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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