she seemed like a flat character but that slowly crumbled before my eyes.

In fact, most of the game is like that, things aren’t as they seem and certain ideas and assumptions you may have are thrown into a vat of water and dissolve before your very eyes.  I’m going to shut up about that because I don’t want to ruin any more of the fun you guys may have playing this game.

As you can tell, I like this game a lot.  If you are a fan of Phoenix Wright or Professor Layton, give this a shot.  If you haven’t played those two games then let me say this, there’s a lot of reading in this game and that can turn people off, I totally get that.  You don’t want to read you want to play a game!  But, if you don’t mind sitting back and take the story in, then you won’t be disappointed.  In the future, I’ll give my full thoughts on this game but for now, go to Amazon and buy this game!  It’s only 20 dollars new, you can’t argue that price for a game like this!

As a side note, I accomplished a unique milestone with this game.  I started it on my trip to Europe and finished it on my trip back in two weeks.  First time I completed a game out of the U.S.!