Visual Novel / Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors

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You have been chosen to play the Nonary Game.

"On April 14th, 1912, the famous ocean liner, known as the Titanic crashed into an iceberg. After remaining afloat for two hours and forty minutes, it sank between the waters of the North Atlantic. I will give you more time. Nine Hours. That is the time you will be given to make your escape."

Junpei, a normal 21-year-old college student, arrives at home one night to find his window open. Upon closing it, he spots a cloaked figure in a gas mask in the reflection—and the last thing he can remember before passing out is being told that he's just been chosen to participate in the "Nonary Game"...

He then wakes up in a third-class room on an early 20th-century ship. Upon escaping from there, he finds out that he's trapped on the ship with eight other people who were similarly chosen, and forced to play the game lest the bombs planted inside their bodies go off. Needless to say, things get worse, and they're forced to trust each other and race against the 9-hour time limit to figure out what's happening and why they're on the ship.

The first game in the Zero Escape series, 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doorsnote , or 999 as it is sometimes known, itself plays as one part "escape from the room" games, one part Saw and one part story (though some self-labelled story segments offer the player numerous choice points). Decisions made during story and escape segments determine how events unfold and which characters will interact. There are several branching paths and your decisions impact the ending.

A sequel titled Virtue's Last Reward (in the original Japanese, Kyokugen Dasshutsu ADV Zennin Shibô Desu, or roughly, Extreme Escape Adventure: Good People Die) was announced for the Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita in August 2011. It was released in Japan on February 16, 2012, and released in North America on October 24 2012. It was released in EU territories and Australia the following month.

In February 2014, it was announced that due to low sales in Japan, production for the trilogy's last game was being put on hiatus. Fans responded with a successful Facebook campaign to show support for the series. In July 2015, the third game in the series was finally announced for the 3DS and Vita, to be released in Summer 2016. In June 2016, a Steam and Vita release of 999 have been teased.

Despite the use of spoiler tags, this page contains many spoilers by virtue of not being entirely whited out. Somewhat surprisingly, 999 is still possible to play completely unspoiled and most walkthroughs are spoiler-free as well.

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  • Abandoned Hospital: A large part of the ship is a converted hospital. Some of the rooms are pretty creepy.
  • Absence of Evidence: The 9th Man's bracelet came off his arm when he blew up behind Door 5. However, when Junpei revisited the area several hours later, the bracelet was gone. This leads Junpei to deduce that someone took it and killed to conceal that fact.
  • All the Worlds Are a Stage: The game's final escape room has remixed versions of previous puzzles. The last puzzle of the room recreates the teams formed to pass through the numbered doors. Including a "9" door. The solution requires you to leave one box empty, while the other box has five numbers (players). Those present, in the puzzle, are the five you exit the incinerator with at the very end of the game. Those missing are Akane, Aoi, Ace, and The Ninth Man.
  • Area 51: Building Q, out in the middle of the Nevada desert, where part of the Nonary Project experimentation is carried out ... and also where the events of the game, unbeknown to most of the cast, play out. In a nod to the real status of the site, it is a private building of a multinational rather than a government building.
  • Anti-Frustration Feature: After completing the game for the first time, you can fast-forward through dialogue that you've heard before in narrative scenes. Hooray! But if you save anywhere in the game beyond the first choice point, you have to start back at the beginning in order to restart your path.
  • Arc Number: You have to ask? Nine. To be specific:
    • The Nonary Game itself: 9 victims, 9 hours to escape, numbered doors from 1 to 9, 9 seconds before the numbered doors close when they open them, and 81 seconds (nine squared, and 81 has a digital root of 9) to find the detonator-deactivation-scanner once inside. Even the name of the game itself, as the word "nonary" means base-9 number system.
    • Speaking of ages, the digital root of everyone's age? Ace (50) + Snake (24) + Santa (24) + Clover (18) + Junpei (21) + June (21) + Seven (45) + Lotus (40) = 243 = 2 + 4 + 3 = 9. The 9th Man doesn't count, unless his age is a digital root of 9 on its own.
    • In several parts of the game you use different bases substituting a letter for an extra number. Taking the whole alphabet into account (A=10, B=11...Z=35, 10=36), if you substitute the letters in zero for numbers you get 35+14+27+24=100.
    • If you got the True Ending, you'll have gone through nine puzzle rooms. Furthermore, the final puzzle in the True Ending is a sudoku puzzle, which is all about sets of nine.
    • Possibly related: Numerological Motif, as 9 in Japan is considered cursed.
    • Various bits of dialogue from examining things in puzzles can result in conversations like:
      Ace: "There's nothing in the drawer anymore."
      Junpei: "Nuh-uh, there's air."
      Ace: "How old are you, 9?!"
    • In the Captain's Quarters after telling Clover about the bookmark Santa gave you she takes 6 paces to the left, 6 paces to the right, then 6 paces to the left. 6+6+6=18 > 1+8=9
    • A key aspect of the game revolved around the calculation of digital roots. Although not explicitly stated, calculating a digital root is mathematically equivalent to calculating the remainder modulo 9note .
    • The solution to the safe puzzle is 14383421. Multiply this by 9 and you get 129450789, the true number of each character's bracelet.
    • It may be unintentional, but the digital root of the numbers of the bracelets the four Cradle Pharmaceutical members wore during the game is 9. 1(Hongou)+2(Nijisaki)+6(Musashidou's true no.)+9(Kubota) = 18, 1+8 = 9.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Junpei is called "Jumpy" by his childhood friend June and he calls her Kanny.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: Door 2 has a room that has one of these. It leads right to the Incinerator within Door 9.
  • All There in the Manual: There's a bit of backstory that's only available in an interview with the game's director.
  • All Is Well That Ends Well: Junpei more or less feels this way after the Game ends, if his pursuit of June is any indication. The reactions of everyone else subvert the trope.
  • Artificial Limbs: Snake. His left arm is conveniently able to be manipulated so that he can slip his bracelet off, though he keeps that one secret. It's also a major plot point, proving that the corpse believed to be Snake, against all odds, is not actually Snake, because it has a broken bone in the left arm.
  • Artistic License Physics: The game makes a basic mistake in converting Fahrenheit to Celsius. Santa explains that the reason thermometers do not show a scale above 107 Fahrenheit or 75 Celsius is because at that temperature cells begin dying and there would be no point in measuring temperature higher than that. Actually 107 Fahrenheit equals 41.7 Celsiusnote . Then there is the point that the thermometer which prompted this explanation is hanging on a wall presumably measuring the room's ambient temperature, not a medical thermometer.
  • Asshole Victims: The planners of the first Nonary Game. Arguably, the nine players themselves are stereotyped so that any one of them may be this, and it's not until character development kicks in during New Game+ rounds that the trope is defied.
  • Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other / Belligerent Sexual Tension: Lotus and Seven.
  • Ax-Crazy:
    • Clover becomes homicidally insane in the Axe ending as a result of her brother's death. She grabs the axe that killed the Captain and uses it against Santa, Seven, June and Junpei.
    • In the Safe ending, Snake goes on a murdering rampage against Ace when the latter tells him how much he enjoyed killing Clover. And he brings Ace down... at the cost of his own life.
  • Bag of Spilling:
    • It possibly occurs after every puzzle except for vital items such as keys. However, the keys are removed from your inventory but still shown to be in your possession so it is possible that you still have everything else.
      • If you beat a puzzle without using all the items and look at the items again before you fully leave the area Junpei will say something about him not knowing why he's carrying the item and he will throw it away later. Which only makes sense, why would you run around carrying a ripped shower curtain all day?
    • Also Seven has been shown to use some of the items to hold the doors open so the group can backtrack.
  • Batman Gambit:
    • Junpei pulls these off in a few scenes in order to force the teams to divide in a way that lets him through his choice of door.
    • Ace does this too in the hospital room, forcing the teams to divide in a way that wouldn't allow anyone through Door 3.
    • In the Safe Ending, Junpei exposes Ace by pretending that he switched clothes with Santa. Ace's inability to recognize faces caused him to fall for the trap and reveal himself as the game's villain.
    • It's eventually revealed that part of the purpose of the Nonary Game is to punish the four Cradle executives who ran the first Nonary Game. This is partially accomplished by tricking Ace, the CEO, into killing the other three. Though Ace is never forced to do anything, Zero knows him well enough to predict his actions.
    • Exploited brilliantly in the True Ending. The Second Nonary Game could have fallen apart in countless ways, as the bad endings illustrate. But Akane can SEE those bad endings and use the knowledge gained from them to steer Junpei through.
  • Berserk Button:
    • When Lotus is called old or otherwise, such as being called an "exhibitionist grandma."
    • Snake, in the Safe End, after Ace describes Clover's death.
  • Big Bad: Ace, or rather, Gentarou Hongou is the one for the overall story and Akane herself is the Big Bad for the second Nonary Game.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Snake and Santa, though Santa has the dead sister plot.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Seven, nine years ago. He also throws himself at Ace in the True End, freeing Lotus and disarming Ace, so the present as well. Junpei, arguably, counts as this for Akane.
  • Big Red Button: There's one at the library. But don't worry; it doesn't blow anything up. It just grants access to the device necessary to unlock the exit.
  • Body Double: You think Snake actually died behind Door 3? Turns out it was someone else, and the killer couldn't tell who they killed.
  • Bloody Horror:
    • At the beginning of the game the Number Nine Man enters a numbered door by himself and explodes because of small bombs placed in his stomach, foreshadowing the rules for the nonary game. You have to walk past a bloody puddle of his remains if you chose to go through that door. Later on another man dies in a similar way when being thrown into the number 3 door by himself.
    • This game infamously has a number of bloody deaths for bad endings. Especially during the axe ending where Clover becomes literally Axe Crazy and brutally murders several people.
  • Break the Cutie: Clover goes through hell in the Nonary Game. If the thought of drowning at 6 AM wasn't bad enough, her brother is doomed to blow up beyond Door 3, and one of the people who carry her around the ship to investigate is his merciless murderer. No wonder she ends up going insane in the Axe ending.
  • Brother-Sister Team:
    • Snake and Clover.
    • Also, Santa and June.
  • The Chessmaster: The last person you'd expect, June/Akane, due to her ability to see and communicate with the future and its infinite timelines. She arguably shares this role with Santa, as they both pose as participants of the very game they've been masterminding the whole time.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Plenty, including an actual gun. A minor one is the notebook and pen found in the first puzzle suitcase.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Junpei and Akane have been friends since elementary school. They have deeper feelings than just friendship, however... She praises and admires Junpei every chance she gets, and his biggest concern is escaping the Deadly Game with her. They even share sexual innuendos here and there throughout the game.
  • Christmas Cake: Lotus. Wordof God notes that she's divorced.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander:
    • In one instance, Junpei, as some of his thoughts and responses can be really out there ("Apologize to funyarinpa!"). The rest of the time, he plays the role of Only Sane Man.
    • June is quirky, to put it mildly. After listening to her talk about automatic writing and possession, Junpei develops a headache. She seems to consider being trapped in a freezer the perfect time to talk about imaginary substances and chemistry. Justified, as the crazy superstitious talks are hints to the fact that she's a walking supernatural phenomenon.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Except Snake and June. Santa is the primary offender, though.
  • Cold Equation: All over the place.
    • To exit the ship the players have to go through door 9, but only 3-5 people can get through one door, meaning at least 4 people will stay behind. Subverted when the doors with the nines where found. Two doors mean all of the players may leave, and no one has to be left behind. Protagonist figures out that this is to inflict regret on those who did the math and killed others to be the ones who leave. Double subverted when players reached the incinerator, where was another door nine, this time it was only one. There was still way of escape for those left but no one knew that in advance
    • Also several times with individual doors. When players reached the doors 3, 7 and 8 they do the math and figure out that they cannot all go through because the numbers won't mach and someone has to be left behind. June and Junpei are not happy with the idea, but they're outvoted and Ace volunteers. Turns out it didn't matter in the end, since they were able to get back for him, be he couldn't have know that in advance. Except he did. He was the one who planned the game in the first place, so he knew they would have to come back for him
    • Defied when people going through door 6 reached the doors 9. They could go through door if they left June behind, but everyone agreed that they're NOT going wihtout her.
    • In Coffin/True ending another equation presented itself. The players could go on through doors 9 but digital wouldn't fit unless they left Seven behind. Unlike the other situation however, no one wanted to do it, even those who agreed previous time. Then Santa Took a Third Option, of leaving Seven and two othere people (namely Junpei and Clover) behind. How did he convince them to listen to him? By pulling out a gun and taking June hostage threatening to blow her head of. Of course since Santa was working with Zero he knew that Snake was alive and the remaining three and Snake could take the other door.
    • Finally in True ending. After Santa leaves the incinerator there are 5 people left inside, with only the last door 9 as an exit. The only way they can make digital root of nine is by leaving Lotus to burn. This time however it's actually averted since as Snake noticed even if they did form a digital root of nine the door wouldn't open. We later find out that the door was in fact q not 9, which means the trope is inverted, only by not leaving anyone behind they can escape.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: A really clever bit of both Foreshadowing and Fridge Brilliance here; Clover and Snake both wear red and blue respectively. Why is this important? Clover was able to transmit signals, and Snake was able to receive them in the first Nonary Game. This is the same exact color used for the figures during the examples when the theory pops up in-game
    • This doesn't end there; June/Akane wears red in the first Nonary game, and she's meant to be a transmitter to Santa, a receiver. Santa himself has traces of blue in his design in the first Nonary Game. And finally, Junpei has both red and blue in his design, hinting at his ability to both transmit AND receive. June/Akane herself also wears purple, which is also the meaning of her name — a mixture of red and blue, which could also indicate her eventual ability to transmit and receive. True, while some characters like Nona don't wear red or blue despite being a transmitter, apply this to the main characters and it certainly fits.
  • The Comically Serious: Ace, mainly around Santa and Junpei.
    Santa: Look, Ace! It's some kind of snowman secret meeting!
    Ace: Those are just bags full of sand. You use them as a counterweight when you're lifting something with a pully system.
    Santa: Man, you're too serious...
  • Companion Cube: In Room 8, have Junpei examine the mannequin more than several times for him to eventually dub it "Science Boy". His attachment to Science Boy can lead to a Funny Moment or two, especially after the fire breaks out. During the fire, try examining Science Boy and the door Clover went through.
  • Compressed Adaptation: When the game was ported to iOS, a lot of the puzzles were cut. Unfortunately, most of the game's characterization (and humour) unfolds in the various conversations had while characters solve the puzzle.
    • It does, however, have a new ending... which is basically useless as it doesn't reveal anything new about the plot and it's basically a shorter, less messy version of the Axe ending.
  • Computer Equals Monitor: Discussed. Lotus mentions this trope in conjunction with a wireless monitor and mentions how someone who wouldn't know better might just assume the computer is the monitor. This ties into the ongoing theme with morphogenetic fields and the theory of seemingly unconnected things passing information between them. It also adds to the Red Herring of Alice, who would presumably fall for the trope.
  • Continuity Snarl: At one point, Santa says there's no way they're on a ship that's "almost a hundred years old", despite the fact that this game takes place in 2027, 115 years after the sinking of the Titanic, and 111 years after the sinking of the Britannic, the real-life ship the Gigantic is based on.
  • Conveniently an Orphan: Santa and June.
  • Contemplate Our Navels: Some conversations are guilty of this, but not nearly to the extent that the trailers would suggest. The game lampshades it hilariously in the True Ending: when Ace is about to start going to full-philosophical about his motivations for the Nonary Game, Junpei immediately has him gagged again.
  • Cooldown Hug: Junpei embraces June to calm her after she saw a dead body in the shower room.
  • Cool Old Guy: Ace seems like this at first, but it's subverted big time in the endings, where he's revealed to be the Big Bad (not Zero, though he just created the first Nonary Game 9 years ago). He's the killer in the Submarine and Knife endings, according to Word of God.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Ace. He's actually Gentarou Hongou, the CEO of Cradle Pharmecutical.
  • Cowboy Cop: Seven. Doubles with Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Santa. You can always count on him to make some biting comment insulting Junpei's intelligence.
    • Also Junpei, in some instances.
  • Decoy Protagonist: An odd example: you learn at the very end that the protagonist is actually the June of 9 years ago, seeing things through Junpei's eyes. This is why you can start a new game with your memories intact, because even though Junpei dies, the 9 years ago June can start over. However, it could be argued that they are both the protagonist. Also, June herself is actually the Big Bad of the second Nonary Game, making her both a protagonist AND antagonist.
  • Description Porn: The visual novel sections tend to describe the grisly bodies in horrific detail while showing only an image of the general area around the body, not the body itself.
  • Determinator: Nearly everyone:
    • In the Safe ending, Snake won't stop until he brings Clover's killer down, even if it means enduring a lot of bullets and dying along with his opponent.
    • Seven, who pursued the case of the first Nonary Game nine years ago, eventually succeeding and rescuing the children.
    • June, who masterminded the second Nonary Game to both avenge and rescue her past self. For that matter, Santa as well, who's her brother, and who became her dragon for the same reasons.
    • Lotus, who has spent nine years obsessively researching the cover-up of the children's kidnapping.
    • Junpei just won't rest until he escapes with June, even if he doesn't in the True ending. It's touching in the Safe ending, where he firmly opposes Zero's intention of ending the game while claiming that he'll escape with June... only for him to be rendered unconscious from Soporil.
    • Ace will kill as many people as necessary to escape the Nonary Game.
  • Dialogue Tree: This game is like a Choose Your Own Adventure / Visual Novel, so this is natural.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: Invoked in the Knife Ending's narration.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: June dies in Junpei's arms in the Submarine ending, thanking Junpei as she reflects on their childhood memories together. The song accompanying the scene doesn't help.
  • Diegetic Interface: There is a reason this game has New Game+ - you as the player are playing from June's POV from the past as she witnesses all the possible futures Junpei could go through in his Nonary Game. Emphasized when during the True End, the player has to turn the DS upside down, as to now actually play from Junpei's POV while helping June.
    • Wordof God states that the game began with the idea for a specific scene making use of the Nintendo DS's interface.
  • Disabled Snarker: Snake goes throughout the game making sarcastic comments. He also happens to be blind, and if you make the mistake of underestimating him, he'll bathe you in snark.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • In the freezer, you can examine a piece of meat for June to say "It's really hard", which Junpei asks her to say again. And again. Doesn't help that his face was red.
    • This scene.
    • Far more darkly, in the Safe Ending, when Ace is describing to Snake how he killed Clover his excitement sounds very sexual.
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: Akane, childhood love interest and organizer of the second Nonary Game.
  • Door to Before: From a narrative standpoint rather than one that you, the player, get to employ. Most of the numbered doors either return those who go through them to an earlier area or provide keys that unlock hallways in an earlier area. Most of the time the protagonists don't want or need to go to an earlier area, but it comes in handy a few times. Seven also applies doorjambs to a few areas specifically so he can backtrack.

    It also becomes a topic of conversation for the characters. They tend to find map pieces just after they're useful and realize, much to their frustration, that the rooms they've entered and exited are going to return them to the same place. Lotus and Seven are particularly Genre Savvy in this respect.
  • Downer Ending: There are six possible endings: two short bad endings, a decoy bad ending, the "true" bad ending (which must be finished before the actual True End can be unlocked), an aborted/To Be Continued ending that occurs if the player stumbles across the True End out of order (and it ends on a very sharp note), and the True End. The IOS version also adds a new bad ending. With the exception of the True ending, none of them are particularly happy.
    • The Submarine ending ends with everybody dead. Of course, Ace was acting. However, he would not have gotten the Q door, even with Lotus's and the 9th Man's bracelet. It's one of the three endings to have credits, making it the decoy bad ending. If you don't know that the Safe End is the bad end, the Submarine Ending seems the worst of all outcomes.
      • Maybe. Given that there wasn't really any time limit involved, Ace easily could've gone back to get the rest of the bracelets and brute-forced the Q door, since Safe establishes that there is a way back to the chapel once you've passed the paired #9 doors.
    • The Knife end has Ace getting Clover, Lotus, then Junpei with a knife, retrieved from Teruaki's dead body. The fates of the others depend on whether Santa (who may have the gun) found out in time, and even then, Akane will die regardless, and unless Santa survives, unlocking the Q door will be impossible.
    • The Safe ending runs as if it were the proper ending, before taking a turn for It's a Wonderful Failure. After Junpei hits the Despair Event Horizon, Zero hands him a Plot Coupon and forces Junpei (and the player) to admit they made the wrong choices from the start, and the game ends with Junpei getting knocked out and the remaining characters either dead or trapped. It is also implied that June doesn't survive the ending, although Santa's fate is left ambiguous, and given his true role in the story, it's possible that he ensured the survivors returned to their normal lives. The ending name is a fandom pun to keep new players from becoming completely spoiled.
    • The Axe ending has Clover taking a dive into the deep end should she never get the proper words of encouragement from Junpei, killing Santa and Seven over her brother's apparent death. Her justification over killing Akane was she was in her way, and then she kills Junpei For the Lulz. At the same time, Ace would have killed or kidnapped Lotus, and when Clover finds them... And she wouldn't have got the Q puzzle.
    • The Coffin ending, the ending you get if you try to take the True End route out of order, leaves you with Santa taking June hostage and you facing an unsolvable puzzle.
    • The Syringe ending, a bad ending exclusive to the IOS version, occurs if you go through Door 3. Junpei follows Clover after she runs off, and she stabs him with a syringe full of Soporil; he falls in the water around Deck D and drowns after succumbing to the drug.
    • The "True" Ending is, of course, an Earn Your Happy Ending. Quite literally too, as you can't possibly get it in your first playthrough. Although how happy it actually is is in the eye of the beholder.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Clover of all people, in the epilogue.
  • Dwindling Party: Played with and later discussed when it's revealed that there's more than one door marked with a 9. Turns out that that doesn't help very much.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: The True Ending. Though three people had died because of the Nonary Game and in the Virtue's Last Reward timeline, Junpei doesn't remember seeing Akane again for decades.
  • Easily Forgiven:
    • On the True Ending path, Junpei and the others seem to pretty easily forgive the culprits once everything's revealed.
    • If Junpei goes through Door 3 (leaving Clover and Lotus behind to die just so he wouldn't be separated from June), all he gets for it when he returns is a glare and a slap on the cheek. Possibly justified, given that the team returned (subverting the "abandonment" part), they had found Snake, and they had just been through hell.
      • This is significantly changed in the IOS version, however. To be exact, it's completely averted. Instead of moving on to Door 2 and the Sub ending, Clover takes her revenge on Junpei via injecting him with Soparil and drowning him.
  • Easy Amnesia: Seven doesn't remember things concerning his identity. Unlike most examples, it's justified in that it's probably a side effect of the gas. This type of amnesia goes away in a couple of days. However there is that pesky nine hour time limit. Hinted to be a subversion in the True Ending, because he says that Akane died 9 years ago, yet she's alive and well in the present.
  • The End... Or Is It?: After the credits of the Safe and Submarine endings. One of these is the ending you need. One is a decoy.
  • The Ending Changes Everything: The True Ending has some fairly massive twists and reveals the true purpose of the second Nonary Game.
  • The Enneagram: Word of God says the nine characters were based on the nine character archetypes of the Enneagram of Personality. Specifically Ace is an Achiever (3), Snake an Investigator (5), Santa an Enthusiast (7), Clover a Loyalist (6), Junpei a Challenger (8), June a Peacemaker (9), Seven a Helper (2), Lotus an Individualist (4) and the Ninth Man a Reformer (1). Note that these are their Enneagram numbers and have no relationship to their bracelet numbers.
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: the Submarine ending. Technically, all endings in which neither Akane nor Santa survive as they, being the masterminds behind the Nonary Game, are the only ones who know the secret of door Q.
  • Everybody Lives: The best ending... except the 9th Man and two more of the Corrupt Corporate Executives...
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep" / Being Watched: Early in the game, all the characters except for Junpei take a codename in case Zero just randomly kidnapped them but is keeping surveillance on them. Never mind that in most cases, they were probably carrying ID when kidnapped... Of course, if they'd all announced their names, Ace would have been clued in to Santa and June's true identity, Lotus's backplot, as well as Seven's story if his amnesia was an act. Which would have made Ace even more eager to backstab them, considering how quickly he moves against the 9th Man and Snake. Not surprising Aoi and Akane went along with the idea...
  • Evil Cripple: The story's Bigger Bad suffers from an advanced form of prosopagnosia, or "face blindness." While the condition does cause constant problems, it wouldn't normally be considered a serious disability (it's more often just a symptom of a larger condition, such as atypical autism). Ace, however, seeks a cure fanatically and at any cost.
  • The Evil Genius: Teruaki Kubota was the man who prepared the technology behind the Nonary Game 9 years ago. The bracelets, the REDs, the DEADs, the numbered doors... He got all these to work.
  • Evil Laugh: Ace, or rather, Gentarou Hongou, quite a few times actually.
  • Exact Time to Failure: It's right there in the title!
  • Expy:
    • Some fans see Snake as a calmer, nicer, blind Miles Edgeworth.
    • And from the same series, Ace/Hongou's breakdown when confronted as the villain in the Safe Ending makes him look just like Damon Gant.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: It's a game about 9 people, who have 9 hours, to go trough a set of 9 doors.
  • Eyes Always Shut: Snake. Justified in that he's blind. He only ever opens them when:
    • In one of the puzzles, when Seven/Clover/Snake/Junpei spell "pipe" in a cheer-leading fashion. Snake has his eyes wide open as he shouts "Gimme a P and an E!"
    • In the Safe Ending, Ace tells Snake that he killed Clover - and exactly how he did it - and Snake snaps and his eyes open as he swears to kill Ace. It's actually pretty terrifying.
    • When they're putting together what happened to Snake, his eyes are open in the still where he's going for the DEAD Though as it turns out, that wasn't Snake at all.
  • Failed a Spot Check:
    • Seems to be the main reason that the bad ends happen.
    • An example is in the Knife Ending, when after discovering that Lotus' death had only happened recently, Junpei fails to realize the obvious and terrible reality that the killer is still there, since the floor they were on only had one entrance and exit (which was the same place) and that he just came out of the entrance with no one around.
    • Another example is the Axe Ending, where Junpei noticing Clover's sanity slippage may have stopped her from killing them.
  • Fauxshadow:
    • There are hints that this is all an experiment by Cradle Pharmaceuticals to make crystals or experiment with humans for mind-control for scientific advancement. Well. That's not totally off-track, but wrong Nonary Game. This one's motive is a lot weirder.
    • Take a good look at June's bracelet on the cover. The upside-down 6 on her bracelet certainly looks an awful lot like a 9! ...Oh, you fell for that? Well, turns out it's a Red Herring, because June's actual bracelet number is 0, not 9.
  • Feelies: If you pre-ordered from Gamestop online you got a replica of the bracelets. Thankfully it functions as a normal watch. Also, you used to be able to buy them for 5 bucks from the official store. Now they're collector's items that sell upwards of 200 dollars.
  • Final Boss: This game's equivalent to one... is a Sudoku Puzzle.
  • Final-Exam Boss: The study, which is the last room to escape from and accessed in the game's path to the Golden Ending, uses puzzles with elements from previous rooms. Though it's not the final puzzle of the game.
  • Fire and Brimstone Hell: The ship's incinerator.
  • First Person Perspective: We see the action happen from Junpei's perspective, except static pictures here and there where he appears doing something. However, it's later revealed that Young!Akane is watching all that through Junpei's eyes in the future, and that every interaction with the present is done by kid Akane.
  • Fission Mailed/Non-Standard Game Over: While there are Multiple Endings, you cannot achieve the True Ending on your first play-through. For plot reasons.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • There are various Info Dumps on things like telepathy, synchronous "communication" between molecules, et cetera, foreshadowing young June transmitting her consciousness to present Junpei.
      • At one point, Lotus will show you a picture with black spots and ask you what the "photo" is supposed to be of. Then she will tell you a story about people doing an experiment by surveying a group of Americans about this picture. After a British radio show discussed the picture (Americans had no way to listen to this radio), scientists surveyed a different group of Americans and noticed that the percent who saw the picture correctly was higher than before, and then Lotus will discuss morphogenic resonance, or in short, telepathy. The funny thing here is that you can start the story over and re-answer the question.
    • On certain routes, the team finds a bracelet with the number zero. Upon experimentation, they discover it actually represents six (the letter "O" is the 15th letter of the alphabet; 15's digital root is 6—this is also a hint about another letter that resembles a number), foreshadowing the fact that Zero is actually June.
    • There's foreshadowing all over the place; one particularly subtle bit is in a Panty Shot gag of all things.
    • When the group is looking for Snake, Junpei can talk to Ace, and remark that he's surprised that Clover and Snake are siblings. Ace asks why, and when Junpei replies it's because they look so different, Ace says he supposes so. Ace has prosopagnosia; he had no idea they looked different. Additionally, Ace states that there are many siblings who do not look alike, foreshadowing the fact that Santa and June are siblings as well.
    • In the 'Safe' ending, Junpei learns from Santa Ace's real identity, and that Ace told him this himself. Given Ace already killed two people to hide that fact, why would he tell Santa? Easy; he didn't. Santa is one of the masterminds behind the game and knows exactly who Ace is.
    • The iron-plated windows slightly hint at the team not being on a ship at all; if they could see outside, the illusion would be broken.
    • Not too important, but when you look at the lights in the 1st Class Cabin, Snake looks surprised until Junpei clarifies where they are. Light is Snake's real name.
    • In the bad endings, you'll often come across another player who has just died, with the exception of "Snake" and the 9th Man, which cannot be prevented. If you've already gotten another bad ending, you'll probably realize that it won't be long for Junpei after that. This may be a result of June simply wanting to end that path since it didn't help her. Another subtle sign of bad endings are June's incinerator induced fevers and Seven's discrepancy-possible-false-memories.
    • In a bit of genius, during the safe ending you end up with the password 14383421, according to an interview with the director, he chose that number because if you multiply it by nine you get 129450789...the actual numerical value of everyone's bracelets.
    • The detonators not being real, except for the one in the ninth man, and possibly the one in Ace, is hinted at in a couple of places, specifically when Junpei observes that one of the searches for the DEAD felt like a lot longer than 81 seconds.
    • In the beginning of the game Junpei is talking about Zero as a he, then reconsiders, wondering if Zero is really a he or a she, which of course is foreshadowing of the real situation.
    • When choosing door [3], after Santa realizes Junpei's plan to go into the same room as June, and that he can't talk Junpei out of it, seems more intent than others on entering. June's bracelet is, of course, not [6], and Santa's bracelet is not [3] either.
      • The Coffin Ending has the same thing. The plan to send two groups of three through the doors would've sent Santa and June through separate doors, too.
    • The map Junpei finds of E deck has a large part of its center burned away. Rather appropriate, considering there's a gigantic incinerator somewhere in the ship, even if it isn't on that same deck.
    • Santa at one point says that you shouldn't trust anyone in the Nonary Game, because the person you trust most will turn on you. The person Junpei trusts most is Akane. She turns out to be behind the whole thing.
    • The flashback at the beginning of the game shows Junpei entering his apartment when he notices the window open. The narration says "Huh, did I leave that open?", except without quotation marks. Seeing how the second screen is June's POV...
    • When toying with the thermometer behind door number 3, Santa explains to Junpei that the reason thermometers stop at 107 degrees Fahrenheit (41 degrees Celsius) is because temperatures higher than that will cause permanent damage to the human body (comparing it to hard-boiling an egg) and that there is no point. He also explains that no disease would raise a fever to that high anyways. One would have to be forced into a super-heated sauna or incinerator to reach temperatures like that. June's on-and-off fever comes from being burned to death via Temporal Paradox.
    • There's various foreshadowing that Ace can't recognize faces due to Prospagnosia. Junpei himself notices and thinks to himself that Ace is acting strange.
  • Forced into Evil: Zero, who is forced to run the second Nonary Game, as she previously foresaw its existence, and her life depends on information obtained from that foresight. She is fully aware that it's an evil act and tries to minimize the impact it has on innocent people, but is still forced to become a fugitive afterwards. If Junpei takes entirely the wrong path and disrupts the future game, Zero surprises the player with the declaration, "You misunderstand. You haven't lost... I have lost."
  • For Want of a Nail: A large number of 'nails' exist: every possible choice- from Junpei's travel partners to whether or not you take a bookmark- influences your fate. Akane is watching all of them, to find the best fate for her to follow.
    • A little toy doll, of all things, ends up playing a pivotal role in Akane's backstory. While escaping the first Deadly Game with Seven, she dropped it and ran back to get it...which led to her getting caught by the murderous creator of the game and getting thrown in the incinerator room...which led to her Traumatic Superpower Awakening...which allowed her to establish a psychic connection with Future!Junpei...which saved her life...which meant that, several years later, she had to trap Junpei, herself, and seven others in a similar Deadly Game so Junpei could connect psychically with Akane's past self, fulfil the paradox, and ensure her survival. If not for that one important item falling at that one crucial moment, the entire game's events could have been averted.
  • Four Is Death:
    • Not related to the puzzles, per se, but the history and people behind the Nonary Game: Cradle Pharmaceutical's CEO Gentarou Hongou, who designed the project; Nagisa Nijisaki, Hongou's right-hand man and planner of the game; Teruaki Kubota, who developed the puzzles; and Kagechika Musashidou, who funded the project. Their experiment nearly kills several children in the process.
    • The Axe ending. Most of the group is murdered by Clover, who has bracelet number 4. It's also the only one of the four bad endings where the face of Junpei's murderer is revealed.
    • Alluded to when Santa mentions his dislike for the number four. In the English version, Junpei asks if it's about the Four Horsemen; clearly in the original he just thinks Santa is superstitious.
      • It is probable that the reason Santa hates the number four is that Snake uses four-leaf clovers in the first Nonary Game to encourage the other players to have faith, and by the end of the game his sister was dead.
    • Four is also the total number of bad endings (not counting the Coffin Ending, which is not really an ending at all so much as an acknowledgement that you were too smart for your own good and fulfilled the requirements for reaching the True Ending before the plot was ready to let you get there).
    • Subverted with Door 4. After seeing how Door 5 took out the 9th Man, you might think that Door 4 has some more death for you (especially when you're locked in the freezer)... But it doesn't.
  • Four-Leaf Clover: The clover bookmark in the second Nonary Game and Snake's nine clovers in the first one.
  • Freudian Excuse:
    • The creator of the first Nonary Game, Gentarou Hongou, wanted to research how kids processed information about faces and use those findings to cure his own prosopagnosia (face blindness).
    • The one who orchestrated the second game, Akane, wanted to save the life of her past self and take revenge on Cradle Pharmaceutical, the corporation who ruined her life.
  • Gainax Ending: Junpei and his companions have finally escaped the Nonary Game, and everything seems good and well (except that Junpei has to start a pursue for Akane)... And suddenly you see a naked Egyptian woman hitchhiking in the middle of the desert. And the game just ends with that, implying that Junpei will get to know her in the next installment.
  • Gainaxing / Gag Boobs: Lotus.
  • Gas Mask Trenchcoat: Zero. And justified as Zero threw incapacitating smoke bombs at the players to kidnap them.
  • Gambit Roulette: Although admittedly being able to see the future, even if only once and when in mortal peril, gives a pretty good edge as to how to set up some of the crazier stunts Zero pulls - such as Snake's switcheroo, and knowing how and when Ace would react to "Snake" alone and seemingly confused.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: A rare example in the form of New Game+: you are simply June exploring a new future timeline.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Late in the game, it's revealed that the bottom screen shows what Akane sees in the past. Despite this, the bottom screen shows the blood spatter from "Snake's" corpse in the shower room behind door 3, something that wasn't there 9 years ago. Unlike the body in the captain's quarters, this is unavoidable because there is a clue for the puzzle on the same wall, and leaving the blood spatter out would be a dead giveaway that something was amiss.
  • Generation Xerox: Take one look at Nona and you'll immediately see her as a young Lotus.
  • Genre Blindness: Santa, Junpei and June left the gun inside the coffin in the cargo room and didn't make sure that Ace wouldn't take it when they weren't looking. They paid a high price for this.
  • Genre Savvy:
    • Junpei can be this if you choose the right dialogue choices. He'll be this even if you don't — at worst, the other Nonary Game players will scold you for being foolish.
    • Seven, who's the first to figure out the purpose of the numerous walking-in-circles quests, stating that Zero will never permanently separate the players, as that would result in a Non Standard Game Over (for Zero).
    • Santa, who has done the Cold Equation, and warns you not to trust anyone. If you work with him more than once, he'll be the most useful member of your team when you're searching for a solution. Ultimately a double subversion, as he's Zero's assistant, and he's very familiar with the puzzles.
    • Lotus correctly points out that it's impossible for all players to advance and that the puzzles have never required guesswork, making Zero's competition sadistic but fair.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Ace, and the rest of Cradle Pharmaceutical, set up their Nonary Game for the purpose of getting people to tap into morphogenic fields, and control people. Ace in particular was extremely invested in getting them to tap into full sensory replacement. In the end, one of the children he kidnapped tapped into the fields perfectly. And she used that power to save herself from his twisted experiment, manipulate him (without using the fields on him) into killing his own accomplices, and ruin him financially and legally. The real twist of the knife is that she financed her revenge by buying stocks in Cradle. His own financial success funded his ruin.
  • Gorn: Meticulously detailed descriptions of exploded corpses, anyone?
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The game refuses to directly show you any of the exploded people, but to undo that, gives sickeningly detailed descriptions of the corpses in text. This doubles as a way to avoid a spoiler with the second victim, since if the corpse was shown any decently observant player might notice that its hair color does not match Snake's. Even with all the blood and half the head gone it would have been a dead giveaway that Snake was still alive.
  • Guide Dang It: One of the most common criticisms of the game was that the path to the true ending was very well hidden, practically requiring the player to make random guesses in order to find it. It doesn't help that you need to obtain a very specific Downer Ending in order to even play the true ending successfully. There are clues to the two routes you need to take, but it's equally possible to be Wrong Genre Savvy or Right for the Wrong Reasons when making decisions.
    • There are only four story checks that must be cleared to unlock the True End. If you play the game competently the entire time, you don't need to change your dialogue choices so much as line up the correct sequence of doors. All the choices you're offered while searching for Snake will have absolutely no bearing on the ending you receive, but if you don't know that, then the paths will seem hidden. The fact that the game greys out previously-used choices doesn't help, as it implicitly suggests that your prior choices were wrong.
      • The fact that even if you choose all of the correct doors and give Clover the bookmark, you still won't reach the True Ending if you didn't learn about ice-9 or didn't talk to Seven about it when he mentioned EDT. It really doesn't seem to have any relevance. The actual choosing of doors, there's only one split where one choice doesn't stand out as being the "most logical"—the 7-8 split. 4 is more logical than 5 because given which characters have already refused to go through the #5 door and which ones have volunteered, the only way to make the groups even in size would be to send June and Junpei through the #4 door with Santa and Lotus—and given the perceived danger, keeping the groups even seems wisest. It's the right choice. At the 6-1-2 split, the pairs that choose the #1 and #2 doors have digital roots of 5 and 6 respectively and could therefore go through their chosen doors with the addition of Junpei's 5, but the pair that chooses Door #6 has a digital root of 9; the group as a whole has a digital root of 7, so sending groups through the #1 and #6 doors is the only way to make sure everyone goes through a door. Combining these two truths makes Door #1 the "most logical" choice...and again, it's the correct one. There's absolutely nothing to point to Door #7 as being more logical than Door #8, however.
    • Also, the final puzzle in the torture room. Two switches each on two separate screens, each with three potential positions, and all four switches must be in the proper position to proceed. Unlike most times, there's no clue in the room as to what the proper configuration is, and because of the screen separation, you could have both switches on your current screen in the right position and not even know it because the switches on the other screen are wrong.
  • Guile Hero: Junpei, by making it so that he can get any result he wants in the door lottery.
  • He Knows Too Much:
    • Ace murders the 9th man and the man he thinks is Snake to avoid his involvement in the Nonary Project leaking to the rest of the cast.
    • Ace also kills Clover in the Safe ending because she can deduce that Ace grabbed the 9th Man's bracelet, which may cast suspicion on him. Also because she found Musashidou, one of the men behind the first Nonary Game, in the Captain's Quarters.
    • The game itself pulls this on you in the Coffin Ending, as you're well on your way to getting the True Ending without making the "mistakes" you were supposed to make. You're promptly given an unsolvable puzzle, followed by a "To Be Continued" screen, as a result.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • If you do the math, you'll see that not everyone can go through the numbered doors at the hospital room. Ace thus decides to stay behind so the rest can go through Doors 7 and 8. However, eventually they all get back to the hospital room, so the sacrifice wasn't really needed. But later on you discover that it was a Batman Gambit to keep the others from finding out he murdered who he thought was Snake.
    • Snake himself pulls one in the Safe Ending, combined with Taking You with Me.
  • Hidden Depths: EVERYBODY. The director had this in mind creating the game - building the characters upon stereotypes, then subverting them.
  • Hiding The Handicap:
    • Ace keeps his prosopagnosia hidden.
    • Snake is open about his blindness, but keeps the fact that he also has a prosthetic arm hidden.
  • Hollywood Hacking: Surprisingly averted. When a console needs to be hacked, said hacker writes a simple program to perform a basic but valid operation, namely brute-forcing the password. Unfortunately, programming does not work that way, especially on what is basically a DOS Prompt that is locked, but at least it refers to a real-world concept. Furthermore, even basic computer security would either impose a time limit until you can try logging in again or outright block you after several failed login attempts to prevent precisely this kind of hacking.
  • Hurricane of Euphemisms:
    • Junpei and June at the Saturn elevator, if you choose to assume the right (that is to say, wrong) reason for her nervousness. Doubles as Innocent Innuendo, but works better as this trope simply because of how long they go at it before Junpei realizes what June is referring to.
    • There's also a Too Funny to Be Evil dimension to this: it's unlikely you'd realize that's Zero you just had that conversation with!
  • Hurricane of Puns: Pick a door, any door. Chances are that you'll see at least one pun if you examine everything multiple times. Junpei, June, Clover, and Seven are the most major offenders of this trope.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • Junpei can hold onto this firmly depending on the player's actions.
    • If Akane hadn't gone back for June (the doll) nine years ago, she never would have ended up locked in the incinerator all alone and the Second Nonary Game would have never been necessary in the first place.
  • I Let Gwen Stacy Die: Snake thinks he couldn't protect Clover from being murdered in the Safe ending, and greatly blames himself for this. To make up for it, he dooms Clover's killer to burn alive along with him.
  • Informed Deformity: Other characters keep commenting on how old Lotus is. She doesn't look old.
  • Innocent Innuendo: Besides the Saturn elevator example above, there's also the frozen chicken in the kitchen freezer beyond door 4. If Junpei examines it, June will say his "chunk of meat" is "really hard." Junpei will ask her to repeat the "really hard" part multiple times.
  • Instant Sedation: The drug Soporil does this, instantly knocking out the victim with no negative side effects unless the victim is given an extreme overdose (and then, only Easy Amnesia ensues for a while). In a positive case of Reality Ensues, this makes its inventor very, very rich.
  • Interface Screw: You have to flip the DS upside-down for the final puzzle. This actually makes sense in-story, because all this time you've been playing as Akane 9 years ago, sending answers to Junpei in the present, with the top and bottom screens representing the two time periods respectively; this is the first and only time the situation is reversed.
  • In the Back:
    • In the Submarine ending, after discovering that everyone around you is dead, you leave them all behind and try to escape in the yellow sub... and just as you're reaching the hatch, you get stabbed by an unrevealed person. It's heavily implied that the one who killed them all is Ace.
    • In the Knife ending, you go down to E deck and discover that Lotus is dead. Stabbed. Thanks to your great intelligence, you get knifed as well while examining her body. Again, it's widely accepted that the one who killed both of you is Ace.
    • Clover is stabbed by Ace in the Safe ending because ske knows about Musashidou and the fact that he's got the 9th Man's bracelet.
  • It's Up to You: In spite of everyone working to escape the place, you're the only one who actually does any real work in the groups you're in. Granted, some of your teammates are more helpful than others. Justified by the fact that certain characters have to play dumb to certain puzzles, as they've seen them before. Only one character uses advance knowledge of the solution to sneak off.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Lotus bringing up the fact that- for anyone to survive the game at all- people will have to be left behind, thus sparking conversation on who it will be. It was brutally pragmatic, but also necessary- nobody knew at the time that everyone could escape the game. She was just trying to solve a bad situation the only way she knew how. And given the tense situation they were in, it's perfectly reasonable that Lotus would want them to decide on who they'd sacrifice as soon as possible. Letting time pass would only make it worse.
  • Jigsaw Puzzle Plot: The fourth ending contains many plot-relevant revelations that are required to unlock the true ending.
  • Kill 'em All: Everyone dies in the Submarine ending... except the killer. Or does he? There's some controversy as to whether he gets past the 9/q door or not. Some argue that he could brute-force the digital root of 8 with all the bracelets.
  • Kill the Cutie: The energetic, cute Clover is undeservedly chased down and stabbed In the Back in the Safe ending. The reason? He Knows Too Much.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: One screen displays everything as an Ace Attorney-style visual novel, while the other shows text typical to games such as When They Cry. This is to reflect that the player is controlling two people, one in the present and one in the past.
  • Leitmotif:
    • Even Ace has his own theme.
    • There's also a track on the OST called "Imaginary" that seems to pop up whenever you're talking to June...
  • Lack of Empathy: Ace/Hongou. The problem might be related to his prosopagnosia: at a few points, he rants about how he can't really "see" people.
  • Let's Split Up, Gang: Forced by the way the numbered doors work (only three to five players can pass at one time). This trope is also played with and discussed — characters show reluctance to split up for fear of becoming even more lost.
  • Locked in a Freezer:
    • In the kitchen behind Door 4.
    • The Incinerator.
  • Loophole Abuse:
    • 3 to 5 bracelets have to verify in the RED and DEAD in order to safely enter a numbered door. All bracelets are strongly attached to their owners and can't be taken off while they're alive. So a player would think that they need 2 to 4 more players to enter a door. It's the only option, right? Wrong! There is no rule that says that the person themselves has to verify just their bracelet. This allows for characters to use other dead players' bracelets with no punishment whatsoever.
    • Once 9 seconds pass after a numbered door is opened, it closes, and it won't open the other way. Exit doors in some puzzle rooms also appear to work this way. So the players can't backtrack, and instead have to use the provided keys and keycards to unlock the doors to the original corresponding areas. Or so it seemed at first glance! There is no rule saying that the players can't jam a numbered/exit door with an item to keep it open the whole time. In fact, this is a habit of Seven's that proves to be important to the plot later on.
    • In a late puzzle of the game, you must make digital roots with numbered balls. It has 4 stages, which all share the same mechanics and rules: there are 2 numbered areas and you have to use all balls to match one digital root or the other (each one allowing 3-5 balls), which seems an awful lot like players entering numbered doors. In the first 3 stages, you have to use both areas, so you would think that the goal is to have both areas filled. But! If you try to do so in the 4th stage, which has only 5 balls, you will never solve it. Why is this fair? Because the rules never said that you had to fill both areas. They just stated that each area can contain 3-5 balls. You just need to place all balls in one area, and leave the other empty.
  • Lost in Translation:
    • Unfortunately, what's lost is a pronunciation pun, which is rather important during the climax of the True End, and makes no sense for the players unless they know Japanese. Specifically, the romaji letter "q" and the number "9" are both pronounced "kyuu" in Japanese. This also gives more meaning to the "Captain's Quarters," a door with a "q" where a witness is waiting for Ace to confess to his crimes; if he chooses to do so, he will be freed. An attempt was made to fix the most important part by changing it into a visual pun ( the instructions were moved to a card in Snake's pocket, and the number 9 does awfully like a lowercase letter q), but a Flashback towards the end of the game mistakenly shows the wrong thing, making most players forget that detail.
    • Junpei's deduction of figuring out how the authentication of the 'q' door works would make sense for a non-native English speaker, but a more simple explanation for a native English speaker is "Q is the 17th letter and its digital root is 8." The logic of the 'O' bracelet working as a 2nd 6 falls under the same logic; O = the 15th letter and its digital root is 6.
    • While investigating Room 4, Junpei and Akane find a bed with two pillows, which causes Akane to turn bright red. If you examine the bed three times, Akane will notice the tall bed frame and tell Junpei that they don't have to worry about falling off, since she "tosses and turns when she sleeps". While it is a harmless statement in English, the original phrase in the Japanese version is "negaeri o utsu" (lit. "to strike sleep turns"), also meaning "to betray", i.e. not only to turn in one's sleep, but also to "turn on somebody", packing a clever mix of Foreshadowing and Fridge Brilliance into an arguable Accidental Pun.
  • Love Transcends Spacetime: Junpei did not previously have a strong connection to the morphogenetic field, but still managed to awaken his potential to send and receive through the field to transmit the information needed to save Akane in the past simply through his bond with her.
  • Lucky Translation: Akane's Japanese alias is Murasaki (purple, from the 6th colour of the rainbow and her clothes), has nothing to do with June, her alias and the sixth month in English. Which makes Junpei's comment about as a child 'not seeing her after June' (the season), foreshadowing.)
  • Magic Square Puzzle: There's a 3x3 square that must be filled with the numbered pins you find in the Cargo room. If it wasn't difficult enough per se, part of its nastiness comes from figuring out what the rows, columns and diagonals must equal. It gives you a hint in hexadecimal, though, which is a numerical base you've been using in previous puzzles; but you might as well have forgotten about it by the time you encounter this square, especially due to New Game+ reruns.
  • Maiden Mother And Crone: The main female characters. June could be this trope all on her own, given how the game skips between time periods.
    • Clover is the Maiden. She's whimsical and emotional- intelligent but lacking in maturity. Lotus- apart from being a literal mother- is the oldest, and tends to treat the other players like they're children. Future!June/Zero is the Crone- she possesses knowledge both rare and mystical, and she's manipulating everyone as fate dictates.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • On a meta level, Lotus's twin daughters, Nona and Ennea. The game is centered around the Nonary game, and the main characters are modeled after The Enneagram.
    • Ennea is Greek for 9 and Nona the Latin prefix for 9th.
  • Mind Screw: Being a really complex story whose dots you have to connect in order to understand any of it, you can expect 999 to be filled with really weird events every now and then, which will only make sense when you have completed the game. To name a few:
    • The pieces of the REDs at the hospital room go missing and appear out of nowhere a while later. And no one has any clue as to who tampered with them, where were they in the meantime or when they were placed back.
    • You find a blown up body in Door 3's shower room, a room that supposedly no one visited before you did. And it's the person who went missing while you were searching for the RED parts.
    • Later on you find another corpse. But this time it's a man who wasn't even participating in the game, was killed with an axe, no one seemingly could've done it, and he wears a bracelet with the number 0 in it. And wears the clothes of a captain.
    • You finally find Door 9. Nice. But turns out there is another one at the back of the room. And you were never told there were two doors 9 all along.
    • The whole Submarine ending is confusing as hell. You get the Sun key after escaping an unsettling puzzle room, and the first thing you find when you get to C deck is that a door that was locked last time you checked is already open. Then you encounter three people seemingly stabbed lying on the staircase. You decide to use your Sun key, but the door for the key is already unlocked as well. But wait, there's more: June is lying on a pool of blood at the other end of the Sun door, and she never tells you who stabbed her. Then you back to check up on your companions, but they're already dead. And to top it all off, the killer stabs you in the back while you're trying to make your escape with the submarine. The game never shows the killer's face or name.
    • The Reveal that someone was the Narrator All Along, especially considering their circumstances, is the very name of this trope. It hits really hard on the player.
    • The many Info Dumps can be pretty confusing. Especially the ones about morphogenteic fields and Allice. And only the morphogenetic fields are useful to understand the story.
    • Some symbolism and extremely obscure foreshadowing can be seen as this, such as the note with the "Truth had gone" riddle and the narration at the beginning of the game with young Akane casually revealing that she was the one who left Junpei's apartment window open. They're only obvious in hindsight.
    • Telling the younger self of your love interest how to solve a sudoku in order to ensure that her present self doesn't disappear from existence and her past self can create the way to save herself in her future so the loop keeps stable.
  • Mirror Scare: In a flashback, we see Junpei getting back home at midnight. Right when he was going to close the window, he sees the image of a masked person in a coat behind him. And he's kidnapped right after that.
  • Mood Whiplash: The game goes from mystery to funny to dark to funny again to really dark. In a moment of Fridge Brilliance, that's how humans in a similar situation would respond. Becomes a discussed trope in one room.
  • Moon Logic Puzzle: Averted, unusually for the genre. You may have overlooked an item and need to re-examine an area more thoroughly, but you'll be able to solve everything. This is actually lampshaded in the dialogue: in one of the endings, Lotus points out that the puzzles were always fair and never required resorting to instinct. The fact that the game runs itself is discussed in one narrative segment. You may want to keep a notebook close by, though, as some puzzles require memorizing multiple sequences of random data (e.g., compass directions) or translating letters.
  • Multiple Endings: Six of them. They're technically all canon, thanks to the Timey-Wimey Ball, but the true ending is more canon than the others.
  • Murder by Mistake: Ace's prosopagnosia results in him murdering Nijisaki, the decoy, instead of Snake. Granted, judging by the murder of the 9th Man partly being motivated by him knowing too much, he would have murdered Nijisaki, an accomplice in the Nonary Project, anyway.
  • My Greatest Failure: Seven couldn't save kid Akane from being burned alive in the Gigantic's incinerator 9 years ago. However, either he was outright lying or he didn't remember correctly, because Akane clearly made it to the present.
  • Narrator All Along: Akane. Not June from the game, but Akane from 9 years ago. While for most of the game it seems like there is third-person narration, in the true ending Akane reveals it was her all along. See Wham Line below.
  • Never Say "Die": When on the elevator with Junpei, June inadvertently fuels existing sexual tension by referring to dying as going to heaven instead.
  • Never Trust a Title: Despite what is indicated in Exactly What It Says on the Tin above, each part of the title is subverted in some way as the story progresses.
    • Nine Hours: The "ship" that everyone is on is not a ship at all, but a building in the middle of the desert, obviously not in any danger of sinking, let alone in nine hours. At least, in the present.
    • Nine Persons: While there initially seem to be only nine characters, two more later show up dead: the Captain (Kagechika Musashidou) and Guy X (Nagisa Nijisaki).
    • Nine Doors: While there is only one each of doors 1 through 8, there are three doors labelled 9.
  • New Game+: Upon beating the game for the first time, the game starts tracking which endings you've earned. You can also "begin with memories" which allows you to speed past dialogue you've already seen and dims choices you've already made in previous play-throughs.
  • Nightmare Face:
    • A hopeless Junpei in the Axe ending, where he falls down to his knees and bemoans the loss of June, Santa, and Seven to an Ax-Crazy Clover.
    • An irate Snake opening his blind eyes and puling out a Roaring Rampage of Revenge on Ace for killing Clover in the Safe Ending.
    • The True Ending route gives you several repeated shots of young Ace gingerly looking through a small window outside the incinerator room, waiting for young Akane to unlock her power to get into the morphogenetic fields to save herself from being burned alive.
  • No Name Given: The 9th Man. At least, not initially. Also Seven, who unlike the people listed under Only One Name doesn't get this remedied in supplemental materials.
  • No One Gets Left Behind:
    • In the true ending, Lotus offers to stay in the incinerator so Junpei, Seven, Clover, and Snake can escape. They refuse.
    • And before that, Seven offered to stay by himself in the Chapel, so that two teams of three could go through the nine doors. He was summarily refused by everyone... except for Santa.
    • Snake offering to stay behind for the ninth door. He had a trump card.
  • Number Two: Nagisa Nijisaki was the right-hand man of Gentarou Hongou, the CEO of Cradle Pharmaceutical. Hongou killed him because he thought it was Snake, who knew his past as the creator of the Nonary Game. It makes sense he mistook him for Snake, though, as Hongou can't differenciate human faces and Nijisaki was dressed as Snake. By Zero.
  • One Dialogue, Two Conversations: The Saturn elevator conversation mentioned in Hurricane of Euphemisms.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname:
    • Invoked for everyone except for Junpei. Doubles as Meaningful Rename as the names are themed after the bracelet numbers.
    • Actually, Clover is exempt too since it's revealed in a flashback that her name is actually Clover.
  • Only One Name: The game doesn't tell us the last names of Junpei, Light, and Clover, although Virtue's Last Reward reveals Junpei's last name. Lotus' first name isn't revealed in the game either.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: The game is built on subverting and deconstructing stereotypes, but there are several times this trope is played straight.
    • Snake snaps his eyes open while Ace is describing exactly how he murdered Clover during the Safe End. Snake then proceeds to trap Ace in the incinerator after being shot six times.
    • Santa. Everything he says when he's not playing the fool will receive a meaningful callback.
  • Opening Monologue: "Why do I...know? Why...Why do I know...these things?"
  • Parrot Exposition: Junpei has a tendency to repeat what other people say.
  • Plot Coupon That Does Something: There is exactly one of these in the game. It's required to unlock the True Ending.
  • Plot Time: Might as well list the whole index. Suffice it to say that your characters do things in exactly the amount of time they are allowed to get things done, no matter how long or how short a time it takes for you to solve puzzles, read dialogue, and walk around the ship.
  • Point-and-Click Game: You have to use the stylus to move around the puzzle rooms and interact with items. It's in first person perspective.
  • The Power of Love:
    • Word of God states Junpei did not have any affinity with the Morphogenetic Field like the original 18 children prior to the Nonary Game, but managed to gain powers to access the field to transmit the solution for the last puzzle simply through his bond with Akane.
    • Also, Snake was able to withstand 6 bullets to the chest out of his love for his sister.
  • Purple Prose: The description of certain things tends to veer verbose. Especially the gruesome corpses.
  • Red Herring: There are several, the most major being Ice-9 and Alice. You still need them to reach the True Ending.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: This trope is used in almost every possible form, thanks to subverted stereotypes and numerous reveals. Some key examples:
    • Clover and Snake, with the colors to match. When Snake disappears, Clover's distress makes her become both onis, being alternately passionate and aloof.
      • Fridge Brilliance: Clover starts as a bubbly, energetic Red Oni, but becomes a cold and detached Blue Oni after believing her brother died (until she snaps, anyway). Snake, meanwhile, begins as a calm, erudite Blue Oni but after Clover dies goes completely berserk on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
    • Santa and June, whose names are homonyms for 'Blue' and 'Red' respectively. Santa's establishing character moment in the prologue would make him appear to be a classic Red Oni, but once all the pieces are collected and he drops the act, he seems to actually be the Blue Oni. June turns out to be the more emotional of the pair.
    • The game also makes more than one reference to red and blue creating purple, although one of these is Lost in Translation.
  • Refuge in Audacity: While in the series of rooms beyond Door 1, Ace pickpockets the solution to the puzzle from Junpei, goes into the next room while Junpei and Clover are talking, murders "Cap," and then slips back and puts the solution back in Junpei's pocket. And then, after finding the body and some information about "All-Ice," Ace suggests that the murderer was a defrosted mummy. Right.
  • Renamed the Same: When you learn what Clover's real name actually is.
  • Retroactive Precognition: The entire game is about Akane using this to save her past self.
  • Revenge Before Reason: Snake in the Safe ending.
  • Running Gag: Lotus tends to get quite abusive when mentioning that she is a Christmas Cake or, well, abusive. Expect some comic relief scene for most of the time.
  • San Dimas Time: Necessary because of the morphogenetic fields requiring both parties to be experiencing the same situation; the two Nonary Games, nine years apart, remain perfectly synced and therefore even though the nine-hour time limit is essentially meaningless to the participants of the Second Nonary Game as far as their own lives are concerned, failure to complete it in time results in a bad ending where Akane dies nine years in the past.
  • Sanity Slippage:
    • Clover in the Axe ending.
    • Ace in the "safe" ending.
  • Scare Chord:
    • An unsettling, shocking piano note usually plays when you discover someone's corpse. It also sounds when you see Zero's image at Junpei's house.
    • Another special example of this trope occurs at the shower room, after you go through Door 3: June screams out of the blue well after you discover (and read the super-detailed description of) the blown up corpse, complete with a freaked out shot of her face.
  • Scars Are Forever: Word of God reveals that Seven got his scars from an incident after the first Nonary Game before. He fought a large evil organization.
  • Scary Black Man: Seven, at first.
  • Scrolling Text
  • Self-Destructive Charge: Snake in the safe ending.
  • Sequel Hook: Akane and Santa make a getaway in the True Ending, with Junpei and the other Nonary Game contestants chasing after them, setting the stage for a number of plotlines in Virtue's Last Reward.
  • Sequence Breaking:
    • In-game, Seven puts things into the doors so they won't lock. These tend to be plot points.
    • Checking out Door 3 before the characters are supposed to leads to an inescapable bad end.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: The reason behind the game is to save Akane in the past.
  • Shipper on Deck: EVERYONE with Junpei and June, primarily Lotus, who repeatedly teases you about June. Twice as funny due to the boat pun you can make this trope into.
  • Ship Tease:
    • Seven and Lotus, especially when they're the first ones to protest when they, at separate occasions, attempt to perform a Heroic Sacrifice. The excuses they come up with to explain their outbursts aren't very convincing either.
    • Various dialogues between Junpei and Clover in the Library and Cargo Room have this vibe. In the context of the events involving Clover that lead up to said rooms, Junpei giving her the laminated four-leaf clover bookmark and her glomping him when he inadvertently reveals that Snake is still alive, these moments can be read as Clover having developed a bit of a crush on Junpei.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog:
    • The Knife ending, where you learn very little of importance and are killed right in the middle of trying to figure out stuff. It's very confusing for both you and Junpei. Even the other "bad" endings give you more hope than this.
    • The Safe ending can seem this, if you don't know that you need to get that ending first to reach the true ending.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Shown Their Work: The Gigantic? That one's mostly real. It was to be the intended name of the third ship Britannic. William Thomas Stead is also completely authentic. The mummy, however, is a debunked legend, just Historical Fiction.
  • 6 is 9: June's bracelet (a 6) actually being a 9, which allows her to open any of the doors in the game, making it an important hint to who Zero actually is. Subverted, though, since Snake makes this assumption and concludes that Santa has a number 0 bracelet when in truth June has 0 and Santa has 9.
  • Skyward Scream:
    • In the Safe ending:
      • Ace: ZEEEEEROOOOOOOOO!!!
      • Junpei: KAAAANNYYYYYY!!!
    • And don't forget Santa/Aoi who does this after finding the charred remains of his sister. Of course, due to the Set Right What Once Went Wrong plot of the game he doesn't technically end up doing this.
  • Slasher Smile: Clover gives us one in the Axe ending. She's violently insane at this point in the game, and is not afraid to chop your arm off to take your bracelet with the aforementioned axe. The shot of her unsettling smile can be quite creepy the first time around.
  • Spinventory: Your inventory shows your collected items in the escape room you're in, and it lets you spin them manually. Sometimes this is necessary to find important clues in the back of an object.
  • Stable Time Loop: An alternate interpretation to Set Right What Once Went Wrong, though it doesn't make it any less confusing.
  • Sneaky Departure: A villainous example: during the final puzzle, Present!Akane and Santa somehow manage to leave through the Q door without anybody noticing. (Admittedly, it helped that Junpei- the only one who fully realizes what's going on- is busy saving Past!Akane, and everybody else A.) Thinks they're about to die, and B.) Don't know that Akane and Santa are the villains.)
  • Spice Up the Subtitles: The localization is very fond of putting in f-bombs, occasionally to the point where characters will start using them almost every time they get frustrated.
  • The Stinger: The very last scene. They've escaped the Nonary Game, and everyone is driving off through the desert, trying to make sense of everything that's happened...and then a strange, vaguely Egyptian, woman shows up in their path.
    "It would not be long before Junpei realized who she was."
  • Story Difficulty Setting: There is a version of the game that removes all gameplay portions, keeping only the Visual Novel-style story.
  • Summation Gathering: The "Safe" ending, after Junpei opens the safe and learns Ace's identity.
  • Surrogate Soliloquy: Junpei conversing with the ladder in 3rd class cabin.
  • Take a Third Option:
    • At the large hopsital room, when the gang has to decide who goes through which door, the player has to choose between Door 7 and Door 8. Santa says you can't choose the one with a 3 because then someone is left behind, but you can actually stick with Door 3 and leave Lotus and Clover out of the party. This is pretty rough at that point in the plot, because everyone thinks they won't make it to the ninth door if they don't go through the other numbered doors.
    • In the True ending, the gang gathers at the chapel and try to work out how all seven of them can escape through both doors 9. They can't. Seven then makes a proposal: he offers to be left behind so the others can split in two teams of three. So it's either they all die or only Seven dies. Both options are rejected, and Santa comes up with a third one: he takes June hostage by means of the gun found at the cargo room and forces Ace and Lotus to go through one of the doors 9 with them. Seven, Clover and Junpei are left behind instead.
  • Take Your Time:
    • All the puzzles aren't on a time limit and when people start talking they can talk a while. This gets kinda of silly when Junpei is locked in a flooding room or they're talking while freezing to death in a sub zero freezer. Apparently Talking Is a Free Action. Of course, it could be a clue that the characters aren't actually on a sinking ship.
    • In the incinerator room during the "True" ending, you only have 6 minutes left when you start working on the puzzle. That's 12 minutes of time wasted just talking, and seven minutes of that is of Junpei talking with past Akane.
  • Taking the Bullet: Snake to Junpei, Seven and Lotus, from Ace in Safe ending.
  • Taking You with Me: Ace shoots Snake six bullets but, before dying from blood loss, he grabs Ace's leg and makes him stay in the incinerator until it shoots fire. Both of them are burned alive.
  • Teens Are Monsters: The 8th-graders who killed the rabbits at Junpei and Akane's primary school. Later, the two kids caught them dousing a kitten with gasoline.
  • Temporal Paradox: In the Safe ending, the success route is destroyed completely and Akane just blinks out of existence.
  • Ten Little Murder Victims: Our characters don't get invited to the party, but rather, they are kidnapped and forced to play the Nonary Game... But murders show up. The characters speculate whether it was Zero or The Mole who killed them, and ultimately you discover that it was Ace. There are instances (some bad endings) where it's just implied, not confirmed, who's the culprit.
  • The Tetris Effect: Play through the game often enough and you may start calculating digital roots out of impulse. Alternatively, numbers begin taking on more meaning.
  • Theme Naming:
    • Everyone takes up code names based off their number, except Junpei. Ace (1), Snake (as in "snake eyes," 2), Santa ("san" is "3" in Japanese, plus he's got a few stories about "Santa" to tell), Clover (4, like the leaves), June (The 6th month), Seven (which, uh, probably sounded cool and foreign in Japanese), and Lotus (8, like the petals on the flower).
    • The same applies in the Japanese version, where most of their assumed names either have the character for their number in them, or are similar in sound (again, except Junpei). Ace is Ichimiya ("ichi" is "1"), Snake is Ni(e)ls ("ni" is "two"), Santa is the same, Clover is Yotsuba ("clover" in Japanese), June is Murasaki (the character for "six" can be pronounced "mu"), Seven is... Seven, and Lotus is Yashiro (the character for "eight" can be pronounced "ya"). Mu can also refer to nothingness in both English and Japanese... that is, zero.
    • Averted in that Clover's name is actually Clover, well, Yotsuba.
    • Odd Name Out: Junpei, because he was identified by his real name before the Theme Naming was decided on.
  • This Is a Work of Fiction: At the beginning of the game.
    "This game is fiction. All names, characters, and incidents portrayed in this production are fictitious."
  • Time Bomb: Invoked in the text, see above.
  • To Be Continued: The player gets this if they haven't gone through the Safe ending before attempting the True path. Very appropriately, it's known as the "Coffin" ending, as it's the last thing you see.
  • Torture Cellar: One of the rooms beyond Door 2.
  • Trial-and-Error Gameplay: The path to certain endings may seem like this at first, although more and more hints pop up as the game progresses. Plot-wise, the whole game can be seen as Young Akane experimenting with all of the story paths to see which one will lead to her salvation. Santa, behind Door 6, will discuss rats trapped in a flooding box and how, after enough repetitions, they figure out the exit from among seemingly arbitrary choices... hmmm...
  • Trope 2000: Pushmaster 5000.
  • Twenty Minutes In The Future: Takes place in 2027.
  • Two Aliases, One Character: Akane and Zero were the same person all along.
  • Underestimating Badassery: Junpei decides not to test Snake after he informs him that, despite his blindness, he is quite capable of beating him up.
  • Unfazed Everyman: Junpei. He seems to be the only one without some horrible back story.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Ace, of all people, has one in Ending 4.
  • Weird Science:
    • Some of the paths make repeated references to "morphogenetic fields," the ability to transmit information between seemingly unconnected things. Morphogenetic fields are an actual phenomena - though it's very localized and revolves around discreet biochemical signals (and the shapes cells will conform to) rather than memories and image-sending. The game actually uses the concept of that name developed by Rupert Sheldrake (who is mentioned by name at one point when the concept is being explained).
    • Not to mention Ice-9 and the entire Alice incident.note 
  • Westminster Chimes: Used as a puzzle; you have to play the tune on a piano that's had its keys rearranged.
  • Wham Line:
    • One can be seen in one of the previews: "Unfortunately, that's the wrong answer. Actually, I'm Santa". It's not what you might think before even playing the game, and not what you'd think when you hear it even after playing it at first note ; but it's just as shocking in its context note .
    • "The answer to that is easy. He knew because I knew note ".
    • "Her name was... Her name was Akane. She was the girl who died".
  • What the Hell, Hero?: If you choose to go through Door 3, Junpei leaves Lotus and Clover behind, dooming them to drown at 6 AM. They actually were fine, because Junpei and his group returned to the hospital room, but they all thought that Lotus and Clover would have died when Junpei did the shenanigan. Santa insults him, and Lotus slaps the crap out of him when they're back.
  • When It All Began: According to the Word of God, the Nonary Game was created by Lord Gordain. Meaning it all began with the sinking of the RMS Titanic.
  • White Hair, Black Heart: Santa at first in the Coffin (2) and True Endings (1), then subverted because it was all part of a big plan to set right what once went wrong.
  • Would You Like to Hear How They Died?: Ace does this, detailing how he killed Clover to her big brother Snake and all the excitement he felt about it. Needless to say, that activated Snake's Berserk Button.
  • X Meets Y: The game is frequently described as Ace Attorney meets Saw. The director has acknowledged Saw as an influence, but the Ace Attorney comparison has less to do with gameplay and more to do with the fact that both games are visual novels. The game's creator is somewhat confused by the AA comparisons as well.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Meta-example. The colloquial name of the "Safe" ending implies that you will, in fact, be alive. And you totally are, though the ending's still a downer. The term "Safe" actually refers to the safe that holds the letter.
  • Your Head Asplode: In this case it's your bowels. No less lethal though.
  • You Shouldn't Know This Already:
    • Even if you know the true password for the Saturn key in the kitchen ahead of time, the game won't let you enter it unless you already have the paper with the hint. The one that comes with the chunk of pork. This means you have to go through the entire freezer section.
    • In the Captain's Quarters, you can't input the morse code until you get the paper that reveals it. Examining the telegraph will just not let you use it. You'll have to print the cilinder's marks on paper.
    • Averted in 3rd Class Cabin and the shower room. You need one code for the former and two for the latter, but you can input them right off the bat without having to find the clues to figure them out. You still are obliged to find the keys for the former and the keycards for the latter, though.
  • You Wake Up in a Room: The game starts with your character waking up in the cabin of a large passenger ship. Of the nine characters involved, however, only one has amnesia and it isn't you. In fact, Junpei only needs a few minutes to get his bearings before the player sees exactly how he was abducted from his apartment.

"You found it!"
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/VisualNovel/NineHoursNinePersonsNineDoors?from=Main.NineHoursNinePersonsNineDoors