I can’t really claim much credit for discovering this, thanks to Clavis Cryptica (webpage, Twitter) and long term FOTB Chris M Dickson (Twitter) for basically doing most of the research, but here I present it for more general perusal.
Basically Real Escape Game TV has become a mildly popular occasional show in Japan over the last year. They are based on (and indeed they co-produce the shows) SCRAP’s Real Escape Game events – basically the original in the increasingly popular “escape the locked room against the clock by solving lots of puzzles” thing like Hint Hunt, Clue Quest and so on. And now they’re up for awards.
It’s essentially a 24-esque drama where the terrorist Nazootoko plans to destroy things but usually leaves a clue in the form of a puzzle as to how to stop said thing from happening. Whilst the officers in the show try and foil his plans (which they invariably do) you at home are also invited to playalong and solve the puzzles, playing in real time with an app or online, apparently with prizes going to those who perform best.
It’s a strange idea – they’ve spent all that money on a drama and then they expect you to concentrate on solving puzzles instead of watching it. But it appears to work. It shows a running total of how many people are logged in to play and (I’m extrapolating from translated Wikipedia) how many people have apparently got all three right. As that second one seems to start counting up after the second puzzle, presumably online players get them all at once or early with a deadline for each one?
But the plot deepens. there was also a full drama based on the locked room puzzle apparently only shown in the Kanto region of Japan – Real Escape Game Girls Behind Closed Doors – Five 15 year-old schoolgirls wake up to find themselves in a room where a puzzle is projected on a wall. They’re told they have thirty minutes to work out the code to escape or they’ll die. This is more character led than the big scale show but similarly each episode has a puzzle to solve and the people who work it out fastest at home getting mentioned on the next episode. Unfortunately for our girls escaping the room leads to another room and another puzzle but presumably at the end of episode 11 they escape. It’s got a really neat Cube-esque feel and aesthetic. The only thing it lacks is english subtitles.
You can watch episode one (and with judicious use of cut and paste and locked-room logic most of the episodes – the final episode isn’t labelled 11 and is extended) on DailyMotion. Here’s an advert for it:
We’re not normally so explicit with this sort of thing but you can also torrent it at your own risk. Make sure you’re downloading the torrent not the malware.