Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward Articles RSS Feed | Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network 5 Reasons To Play Zero Escape: The Nonary Games Sun, 26 Mar 2017 14:11:46 -0400 Erroll Maas

Zero Escape: The Nonary Games, an enhanced collection of two of the three games in the Zero Escape visual novel trilogy originally for the Nintendo DS and Nintendo 3DS, just released on PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, and PC. This underappreciated series has a bigger following in the West than in Japan, and with the games now expanding to other consoles, more people will be able to experience them. Here are five reasons why you should play Zero Escape: The Nonary Games:

1. You Will Probably Learn Something New

The Zero Escape series is far from an educational game series, but most of the scientific theories and conspiracies discussed between the characters are real. The dialogue provides a great deal of thought provoking content, although it's hard to talk about what they are specifically without going into spoiler territory. If you like lengthy conversations about weird mysteries, some you may have never even heard of, then this a a great reason to familiarize yourself with the Zero Escape series.

2. Plenty of Satisfying Puzzles, If You Can Figure Them Out

The second way Zero Escape works your brain is by having you solve different puzzles to help the characters seek a way out of each escape room and avoid their demise. Some solutions are easier than others, and they aren't for everyone, as some players may find a few of these puzzles to be more annoying than others at times. The end result of solving most of these complex puzzles, is that these can leave the player feeling satisfied and even rewarded at times, no matter the difficulty or the length of time it took the player to find the solution.

3. Experience Multiple Pathways Without Having to Start The Whole Game Over

Games in the Zero Escape trilogy, like many other visual novels, are known for multiple pathways. Since scenes are charted out for you by the FLOW chart, you don't have to go all the way back to the beginning of the game for most of the pathways or replay through escape rooms. There are also auto-advancing text boxes and a fast forward option in case you do have to rewatch a scene to access certain pathways.

4. The First Game, 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, is Now Fully Voice Acted

999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons , Nine Doors,  was originally on the Nintendo DS, later ported to iOS, and contained no voice acting due to the limits of the console at the time. It's successors, Virtue's Last Reward and Zero Time Dilemma. were both on the Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita and both were fully voice acted. Zero Escape: The Nonary Games has dual audio in English and Japanese, so if you aren't a fan of the chosen voice cast or dislike English voice acting you can listen to the characters in Japanese instead. Alternatively, you could also play the game with voices disabled and play the game almost as if it were the original version, if that's the experience you'd prefer.

5. The Finicky Touchscreen of the Nintendo 3DS is No Longer an Issue

Despite plenty of benefits the touchscreen may have provided when solving puzzles, on the Nintendo 3DS in particular, sometimes the game would refuse to go closer to an object to investigate it or rotate to another part of the room. This problem could be exceptionally frustrating when an object was placed in a corner on the screen, and it would take a few tries to actually get near the object.

The PC version of Zero Escape: The Nonary Games uses a mouse instead of a touchscreen which provides more accuracy when different objects or parts of the room are clicked on. To workaround the dual screens of the Nintendo 3DS, Zero Escape: The Nonary Games alternates between "NOVEL" and "ADV" ("Adventure") modes, instead of separating them with each screen.


There are plenty of other reasons to play the Zero Escape series, but these are just five reasons to help pique your interest specifically for Zero Escape: The Nonary Games.

Zero Escape: The Nonary Games is available for PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, and PC. The third game in the series, Zero Time Dilemma, which is not included in the collection, is available for Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation Vita, and PC.

Why the Funny Pervert Stereotype Needs to Go Tue, 12 Jul 2016 08:28:17 -0400 cactusjudy

You know the "funny pervert" type. The teenage boy who can't stop hitting on every girl he sees. The old man who attempts to grope any woman under the age of 30 without fail. The troupe of boys who peep through the sliding door of the bathhouse to ogle their female friends' developing bodies.

The funny pervert is a character archetype in the media -- the (typically male) character who takes their sex drive to the extreme and whose lustful antics towards every female in sight are played off as humorous. He is not every boy or man who expresses interest towards the opposite sex or tries their darndest to get laid; rather, he is the one whose intense objectification of women and verbal or physical actions crosses the line into harassment.

Unfortunately, the funny pervert is still a staple in many video games -- particularly Japanese imports. Sometimes he is even the hero of the game, though more often than not he is the funny sidekick (think Yosuke from Persona 4 or Sunohara from Clannad). The problem with this character is not simply in his existence, but that, despite his icky behavior, he is still presented as an overall "good guy." 


This presentation should be concerning for all gamers, male and female alike, for three main reasons: it normalizes sexual harassment, codes reactive violence against men as humorous, and establishes an antagonistic relationship between the sexes. The consequences of such representations are harmful and far-reaching -- and as such, both consumers and producers of games need to be made more aware of the real-world issues that the funny pervert character represents, interacts with, and promotes. So, without further ado, here are the three biggest reasons why the pervert archetype needs to go the way of the dinosaurs.

1. It normalizes sexual harassment

The fact that this quiz exists speaks volumes

When sexual harassment is presented as funny, people are less likely to consider it a serious problem. Victims feel too embarrassed to report a situation they've been conditioned to laugh at, and perpetrators don't understand that what they're doing is wrong and punishable by the law. I'm sure the boys who spent middle school stalking and harassing my friends and I thought it was one big joke, until they got in trouble with the school authorities. 

The situation is made even worse when the character in question is presented as a "good guy" who, despite his gross behavior, is really a heroic person who is willing to sacrifice himself for the common good. For example, protagonist Sigma in Virtue's Last Reward spends the game making sexually explicit comments towards all of his female companions -- especially the ones who are too young/ignorant to know what's he's talking about.

Yet, he's still presented as the self-sacrificial hero of the game who truly cares about all of the women he's harassing.

In reality, the guy who tells you to bend over in a sexually explicit way is probably not someone who genuinely cares about you as a person, and not the person you want to be trapped in a warehouse with. Even if he is an all-around decent guy, that still doesn't excuse his bad behavior or mean that he shouldn't be called out on it. 

Sexual harassment, whether verbal or physical in nature, isn't a joke -- and treating it as such doesn't do anyone any good. In the real world, people get disciplined, fired, and arrested for aggressively lewd comments, groping, and stalking. Victims feel upset, angry, scared, and violated. Sexual harassment isn't normal or funny, and the media should stop treating it as such.

2. It codes violence against men as humorous

In the media, the reaction to voyeurism or lewd comments, whether deliberate or accidental, is almost always violence. The new boy at the magical school accidentally falls onto and gropes the princess, and in return she punches him in the face. In both Persona 3 and 4, the protagonist and his male companions accidentally walk in on their female friends bathing, and the girls' response is to violently attack them. 

These instances aren't meant to be seen as dangerous violence or domestic abuse; they're meant to be funny. Violence against men is coded as humorous and justified, and this becomes a problem when it spills over into the real world.

Take this video, for example. When passersby witness an instance of domestic abuse against a woman, they intervene and angrily call out the man on his behavior. When the roles are switched and the woman abuses the man in public, people laugh. No one is worried about the man getting pushed against the fence and put in a headlock; they assume that he either could fight back if he wanted, or he's getting what he deserved. 

Brock didn't deserve Misty's abuse, and neither do you.

Men hardly ever report instances of domestic abuse because they don't think they'll be taken seriously, and they're often right. Our media conditions us to see women as weak and incapable of any real harm, and men as horny idiots who deserve to be slapped every now and then. But unless someone is physically attacking you, responding with violence is a crime. Just like with sexual harassment, the media's coding of female-on-male violence as humorous causes problems for real people, justifying female perpetrators and silencing male victims.

3. It establishes an antagonistic relationship between the sexes

A man makes a lewd comment, so a woman slaps him. This is the situation played over and over again by the media, establishing men as "pervy horndogs" always on the make and women as prudish, emotional jerks. Women and men are presented as opposites, with neither side capable of understanding or meeting the needs of the other. 

In reality, there is more difference within genders than between them; science has proven again and again that men and women aren't as different as many think. Yet, gender essentialist beliefs still persist and feed harmful stereotypes of both men and women, and the media does little to refute them. 

Men and women don't automatically exist in an antagonistic relationship with one another; they are perfectly capable of respecting, befriending, and loving one another. These positive relationships are what should be encouraged by the media that we consume, instead of antiquated ideas about "the battle between the sexes." Only then can we work through issues of sexual harassment and violence against men, and start to regard people as individuals instead of gender stereotypes. 

Of course, some may counter that gaming experiences do not correlate with lived experience, and that individuals are smart enough to know that groping women and punching men in the real world isn't right. This belief, and the attitudes that go along with it, are simply not true; the media we consume affects how we perceive and interact with the world around us. 

Multiple studies have confirmed this; for example, playing violent video games has been shown to at least temporarily increase levels of aggression, and watching movies with sexually violent content leads to greater acceptance of violence against women in men. 

These correlations do not mean that we should ban all problematic or disturbing content in media; my purpose in this article is not to demand that all gaming developers unanimously end their use of the pervert archetype. Rather, it is important that consumers and producers alike recognize the affects that their media have on real people and systems of inequality and violence. 

The funny pervert is, quite simply, not funny at all.

He (or, in rare cases, she) encourages people to view sexual harassment and violence against men as normal, and constructs a relationship between men and women as inherently antagonistic, he supports systems of inequality that justifies the sexual oppression of women and violent actions against men, and he makes us laugh at and ignore situations that are truly serious in nature, and cause physical and emotional harm to many. And in a world already rife with conflict and violence, we don't need another voice telling us to ignore the suffering of others. 

Are Visual Novels Games? Fri, 08 Jul 2016 07:34:53 -0400 ChrisDeCoster

The visual novel genre occupies a strange place in relation to video games and other forms of entertainment. They're primarily text, but they have pictures and sound as well. And most visual novels, with a few exceptions, have very nothing that can really be called gameplay.  

Instead, the focus is on the story, and making choices at a few key points to determine the route that the story takes.  Some games don't even offer that much: Umineko: When They Cry and it's sister series Higurashi are perfectly linear experiences with no real choices.  

So, despite having no gameplay and, in some cases, no interactivity, are visual novels games?

What's in a game?

First, the main issue of this question is that the definition of a video game has changed.  Let's compare one of the first video games ever made with a game that came out this year.  Pong was created as a two-player game for families, coworkers, and friends to play against each other.  Pong's rules are as simple as they come: hit the ball, don't let it get past you, get the ball past your opponent.  Like any sport or game at the time, the goal is to win against your opponent.  There's no complex backstory or characterization, just a goal.  Even the single player modes for Pong are the same, just with an AI player.

Compare that to Firewatch, an atmospheric game that launched earlier this year.  Firewatch has the player stumble around a park collecting items and advancing a story.  Other than finding items and talking to someone on the other end of a radio, there's really no objective.  In fact, there's really no way to win, just an ending that (minor spoilers) will probably leave the player feeling disappointed more than victorious.  And yet, it requires the player's attention and input to continue, meaning that no one would argue that it's not a game.

How is This Related?

A video game is no longer just something you win or lose.  With games like Heavy Rain, The Wolf Among Us, and even some shooters like Spec Ops: The Line, the media as a whole is shifting to focus on single player narrative over multiplayer competition. Games are interactive experiences, and visual novels are interactive experiences distilled down to their most basic elements.

Take Steins;Gate, for example.  One of the classics of the genre, Steins;Gate deals with time travel, and the potentially catastrophic results of using time travel unwisely. While Steins;Gate was also adapted into a successful anime series, it lost a lot of the emotional punch that made the story resonate so well.  Some of the most poignant moments, like one scene where the protagonist must use time travel to stop a girl from reuniting with her father to save the future, are more heartrending when you have to push the button to make it happen.

Visual novels are full of scenes like this, which either lose something or flat out don't work in other mediums.  For example, Virtue's Last Reward tells its story across multiple similar, but slightly different, universes, letting the player jump back and forth between timelines at will to tell the story in a somewhat anachronic order. In any other medium, the story would be nearly incomprehensible, but through interactivity it makes sense. The player picks which timeline they go to, and changes the timeline by making choices at key points, which allows them to keep track of each one.

In the past few decades, the definition of what a game is has changed.  As many new games focus on the single player experience over the mulitplayer challenge, many games are more about giving the player a narrative they interact with rather than a challenge to beat.  Visual novels are this interactive formula, pared down to its most quintessential form.

Got some great visual novels you want to recommend? Tell us in the comments!

Zero Time Dilemma gets a PC Release Tue, 31 May 2016 12:27:46 -0400 HaruOfTime

Zero Time Dilemma will be released on PC through Steam on June 30, which is two days after the release of the game for the PS Vita and 3DS. Zero Time Dilemma will be the third and final game in the Zero Escape series.

Zero Time Dilemma is a murder mystery visual novel by Spike Chunsoft and has some elements of psychological horror. The series is known for its plot-heavy and complicated story.

Like other games in the series, Zero Time Dilemma is about nine participants trapped in a Saw-like "Decision Game" that will determine the fate of humanity. The Decision Game is hosted by a mysterious person called Zero, and the characters must solve puzzles to escape, figure out Zero's identity, and find out the truth behind the Decision Game.

The game will feature full voice acting in both Japanese and English. The game will also have 3D animated cutscenes, which is uncommon in other visual novel games.

Fans of the Zero Escape series, as well as new players, will enjoy Zero Time Dilemma since the game will have both old and new characters in a new storyline.

Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward - The Ultimate Visual Novel Tue, 02 Jun 2015 02:30:01 -0400 Sam Yoo

Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward is the second game in the Zero Escape series.  It is a direct sequel to the first game, 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors which is an excellent game on its own, and Virtue's Last Reward is even better.

[Slight spoilers ahead]

The Story

The main character is Sigma, a college student and a 'generally bright, young man'.  At the story's outset, he is kidnapped from his car and brought to an abandoned facility along with eight others.  

There, they are all put through a game of survival, the 'Nonary Game: Ambidex Edition'.  Attempts to break the rules of this game result in death.  Losing this game results in death.  Only the winner of the game is allowed to escape.

The goal is to acquire points, which are won by cooperating with or betraying the other players.  

You can decide at various points during the game whether to choose 'ally' or 'betray', which will result in different endings.

Virtue's Last Reward makes extensive use of branching storylines.  There are 24 different endings total.

Some pathways simply result in a 'game over' screen but others must be cleared in order for you to progress in the game.    

The timeline system is much easier to navigate than in 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors as it is the most important aspect of the game's storyline.

Over time, the game itself acknowledges this 'hopping between different timelines' mechanic.  In this way, the game acts very much like a work of metafiction but not quite.  It simply is aware of itself, and it is aware of you.

You are directly involved in the story of this game.

Not only are you the witness, but you are also acknowledged as an actual presence in the game.  Rather than it being the case of you playing as Sigma, in one of the final cutscenes the game points its finger at you.  You are the one that has been manipulating Sigma's decisions.  You are addressed directly by the game and identified as the one responsible for the events that have transpired.

The Gameplay

As would be expected of a visual novel, gameplay alternates between 'Novel' and 'Escape' segments.  

The Novel segments are standard visual novel fare, comprised of predominantly static graphics with an emphasis on story and dialogue.

During these segments you progress through the storyline and interact with other characters.

The Escape segments are puzzle games.  The difficulty level for some of the puzzles can be infuriating.

Virtue's Last Reward's puzzles overall are significantly less intuitive than 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors.  However, there are many different puzzle types and mini games so at the very least it certainly never gets boring.

Aside from the puzzles however, the game consists primarily of watching scenes unfold and making decisions at key points.  This is a point of criticism for the game, and for visual novels in general since they are viewed as largely uninvolved interactive experiences.

Virtue's Last Reward's storyline and plot twists make up for this.  The interactive aspects of the game are all plot related.  Even without a lot of gamplay, you are actively involved.

The Bug

There is a significant bug in this game that can result in a corrupted save file.  Since the game allows for only one save file, this can prove catastrophic for players.  It is thankfully easy enough to avoid as long as you know about it beforehand. 

I would say that it was a significant oversight on the part of Aksys games to not try and patch this or at the very least release an official statement about it for the North American release.  Of course the players can easily find out about it through the internet but this just seemed very unprofessional.

The Cliffhanger


Perhaps the only real reason I hesitate to recommend this game to my friends is the unfortunate ending.  While 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors is relatively self contained and can stand on its own, Virtue's Last Reward has a great deal of story left to be explored.  

This is not to say that Virtue's Last Reward does not have an ending.  It simply has an ending with mentions of storyline not yet explained and altogether is less than satisfying.

Unfortunately the first two games of the Zero Escape series did not sell well enough in Japan to get the greenlight for the third installment.  Fans have come together in support of 'Zero Escape 3' but at this point it has been put on hiatus indefinitely.

In Conclusion

Playing this game was truly one of the most remarkable experiences I've ever had.  Virtue's Last Reward is a story that could not exist as anything other than a visual novel video game.  It is an example of a narrative that makes full use of all its creative medium has to offer.

The medium is integral to the story, and the story is interactive on so many different levels.  It is a truly involving experience that keeps you riveted to the very end.  

Development of 999, Zero Escape: Virtues Last Reward Sequel Hindered by Funding Issues Thu, 13 Feb 2014 10:46:01 -0500 Rich Kovarovic

Development for the third and final game in the Zero Escape trilogy is on hold for an indeterminate amount of time due to financing problems. Kotaro Uchikoshi, writer and director of Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors and Zero Escape: Virtues Last Reward, announced that the proposal for the third game was denied funding due to the sales of the previous titles.

In a series of tweets directed at the series English-speaking fans, Uchikoshi expresses his appreciation and gratitude for those who enjoyed and supported the first two games. He hopes that Zero Escape 3 will become a reality someday, but at this point, poor sales of the first two titles in Japan have put the franchise “in the red.” As a result, funding for the third game was rejected, despite critical-acclaim and a following in the West for both 999 and Virtues Last Reward.

Uchikoshi is upset, but understands the publisher’s standpoint. “I’m so sad, but all the companies exist for profit-making purposes,” he stated.” If the profits can't be expected, naturally, the project isn't approved. We were not able to present a convincing reasonable basis to the managers.”

"I am very sorry to all the users who are expecting ZE3," Uchikoshi apologized. "I feel ashamed of my own inadequacies."

He hasn’t given up hope on Zero Escape 3, though. Uchikoshi states that crowd-funding through sites like Kickstarter is “not quite persuasive enough” due to the high cost of development, and is currently exploring additional routes of funding through private investment.

“If someone with executive ability (financer, producer, publisher or millionaire!) propose the investment, everything could go well,” Uchikoshi stated. “If there is a great investor who thinks "Virtue is its own reward", I wish him/her to send me a message. If you know such a wonderful person, please induce him/her to cooperate.”

Uchikoshi is encouraging proponents of the series to reach out to him via Twitter and Facebook.

"I believe there is still hope," he stated. "ZE3 will definitely be released somehow, someday!"

Game Developers Choice Awards 2013: The Nominees Fri, 25 Jan 2013 06:33:00 -0500 Mat Westhorpe

As award season spins up worldwide, the video games industry clears its throat and prepares acceptance speeches as the nominees for the 13th Game Developers Choice Awards have been announced by the GDC Awards advisory board.

The winners to be revealed at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, CA on 27 March 2013, but the abstract Playstation 3 “interactive parable” Journey looks set to do well, with nominations in six of the ten categories. 

“The Game Developers Choice Awards are the premier accolades for peer-recognition in the video game industry, celebrating creativity, artistry and technological genius. Industry professionals from around the world nominate for the awards, free of charge, ensuring that the recipients reflect the community's opinions.”

Last year saw Portal 2 take three awards; Best Narrative, Best Game Design and Best Audio, with The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim beating it for Game of the Year. Warren Spector of Deus Ex fame took the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Here are the nominees for 2013:

Game of the Year

  • Dishonored (Arkane Studios/Bethesda Softworks)
  • The Walking Dead (Telltale Games)
  • Mass Effect 3 (BioWare/Electronic Arts)
  • XCOM: Enemy Unknown (Firaxis Games/2K Games)
  • Journey (Thatgamecompany/Sony Computer Entertainment)

Last Year's Winner: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda Game Studios)

Innovation Award

  • Mark of the Ninja (Klei Entertainment/Microsoft Studios)
  • Journey (Thatgamecompany/Sony Computer Entertainment)
  • FTL: Faster Than Light (Subset Games)
  • The Unfinished Swan (Giant Sparrow/Sony Computer Entertainment)
  • ZombiU (Ubisoft Montpellier/Ubisoft)

Last Year's Winner: Johann Sebastian Joust (Die Gute Fabrik)

Best Audio

  • Journey (Thatgamecompany/Sony Computer Entertainment)
  • Hotline Miami (Dennaton Games/Devolver Digital)
  • Sound Shapes (Queasy Games/Sony Computer Entertainment)
  • Assassin's Creed III (Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft)
  • Halo 4 (343 Industries/Microsoft Studios)

Last Year's Winner: Portal 2 (Valve)

Best Debut

  • Humble Hearts (Dust: An Elysian Tail)
  • Polytron Corporation (Fez)
  • Giant Sparrow (The Unfinished Swan)
  • Subset Games (FTL: Faster Than Light)
  • Fireproof Games (The Room)

Last Year's Winner: Supergiant Games (Bastion)

Best Downloadable Game

  • The Walking Dead (Telltale Games)
  • Spelunky (Derek Yu/Andy Hull)
  • Trials: Evolution (RedLynx/Microsoft Studios)
  • Mark Of The Ninja (Klei Entertainment/Microsoft Studios)
  • Journey (Thatgamecompany/Sony Computer Entertainment)

Last Year's Winner: Bastion (Supergiant Games)

Best Game Design

  • Dishonored (Arkane Studios/Bethesda Softworks)
  • Mark Of The Ninja (Klei Entertainment/Microsoft Studios)
  • Spelunky (Derek Yu/Andy Hull)
  • Journey (Thatgamecompany/Sony Computer Entertainment)
  • XCOM: Enemy Unknown (Firaxis Games/2K Games)

Last Year's Winner: Portal 2 (Valve)

Best Handheld/Mobile Game

  • Gravity Rush (SCE Japan Studio/Sony Computer Entertainment)
  • Hero Academy (Robot Entertainment)
  • Sound Shapes (Queasy Games/Sony Computer Entertainment)
  • The Room (Fireproof Games)
  • Kid Icarus: Uprising (Sora/Nintendo)

Last Year's Winner: Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery (Capy Games/Superbrothers)

Best Narrative

  • Spec Ops: The Line (Yager Entertainment/2K Games)
  • Mass Effect 3 (BioWare/Electronic Arts)
  • Dishonored (Arkane Studios/Bethesda Softworks)
  • The Walking Dead (Telltale Games)
  • Virtue's Last Reward (Chunsoft/Aksys Games)

Last Year's Winner: Portal 2 (Valve)

Best Technology

  • Far Cry 3 (Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft)
  • PlanetSide 2 (Sony Online Entertainment)
  • Halo 4 (343 Industries/Microsoft Studios)
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops II (Treyarch/Activision)
  • Assassin's Creed III (Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft)

Last Year's Winner: Battlefield 3 (DICE)

Best Visual Arts

  • Borderlands 2 (Gearbox Software/2K Games)
  • Journey (Thatgamecompany/Sony Computer Entertainment)
  • Far Cry 3 (Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft)
  • Dishonored (Arkane Studios/Bethesda Softworks)
  • Halo 4 (343 Industries/Microsoft Studios)

Last Year's Winner: Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception (Naughty Dog)

Personally, I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for my stand-out game of 2012, the modest indie title FTL: Faster Than Light, which has been nominated for the Innovation Award and the developers, Subset Games are up for the Best Debut. Go on the little guys.



Is your game of choice represented?