What inspired you to create the sequel to 999, Virtue’s Last Reward? What are some of the major themes of this game?
Well it’s not quite “inspiration,” but “999” received great reviews in the US, and that was the direct reason why we started production on Virtue’s Last Reward.
After the release of 999 in the US, we received a lot of praise and thank-you messages on our Facebook and Twitter from people all over the world. We are the ones who should be showing appreciation. We are very thankful, and it is a great honor.
Also, before the release of the Japanese version of VLR, we released our PV and OP videos on YouTube. Most of the comments we received on them were in English. We analyzed the access logs, and a mere 30% of visitors were from Japan. The remaining 70% were from the English-speaking countries.
In the Japanese game industry it is extremely rare for such things to happen—especially before a game is even localized. This made us realize that 999 was a work that was loved not only in the US, but all over the world.
Of course we had decided to start production on VLR before we released the movies on YouTube, but we heard news that many people in the US were supporting us, so it was only natural that we thought, “Why not make a sequel?”
On a side note, the reason we received such high praise for 999 in the US is because of Aksys. So since Aksys will be localizing VLR, it’s pretty much given that the translation-related quality is high. There’s no doubt about it. I guarantee it!
The theme of VLR is of course global warming and environmental destruction. Just kidding, ha ha ha. But you see? Humans can lie without breaking a sweat. “Lying” and “betrayal”…these are some of the major themes in this title. However, the main characters in this game aren’t lying on a whim or for a joke. Each and every one of them has their own beliefs, purpose, and goals, and in order to stay true to those they will have to chose “betray.” I think the real fun in this game is trying to solve those mysteries.
Another pillar of the gameplay is “selection” and “decision.” Will you choose “yes” or “no”? Should you go right or left? Should I hit on the cute girl at my work/school or should I not…? Our lives are formed from an infinite number of “selections” piling on one another, so this formation of history from the continuous selection is another big theme in this title.
Which character in either 999 or Virtue’s Last Reward do you most identify with and why (without giving any spoilers)?
It’s hard to give you a name without giving spoilers. If you can allow me to give spoilers, then I can definitely tell you who I identify with… Ha ha ha.
Anyway, I don’t think that’s going to fly so without spoilers I can identify with Sigma’s unfortunate circumstances and Tenmyouji’s earnest love.
Also, this isn’t directly identifying but Phi’s coolness, Luna’s pureness and honesty, Dio’s slyness, K’s calmness, Clover’s contrarian attitude, and Quark’s innocence and playfulness are all components that I have, so of course I can identify a little bit with all of them. The only thing that I don’t have is Alice’s breasts. Although I can’t identify with her breasts, I do like them.
In 999, “Game Theory” plays a key role and in Virtue’s Last Reward it plays a very central role as it directly affects the fate of the nine. What fascinates you about this idea?
When it comes to gay theory, I’m an acknowledged expert, but as far as game theory I admit I’m a complete amateur so I can’t elaborate too much. To the best of my knowledge, though, there’s no accidental intervention in game theory, which is—to me—the most charming thing about it.
With roulette, or dice, or shuffled cards, the outcome is just probability. The fun in this theory comes from the logical prediction of an individual saying, “I think the other person is going to take this type of action so I’ll do this.” But at the same time, humans don’t always make logical and rational decisions, and if everyone aims for their personal gain and makes a rational decision based on that, not only will it cause a disadvantage for the group, it’ll also cause a disadvantage for them personally.
This title depicts that dilemma, which is what I think is particularly interesting.
Besides, what does “rationality” mean, anyway?
You advance through this game by playing the Ambidex Game. You and your opponent have to pick “Ally” or “Betray.” If you both choose ally, you both get two points. If one allies and the other betrays, the one who chose ally will have 2 points deducted. And when your points reach 0, then you will die.
So let’s say you and your opponent both have 1 point. If your opponent says, “I’ll definitely chose ally!” what would you do? Would you choose ally? Or betray?
If your opponent really chooses ally and you chose betray, you will essentially cause their death. On the other hand, if the opponent lied and they choose betray while you choose ally, then you will die.
So I’ll ask once again: Which one will you choose? Will you trust them and choose ally? Or will you not, and choose betray? What would you say is the most “rational” decision?
In 999, players had to solve puzzles based on music theory and code-matching, among others. What should players expect in Virtue’s Last Reward?
In VLR we have various puzzles. There’s a slide puzzle, a code puzzle, a logic puzzle, a math puzzle, a panel puzzle, a line puzzle, a scale puzzle, a dice puzzle, an hourglass puzzle, a clock puzzle, a cocktail puzzle, a billiard puzzle, a dart puzzle, a jukebox puzzle, a DNA puzzle, a pH puzzle, a jellyfish puzzle, a Zero III doll puzzle, a slightly perverted puzzle, and several others.
That is just a small portion of what’s inside. There are a lot more than just that. Escaping the escape part in and of itself is a big puzzle, and there are 16 of those. For those who like puzzle games, it’s a game you’ll drool over, guaranteed.
So what about people who don’t like those types of games? Well don’t worry! You can switch the difficulty level to “easy” and the characters with you will give you super helpful hints to solve the puzzles. In addition, the escape part of VLR has a lot of fun tricks. They’re pretty clever, so you can play until the end without getting bored. You have a lot to look forward to!