I've been considering getting 999. Since it's a DS game, it's not region locked, if I'm remembering right.
As for VLR... I loved the puzzles as well. Although I admit I did use a guide for one of them, it was one of the last puzzles.... I think it took place in a room that was pretty much completely white and basically empty.
I also loved the story, although most of the endings where a bit... grim. I'm glad everyone survived in the true ending though.