The Let's Play Archive

999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors

by Dragonatrix

Part 80: Q and A

I think that it's safe to assume that if you're reading this then you've read everything else already. But just in case, here's the one spoiler warning you get!

Oh, and also do note that I'm not including every question here because there's 74 of them, some of them aren't particularly interesting and a few are the same question asked in a slightly different manner. If you want to read all of 'em, though, you can find them here. Note that if you do read the full there there's nothing related to Virtue's Last Reward asked here. This was originally done around 2010 and VLR hadn't even been thought of then. That's why a few comments might seem odd in places.

Were you influenced by Capcom's Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Series?
Not directly, but perhaps I was influenced some in the sense that Phoenix Wright allowed Japanese gamers to rediscover how fun an adventure game can be.

The characters and plot are all really well done in this game. I was just curious as to how you developed them all so well. What do you work on first; plot or characters? How do you know when they're complete? Where do you draw inspiration from?
For me, I first start by creating a rough draft of the characters' personalities. Then I make a sort of rough draft of the setting. Next, I figure out the "twist" for the story, and work toward that by coming up with a plot that fits that particular twist perfectly. So the "twist" comes first, basically. Of course, the characters and the setting that I come up with early on almost always end up drastically changed. I write a rough draft, then draw a line, then erase my rough draft, then draw a new line... It's just that process over and over. I don't know when it's "done" until I finish writing the whole script. I always write my stories thinking "I wonder what's going to happen to these guys afterwards?" Overall, I don't change the "twist", but I will change the story A LOT to get to it. So far as inspiration goes, all that I can say is that it mostly comes from me, while I'm writing my drafts. I believe that when I concentrate very hard

Why was Lotus in the 2nd Nonary game and not Nona?
I mentioned this earlier, but Akane's intent was to re-enact the future that she saw through Junpei's eyes. She saw Lotus, so she chose Lotus to be part of the 2nd Nonary Game. ...If you don't care for that answer, then you can think of it as "She needed Lotus in order to solve the puzzle in the laboratory room".

So June's watch was really 9 and Santa's was 0? Why did his watch show 3? Even if his 3 is really "E", that would mean his number was 6 (E => 15 => 1+5=6).
Originally I was thinking of making it "E stands for Empty, so E=0" in the scenario, but it felt forced and I didn't want people to think that, so I cut that part out. By the way, in hexidecimal E is 14, and the digital root would be 5...

How did you come up with the wide variety of puzzles in 999? Did you think of puzzles or stories first?

What were your inspirations for the story? Would it have been possible to make the unique ending with a system other than the DS?
This game was designed specifically for the DS because of its unique interface. The DS has a top screen and a bottom screen, and I thought to myself, "What can I do that utilizes this unique setup?" The result I came up with was 999's "twist". So, no, it wouldn't have worked on any other platform.

What exactly is the True ending all about? How can June/Akane be alive during the Nonary game, yet be dead from 9 years earlier? And why is the final puzzle upside down? Is it supposed to be as if you're seeing the last puzzle from Akane's perspective?
I get a lot of these sorts of questions in Japan too, but I want you to think about it from another perspective. If, hypothetically, the story in 999 is about Akane dying 9 years ago, and Santa coming up with the whole plan to save his sister's life...

screen was the past. So if you solved the puzzle on the top screen, then that means that Junpei single-handedly solved the puzzle in the future. That's what I was trying to portray.

Why did they put All-ice (Alice) at the end of the real ending like that? Also, why wasn't there a cool CG with Junpei and Akane at the end?

As to why there isn't a picture at the end of Junpei and Akane... Regardless of the reasons, Akane was the mastermind, and her scheme lead to the deaths of at least a few people. How could she show her face to them after doing all of that? That's why she's hiding. (Also, I mentioned earlier that she had to go begin preparing for the larger thing she had planned.)

As you might've noticed here, that's a bit of a contradiction. Earlier, an answer to a question was "eh they might be planning other stuff, but maybe not, I dunno" and now that's taken as gospel mere moments later even though it was vague and not in any way definitive. This happens a few times, unfortunately.

I would like to inquire as to how hard it was to write the script for this game, as well as how many words, pages, etc. Also, I'd like to know how an idea like the Nonary Game came to exist, as well as how each character was formed, and how you decided what number each character would get. I am aspiring to become a video game designer myself, and I am curious as to how this game came together, considering how well thought-out it was.
Originally, I had a very simply story, which was essentially "There are a number of doors with nothing written on them, and you split into several groups and move forward. Depending on how you split up the group, the ending of the story changes." It wasn't on a ship to begin with, though: It was in a

The bracelet thing is definitely a hint when you first get to it, I'll agree there, but it becomes pretty obvious in the Safe ending when he gets unmasked and turns out to be kind of a dickhead.

Though there's a very different question about the Submarine Ending that isn't in this particular interview I would have though. I thought it was brought up in here but it's not, and that question is "who opened the Sun Door and how?" It's sorta maybe implied that Santa and/or June had some form of masterkey but there's no way to know for sure. I suppose from there, if that is the case, then June probably did it to try and get away from Ace but who knows!

What were your inspirations when creating your characters? Did you take a niche or a cliche character commonly found in anime and manga, and put them into this situation by adjusting them to the situation that they were in? Or did you take characters with traits from games that you had previously made and just put them into this entirely different situation?

A different movie that people in the thread drew parallels to rather early on is Cube. There's definitely similarities there; a bunch of people get kidnapped and thrown in a strange place they (allegedly) hadn't seen before, have to try and escape without getting brutally murdered etc. etc. but with a few obvious differences. The most obvious one that isn't a spoiler for Cube would be how everyone here has a codename based on their numbered bracelet (except Junpei and Kubota) whereas everyone there has a real name based on an American prison.

Also, if you haven't watch Cube. It's quite a good film!

This is about the scene where June connected with Junpei of nine years in the future. Can I safely assume that the world Junpei is in is a future where June is saved from the incinerator? And that nine years later, June became Zero to prevent a time paradox? She herself stated at one point that she "is less than Zero" nine years ago.
That's exactly right.

What is the significance of Alice?
She was there to explain the Ice-9.

Is there any end secret not revealed?
I believe all the important parts have been revealed in the game.

What was your FAVORITE part of the game?
I guess my favorite would be the scene between Akane from 9 years before and Junpei in the incinerator. I guess you can say that this title was written specifically for that exact scene. I wish that part could have been voiced...

The thing about the names, that had been pointed out in-thread, is that "Nona" is latin for 9, whereas "Ennea" is greek for 9. That certainly works, but given the rest of the themes for the game and all I wouldn't be surprised if "Nona" was picked for "Nonary" and "Ennea" for "Enneagram." It's already been mentioned in the interview before after all.

How hard was it to create 9 distinct people to interact in various ways as the game progressed? There were times of conflict, times of great emotional stress and whatnot, and creating 9 distinct persons to handle this and talk amongst others with their own personalities and quirks seems incredible to me.

to Jung, those myths and legends are born from the human psyche, as archetypes. That fits into the enneagram I was talking about in question 26. With that said, the creation of the character wasn't too hard because I already had a formula to work from that's been passed down through all of human history. To make that actually work, however, was really hard. This story had rules, and it also had specific points it had to hit, so I wanted the characters to do very specific things, but...they didn't always cooperate. I tried my best to move them in the way that they were designed to, but even then there were times where the story wouldn't work and I sort of had to force them. It was very tiring.

Why was "Ace" allowed to live in the end while his cohorts were killed? He seems to be the biggest monster.
I think it was because he was the person she felt the most animosity towards. Because there was so much hatred towards him, she didn't want to let him die that easily. She wanted him to admit his sins and either be judged legally or even just wanted him to admit his faults in public. That is what I believe Akane and Santa's motives were. If the people involved all died, then the truth would have been lost. I believe they wanted everyone to know about the horrific event they'd been forced to take part in.

Teruaki Kubota, #9, the Ninth Man... Who was he? Or to be more precise, I suppose, what kind of person was he? Is he the reason that submarine was there, for instance? Is the reason why he was in such a hurry to get through Door 5 alone because he intended to confess? Was there any particular reason why he was part of our main group instead of the other two?
Teruaki Kubota was the only person who was a coward, and went crazy and exploded to death. That personality is why he was chosen as the 9th member. (Of course, the most important thing was for Akane to recreate what had happened 9 years ago.) Kubota has nothing to do with the submarine. It is believed that the submarine was already there when Ace (Gentarou) purchased the ship from Gordain. There was a submarine in the building in Nevada so that Building Q would be an exact replica of the ship.

What did the robe Snake was wearing after you rescue him out of the coffin mean? And what did the flags next to the coffin mean?

continued. In the final game, Gentarou was abducted and forced to participate. He was victorious, and felt that if he could win the game, then he could come up with a better one. he told Gordain's successor and his fellow millionaires as much. They decided it sounded interesting, and told him to do it. That was what lead to the Nonary Game that happened 9 years before 999. Of course, Gentarou's true intention was to test the theory of morphogenetic fields, but that was the story behind the Nonary game. He inherited the ship from the millionaires and hosted the game. That was how he got all the funding as well. In other words, there were millionaires watching the game 9 years before 999 and placing bets on who would live and who would die. Yes, they were truly rotten people. That was also when Gentarou found the mandrake root in the coffin. He used that root to create the drug, Soporil, that made him a millionaire.

Regarding the theory Snake brought up about June and Santa's bracelets, was June's really an upside down "9" and Santa's a "0"?
This is sort of connected to question 9 but the official answer is yes. However if we don't stick to the bracelet's display, you can also think of it as June=0.

Was that really Akane we encountered on the ship replica? You brought up Locke's Socks, but didn't quite seem to tie it back in the way you did with morphogenetic fields or ice-9, so was that just Akane's mind in some sort of false body?

There is a submarine present in one of the endings. I'm assuming that it is used for emergency escapes from the sinking ship but where does the tunnel from Building Q lead to?
Nowhere. If you keep going further down, it's just a dead end.

There is a room behind the Library which you are locked into if you reach it. Is this room present on the ship as well? If it is present, what is in it? Because I don't see much purpose to having a room to build puzzles in on both ships, especially since the Alice/All-Ice's coffin can't exist in both rooms.
This room does exist in the ship. Well, to be more exact, there used to be one. It was just a sort of study. There was also a coffin, but by the time Gentarou opened it Alice was gone and all that was left was the mandrake root.

Seven's real name might as well be Seven. Y'know, like Prince only... not. A bizarre mononym that somehow works. Because he's Seven.

There's a point somewhere in there.

Moving on...

I can easily see Junpei going with "Hand." That just fits him so, so well. "Star" sounds like it could be a big too braggy (...then again, so does "Ace") and "Penta" is kinda clever so that just wouldn't work at all.

I just wanted to see if you could confirm or deny the theory that whenever Akane began becoming feverish, it meant Junpei was heading down the wrong path, and that she was about to be incinerated in the past.
You are exactly right. Please refer to question 19. And like you say, she gets a fever because she gets burned in the incinerator.

What were the actual values of everyone's bracelets?
The other characters have the numbers that are displayed on their bracelets.

I've heard a rumor that the nine characters are based off of the nine Enneagram personalities. If that's true, which character represents which one? Do they share their number with their personality?

Yeah, those numbers do not match up at all. Those categories, on the enneagram, are like this:

Ace = 3
Snake = 5
Santa = 7
Clover = 6
Junpei = 8
June = 9
Seven = 2
Lotus = 4
Kubota = 1

...But that's boring, and this question is kinda great. Because of the second half of the answer!

This is at least nice and easy to figure out. Seven did mention that during that 9 year interim he was trying to take Ace down whenever he got the chance. It stands to reason that he'd get a shot or two in that time; Ace is kinda psycho after all.

If June was in fact Zero, and Santa was "assisting" her, was she responsible for planting the bombs into the Cradle Pharmaceutical executives? It doesn't seem likely, given how inherently altruistic she is. If not, why did she not admonish Santa when the 9th man blew up?
You're exactly right. I guess you shouldn't judge a book by its cover. Pretty scary, isn't it?

How did June and Santa manage to pull off staging the 2nd Nonary Game in the first place? How did they manage to finance it, reset/refurbish/use the facility and kidnap such big important people all on their own? I get the WHY of it all, it's the HOW that really just doesn't add up for me.

...It's the bracelets. That's quite obvious.

But this is great. Huey Lewis would be proud.

Who is the "Zero" speaking in the ending in which Ace dies in the incinerator? Is it Santa?
You can interpret it as Santa (the person making noise was in fact Santa), or it can be interpreted as Akane speaking directly into Junpei's brain.

Normally, I wouldn't bother with a question so boring and generic. But the answer, and I guess part of the question too is... super weird.

What did Snake hear when he paused for a moment in door [5]? It was never addressed again.
He was listening to the movements of the team that had gone through door 4.

Since Junpei saved Akane in the alternate timeline, will Junpei find the adult Akane somewhere in the present after the Nevada scene? I would love for them have a reunion in the timeline that we experienced. They are such a cute couple and I was so sad that Junpei couldn't find her after they escaped.
I apologize for saddening you. Given Akane's circumstances, she had no other choice.

Is the June that Akane presents herself as during the game how she really is, or is she really more like Ace, just acting, and really kind of crazy? And also, it was implied that the group was going to meet up with June and Santa during the true end, I assume that means the group didn't hold any ill will towards June/Santa?

So, those are the bits I think are most interesting/relevant without being the same question worded differently. Or just boring. There's still some rather dissatisfying answers in there (all the ones that are "because time loops" for example), but given how that kinda plot device always comes off to me as basically writing yourself into a corner that's to be expected.

Akane Kurashiki official art.

Young Junpei official art.