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Zero Escape Fans Band Together for "Operation Bluebird"

Want to see a sequel to 999 and Virtue's Last Reward? Get involved with this community movement and make your voice heard.

News by Pete Davison, .

When Zero Escape creator Kotaro Uchikoshi opened his new English language Twitter account at the end of last week, fans were happy to be able to interact with the renowned scenario writer, but disappointed at his woes regarding continued attempts to bring a third Zero Escape game to market.

Lest you're unfamiliar, the Zero Escape series, which consists of DS title 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors and 3DS/Vita sequel Virtue's Last Reward, blends visual novel storytelling with "room escape" sequences. The latter is a typically Japanese take on point-and-click adventure conventions that tends to include self-contained, discrete puzzles to gate progress through the story rather than weaving object interaction and somewhat more organic puzzle solving through the whole narrative -- though in the case of both Zero Escape games, the fact you kept getting locked in rooms and forced to "Seek a Way Out!" was at least given a strong amount of context through the entire story. Their casts of interesting characters, strong stories and willingness to break the "rules" of narrative convention in a convincing manner have helped make both games into established classics in the field of interactive storytelling -- but not, surprisingly, across the whole world.

Zero Escape as a whole has attracted a strong cult following in the years since 999's 2010 release, but unusually, it's not in its native Japan that it's seen the most success -- it's in the West. Uchikoshi noted that both 999 and Virtue's Last Reward are "in the red" in Japan, while it's Western fans who are clamoring most strongly for a third and final installment to wrap up all the plot threads left dangling by VLR's finale. Part of this can perhaps be attributed to the stellar localization of both games by Aksys Games, but in the case of the second game in particular, Uchikoshi had actually written much of the game's Japanese script with Western audiences in mind -- although that didn't stop him including tidbits of untranslatable Japanese wordplay such as the rabbit-like Zero III's addition of "-usa" to the end of his sentences and protagonist Sigma's tendency to add "-nya" to the ends of his sentences when talking about cats. These were deftly replaced by Aksys' localization team with some enjoyably cringeworthy rabbit and cat puns respectively. Are you kitten me? Lettuce continue.

Despite the strong following in the West, though, Uchikoshi has struggled to drum up sufficient support to be able to make a third game in the series. Given that the finale of Virtue's Last Reward left a number of unresolved questions and the promise of one last adventure to answer them, a lot of fans are very keen to see Uchikoshi realize his vision for the series' complete overarching narrative. His Twitter feed made for heartbreaking reading as it became abundantly clear that he very much wanted to give fans what they wanted, but was unable to get a conclusive green light to go ahead and make it.

Taking their cues from Uchikoshi's heartfelt pleas for support, fans have taken it upon themselves to launch a grassroots campaign to get Zero Escape 3 made. Dubbed Operation Bluebird, the campaign is presently primarily based on Facebook and is in the process of gathering support from series fans all over the world. Thus far, the page has attracted over 1,600 Likes -- including one from Uchikoshi himself -- and is gearing up for an organized campaign to show support for Zero Escape 3. This will range from fans sharing photos of their copies of 999 and VLR to the organization directly reaching out to companies such as Aksys in an attempt to show that there is a market for the new game.

Whether or not the campaign will prove influential enough to actually get Zero Escape 3 made remains to be seen, but if you're a fan of the series and would like to see the end of the story, be sure to drop by the Facebook page and show your support with a Like and a comment.

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Comments 5

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  • Avatar for Critical_Hit #1 Critical_Hit 4 years ago
    I love Zero Escape as much as the next guy - I have few 3rd party games for my 3DS (mostly because I have few games period), but Virtue's Last Reward is one of my favorites. It's an excellent game, and if Mr.Uchikoshi goes crowdfunding, I'll support him for sure. But a Facebook page seems like, I dunno, a non-thing. Operation Rainfall at least has a purpose; to flood NOA with letters so they'd stop being stupid. This doesn't seem to show much. Oh well, at least I get to use the, "Sounds like a fanboy" React option now :P

    That being said, Mr. Uchikoshi himself threw a like at the page, so I guess I can do too. Just hoping it leads to something more. I'm skeptical, but I don't want to be like one of those goons who won't support a game like Kickstarter but say things like, "I want to play it when it comes out", or someone watching a TV show only after the first season comes out on DVD who are all like, "The ratings are pretty bad, it'll just get canceled. I'll wait for it to come out on DVD then". Gotta show some kind of support here, I guess...
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  • Avatar for pjedavison #2 pjedavison 4 years ago
    @Critical_Hit You're right to a degree; a Facebook page in itself isn't a lot, but Operation Rainfall didn't start with anything particularly grand, either. You have to gather people somewhere before you can do something bigger, and that's the intention here. Facebook's as good a place as any to centralize discussion and then send people off to write letters or post pictures or all manner of other things to raise awareness and apply pressure.

    As noted in the article, the organizers of the page aren't just sitting on their hands gathering likes, either; now they have a thousand likes under their belt, they're going to start reaching out to other publications (who haven't already covered the campaign, natch) and talking to companies like Aksys who might be able to help something happen.

    As you say, showing your support is the important thing right now. The campaign won't get off the ground at all without people jumping on board at the outset.
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  • Avatar for renatocosta90 #3 renatocosta90 4 years ago
    I can only hope we can get a Third installment.

    If Mr. Uchikoshi decides to go for a Kickstarter, I'll be seriously tempted to try and get a "Talk with the developer" Pledge goal kinda thing, to try and gleam something about his though process and writing style.
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  • Avatar for sanghelio #4 sanghelio 4 years ago
    Well it seems the word is spreading like wildfire about this campaign. Pete commented that the FB page had 1000 likes 3 hours ago and now its almost at 3000! This is fantastic!
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  • Avatar for bigdsweetz #5 bigdsweetz 4 years ago
    This is stupid. If you want a game made, why not donate to get it off the ground a-la-kickstarter? I'm not saying DO a kickstarter, but Nintendo has it right. Just because you get 1,000,000 likes, doesn't mean your going to sell 1,000,000 copies. If you want something bad enough, talk with your money.
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