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During February Zero Escape series creator Kotaro Uchikoshi emphasized the challenges he was facing to make a third game in the franchise, with publishers apparently not deeming another entry financially viable. Uchikoshi-san was touched by fan support, however, and is contemplating alternative options to make a new game in the intriguing puzzle / adventure / narrative series — at the time of writing a fan campaign on Facebook, Operation Bluebird, has accumulated over 8000 Likes.

Publisher Aksys Games isn't finished with the series either, though it is delving off into slightly different territory. On 17th March it is releasing 999: The Novel for iOS platforms. It takes the storyline from the excellent 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors and strips out puzzle elements, living up to the new name and making it a visual novel above all else. It'll have higher resolution images and players will still make decisions that determine the course of the narrative, while a flow chart will help make things a little clearer; it'll cost $4.99 on the App Store.

It's tough to say whether success for this release will encourage Aksys to take the series further with Uchikoshi-san at the helm, or whether it'd simply encourage it to continue with the visual novel style at the expense of riddles and puzzles. It is encouraging, at least, to see the official web page advertising the new game also promoting the DS, 3DS and PS Vita predecessors.

Let us know what you think of this upcoming release. Do you like the idea of focusing on the story in this way, or are the puzzles an integral part of the experience?

[source eurogamer.net, via aksysgames.com]