Part 218: NGAE: ~/ sigma\$ cd /
Listen in: [English/Japanese]
I'm sorry. I don't have any news to read.
All of our station's reporters have...have passed after contracting Radical-6.
So have my... Excuse me...
I've managed to keep us on the air until now, but I'm out of tricks.
It's time for me to sign off.
This concludes our broadcast day.
I pray that someday our world can be cleansed of this horrible plague.
For a moment I just stared at the TV.
The roar of the static seemed to fill the entire room, until with a click it disappeared too.
Had the power gone out...?
I heard footsteps behind me, and turned around.
VLR OST: [Confession]
It looks like the first step was successful.
I guess technically you're going to kill me 45 years from now, but still!
H-Hey, no need to be rude about it.
I didn't kill you.
I hit you with the butt of a knife. You're fine.
You and Phi needed to experience a state of crisis. That was the only way.
Me and Phi?
I only told you about you, but...
We also needed Phi to jump.
You know what happens next, right?
Um... We go to the moon?
We will be leaving tomorrow: April 14th, 2029.
We've nearly finished preparing your shuttle.
Only a few last-minute checks and additions.
Alice and Clover, right?
What about the third one? Who's in there?
We put her into cold sleep two days ago.
She appeared at our headquarters and volunteered to be frozen.
It was Phi before she jumped from point A to point D.
In other words, she was following the same path you are.
And she still is...
Yes. The point C version of Phi is sleeping in that pod.
She'll stay there for the next forty-five years...
Sleeping in ice...
Then when she gets to point B, her consciousness will jump to point A, right?
We can't do that.
You haven't figured it out...?
You have to spend the next forty-five years working on the AB Project.
Otherwise you will be unable to create Kyle, Luna and Lagomorph.
And, of course, you will need to develop the chromatic doors and the bracelets.
You will also be the person who summons Tenmyouji and Quark.
Once you've completed all the preparations, then the project can actually begin.
January 25th, 2074.
You will defrost Phi and carry her to the 3rd AB room.
Once you've done that, the twenty-two-year-old version of you from point A will force you out...
And you'll just go back forty-five years, to your own body on December 25th, 2028.
Do you really think I can keep the virus from getting out?
You have to.
If you don't, billions of people will die.
Only you and Phi can save them.
What about you?
Aren't you an esper too?
I can't do anything on my own.
If this is going to work, I'll need your help.
So...what do I need to do?
What do you mean?
Like what specific actions do I need to take?
When Phi and I jump to point A, what are we going to do then?
You'll both enter the Mars mission test site.
And after that...?
I'm sorry. I really don't know anything about what happens in there.
We don't know how the Radical-6 escaped.
We don't even know why it was there in the first place...
Then we're screwed!
That's why we need your help.
You have the ability to jump through time and across parallel worlds.
We need you to figure out what happened in that test facility.
Things will be difficult.
And I'm sure you will find yourself in a great deal of danger.
But I believe the two of you can overcome any obstacle.
The sixty-seven-year-old version of you told me what happened.
He wasn't able to stop the virus.
So I suppose you could say you told me, after you failed...
Um...what did he...what did I say?
[Music fades out]
That the test facility is full of traps.
There was one point... A woman's life was in danger.
You risked yourself for her sake, and lost your arms, and your right eye.
My arms and my...right eye...?
*a low rumble*
Suddenly, a low rumble shook the building.
Wh...what was that?!
Go have a look...
999 OST: [Morphogenetic Sorrow]
I moved slowly to the window and peered outside.
On the horizon, I could see a massive mushroom cloud climbing slowly toward the sky.
Would I...would we really be able to change the course of history?
No...that was the wrong way to look at it.
It couldn't be a question.
I had to change history.
We could save the world.
Ladies and gentlemen; Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward.
One last time, for luck; Young Akane is voiced by Ali Hillis in English and Miyuki Sawashiro in Japanese. Ali Hillis is probably best known as either Lightning in the various Final Fantasies XIII and such spinoffs as required her to reprise that role, or Liara T'Soni in the original Mass Effect trilogy - though she's a stalwart regular of the Additional Voices crew and shows up on TV from time to time too. Miyuki Sawashiro is in, uh, seemingly everything. If I have to list just a few anime roles, we could do worse than Kurapika in Hunter x Hunter or Celty Sturluson in Durarara!!! - while in videogames she's been in seemingly every Fire Emblem to have voice acting, she's the Japanese voice of Catherine, and, of course, we will never forget her as Touko Fukawa in Danganronpa. Geehaahaaheehee!
Oh, and let's not forget that poor Newscaster; in English it was another of Ali Hillis' Additional Voices, and in Japanese it was Juri Mizuno. I couldn't find anything else about her that's written in English, and Japanese Wikipedia lists more TV commercials than any other type of role.
But but but! Guys! We made it. And I have a few words to say.
A long time ago, when I started this insane project with a very healthy mindset and excellent foresight, I already knew more or less exactly what I was going to say at this point. It was a real good speech, let me tell you.
Unfortunately, though - well, I guess it's actually mostly very happy - the context changed on me in the frankly ludicrous amount of time it took to work through this thing, and now I'm instead going to have to explain a few things about the early twenty-teens for the sake of anyone who might have been following all this blind.
First, I guess it's important to mention that the extent of 999's success was not expected. 999 was - and still is, really - a weird and janky game, even in its modern ports, and even in its mobile port that just says fuck it and eschews the escape sections entirely. But none of that mattered, because Kotaru Uchikoshi went and did that thing that he does, and wrote a story that hid a huge twist literally right under your nose and leveraged the physicality of Nintendo's weird new DS console to drive it home. It wasn't even the first time he'd pulled a trick like that, but barely anybody in the West had played any of his games at that point, so realizing that the two screens were showing the two resonating perspectives of Junpei and Akane and having to flip the console upside down blew everybody's minds. 999 was never intended to be part of a series, but word got out, important, visible people were impressed, and the bean-counters at what had just become Spike Chunsoft commissioned a sequel.
Virtue's Last Reward got a little bump in budget, and a broad increase in scope, but really isn't very different to 999 in terms of how its plot plays out on the meta level in any aspect other than scale. But it did differ in two very important respects.
Firstly; it was transparently the second entry in a trilogy. I mean, come on. They retconned the "Zero Escape" supertitle and made a cute logo for it. And the ending - while admittedly resolving more or less everything that transpired in Rhizome 9 - is one of the bluntest sequel hooks since "finishing this fight, sir!".
Secondly; it was a commercial trainwreck.
If you weren't there at the time (requires archives), agonizing over every detail, you can probably imagine pretty well how the years following VLR's release and localisation played out. Critically, the game did pretty well, with broadly positive reviews that praised the plot and lambasted the escape segments - a position that frankly I agree with fully. But the sales just did not materialise, and crucially, they especially did not materialise in Japan. So it became possible, and then likely, and then apparent, and finally official, that Zero Escape 3 was not going to happen, and we were never going to find out what the fuck happened on that mission. Uchikoshi tried, he really tried, to get Spike Chunsoft back on board, or to shop around to other publishers, or to look into crowdfunding. There was a fan campaign, Operation Bluebird. It was all to no avail. We despaired, we greived, we denied and bargained, but in time, we made our peace with it. And I was going to help you, dear readers, do the same, if you needed it.
And then in March of 2015, the toying began. There was a hot tip from NeoGAF, which nobody believed. There was an Aksys teaser website that seemed like it could have looked like "03" if you squinted, which obviously was just something to do with Infinity. There was a countdown, which eventually just showed some numbers, which turned out to be the coordinates of the LA Convention Center, the longtime venue of the Elecronic Entertainment Expo, which could've been anything. Uchikoshi would not stop tweeting, but why would he? E3 came and went - Sony had announced The Last Guardian, Shenmue 3 and Final Fantasy VII: Remake within twenty minutes of eachother, and the notion of Zero Escape 3 existing still seemed ridiculous in comparison. Finally, in an Aksys panel at the 2015 Anime Expo, the live stream experienced a cascade failure and crashed, so it instead fell to RPGsite, who were in attendence and livetweeting, to announce that Zero Time Dilemma existed, and would release in the summer of 2016. It went over well. Scores of jubilant goons proclaimed they'd never lost hope, tweeted its_happening.gif, and immediately cut themselves off from all further news to go in as blind as possible.
This all happened while I was recording, writing up and procrastinating from this LP. It was profoundly weird.
So, yes, in summation, this game sure does have a sequel.
There was to be one small consolation though, which I guess will now have to serve as simply being a stopgap between now and my final thoughts about Virtue's Last Reward...
...which is that we're not quite done with this game yet. We have this jump on our timeline because we beat every Escape room on Hard difficulty, which is something we totally did legitimately on our first and only playthrough.