9-Nine-: Episode 1 introduced players to the sleepy town of Shiromitsugawa and how it got a lit bit livelier after an earthquake shattered a sacred shrine relic and unleashed powerful artifacts. These artifacts began bonding with people in town, giving them supernatural powers. Not everyone used these new powers for good either, which resulted in a killer with the ability to turn people into stone making an appearance. This is where the protagonist of the story, Kakeru Niimi steps up to investigate the artifacts and uncover the identity of the killer. Kakeru embarks on this dangerous mission at the behest of Sophie, an unknown life-form from a different world who claims to be part of an organization that manages the artifacts. However, the real reason for Kakuru’s interest in the artifacts is the involvement of his classmate Miyako and her determination to investigate the artifacts.
9-Nine-: Episode 2 is the second installment of the visual novel, but instead of being a direct continuation of episode one, it actually functions more like an alternative route. The story still picks up after some of the events in the previous episode, but this time the emphasis is on Kakeru’s sister, Sora. Although Sora was part of the first episode, she was more of a peripheral character, but everything in this episode revolves around her. Kakeru is once again the protagonist, so the story unfolds through his eyes, but Sora rarely leaves his side. Episode 2 also recaps all of the important bits of episode 1, so technically it’s not necessary to play the first installment to understand what is going on. In fact, it initially feels a bit confusing to have the story focus on Sora considering the events between Kakeru and Miyako in episode 1. However, the game already established that there are multiple realities in the world of 9-Nine, so it makes sense that this episode takes place in one that is on a different branch.
Episode 2 is once again set in the town of Shiromitsugawa and this time Kakeru encounters a cadre of evil users calling themselves “Rig Veda” while continuing his search for the killer. Through a series of events Kakeru, along with his sister, Miyako and the mysterious parfait loving girl from the cafe where he always hangs out, ends up in their own opposing group. This conflict between Kakeru’s group and Rig Vega takes up a large portion of the story, but the game also focuses more on Sora’s power and the consequences of her using it. Miyako plays a much smaller role in this episode, but players learn a lot more about Sora and the game also reveals more details about other minor characters like Haruka and Noa. The story unfolds rather slowly, especially given how short the episode is, but thanks to the brilliant writing and superlative translation we were never left feeling bored.
With Kakeru and Sora spending much more time together in this episode, it also means more of the extremely funny bickering between the two. A lot of the dialog between the two is downright hilarious and quite a few scenes had us laughing out loud.
Surprisingly, this even extends to the adult scenes as twisted as that may sound. Yes, even though Kakeru and Sora are siblings, this episode features some adult content, provided players install the optional 18+ patch. This patch is available from Denpasoft for free and adds a couple of animated sex scenes to the game as well as a few CGs featuring nudity. Even with the patch installed the game still makes use of mosaic censoring for everything below the belt. The incest theme is pretty disturbing, but the game handles it in an interesting manner and with plenty of humor. Let’s just say that Sora is a complete goofball and a certain scene featuring a paper bag over her head had us laughing way harder than we should have considering what was happening.
Since Episode 2 takes place in mostly the same setting with the same characters it’s no surprise that most of the backgrounds and character sprites are re-used. However, seeing as the artwork is by Izumi Tsubasu of SakuSaku: Love Blooms with the Cherry Blossoms fame, we are definitely not complaining. The game does feature plenty of brand new CGs along with some cute, super-deformed CGs and new animated sex scenes, so there are plenty of new visual elements as well. 9-Nine is also still one of the very few visual novels that we have ever played to feature characters that have sprites for the front as well as the back of the characters.
Like the visuals, the track-list for episode 2 is mostly the same as the first episode. There are only about six new tracks on the list, the old songs still sound good. The game also still features full Japanese voice acting for everyone including the main character. This extends to the sex scenes, which makes them even funnier in our opinion. The voice acting is brilliant and makes the interactions between Kakeru and his sister even more entertaining as neither of them hold back. 9-Nine-: Episode 2 once again features dual language options, with a choice between Japanese, English and Chinese text being displayed on the screen. Also, there is a wealth of sound and dialog options to customize to your liking and the whole user interface for the game is very straightforward and convenient to use.
Despite the rather taboo elements of 9-Nine-: Episode 2, we found ourselves enjoying the story a bit more than the first episode. This could be because the presence of Sora meant that there were a lot more humorous scenes this time around. However, the game still features more than enough serious scenes that reveal the emotional depth of the characters as well as a couple of action scenes that are described in an engaging manner. Episode 2 also doesn’t force players to play through everything twice to uncover the whole story and instead offers choices right from the start that leads to two different endings.
Everyone who enjoyed 9-Nine-: Episode 1 should definitely check out episode 2 as well. Unfortunately, it still leaves players with a lot of unresolved mysteries that will no doubt only be revealed in future episodes. The incest elements will obviously not appeal to everyone, but the more explicit elements can easily be avoided by sticking to the Steam version and skipping the 18+ patch. Overall, we enjoyed our time with 9-Nine-: Episode 2 and look forward to seeing what will happen in episode 3.
- OS: Windows 7/8/8.1/10
- Processor: Core 2 Duo (Core i3 or higher recommended)
- Memory: 4 GB RAM
- Graphics: 1280 x 720
- DirectX: Version 9.0c
- Storage: 3 GB available space