Escaping Tokyo, again (and Hakone)

A recent trip to Japan gave me a chance to try more nazotoki events and SCRAP offerings — one of which apparently exists in San Francisco, in an English version localised for the US market.

SCRAP – Tokyo Metro

The Underground Mysteries 2018 [available in English]
no time limit (within game hours) | no booking required | play-at-your-own-pace puzzle kit

Having missed all previous runs of this game (this is the fifth run, with different puzzles each time), I was glad to finally have a chance to try it. I played with a friend who also knew both languages, allowing us to attempt both the English and Japanese versions. While the flow and puzzles are largely similar, the English version was significantly dumbed down at some points and omitted a couple of puzzles — if you can speak both languages, I’d strongly recommend the Japanese version.

As for the game itself: the early on-the-ground stage felt somewhat uninspired, with not much being made of each area’s distinctive identity. The experience soon improved, though, with better puzzles in store. My favourite escape/puzzle events are those with puzzles that have to be experienced offline, in the physical world. This one certainly delivered, with surprise real-world interactions and great use of various puzzle kit components. RECOMMENDED if you can forgive the less exciting early stages. Now I’m hoping to catch future runs, too.

SCRAP – Tokyo Mystery Circus

Projection Table Game vol. 2 – ある魔法図書館の奇妙な図鑑 [available in English]
60 minutes | booking required | individual/team game

Following the first Spellbound Supper game (still playable in Japanese at SCRAP’s Shimokitazawa outlet), SCRAP’s second projection table game continues to use the interactive video-projection-enabled format to great effect. Compared to its predecessor, this game plays out much more like, well, a game — less escape-room-style puzzle-solving, more figuring out what to do. Clever twists maintain a sense of freshness and surprise. The maximum team size has increased to six, and the endgame is (in my opinion) more forgiving than the previous game. I played this in Japanese since the English version wasn’t yet available; based on that experience, I’d say it’s HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, assuming the English version is similar.

SCRAP – Ajito of SCRAP, Shimokitazawa

アイドルは100万回死ぬ [Japanese only; English adaptation available in the US]
60 minutes | booking required | individual/team game

A revival of an old game (there’s already a sequel, which I regret not having had the time to play on this trip), this engaging and unique not-an-escape-game experience is comparable to SCRAP Asakusa’s Escape from Hunter X, in its use of time loops and the ability to learn from one’s mistakes — except it goes much further. The gameplay is far more complex and layered, and the use of the time loop mechanism is very clever and deliberate. The experience itself is just pure fun — cute and entertaining. Although our team succeeded, I feel that even teams which fail will have enjoyed themselves. I don’t know how well the puzzles and overall experience were localised for the US version, but based on the original Japanese one, I’d say it’s definitely HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

takarush BLACK LABEL

When it comes to play-at-your-own-pace puzzle kits, I feel that takarush BLACK LABEL beats SCRAP. Its thoughtful and cleverly-crafted games are generally more complex and engrossing, featuring ingenious hands-on components, lots of aha moments, and a rigorous focus on narrative.

星の王子さまと秘密の物語 [Japanese only]
no time limit (within game hours) | no booking required | play-at-your-own-pace puzzle kit

Running at the Little Prince Museum in Hakone, this game is patterned closely to the Antoine de Saint-Exupéry novella; you don’t have to be a fan of The Little Prince to play it, but it certainly deepens the experience, particularly given the dramatic narrative developments. (I found myself genuinely a bit moved at certain moments.) The gameplay itself is fun, as you’ll have to make little discoveries amongst the museum exhibits. A sweet, clever, and satisfying game.

電脳九龍城怨念遊戯殺人事件 [Japanese only]
no time limit (within game hours) | no booking required | play-at-your-own-pace puzzle kit

This is the sequel to the 香港九龍財宝殺人事件 nazotoki+murder mystery game, taking place in the same Anata no Warehouse arcade in Kawasaki. As a result of that, it suffers somewhat in that certain discoveries lack the same sense of surprise. The murder mystery component, while more complex in some ways, had a slightly head-scratching endgame mechanism. But perhaps the game only suffers in comparison to its excellent predecessor — taken on its own, it’s still an engrossing game that’s very much worth playing.


  1. Hello! Thanks for sharing these reviews on escape rooms in Singapore. We enjoyed reading your blog and was wondering if we can reach out to you via email/phone! 🙂


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