"I hope from the bottom of my heart that a lot of people will read this interview... and that my wife won't be among them."
— Uchikoshi, talking about his 999 interview in Nintendo Power.

Kotaro Uchikoshi is the director and writer of the Zero Escape series: Zero Escape: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward and Zero Escape: Zero Time Dilemma.


Uchikoshi was born in Higashi-Murayama, Tokyo, Japan on November 17, 1973. The city is in the western part of the Tokyo metro area.


In 1999, Uchikoshi joined Kindle Imagine Develop (KID) as a scenario writer and game producer. He worked on the company's first big visual novel series, Memories Off, helping write the scenario for the first two games in the series: Memories Off and Memories Off 2nd. It would be in 2000 though, when he would receive his first big break.

Never 7: The End of Infinity

Never 7

Japanese box art.

The first game in the Infinity series, and the start of the successful partnership between Uchikoshi (as the scenario and story writer) and director Takumi Nakazawa. It was originally released in 2000 on the Dreamcast in Japan. The game is about a college student named Makoto, who had never attended a single lecture at his school, and as such, he is sent to a strange island to attend an extra seminar. Mysterious deaths start to occur on the island, making Makoto's seminar more dangerous than he would have ever thought. The game was lauded for its story and turned out to be a success, despite only being released in Japan (although there are fan-made English translations).

Ever 17: The Out of Infinity

Ever 17

North American box art.

Coming off of the success of Never 7, KID decides that they want Uchikoshi and his team to make a second installment to the Infinity series. It was originally released in Japan in 2002, and surprisingly, also in the United States in 2005. Besides the Zero Escape series, this would be his only game to be released in the U.S. The most successful and well-known game in the series, critics highly praised its characters and plot, and it is considered one of the greatest visual novels of all time. The plot revolves around two protagonists, Takeshi and Kid. These two and five other people are trapped in an underwater theme park called LeMU (located over 50 meters below the surface), and have 119 hours to escape before the surrounding water pressure causes the entire park to collapse.

Remember 11: The Age of Infinity

Remember 11

Japanese box art.

The third game in the Infinity series, this game was released in Japan in 2004, with Nakazawa writing the majority of the story, and Uchikoshi being a second writter. The plot follows two different points of view: Cocoro Fuyukawa, who is a 20 year old woman majoring in sociology, and Satoru Yukidoh, a 21 year old man majoring in quantum physics. The story takes place in 2011 and 2012. Cocoro is on the way to a mental health institution, when her plane crashes in the mountains. She is able to make it to an emergency cabin, where weird things start happening. On Aosagi Island in 2012, Satoru falls from the SPHIA clock tower and loses consciousness. Satoru wakes up and finds himself in a woman's body. At the same time, Cocoro finds herself in a man's body.

Joining Chunsoft and Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors


Japanese box art.

In 2004, Uchikoshi joined Chunsoft as a game designer and scenario writer. Several years later, he came up with the idea of having boys and girls locked together with explosive handcuffs, playing a life-or-death game. This evolved to the later idea of using explosive-triggering bracelets. 999 was released in Japan on December 10, 2009 to lukewarm reception, so Aksys Games came to Chunsoft to ask if they could publish it in the United States. Chunsoft agreed, and Aksys released 999 on November 16, 2010. This would be Uchikoshi's second title to be released in English. The game was met with widespread acclaim, with many people praising the intricate and well-written story. Its accolades include a "Best Story" award from Nintendo Power and "Best Story" from IGN.

Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward


North American box art.

Within two years, Uchikoshi had come up with a sequel to 999, which is called Virtue's Last Reward. This was the first title to be branded under the Zero Escape name, and around the time VLR was released in the United States, 999 was reprinted with the Zero Escape logo. Virtue's Last Reward was released in Japan on February 16, 2012, in the United States on October 23, 2012 and in Europe on November 23 2012 (making this the only game developed by Uchikoshi to be released in Europe thus far). Aksys Games had provided an English dub on the North American release, the only release to feature voice acting in a language other than Japanese. The game was a smash hit, pulling in several accolades such as "Handheld Game Of The Year" by GameSpot, "Best 3DS/DS Story Of 2012" by IGN, and "Best Graphic Adventure Of 2012" and "Best Story Of 2012" by RPGFan.

Punch Line


Punch Line promotional art.

On November 24th, 2014, an anime named Punch Line that Uchikoshi wrote was announced. From April 9th, 2015 to June 25th, 2015, it aired in Japan and was simulcast by Crunchyroll. The anime is about a man named Yuuta Iridatsu who lives at the Korai House apartment complex with four other girls. After a bus hijacking incident, Yuuta's spirit was forced out of his own body. He was then told by a cat spirit named Chiranosuke that in order to get back into his body, he would need to find a book called the Nandala Gandala. However, he would need to be careful if he searched the apartment complex. If he saw a girl's panties twice in a row, the Earth would be destroyed by a meteor. The anime follows Yuuta's hunt for the book and what happens after he gets back in his body. The anime also has a PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita game that was released in Japan on April 28th, 2016. It has multiple endings that are different from the anime's ending. It is unknown if the game will be localized into English.

Zero Escape: Zero Time Dilemma


North American box art.

On July 3rd, 2015, Uchikoshi announced the development of Zero Escape: Zero Time Dilemma at Anime Expo 2015. The game was released June 28, 2016 on the 3DS, Vita, and PC. He stated that the fans are what made this game a reality and their continued support allowed this game to be green lit.


  • Uchikoshi often likes to give silly answers to fan questions, such as Carlos gels his hair with glue.
    • When Uchikoshi was asked by a fan how to SHIFT, Uchikoshi replied "by propagandizing ze series". When the fan replied they already do that, Uchikoshi replied "not enough. I think Justin Bieber does not know ze series yet.".
  • Once Virtue's Last Reward was released, Uchikoshi was told by someone above him at the company that his career was washed up and he would never ever get to make a sequel, so he should quit while he was ahead. In the end, he proved them wrong, showing the power of not giving up, perseverance and will.[1]
  • Uchikoshi once said that he developed the Zero Escape series when he was feeling very depressed and lost in the world. Much of his depressed feelings are seen in VLR, with the Radical-6 suicide virus and Brother's tragic backstory.
  • Uchikoshi often creates characters based on the Enneagram of Personality, and gives them opposing traits and views so they don't feel too similar. For example, if one character is old (Tenmyouji in VLR), he creates a young character (Quark). If a character is implied to be theist (Akane Kurashiki), then he makes an atheist character (Sigma Klim). If there is an introverted and shy character (Luna), then he makes an extroverted and bold character (Alice). The opposing personalities of characters in his games are what create conflicts, arguments and dilemmas. A strong example is when the players are debating whether they should enter Door 4/5 in 999, some say "We need to get going!" while others say "No, we should stay here!" In this sense, Uchikoshi is always playing devil's advocate when he creates stories. Not only this, Uchikoshi also likes to give the player the freedom to choose, just like in real life. These choices can have benefits, consequences, or neither (neutral decisions). He also tries to give the player and characters in the game some leeway and view the situation from their perspective, and there are many times in Zero Escape when the characters are confused, or come up with wrong theories (such as how Phi's theory that Luna is the killer in Luna END is incorrect). Many applaud Uchikoshi's efforts and the Zero Escape when it comes to this, feeling it creates a realistic grounding.
    • In contrast, writers often fail by making characters who carbon copies of one another, or make characters which are too similar to themselves, often creating Mary Sues which are extensions of themselves. Sometimes, these characters aren't flawed, and the plot has a linear structure where they always know what to do, know the right answer or decision, or perform it well. In the Zero Escape series, almost everyone is flawed and has flawed or questionable motives, especially Akane Kurashiki whom Uchikoshi designed to be the "world's worst heroine".
  • Uchikoshi also puts value on breaking expectations with complex characters, instead of them being predictable stereotypes. For example, while Seven may have the look of a "dumb thug", he has the intelligence of a scholar. The sexualized women in all three games are also very intelligent. While Phi comes off as primarily intelligent, she is also prone to brainfarts. Snake is blind, but he is capable of physical feats. Perhaps the biggest surprise is Akane being Zero.

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