The Mental Lock sound effect, played multiple times at the start of every Somnium, is the same sound effect which is played multiple times at the start of every escape room in Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors. This sound effect can also be heard in Virtue's Last Reward right before the results of an AB Game are shown.
Three different posters can be seen on the billboards at the exterior of the SAT building, which houses Sunfish Pocket. On the 2nd floor billboard, a poster for Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors can be easily seen, while on the 5th floor billboards 2 posters for Zero Time Dilemma and The Nonary Games (999 and VLR bundled together) can be seen.
The sound effect that plays after manually saving the game in the Switch and PC versions is the same one used throughout the Zero Escape series. The PS4 version of the game uses the standard PlayStation save system, and does not contain the sound effect.
In the chapter Day 3: Sunday –syokubAI–, when visiting Marble, if you examine the Bottles on Counter, Date will think to himself "9! 9 bottles! There are 9 bottles on the counter," a reference to Nine Hours Nine Persons Nine Doors, usually abbreviated to 999. It could also be a reference to the folk song "99 Bottles of Beer," which contains the line "99 bottles of beer on the wall, 99 bottles of beer."
In the chapter Day 5: Tuesday –jutAI–, after Aiba and Date discover that the frozen corpse found at the Warehouse isn't Iris's body, Aiba suggests that they refer to her as "Alice" or "All-ice." This is a reference to Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, in which rumors of a frozen Egyptian woman, nicknamed "All-Ice," had been thawed out and let loose on the ship in which the characters are in. In the sequel, Virtue's Last Reward, a woman named "Alice" appears in the main cast, drawing parallels to the mysterious frozen woman from its predecessor.
In PSYNCIN' IN THE REFRaiN, the various doors used to travel across floors bear letters written in a red substance, stylized the same as the numbered doors in Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors. Opening certain doors in the Somnium costs 999 seconds, and in some cases gives you a x999 TIMIE, another likely reference to 999.
One of the Lemniscate idols shown on the TV screen at their office is the same girl that appears in a poster in Virtue's Last Reward, found in the Crew Quarters puzzle room.
The announcement tone in Central Hospital is the same as used when an announcement is made in Virtue's Last Reward, whenever an event occurs during the "Nonary Game: Ambidex Edition." The voice actor who makes these announcements may also be the same across both games.
In SINKIN' IN THE BRaiN, the Bansai-Wine bottle has the label "Spike Chunsoft Original Wine", in reference to Spike Chunsoft, the company who developed and produced AI: The Somnium Files. It is currently unknown what the year 1972 refers to, however, as neither the original Spike nor the original Chunsoft companies existed in 1972.
According to the FILEs, the name of the maid cafe "Sunfish Pocket" is an anagram. The solution to the anagram is "Spike Chunsoft."
In the chapter Day 4: Monday –syuurAI–, if you examine the Volleyball in Boss's Office in the investigation segment where Pewter is present, he'll mention that the act of spiking is an important aspect of Volleyball, followed by him saying, "Hm. Spiking...spike...spikechun?" The name "Spikechun" is a common abbreviation of "Spike Chunsoft."
Zero Escape, Danganronpa, and Banshee's Last Cry (Kamaitachi no Yoru) spoilers here!
In PSYNCIN' IN THE SUSTaiN, the three autographs needed for the "Crazy Awful Customers" achievement, obtained in this Somnium, are named, from left to right, "Hongo," "Enoshima," and "Mikimoto". These three names refer to Gentarou Hongou from Zero Escape: Nine Hours Nine Persons Nine Doors, Junko Enoshima from the Danganronpa series, and Yousuke Mikimoto from Kamaitachi no Yoru (renamed Jonas Faberge in the English release, Banshee's Last Cry). These three characters are the main villains of their respective game(s), hence why they are referred to as "crazy awful customers".
For the choice to read Hongo's autograph, it takes up 99 seconds to obtain. This is most likely a reference to his game, sometimes abbreviated to 999.
For the choice to read Enoshima's autograph, it takes up 78 seconds to obtain. This is most likely a reference to Class 78th, Enoshima's class in Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc.
For the choice to read Mikimoto's autograph, it takes up 12 seconds to obtain. This is potentially a reference to the 12 other characters in Kamaitachi no Yoru, which are capable of becoming Mikimoto's victims in the worst ending possible in the game. It could also just simply be a reference to the 12 people staying at the Spur Ski Lodge (Snowflake Inn in English), if the already deceased Ichirou Tanaka (John Jones in English) is not counted.
In the chapter Day 2: Saturday –saikAI–, if you examine the "Skis" at Boss's Office, Boss will ask Date if he's heard of "the murder case at the resort called Spur." This is a direct reference to the series of murders that occurs at the ski lodge named "Spur" in Kamaitachi no Yoru (localized as "Snowflake Inn" in Banshee's Last Cry).
One of the posters seen inside Boss's Office contains a small picture of the character Usami from Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair at the corners.
In the chapter Day 2: Saturday –saikAI–, if you examine the "Panda Ride" at Bloom Park, Iris will remark, "A black and white bear... I'm not gonna be punished, am I?" This is a reference to the Danganronpa mascot (and villain) Monokuma, a black-and-white bear known to "punish" the various characters in the series, with his punishments almost always resulting in death.
In the chapter Day 4: Monday –syuurAI–, while driving your car with Iris on the passenger seat, if you examine the car's Dashboard, Iris will say "Dangan" while Date replies "Ronpa," in reference to the series's title.
In the chapter Day 4: Monday –youdAI–, when inspecting the Cold Storage Warehouse, when asking Kagami his name enough times, Date will guess that his name is "Kodaka." This is a reference to Kazutaka Kodaka, the creator of the Danganronpa series. Kodaka is a friend of Kotaro Uchikoshi, creator of AI: The Somnium Files, along with Yoko Taro (Drakengard/NieR) who is also potentially referenced as a nickname for Kagami.
In PSYNCIN' IN THE MaiN: 2, after doing an action once with either Guardian Dog statue, if you examine either statue again, Aiba will say, "This reminds me of Nagito. You should refer to him as Ultimate Lucky Student." This is a reference to Nagito Komaeda from Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair and Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls, who is one of the characters to bear the title "Ultimate Lucky Student" in the series. The Japanese word for the guardian dog statue is "komainu," which sounds similar to Nagito's last name, "Komaeda."
Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair spoilers here!
Fans have noted that the character of Nagito bears notable connections to Iris herself, potentially another reason for the reference in this Somnium. Nagito has an unhealthy obsession with "hope," which is one of the definitions to the "winter iris" in the language of flowers. Additionally, Nagito has two illnesses, lymphoma cancer and frontotemporal dementia, with similar effects to Iris's brain tumor, such as social impairment and a short life expectancy.
In the chapter Day 4: Monday –syuurAI–, during the Free Time investigation segment at Sunfish Pocket, if you select "Do you know this mermaid?" when speaking with Iris, she and Amame Doi will say the slang "Blow those boys away!", followed by Mizuki simply saying "Blow those boys!", shocking the other two girls. In the Japanese version, Iris says the phrase "Chinchiko-ru!", Amame will say "Chinchiko-re!", and Mizuki will say "Chinchiko-ro!" These phrases are a reference to the game Machi: Unmei no Kousaten (TL: "City: The Intersection of Fate"), the prequel to 428: Shibuya Scramble and the third sound novel created by Chunsoft. The "Chinchiko" phrases are passwords given by members of the "Shichiyoukai," and they each are given a broad definition as to what they meant:
Chinchiko-ru (Iris) is a greeting given to others, or perhaps an oath.
Chinchiko-re (Amame) is an approval, most likely in reference to the previous phrase.
Chinchiko-ro (Mizuki) is a taboo or curse word, whose specific meaning is unclear, but most likely shouldn't be said lightly.
In the chapter Day 2: Saturday –saikAI–, during the 11:45 AM investigation segment at the Lemniscate Entertainment Offices, Ota states that he uses the pen name "Odoin Kyoma" when publishing his light novels (which Aiba reveals to be false). Odoin Kyoma is a reference to the character "Hououin Kyouma" from the Science Adventure series, notably the Steins;Gate sub-series. According to the FILEs, the name "Odoin Kyoma" was taken by writing the original name (鳳凰院凶真, Kyouma Hououin) in hiragana, then changing the characters to kanji.
The clione that Mizuki keeps in the fridge could be a small allusion to the game Zanki Zero: Last Beginning, which had released a year prior to AI: The Somnium Files in Japan, and features enemies and abilities named "Clione." Mizuki undoubtedly keeps the real-life sea slugs in the fridge rather than the creatures featured in Zanki Zero.
References to Other Japanese Media
In Day 2: Saturday –keitAI–, when talking to Pewter about Mizuki's Somnium and prophetic dreams, he jokingly proposes having Iris wear some kind of metal plate on her back to avoid being stabbed. This is a reference to the 2001 KONAMI game Shadow of Memory (Shadow of Destiny in North America), a game in which the protagonist, Eike Kusch, is killed once per chapter and must travel in time to avoid his deaths. In Chapter 4, Eike dies by being stabbed in the back, and must find an "iron plate" of some kind to wear on his back and avoid his own death.
In PSYNCIN' IN THE SWaiN, when selecting Break on the Wooden Box, Aiba performs three different kicks, which she names "Spinning Aiba Kick" (where she spins upside down and her legs spread apart), the "Amazing Aiba Kick" (where she somersaults into the box with her feet), and the "Tornado Aiba Sky Wing Kick" (where she descends on the ground, spinning, before giving the box a light kick and exploding):
The "Spinning Aiba Kick" is a reference to Chun-Li's "Spinning Bird Kick" from the Street Fighter series.
[We have not found what the "Amazing Aiba Kick" is a reference to]
[We have not found what the "Tornado Aiba Sky Wing Kick" is a reference to]
In the chapter Day 5: Tuesday –zugAI–, when investigation at the Harbor Warehouse District, if you examine the "Container," Date will think to himself, "If I put that corner container in an empty spot, would the bottom line disappear?" This is a reference to the game franchise Tetris, which operates under similar mechanics to clear blocks.
In the chapter Day 5: Monday –seisAI–, when speaking with Kagami while inspecting the Cold Storage Warehouse, Date believes that his name is "Taro." This could be a reference to Yoko Taro, the creator of the Drakengard/NieR series, similar to when Date guessed his name was Kazutaka Kodaka (Danganronpa). Both creators are friends with Kotaro Uchikoshi, creator of AI: The Somnium Files.
In PSYNCIN' IN THE CURTaiN, wearing the Pot on Aiba's head will have her comment on how it increases her defense, a reference to wearable armor in RPG games and their defense-boost capabilities.
In the chapter Day 4: Monday –syuurAI–, when speaking with Iris at the Lemniscate Entertainment Offices during Free Time investigation, when Date is trying to explain why he couldn't get a hold of her the previous day, Iris responds with "Objection!" while pointing with her arm. This is a reference to the game series Ace Attorney, where defense attorneys and prosecutors (including the protagonists) point at the opposing lawyer while shouting "Objection!" to counter their arguments, mostly with evidence.
In PSYNCIN' IN THE MOUNTaiN, when choosing Tackle on the Hole in Tree 1, Aiba states that tackling it may cause a beetle to fall off, which Date responds with "This isn't one of your animal friend video games..." This is a reference to the video game series Animal Crossing, in which a human villager lives among various anthropomorphic animals and can perform various actions, such as shaking trees for beetles and other bugs.
In the chapter Three Months Later –kassAI–, when visiting the Kumakura Office, when Moma gives Date a request in private, he states that he wants Tesa to "puff-puff" him, implied to be Moma motorboating Tesa's breasts. Date complies and asks him to close his eyes, but instead of presenting Tesa herself, Date places Chinpei's unconscious body in front of him, which Moma unknowingly motorboats. This "puff-puff" exchange is a reference to a running joke from the Dragon Quest series, where the player character may ask for "puff-puff" from ladies at certain establishments, but in most scenarios it's revealed to have been a misunderstanding or a ploy.
Metal Gear Solid
In PSYNCIN' IN THE SWaiN, when selecting Fill on the Oil Drum, Aiba crouches down inside the barrel and says the phrase "War has changed," followed by exclaiming that a cardboard box would fit the mood better. This is a reference to the Metal Gear Solid series, where the player character can crouch inside a wooden box to hide themself from enemies. The phrase "War has changed" specifically comes from the opening monologue in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, where the protagonist, Solid Snake, begins his monologue with this phrase.
In PSYNCIN' IN THE CURTaiN, when Aiba drinks the green liquid in the pot and collapses, Date yells out "Aiba? Aiba! Aiiiiiiiiiiibbbaaaaaaa!!!" This is most likely a reference to the Metal Gear Solid series, in which, if the player character is killed, the Game Over screen will have a character's voice scream out the protagonist's name in the same fashion.
Anime & Manga
One of Aiba's animation poses has her stand with her legs apart and her arms crossed over her chest, usually in a towering manner. This pose is known as the "Gunbuster Pose" (also known as the Gainax Stance), a pose popularized by several anime productions made by GAINAX. One notable usage of the pose is used when Aiba attempts to motivate Ota to stand up in PSYNCIN' IN THE SWaiN.
In PSYNCIN' IN THE PaiN's B path, choosing Slap Down on the Panda Head will have Aiba say the quote "I see it! The view from the top." This is most likely a reference to the manga and anime series Haikyū!!, where the character Shōyō Hinata says this quote during a volleyball match.
when selecting Perform Surgery on the Operating Table in White Remains (Branch A), Aiba states that she feels like she's part of a "medical dragon team." This is most likely a reference to Team Medical Dragon, a manga series that was adapted to a live-action show, involving a medical team of surgeons operating patients in Japan.
when selecting Jump on the Gun in Blue Remains (Branch B), Aiba will prepare to jump by saying "Weekly Shonen––" before being cut off by Date. This is a reference to the manga anthology magazine Weekly Shōnen Jump, known for releasing weekly chapters of various shonen manga series published under the JUMP line.
When selecting Slide on the Ice Floor, Date comments on how Aiba's skating is similar to Yuri Katsuki, as she finishes off her move by calling out "Eros!", and remarking that it would've been perfect if she wore a black bodysuit instead. This is a reference to the main character of Yuri on Ice, Yuri Katsuki, who performs in a black bodysuit, with his main performance piece embodying the emotion of Eros, or sexual desire.
When selecting Punch on the B Plate, Aiba and Date perform a comedy routine. This comedy routine is based of a 4-koma short from the manga/anime Pop Team Epic, where the main characters Popuko and Pipimi perform the same routine.
When Ota dodges the Polar Bear's attack in Branch A's Mental Lock #2, he states that, if this were "Another," he would be dead already. Another is the name of a popular novel-turned-manga/anime series, where various characters are victims to extremely gruesome deaths.
When selecting Throw Something at the Power Board, Aiba will repeat the sentence "Position target in the center and hit the switch" in a low voice. This is a reference to Neon Genesis Evangelion, particularly Episode 3 of the series, "The Silent Phone," where, at the beginning of the episode, Shinji Ikari is running a training simulation on his Evangelion as he repeats the phrase to himself, taking aim at his target.
In the chapter Day 5: Tuesday –zugAI–, when investigation at the Harbor Warehouse District, if you examine the "Oil Drum," Aiba will say "Hi, I'm drum-aemon!" This is a reference to the manga series Doraemon, which contains the titular robot mascot Doraemon.
In the chapter Day 3: Sunday –gyoukAI–, when investigating the Kumakura Office, if you examine the "Dragon," Date will ask Aiba that, if he makes a wish, will it come true, to which she responds with "That is not Shenron..." Shenron is a character from the Dragon Ball series, a magical dragon capable of fulfilling any wish that his summoner desires.
If you examine the "Dragon" a second time, Date will say "I wish... for panties!" before Aiba reminds him that it's not Shenron. Date's wish is a reference to the first ever wish performed in the original Dragon Ball by Oolong, one of the main characters in the story. Date's voice in Japanese even mimics the original Japanese line by Oolong in the anime.
In the chapter Day 4: Monday –syuurAI–, when Date is going to take Iris to the Kumakura Office, he is given four different choices. Choosing the option "To where the dragon is" (in referenced to the aforementioned Dragon statue), Iris misinterprets his words and believes he is teleporting her into a fantasy world with swords and magic. This is a general reference to a common anime (and sometimes video game) trope known as "Isekai" in Japan, usually translated as the "Another World" trope. This trope is based around a protagonist from the normal world being summoned, teleported, or reincarnated into a fantasy world.
Selecting Observe on ??? will have Date state that the figure is "Futoshi" and mentions another person named Ikuno. This is potentially a reference to the 2018 animated series DARLING in the FRANXX, which includes a pair of side characters named Futoshi and Ikuno, which are paired together as pilots by the end of the series. It's unclear at the moment what the reference to "Sri Lanka" Aiba mentions is about.
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure
In the chapter Day 3: Sunday -gyoukAI-, when you examine the "Left Mask" in Boss's Office, Boss will say that spikes come out of the mask if you put it on and Date will say that it sounds familiar. What's more, in the chapter Three Months Later -kassAI -, Iris says that she wants to wear the mask and Date replies by saying that if she wears it and gets her blood on it, she will turn into a vampire. This is a reference to the Stone Mask in Jojo's Bizarre Adventure, which can turn someone into a vampire if the person wears it and pours blood on it.
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure spoilers here!
In PSYNCIN' IN THE SWaiN, when the Polar Bear is about to attack Ota in Branch B's Mental Lock #2, Ota thinks "I eventually stopped thinking..." in his head. This is a reference to Kars from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Battle Tendency, whose fate is to float frozen in space incapable of dying, for which "eventually, he stopped thinking."
In the chapter Day 2: Saturday –saikAI–, during the investigation segment in the Psync Control Room, if you examine the "CRT Monitor," Aiba will tell Date that "the girl from that horror movie" is coming out of a well in the monitor. This is a reference to The Ring, a Japanese horror movie franchise in which a cursed videotape shows a video of a girl crawling out a well, until the girl emerges from the screen to kill the victims.
Ota Matsushita wears a Rider Belt around his waist, which appears to be based around the Kamen Rider transformation belts, specifically the Double Typhoon, worn by Kamen Rider V3 in the Kamen Rider series.
Ota's Somnium, PSYNCIN' IN THE SWaiN, is stylized like a comic book panel come to life, and many of Ota's words and actions are inspired by Tokusatsu television shows, in particular Kamen Rider. The Kamen Rider quotes featured in this Somnium include:
"The heavens call! The earth cries out! The crowd roars! All calling on me to strike back against evil!" — the battle catchphrase in Kamen Rider Stronger.
"Those who don't fight won't survive!" — the battle catchphrase in Kamen Rider Ryuki.
"From now on, this is my stage!" — an adjusted version of the battle catchphrase for the "Kamen Rider Gaim" heroes.
"Awaken the soul!" — the battle cat phrase in Kamen Rider Agito.
"Now, count up your sins!" — the battle catchphrase in Kamen Rider W.
"From start to finish, I'm a climax all the way!" — based on the title of the stage show Kamen Rider Den-O & Kiva: Climax Deka Released Memorial Den-Kiva Festival 〜From start to finish, I'm Kiva all the way〜!!〜
Another aspect of PSYNCIN' IN THE SWaiN that incorporates elements of Tokusatsu television shows is the size difference between Aiba and the gigantic costumed Polar Bear (and Ota). This is potentially a reference to kaiju television shows, where actors in costumes perform fight sequences on a small scale model of a city, to mimic the effect of giant monsters terrorizing the city.
References to Western Media
In SINKIN' IN THE BRaiN, the different occult objects that Aiba can Investigate inside the Basket include a UFO, a Chupacabra, and an American one-dollar bill.
UFO is an acronym for an Unidentified Flying Object, usually associated with alien spacecraft.
A chupacabra is a Latin-American creature of folklore, directly translating to "goat-sucker", which, as the name suggests, is reported to have drank the blood from rural livestock.
The American one-dollar bill has the image of an Egyptian pyramid, with the Eye of Providence situated on the top. The Eye of Providence is usually associated to the urban legend of the Illuminati, the religious organization that oversees governmental faculties around the world.
When investigating these objects, Date states "the truth is out there", which is a quote from the American show The X-Files.
In the chapter Day 2: Saturday –saikAI–, during the second investigation segment in Date's car (between Bloom Park and the Sagan Residence), if you examine the "Rearview Mirror" twice, Date and Iris play The Name Game using the word "meanie." The Name Game originates from the 1964 song "The Name Game" by Shirley Ellis, and has since become a common rhyme played by schoolchildren. As Date states that he can't believe he still remembers this song, it's possible that he used to play the Name Game with Iris herself 6 years ago, during the time he was dating Hitomi and before he got amnesia.
Investigating the posters at Marble during different investigation segments throughout the game will yield porn parody posters to various films and plays. The references are:
"The Talented Mr. Dickly" and"One Flew Over the Cock's Nest" on Day 3: Sunday –syokubAI–, as parodies of The Talented Mr. Ripley and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.
"Twelve Angry Bullets" on Day 5: Tuesday –seisAI–, as a parody of Twelve Angry Men.
"Ben and Clyde Do Right By Me" on Day 3: Sunday –gyoukAI–, potentially a parody of Bonnie and Clyde.
"Tax He Drives Her" on Day 4: Monday –syuurAI–, as a parody of Taxi Driver.
"How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bum" on Day 5: Tuesday –dakkAI–, as a parody of Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.
"When You're in Love With A Married Man" on Three Months Later –kassAI–. It's currently unclear what this is a parody of.
In the chapter Day 3: Sunday –syokubAI–, during your second visit to the Lemniscate Entertainment Offices, if you ask the Receptionist "Do you want to get some food sometime?," she will respond by saying that she's a Reptilian (mistaking the word for "vegetarian"), to which Aiba states is a "reptilian, humanoid alien" capable of shape-shifting into human form. This is a reference to a conspiracy theory regarding an alien race of shape-shifting reptilian humanoids, that have taken root in human society and achieved political power.
In PSYNCIN' IN THE CAPTaiN, the CD that Mizuki finds in the Audio Deck, titled "LUE 42, the answer to the ultimate question," is a reference to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, a comedy science fiction series. In the series, certain characters search for "The Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything," to which they eventually find out that the Answer is the number 42.
In PSYNCIN' IN THE MaiN: 1, when selecting Dig on the Vending Machine, after winning the QTE, a giant eyeball named an "Elite" appears, and Iris warns Date about "Project Blue Beam" coming to kill her. "Project Blue Beam" is the name of a conspiracy theory, in which it is believed that NASA is attempting to implement an Antichrist-based religion as the New World Order, which is similar to NAIXATLOZ affection towards space and demonic figures.
In PSYNCIN' IN THE MaiN: 1, when selecting Craft n/a on Crafting Table B, Aiba notes that the creation of "n/a" has changed the "numbers" in the coding, to which Date asks if the numbers changing means the date is August 32nd. This could be a potential reference to the movie August 32nd on Earth (French: Un 32 août sur terre), a Canadian film from 1998.
In PSYNCIN' IN THE MOUNTaiN, when choosing Scream on the Hole in Tree 2, Aiba yells "The emperor is naked!" into the whole. This is a reference to the short tale "The Emperor's New Clothes," where con-men trick an emperor into buying non-existent clothes and parading around naked in public. Date continues the joke onward, bringing the empress into the tale, which is not part of the original story. However, the rest of the interaction, where Date says "I don't see anything" and Aiba responds "Nor do I..." could be a reference to the emperor's reaction to seeing his "new clothes."
ShovelForgeis an in-game parody of the sandbox game Minecraft, down to the heavy uses of blocky environments, pickaxes to mine/dig, and crafting tables to combined dropped materials.
In English, the name ShovelForge comes from changing "Mine" to "Shovel" and changing "Craft" to "Forge." In Japanese, the name comes from taking the Japanese title of Minecraft (マインクラフト, Mainkurafuto), removing the last two katakana (フト, futo), and then reshuffling the rest, resulting in イクラマン (Ikuraman).
While the name Minecraft has been referenced by many fans on Twitter when @-ing at A-set and Mato, neither one of them has actually mentioned Minecraft themselves by name on To-Witter. When the Minecraft character Steve was announced to appear in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, A-set excitedly tweeted out "ShoveForge???⛏️" in response. This would suggest that, in the Universe of AI, ShovelForge and Minecraft are one and the same.
The overall aesthetic of ShovelForge is reminiscent of Minecraft's blocky appearance. In particular, Aiba's appearance as a blocky avatar with rectangular limbs and a square head is reminiscent of the playable character of Minecraft.
Aiba uses a pickaxe in order to break and "dig" objects throughout the Somnium, which functions like mining minerals in Minecraft. Even the need to button-mash the action command is reminiscent of mining.
The ingots that Aiba collects while "digging" blocks are similar to the ingots that the player obtains from smelting ore, used in crafting equipment, weapons, and items.
Crafting tables are located throughout MaiN: 1 in order to allow Aiba to craft objects using obtained materials, much like how Minecraft operates on a crafting system that mostly relies on a special crafting table to combine materials together.
In MaiN: 1, selecting Talk on ??? reveals that the figure inside Marble is a zombie-like monster, which Aiba attacks with her pickaxe in order to defeat it. The zombie is reminiscent of the zombie enemies in Minecraft, the most common enemy mobs in the game.
In MaiN: 2, selecting Use Love Bomb on the Debris will ultimately result in Aiba falling into a pit of lava and respawning on a yellow bed. This is similar to how death and respawn functions in Minecraft, wherein if a player dies they can respawn at the last bed they slept in.
Ironically enough, Aiba states that ShovelForge does not contain any shovels, despite Minecraft containing shovels in its own game.
When Aiba first appears in the Somnium PSYNCIN' IN THE PaiN, she crouches on the ground as lightning crackles around her. When Date asks why she is doing this, she states that she wanted to appear "like a cybernetic assassin from the future," to which Date responds, "If you're gonna do that, do it naked." This is a reference to the movie The Terminator, in which a cyborg assassin from the future named the T-800 Model 101, iconically played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, arrives from the future naked and within an electric field in the ground, in the same pose as Aiba.
In the chapter Day 4: Monday –youdAI–, during the Free Time investigation segment at the Harbor Warehouse District, if you examine the "Crane," Date will ask "Can you please move the craaane?" to Aiba, who tells him to shut up. This is most likely a reference to the Alien toys from the Toy Story movies, who claim their master to be "the Claaaw."
In the chapter Day 3: Sunday –gumAI–, while investigating the Psync Room, examining the "CRT TV" will have Aiba mention that Videodrome will play soon, asking to turn on the TV. Videodrome is a 1983 American horror film, in which the CEO of a television station watches a TV program that shows the horrific murders of several people, eventually brainwashing him. This references has thematic connections to the events of this scene, as Kaname Date just finished experiencing Branch B of the Somnium PSYNCIN' IN THE VaiN, where he witnesses the brutal murders of the 4 Original Cyclops Serial Killing victims displayed on CRT TVs.
In the chapter Day 3: Sunday –gyoukAI–, when driving towards the Sejima Residence, Date speaks with Aiba on the topic "About Shoko Nadami's murder...", where Date and Aiba attempt to call the rental phone that called Shoko Nadami on the night of the murder, later revealed to be So Sejima's phone. When Date asks Aiba if she's sure she can handle the task of mimicking Shoko's voice, Aiba states that, as an artificial intelligence, she's not prone to human error and nervousness, to which Date responds with "All right, HAL, let's see what you can do." This is a reference to the artificial intelligence named HAL 9000 from the Space Odyssey book series, but also most commonly known from the movie adaption 2001: A Space Odyssey.
In the chapter Day 5: Tuesday –jutAI–, when Aiba and Date are trying to determine Alice's identity, some of the questions contain the joke answers "Adrian?" Choosing that option in the question "Who was the frozen girl we saw in the Psync?" will have Aiba scream out "Adriaaan!" in a masculine voice. Choosing that option in the question "Alice was in whose Somnium?" will have Aiba do the same, but this time Date joins in by screaming "Rockyyy!" in a feminine voice. This is a reference to the ending of the movie Rocky, in which Rocky Balboa and his girlfriend Adrian Pennino call out each other's names across the stadium at the end of Rocky's boxing match.
In the chapter Day 2: Saturday –saikAI–, if you examine the "Cushion" at Matsushita Diner, Aiba mentions that it reminds her of a "Funniest Props Compilation" video she saw, to which Date replies that she reached far back for that reference. This is a reference to the improvisational comedy TV show(s) Whose Line Is It Anyways? The original British TV series ran from 1988 to 1999, while the American TV series ran from 1998 to 2007, before being revitalized in 2013. One of the "games" played in these shows is "Props," in which the hosts play around with props and improvise jokes together. Searching for "funniest props compilations" results in numerous compilation videos on YouTube from the series, uploaded over the years.
In Japanese, the reference was to a Japanese comedy show in which, much like Whose Line?, the guests would perform skits. The winner of the competition would be given a cushion to sit on, hence the Cushion reminding Aiba of it. According to Lead Editor Alex Flagg, the Japanese show in question was aired a long time as well, making it an obscure reference even in Japan.
In the chapter Day 2: Saturday –meikAI–, if you examine the "Locker" inside the Psync Room, Date asks Aiba what's inside it, to which she replies with "Sometimes, a cleaning lady is hiding inside." This is potentially a reference to The Jetsons, a cartoon family sitcom show where the robot housemaid, Rosie, lives inside a closet.
In the chapter Day 5: Tuesday –zugAI–, when visiting the Lemniscate Entertainment Offices, if you examine the "Sofa," Date will say "Sofa King..." before Aiba tells him to stop. This could potentially be a reference to various things, but it's most likely a reference to a Saturday Night Live skit involving a pun with the phrase "sofa king," which sounds like "so fucking."
In the chapter Day 2: Saturday –saikAI–, if you examine the "Control Room" at Bloom Park, Iris will jokingly ask if it is a phone booth. On a second click, she says, "But hey, if you sense any trouble, you can hop in and change!" This is a reference to the comic book character Superman, who would change from his Clark Kent persona into his superhero costume inside a phone booth.
In PSYNCIN' IN THE CURTaiN, when reading about Falco's past, Date compares him to Judge Dredd, a character from the comic book series 2000 AD. In this series, Judge Dredd is a law enforcement officer who acts as a "Street Judge," arresting criminals and even executing them for their crimes. Judge Dredd holds huge parallels to Falco, or rather Kaname Date before he took the identity of Falco, as both were anti-hero vigilantes who enacted judgement on criminals and executed them.
In PSYNCIN' IN THE CURTaiN, when first examining the Pot, Aiba states that a ninja turtle could jump out of the green slime, and various choices make reference to the liquid smelling like a gutter. This is most likely a reference to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, in which 4 turtles, after interacting with some green radioactive material in the sewers, gained sentience and are trained in martial arts, becoming ninjas who live in the sewers.