Missitsu Nazotoki Variety Dasshutsu Game DERO! (roughly "Solve a Variety of Puzzles Behind Closed Doors: Escape Game DERO!"), is a Japanese Game Show from Nippon TV, whose basic premise was a tongue-in-cheek Deadly Game. Contestants were put in a room and were tasked with escaping from it, with each room having some way the contestants could fail and "die" an obviously-fake death... after which they would appear back in the lobby without so much as a scratch (except possibly being soaking wet, if they "drowned"). It premiered in Japan on December 19, 2009, and NTV has it available in their formats catalog as "EXIT!" Syfy has announced an American version in development, tentatively titled Exit.
Initially, each episode had one team challenging three rooms, winning money for each person who successfully escaped. However, the December 22, 2010 episode was a 2-hour winner-take-all "Battle Royale" special where 3 teams were awarded one point per player escaped from each room they played, with 1 million yen going to the team with the highest score at the end. This proved quite successful, and the show changed to a battle format soon after. Two teams competed for score, with the winning team going onto play a Bonus Round for 100,000 yen.
The show had 7 different rooms:
- The Beam Room: Contestants are led into a closed room. Three metal beams (four in later episodes) pop out of the back wall, and then the floor under the players starts retracting into the front wall to reveal a Bottomless Pit (made of CG; the actual drop appears to be about 2 meters). They have to climb onto the beams, then take turns solving puzzles which appear on the screen in the front wall. The active player can guess as many times as they want, but the beam they're standing on gradually retracts into the wall behind them. If they fall off, they're out. The team is given a limited number of passes shared between them, as well as one sink plunger per beam, which they can stick on the wall behind them to stabilize themselves when the beams become short. Under the original format, teams win after 10 correct answers; under the battle format, players can only share a beam with their teammates, and once the only players left are all on the same team, they win. The room itself has several types of puzzles:
- Kanji Illustration Quiz: They take a picture of an ordinary object and replace each individual part of the object with a word or short description of the part, written exclusively in kanji with all the grammatical particles and conjugations stripped out wherever applicable. The words/descriptions are still in the same relative locations and roughly the same shapes as the parts they replace. The contestant is given the resulting picture and has to guess the original object.
- Trick Art Quiz: The player is shown a picture which contains a hidden object and has to name the object.
- Celebrity Face Quarters Quiz: The player is shown a rectangle divided into quadrants. The top left and bottom right quadrants contain the top left and bottom right sections of a picture of a celebrity's face, and the top right and bottom left quadrants contain the top right and bottom left sections of the face of a different celebrity. The two dividing lines oscillate back and forth, showing more of one celebrity's face and less of the other. The contestant has to name both celebrities.
- Block Word Quiz: The player is shown a 3D rendering of a bunch of blocks of varying height from a 3/4 perspective. The block are arranged so that if viewed from above, they would spell out a word (usually in Japanese katakana). The player has to guess the word.
- Split Celebrity Name Quiz: The player is shown a bunch of rectangles each containing part of a Japanese character, which if assembled correctly would form the name of a celebrity (as if the name had been printed on a piece of paper that was then sent through a paper shredder). The player has to guess the name.
- The Sand Room: Only one contestant at a time plays this room. The player has to get in a pit of "sand" (actually made of small pellets, not unlike packing peanuts, but smaller) and slowly sinks in. They are then given a series of 6 clues referring to a famous person (real or fictional). If they guess right or all 6 clues have been given and they still can't get it, they move onto the next subject. 4 correct answers and they win, prompting a rope to drop down from the ceiling with which they can pull themselves out. If they become fully submerged in the "sand", they fail.
- The Bomb Room: The team members are placed in separate rooms and given a headset to communicate with each other. Each room has a "bomb" and a "defusing mechanism" consisting of three tubes. All the bombs are connected to the same 10-minute timer which starts ticking, then the first tube in each room pops up, and each player can then open it to reveal a colored wire. They are then given a multiple-choice question, with each answer corresponding to a color. The correct answer corresponds to the correct wire, which they then have to cut. If someone cuts the wrong wire, the bomb in their room "explodes" in a spray of CO2 smoke effects and they are out of the round. If someone cuts the correct wire, then the next cylinder in all rooms pops up and the team gets the next question. 3 correct answers defuses the bomb and allows all players left to escape.
- The Stone Monster Room: Players are placed at the end of a 17-meter corridor with an animatronic stone statue that looks vaguely like a Chain Chomp, which slowly advances on them from behind. Three walls block their path, one every 5 meters. Each wall contains a row of blocks, each block having a hiragana character on them, and an indentation underneath. The contestants have to use the blocks to spell out the answer by putting them in the indentation and then pressing the button next to it to check their answer (with no penalty for incorrect guesses). If the stone monster catches up to them, they fail. They also have the option of having one member of the team sacrifice themselves by hitting a button on the stone monster, which pushes the stone monster back to 3 meters away but eliminates the player who hit the button. If they successfully solve all the puzzles in time to get the walls out of the way, at the other end of the corridor is a giant button which stops the stone monster and unlocks the door.
- The Ruins Room: 3 teammates are placed in separate boxes, lying face-up on top of two stone slabs over a CG Bottomless Pit similar to that of the Beam Room. The stone slabs initially open up to reveal a small gap. The players take turns answering trivia questions. If they get 3 questions right in a row, they earn 1 point, and 3 points wins the game. However, each time someone gets a question wrong, his/her stone slabs open wider, and they are eliminated if they fall through.
- The Wall Room: 3 teammates are placed in a room with padded walls on 2 opposite sides which slowly close together; if they close completely and trap the players between the pads, they all lose. The two walls have a total of 3 panels, each with 3 holes in them in a triangle. The top hole has a monitor inside, and the other two have two buttons. The players have to look through the top hole to see a question, and use the buttons to lock in their answer. All of them get the same question simultaneously and have 5 seconds to respond. If everyone gets it right, the team earns a point. Every 3 points, the walls pause and one random player is picked to play the Key Box Challenge. Win or lose, the game continues with the remaining players until either the walls close completely or all 3 have made it to the Key Box Challenge.
- Key Box Challenge: A gate opens to let the selected single player into a corridor (also with padded walls) and starts a 30-second countdown. Inside the corridor near the entrance is a plexiglass box with two arms extending into it, one from the top left corner and one from the top right. The player has to use the arms to pick up a key inside the box and drop it through a tube through the bottom of the box. Near the other end of the corridor are three identical locks which the keys fit into, and past that is the exit to a "Safety Room" at the end. After 30 seconds, the walls of the corridor start closing together; if the player gets stuck between the pads before they can reach the Safety Room, they fail. If the team get 3 keys in the locks, the exit door in the Safety Room is unlocked and they win. (If a player gets a key in but doesn't make it to the Safety Zone, the key still counts but the player loses.)
- The Ceiling Room: Each players is shackled by the leg to a wall, with a chain that allows them to reach most of the room but not the opposite wall, thus requiring them to pass objects back and forth. The room has a ceiling which is over 3 meters high and slowly descends; if it reaches 3 meters below its starting point, it stops and the game ends in failure. On one end of the room is a series of numbered locked chests, and the other sides contain various objects, tools, clues, and/or anything else they may need to solve the puzzle. If the next chest in the sequence has a padlock, the team gets a clue as to where the key is hidden in the room; if it has a combination lock, they get a clue to help them figure out the combination. The team can also use a "Telephone of Life" in the room once to call their teammates back in the lobby and talk to them for 30 seconds, who are watching them on a live feed; however, the teammates in the lobby can only give them a hint, not the direct answer. If the lobby teammates are not yet ready, they can also refuse to pick up and save the Telephone of Life for later. Each chest contains a clue for the next chest, except for the last one which contains a screwdriver. They can then use the screwdriver to unscrew a panel on one of the walls, which contains one button per player, a monitor, and a remote control which pauses the ceiling, opens a duct nearby, and activates the monitor for the host to explain the next part, the Duct Challenge.
- Duct Challenge: The team can press any of the buttons, but only one. Each one reveals a different key, one for each of their shackles. Pressing any button also restarts the ceiling. They then have to try the key on each shackle until one opens, after which that player has to crawl into the duct. At the end of the duct is an oily plexiglass panel with a button behind it. The player has to slide up the panel and hit the button before time runs out; doing so wins the game for the whole team.
- The Water Room: Similar to the Ceiling Room, but without the shackles, the room is a bit over 2 meters tall, and instead of a Descending Ceiling, there's a pipe entering from the ceiling which pumps water into the room. If the water reaches 2 meters tall, it stops and the game ends in failure. The last chest contains a remote control, which can then be used to activate a monitor at the top of the room and pause the water while the host explains the Last Answer Quiz. Players also have the same Telephone of Life from the Ceiling Room.
- Last Answer Quiz: The team is given a question with multiple answers, and must come up with a certain number of them. (For example, "Name the 5 colors of the Olympic Rings" or "Name 4 uppercase letters in the Roman alphabet which are symmetrical, either vertically or horizontally.") Complete 3 questions and they win, but if any member of the team gives a wrong answer, the question is thrown out and they have to wait 30 seconds before getting their next question.
In earlier episodes, the Beam Room was played first in every episode, followed by two of the other rooms. Under the battle format, the Beam Room was always played third, followed by either the Water Room or the Ceiling Room as the Bonus Round, with the first two rooms cycling between the remaining four.
The show was unfortunately Cut Short after a Harsher in Hindsight incident; when the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami hit the east coast of Honshuu, many people in Sendai drowned for real in circumstances not unlike those of the Water Room. The show was immediately pulled off the air with its remaining episodes unaired to this day, while the producers Retooled the show into Takarasagashi Adventure Nazotoki Battle TORE! (roughly "Treasure Hunt Adventure: Puzzle-Solving Battle TORE!"), a Spiritual Successor which is basically DERO! with an Indiana Jones theme. It premiered on July 6, 2011, inheriting DERO!'s old time slot and even the same regular celebrity team captains.
Game Show Tropes in use:
- All or Nothing: Both the Water Room and the Ceiling Room.
- Bonus Round: In the battle format, the winning team gets to play either the Water Room or the Ceiling Room for 100,000 yen.
- Golden Snitch: Initially subverted; the money up for grabs in Beam Room would account for about half of the total money available for the game, and it was played first. Played straight after the switch to the points battle format, where it would be the last round before the Bonus Round.
- Lifelines: The pass(es) in the Beam Room, and the Telephone of Life in the Ceiling Room and the Water Room.
- Rules Spiel: One for every room. Two-part rooms also split the Rules Spiel into two parts, pausing the game to explain the second part if and when the team gets that far.
- Game Show Host: A CG-animated guy with a paper bag over his head which has moving eyes and a mouth on it (both entirely black, as if drawn on with ink) and "管理人" ("Manager") written down the middle in large print. He is never seen in person, only on monitors in each room. Voiced by Ryouta Yamasato.
- The Announcer
This show provides examples of:
- Bottomless Pit: In the Beam Room and the Ruins Room.
- Cut Short: The show was pulled after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster.
- Deadly Game: But with tongue firmly in cheek; the "deaths" are obviously fake.
- Descending Ceiling: The Ceiling Room, of course.
- Drowning Pit: The Water Room.
- Dynamic Difficulty: Pick the wrong answer in the Bomb Room on one of the first two questions and the subsequent questions will also have one fewer choice (unless it's already down to 50/50).
- Linked List Clue Methodology: The Ceiling Room and the Water Room both work this way.
- Lost Episode(s): The last episode ended with a preview of the next episode, but the show was pulled before it could air due to the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster. The episode has yet to see the light of day (as well as any subsequent ones which may have been filmed but not aired).
- Malevolent Architecture: The Beam Room, the Ruins Room, and the Ceiling Room.
- Officially Shortened Title: "Dasshutsu Game DERO!" and just "DERO!" are both used frequently.
- On the Next ______: At the end of every episode.
- Stalked by the Bell: When time runs out in the Key Box Challenge portion of the Wall Room, the walls close together to trap the player in between the pads. The player only fails the game if he/she gets stuck between the pads; if they complete the challenge a split-second after time expires and still manage to reach the Safety Zone at the end of the corridor without getting trapped, their attempt is still ruled a success (and this has in fact happened on the show).
- Timed Mission: The Bomb Room and the Key Box Challenge in the Wall Room are explicitly timed, others have an implicit time limit.
- Wire Dilemma: The Bomb Room.