Puzzles key to escape in “999”

By Ryan Chodora

There are many adjectives to describe the experiences that is provided by “999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors,” but they would all be moot if I left out the fact that this game will control your sleep schedule, and it will live in your brain for days after completion.

“999” was developed by Chunsoft and published by Aksys Games. “999” was released exclusively for the Nintendo DS on Nov. 16, 2010. The game was originally released in Japan on Dec. 10, 2009.

“999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors” has a silly title, but it’s a very appropriate one. You play as Junpei, a 21-year-old college student with a very strange wardrobe. The game starts inside of a room–a ship cabin, to be precise. Junpei has no idea where he is or why he is there. His last memory was being inside of his apartment and seeing an intruder, who then drugged him. He searches the room and finds the only door is locked. With little notice, a porthole window starts to crack and releases a flood of what is to be assumed as ocean water–GO.

“999” is a point-and-click escape-the-room game, but that only scratches the surface of the gameplay itself. The game takes place on a cruise ship; you are trapped with eight other people. All you know about the man that put you here is that his name is Zero. Each of the other passengers woke up with a similar experience as Junpei, and each have woken up with a wristwatch. Each wristwatch has a specific number on it and it cannot be taken off.

Throughout the game, you must travel through numbered doors; your goal is to find a door with a “9” on it. Every character has a different number on his or her wristwatch, and only certain people can travel through certain doors based on their numbers. Each door you travel through leads to a room in which you must solve puzzles to escape. The passengers have nine hours until the entire ship sinks.

“999” is a game of life or death. Every choice you make has consequences.


It’s no secret the Nintendo DS is an outdated piece of hardware, but “999” plays it right. Since “999” is mainly a point-and-click escape-the-room adventure, you don’t need flashy animations to muddy up the experience.

The visuals of “999” are simple, and it works well for the type of game it is. The characters are designed very well; all of the animations flow smoothly. It’s not a boring game to look at.


“999” features great sound work. The audio cues throughout the game are perfect, and the music is always very appropriate. You’re going to get goose bumps at times.

There are no voice actors in “999,” and I can’t imagine that enhancing the experience much.


Where do I start? Puzzles: The puzzles in “999” are fun, and they’re never too difficult. I never had to set down the game to figure out a puzzle. The bottom screen is where your focus will mainly lie during the “Seek a Way Out” sequences, while the top screen is monopolized by dialogue. It’s always very rewarding to escape from a room after using nothing but your own brain power.

Dialogue: The bulk of this game is spent talking to the other passengers. If you don’t like excessive reading, this game is not for you. You will need to pay attention to every word that is spoken. The conversations are the best part; this is where you will be making your decisions.

Don’t be scared off because this game was ported from Japan, the dialogue has been translated to English with no hiccups.

You have to make several decisions throughout the game, decisions that will compromise your integrity, and decisions that may lead to death.

It’s easy to be immersed into the story because the game is written so well. You will find yourself attached to some of the characters whilst disliking others. The people aboard the ship are all interested in self-preservation, and they must all work together to survive.

The game itself takes about eight hours to beat, but you’re not going to stop there. “999” boasts eight possible endings and you are going to want to get them all. This leads to the potentially best feature in “999:” fast forwarding. Because the bulk of “999” is played through conversations, you are allowed to hold down a button during your several playthroughs to fast forward through dialogue. Fast forwarding allows you to skip what you have already read, and it will stop you when something new comes up in conversation. Also, when confronted with a decision, the game will highlight what decisions you have chosen on your previous playthoughs. This game begs to be played multiple times, but because how gripping the story is, “999” doesn’t have to beg too hard.

Round Up:

“999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors” is the best game I have every played on Nintendo DS. Frankly, it’s the best game I have played in a long time. Everything about this game is fantastic. The characters are interesting, the gameplay is fun, and the story is incredibly gripping. “999” will be the reason you can’t get enough sleep, “999” will be the reason you’re daydreaming in class instead of taking down notes. Buy this game right now; you will not regret it.