Tag Archives: japan

Pokemon Escape Room starts in Japan this July

Become a legendary Pokemon trainer.

SCRAP has partnered with Nintendo to promote the new movie, Pokemon: I Choose You. A Pokemon themed escape game will follow Ash Ketchum and Pikachu from the beginning.

The pair’s journey will involve finding the legendary bird pokemon, Ho-Oh. (Check out Ho-Oh in the image above!).

Players will get to choose one of three Pokemon – Charizard, Squirtle or Bulbasaur – at the start. Depending on which Pokemon you choose, the order of the puzzles will change in the game.

There’s also two levels of difficulty to choose from. The Doctoral Course is for adults while the Trainer Course is more suited for kids to teenagers.

The escape game will test each player’s knowledge of Pokemon and visit eight cities in Japan. The cities include Tokyo, Osaka, Hokkaido, Miyagi, Kanagawa, Aichi, Okayama and Fukuoka.

The official site already warns players that waiting in the lobby can take up to fifty minutes. Once inside, players will get to enjoy the Pokemon escape game for two to three hours.

You gotta catch ’em all(!) before the Pokemon escape game ends in December 2017.


Thanks to Room Escape Artist for the tip!

Celebrating Final Fantasy XIV’s 30th Anniversary – Escape Game in Japan


A diverse group of heroes trying to defeat evil is at the heart of each Final Fantasy video game.

The video game series is celebrating it’s 30th anniversary this year and brand manager, Shinji Hashimoto revealed there will be a Final Fantasy XIV (14) escape game.

“Escape from the Great Labyrinth of Bahamut” will be available to the public from February 10th 2017 and is another SCRAP partnership. Furthermore the escape game will visit five cities in Japan: Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Sapporo and Fukuoka and will have a time limit of 60 minutes.

The story follows the Great Sorcerer Ruizova and the Light Warriors who defeated the evil Bahamut and saved the land, Eorsea from destruction five years ago. Now Bahamut is returning from the underground and there’s 60 minutes before the resurgence is complete – will you be able to stop Bahamut with your friends?

Furthermore, the escape game is suitable for newcomers and long time fans of the Final Fantasy series. SCRAP have also hinted they want to bring the Final Fantasy escape game to the United States.


Ticket Prices
General Advanced Tickets: 3,600 yen
Group Advanced Tickets: 21,000 yen
On the Day Ticket: 4,100 yen

Escape from the Great Labyrinth of Bahamut
FF XIV Escape Room – Event information and tickets

Official Final Fantasy 30th Anniversary Website



(L to R: Yoshida, FF XIV Producer and Kato, founder of SCRAP. Credit to FF XIV Website)

+ Bonus – SCRAP x Final Fantasy Interview
On the event website there’s an interview between SCRAP founder, Takao Kato and Naoki Yoshida, the producer of Final Fantasy XIV – who both tested the Final Fantasy XIV escape room.

The best parts of the interview are below –

Do you have any difficult problems when you make games where there are groups of people?
In the early days, there were not many formal rules when creating a real escape game. In the past, a team was exploring a venue and pulled out an unknown iron plate from the back of the venue and said, “This is sure to be part of the mystery!”. Even later when [we] asked the venue’s manager, they said “I do not remember placing such a plate”. (Laughs).

It’s not easy to always control what happens at the venue, so gradually the rules have changed so the [escape game] mystery can be solved without touching anything inside the venue. Then demand comes [from customers] I want to interact with more things in the game.

Yoshida: I sometimes think the idea is not to know the ceiling [any idea is possible in a game].


Q. How would you like players to enjoy the Final Fantasy XIV Escape Room?
Kato: I hope that you can project your expectations on to game characters and play with them. So, I would like you to experience something like being a character entering the world of Final Fantasy.

Because small potatoes are hidden in many places, if you look for them too much you can’t solve a mystery. [Laughs]. A/N: small potatoes = red herrings

The full interview can be found here in Japanese.


– Essa 🙂
(~ Late blog post as visiting extended family at the moment ~ )

Plus thanks to Room Escape Artist for letting us know about this escape game in the first place!


What happened this summer when the Gravity Falls fandom found out about #CipherHunt – Part One

Catchup: | Prologue | Part 1 – Gravity Falls Cipher Hunt | Part 2 – Gravity Falls Cipher Hunt |

After the finale of Gravity Falls back in February, fans were left with a mystery on their minds – was there indeed a real stone statue of Bill Cipher hiding in a forest?

After months of silence, a single tweet from the creator of Gravity Falls, Alex Hirsch sparked a massive alternate reality game. From his tweet, fans discovered “#FLSKHUKXQW” shifted back three letters revealed the word #CIPHERHUNT.


From the image attached to the same tweet, fans decoded:
“The urban legend has come true / Cipher’s statue’s calling you / The secret map is in your hand / To trace the clues across the land”, along with “Don’t forget it’s all for pleasure / The hunt itself’s the real treasure / But a prize awaits the first one there / Be safe, be smart, and of course beware” – GF Wikia

Proving that what fans speculated months ago was real – there was a Bill Cipher statue out there waiting to be found.

Also from the image, fans discovered when the red letters were shifted backwards it spelt out the first location – Russia. The location was confirmed as Kazan Cathedral located in St. Petersburg, Russia as the floor plan can be seen.

The clue picked up in Russia referred to the yen, which turned the focus to Japan and the next clue was located in Kanda Myojin Shrine, Tokyo.

The clue from Tokyo referred to the hunter of the fountain of youth – Ponce De Leon and a street name containing his name was found in Atlanta, Georgia in the US.

A fan discovered a damaged poster for a missing pig, Waddles – the cartoon pig which appears on Gravity Falls. On the poster was a puzzle and a phone number, when the number was reversed a voice recording could be heard.

Fans listened to Grunkle Stan, who advised them to check a university location at Rhode Island. Behind the picture of Sister Mary Hilda Miley the next clue was suppose to be located but the game ran into problems when the clue was discovered to be missing.

Alex Hirsch stepped in and tweeted to fans to re-call the last phone number, where another recording of Grunkle Stan played. “A man who’s first name is his last, a statue honouring his past …” hinted to fans they should head to Griffith Park in Los Angeles.

When the Griffith Park clue was picked up it mentioned, “50 + 50 that’s the city .. you’ll find a bow tie and one eye ..” which led to Century Park, Los Angeles. When the park is viewed from above, there’s a pyramid shape and two buildings beneath that look like a bow tie – similar to what the character Bill Cipher looks like.

A USB was found inside the park with a voice recording pointing to the next clue – hidden inside the California State Summer School of the Arts, where only students could enter the building’s sublevel to retrieve the next clue.

Scribbled on the wall were two hex codes that were decoded to lead on to the co-ordinates of Piedmont, California. Fans discovered a key tied to a tree stump and a locked container, revealing a PO box (27128) at 1825 N. Vermont Avenue in Los Angeles.

Out of the PO box emerged a monster jigsaw puzzle made of 2,000 pieces. Fans on the ground worked on the physical puzzle and upon completion, the Gravity Falls pilot episode would be made available* (*more on this later). There was also a virtual puzzle that online users could contribute to. And this was only day four!

When enough of the puzzle was put together the code on it was translated to the address: Corner of Rodney & Tillamook, Portland in Oregon. At the spot, fans discovered a lawn gnome that led to the tourist trap, Confusion Hill in California.

Inside the Confusion Hill shop, an eyeball jar found on a shelf held the next clue – which showed the next location as Stanley St, Amity in Oregon where a geocache was discovered.

The geocache in turn led to a theme park, Enchanted Forest in Turner, Oregon. A fan discovered a ripped puzzle piece that decoded to: “Return to where it all began / The final clue is in your hand / The parchment can be such a tease / The answer’s written in the trees” – GF Wikia

The finale clue led fans back to the original tweet which started the entire Cipher Hunt. There at the bottom of the image was a drawing of the Bill Cipher statue surrounded by trees.


How to decode the branches and trees? Fans were stumped for days.

Next: Part 2 – Gravity Falls Cipher Hunt

– Essa 🙂

Welcome to Nerve – a movie about a geo-location game, the Gravity Falls ARG and other escape room news

“Welcome to Nerve – a game like Truth or Dare, minus the Truth. Watchers pay to watch. Players play to win cash and glory. Are you a player or a watcher? Are you a watcher or a player?”

Nerve is a new movie about a fictional mobile game where people who are “watching” the game can issue dares. All the dares have a monetary bounty and a time limit to complete the dare by. Starring Emma Roberts as Vee and Dave Franco as Ian, the characters accept dares and then live stream the results to prove they did them.

The dares start off easy – kiss a stranger for five seconds, try on a dress in a shop – but over time the dares that Vee and Ian are given become more dangerous. Vee tries to call the police as she realises the game has become dangerous and her identity gets stolen by the “watchers”.

“This is a game. The only way out is to win.”

There’s already something similar to Nerve called YouDareTo, where strangers post tasks and put a monetary value on it. After someone accepts the task, they need to record themselves and post a video of it online.

The Gravity Falls fandom is in the middle of an alternate reality game (ARG) with clues found in Russia, Japan and across the US. The whole adventure is to find a stone statue of Bill Cipher located somewhere in the US.

There’s been no progress on the final clue, which is the lower half of this image with the trees and the statute. Also Alex Hirsch, the creator of Gravity Falls may release a clue on his Twitter account on Monday. Join the Gravity Falls ARG discussion on Discord here and I’ll be writing a blog post about the entire ARG hunt once the statue is found. #cipherhunt

Lock Me If You Can mentioned on their blog there’s a current Australian puzzle hunt to promote the new Netflix series, Stranger Things which runs until August 4th with prizes involved!

The Room Escape Diva’s latest podcast takes them to the upcoming Transworld’s Room Escape Conference in Chicago from August 12th-14th and to chat with the organisers behind it.

– Essa 🙂

Gotta catch ’em all! Nintendo and Google’s Niantic Labs release Pokemon Go – a new augmented reality game into the wild


There’s a serious Pokemon invasion and it’s only just started.

Pokemon Go, an augmented reality game was released last Wednesday to select countries. Players in Japan, America, Australia and New Zealand were among the lucky first to catch virtual Pokemon and live out their dream of becoming Pokemon Trainers.

The game has a staggered worldwide release and will next be available in the United Kingdom and The Netherlands as soon as the Pokemon Go team can put up more game servers to cope with the huge user demand for the game.

Pokemon are fictional animals which can be caught by throwing a Pokeball at it and over time, they can gain levels and evolve into new versions. Eventually Pokemon Trainers level up enough Pokemon to battle in the Pokemon League and to prove they are the greatest trainer of them all.

At level 5 in Pokemon Go, players can choose a team to align themselves with: Instinct (Yellow team), Mystic (Blue team) or Valour (Red team).

The world of Pokemon is overlaid onto the real world, so players must walk around to capture Pokemon or visit locations – PokeStops or Gyms, where players can stock up on eggs, Pokeballs or buy PokeCoins to help them get further through the game.

In under a week, the Pokemon Go game currently sits as the most popular game within the Google Play Store and iTunes App Store. It’s been mentioned the number of US Android users playing Pokemon Go will soon exceed the number of US Android users accessing Twitter or Tinder on their phones.

And it’s popularity doesn’t stop there, in Australia last weekend there have been Pokemon Go walks in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth with hundreds of people turning up to catch Pokemon. With more people around, the more likely Pokemon will spawn in the game.

It should come as no surprise that the mapping technology used in Pokemon Go has been harnessed from Niantic Lab’s earlier success – Ingress. People who played Ingress submitted location data of their gameplay via GPS and interesting landmarks became portals. From this, the portals of Ingress have become the PokeStops and Gyms within Pokemon Go.

“It turns out, Ingress plays a huge role in figuring that out. Major players of the earlier game contributed location data, or intel, to an online database, populating a worldwide map with various notable locations. That’s why Pokémon Go already knows the coolest places for you to check out in your local area, accompanied with photos.” – Polygon.

If you want to read more about the influence of Ingress on Pokemon Go, this is a good read.

Reports say Ingress has been downloaded 14 million times as of July 2016 and Pokemon Go is already well on its way to challenging this, with Google Play listing the number of downloads between 5 million to 10 million already.

Essa 🙂

Official Pokemon Go – Twitter


Death Note: The Escape opens for the 15th anniversary of Universal Studios Japan and CatCon LA!


It all starts with a black notebook called a Death Note.

In the manga, Light Yagami (or Kira) is a genius high school student who discovers a Death Note when it gets dropped into the human world. After a person has touched the Death Note, only then can they see the death god that comes with it.

Kira tells his death god, Ryuk he wants to rid the world of criminals and uses the Death Note to write down their names in it. Soon after, criminals die of a heart attack or in suspicious circumstances. Eventually the media starts to realize a pattern and the famous detective, L gets put on to the case.

For Universal Studios in Japan, their 15th anniversary celebrations comes with a new escape room based on the Death Note story. 10 years on from the battle between L and Kira, a new mystery emerges. Help L who has received a new message from Kira and find the six new Death Notes which have entered the world!

Four levels of the Sakura TV station from Death Note have been created to house the escape room. The experience runs from July 1st to September 4th 2016 in collaboration with SCRAP Entertainment.

Teams can be made of one to four people, with regular tickets starting at 2,980 yen per person (inc. tax). Or for a pair of tickets – two people – it costs 7,980 yen per person (inc. tax). Tickets can be found here.

Plus there’s an opportunity to buy Death Note related merchandise – Sweets of the Grim Reaper – the Death Desert of Ryuk, is a gnawed red apple which sits on a chocolate Death Note. Or there’s the official Death Note clipboard and penlight.

In other escape room related news:
At CatCon LA this weekend – June 25th to 26th, the team at Animal Planet are running a free fifteen minute escape room. Participants will need to put together cat toys, figure out how to get out of a cardboard box and its all from the view of a cat. Get tickets here.

Finally, here’s the trailer for the Death Note: The Escape experience (in Japanese):

Essa 🙂

The game is on: UK Escape Room Unconference this Wed and BreakoutEDU global game jam weekend


It’s finally here! The BreakoutEDU global game jam is bringing together participants from all over the world to develop escape room games that can assist teachers and students in the classroom. There are locations in Canada, America, Japan, England and Guatemala all contributing their efforts to this weekend’s game jam – with the twitter hashtag #breakoutedujam or #breakoutedu. Also see what’s happening at the Ontario game jam which is being livestreamed on twitch: http://www.twitch.tv/bgnlab


This Wednesday also brings the first UK escape room unconference taking place in Leeds, England. It’s a free event but there’s a suggested donation of £8 to cover costs associated with room hire, food and post it notes to scribble on. Escape room owners and enthusiasts are all welcomed to join in, with the first hour of the event dedicated to presentations and a Skype appearance from Professor Scott Nicholson.

Keep up on the day with the twitter hashtag: #EscGamesUK and the organisers Time Games.

UK Escape Room Unconference 2016 – #EscGamesUK
Date: Wednesday 13th January 2016
Time: Starts 2pm – 7pm (Leeds – England; UTC)
| Other timezones: Thu 1am Australia; Wed 10pm Singapore; Wed 9am Toronto – Canada and New York, Wed 6am Los Angeles |
The Cross Keys, 107 Water Lane, Leeds, England
On Eventbrite

GCHQ’s 2015 Christmas Puzzle: Meet the Nonogram, plus tips on how to solve one from a beginner

The last time GCHQ had an online puzzle hunt was in 2013 with their “Can You Find It” contest. The home page held an encrypted code made of five letters bundled into one group, with twenty nine groups in total. When I saw last year (December 2015) that GCHQ has released a cryptic puzzle on their Christmas card – it was exciting to see what type of puzzle would be released.

This time, there are again five individual puzzle stages but the last stage doesn’t hold just one puzzle but instead has five unique puzzles to solve. Here’s the reddit thread if you want to see all the puzzles that were encountered and how to solve them. The contest runs until January 31st 2016.

In this post, the focus is going to be on the first puzzle that was released – the grid puzzle. At first glance it looked strange – especially to someone who has never attempted a puzzle such as this before. Where to start on a puzzle such as this?


Meet the Nonogram – more well known by other names such as Picross, Paint by Numbers and well known in the UK as Griddlers.

The idea for a puzzle grid bloomed in 1987, when Non Ishida of Japan entered and won a competition where pictures were created on the side of a building by turning specific lights on and off. As all good stories go, there was another person Tetsuya Nishio who around the same time created a similar puzzle. Then in 1989, James Dalgety negotiated a license with Non Ishida to reproduce her puzzles throughout the world and subsequently brought it over to the UK for publishing in newspapers.

How to solve a Nonogram
– The numbers tell you where to go, similar to Sudoku but with a Nonogram you need to also physically mark off where you can’t go.

1) Don’t panic
2) This type of grid puzzle involves shading in boxes in order to reveal a picture. The hint numbers on the edges of the puzzle reveal where to shade in.
3) Find large numbers – in the case of the GCHQ puzzle, when the number 7 appeared it led to the creation of boxes in the corners of the puzzle (hinting at the beginnings of a QR code)
4) Mark the spaces where shading cannot occur (eg. if the hint number says seven boxes need to be shaded in – the eighth box cannot be shaded)
4) Find a row of numbers which sit comfortably in the puzzle (eg. the hint number suggests two blocks, another two blocks, followed by another two blocks, then a group of six blocks and one block on its own. Plus the spaces in between the boxes fit in).
5) One blocking is what I called it but there’s probably a name for it. See how this last box is shaded? The puzzle hints the last number in the row is a 1, which means the box to the left cannot be shaded in and can be marked with a X.
6) Don’t give up – there’s plenty of other tricks to solve a Nonogram. One which was good but tricky to use is called ‘Simple Boxes’ on Wikipedia.


#Notes: Modern Sudoku was thought to have emerged in 1979 from Indianapolis, US by Howard Garns. In 1984, this type of puzzle was picked up by Nikoli, a Japanese company who subsequently printed it in their magazines.

Happy New Year!
Essa 🙂

20 minutes to DASH around the world: outdoor puzzle hunts, Liminal and Exit Game Design

discounts - 30 may
Room Escape Events Blog
There’s plenty of escape room or puzzle hunts happening at the moment – from Trapped’s game that’s started this week in Missouri along with registration opening for the Singapore Puzzle Hunt event. There’s also DASH taking place in America and London while Operation: Queen is being held at the Springlicious Festival in Canada – both events are on today. An upcoming event is Real Escape Game Japan’s new 20 minute game from June 5th and check out Escape Game Design, a website for people in the escape game industry.

Canada: Blend into the crowd with your team as you work for the Agency – also known as Escape Room Niagara Falls – and discover the secret agents and clues at the Springlicious Festival. The outdoor festival takes place across two days, May 30th and 31st and players will need to find the right people in the crowd participanting as informants, get to the right locations and find enough data to win victory somewhere in downtown. That’s if you can find it.

Japan: 20 Min(ute) Real Escape Game is the newest concept from the Real Escape Game team – teams are only given 20 minutes to get into a laboratory, find the cure for a deadly virus that’s threatening the world and break out of the lab (as the security alarms have gone off and locked the teams inside!). The event goes from June 5th to August 2nd 2015 with a variety of times available and will be held at the event venue – Himitsukichirabo – located in Dogenzaka Shibuya (Tokyo, Japan).

Missouri, USA: Trapped: A St. Louis Room Escape is currently holding their fourth volume called Liminal. It’s only running for a short time from May 27th to June 7th.

North America and England: It’s DASH weekend! On May 30th teams in various cities across America and London will start their DASH (Different Area, Same Hunt) adventure, where the same puzzle hunt is played in different cities on the same day.
Search for the #playdash hashtag across social media to see teams playing DASH over the day.
http://playdash.org/ || https://www.facebook.com/playdash

Singapore: The first Singapore Puzzle Hunt is opening team registration for their event tomorrow (May 31st). The actual website doesn’t have heaps of details but their Facebook page has been posting teaser puzzles for participants to try out. So far – no one has managed to solve the teaser puzzle yet! The Singapore Puzzle Hunt takes place on Sunday July 12th – will you find her in time?

Worldwide: From the creator of Play Exit Games comes a new website called Exit Game Design, a directory for people who work on various aspects of the escape room industry or a place to find “designers, franchises, equipment suppliers and everything else industry related”. Sounds like an awesome idea!


A history of room escapes – where did the international exit sign (or the green running man) come from?

a history of room escapes

A history of room escapes – the international exit sign

The international green exit sign which has a person running towards a door has become a mascot of sorts for the room escape industry. Indeed at least two room escape bloggers (Exit Games UK and Hemos Salido) use it as part of their official avatar.

Every time I see the green exit sign, I started getting curious – how was it chosen to become the universal sign to indicate this way to exit a room?exit_sign1

In the 1970s, the Japanese fire safety department held a national competition and encourage people to submit their drawings and vision of what an exit sign should be. The purpose of the competition was to find an exit sign that could be implemented throughout Japan. After testing exit signs that were submitted as part of the competition, the winner was chosen – Yukio Ota – who had created a green exit sign which showed a man running towards a door.

Over time Yukio Ota worked closely with the organisers of the fire safety competition to alter his sign after recommendations were made.
“The goal, Ota recalls, was to suggest that people should “run slowly.” – Slate

Then around 1980, ISO (the International Organisation for Standardization) was looking at standardising symbols and had already considered implementing an exit sign submission from the Russian delegation. However the Japanese delegation asked ISO to look at their exit sign submission before they went ahead with their first choice.

Eventually ISO decided on their final choice for an international exit sign and in 1985, the exit sign submission from Japan was ultimately chosen for international usage. The exit sign submission from Russia can be seen in the image below to the left while the Japanese delegation’s exit sign can be seen as the image to the right.

exit_sign2                                                           Image Credit: Slate

Without any collaboration or knowledge about the exit sign each country was working on both Japan and Russia managed to come up with very similar ideas. When Yukio Ota saw the similar designs, he had this to say, “… a fundamentally human exit sign, one that speaks to some primal cognitive notion of escape” (Slate 2010).

It also sounds quite familiar to the story about how room escapes started – there’s a Japanese origin (Real Escape Game) and also a Hungarian origin (Parapark), each with limited knowledge of the other when they started.

In America the red EXIT sign is still commonly found but it is slowly being replaced by the green running man sign, which is used in plenty of countries throughout the world or a variance of it is used. The green exit sign has become popular due to the rise of signage which simply illustrates the appropriate action to take. The world has increasingly become more globalised and creates environments where visitors may come from anywhere, speak any language and good signage helps people traverse the barriers they may face while traveling.

Essa 🙂