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Yume Nikki: A Journey Through The Dark.... in 32 bit

These are days in which graphics have great impact in the world of video-games, but it's safe to say that visual aesthetics had its role since this media appeared.Another major aspect that influences a game's success and impact is (obviously) advertising - no one is expected to buy a game if he doesn't know it even exists.

Now, the topic I'd like to talk about in my very first article here on Japanator is one which somehow defies these two very basic rules - a game which didn't have advertising and surely didn't possess a great graphic considering the year of its release (2005).An indie game called Yume Nikki (lit."Dream diary").

Before I continue with my "promotional" rambling, I would like to clarify a couple of things:
#1: I DON'T recommend anyone to download this game, because it's renowned for being overflowing with viruses who could simply destroy your PC forever - I'm not kidding.Go ahead and try if you want, but don't say i didn't warn you...
#2: I didn't play this game myself, but I watched all the "Let's play" videos on Youtube. If you'll keep reading this, you will (hopefully) agree that gameplay it's not what really matters here. Yume Nikki is quite a conceptual game, so it's safe to assume that it's possible to discuss about it by documenting yourself reading related articles on the wikia, wikipedia, blogs and so on.

Now that I made those points clear, let's get back to the real deal: the game.

Yume Nikki is essentially about exploring the dream world of a little girl named Madotsuki. The main purpose is to gather key items called eggs, which are 25 in total and are scattered through 12 "sub-worlds".Once obtained, each of these eggs will allow Madotsuki to use a specific effect, ranging from the very useful bicycle (whose purpose is to, well, move faster) to the most (and very often only) cosmetic ones (as turning into a ghost). Most of these effects are needed to proceed in other areas of the game and so obtain the other missing effects.
The game doesn't take place in the dream world only though: each session will begin in Madotsuki's room, where you will find a bed (which you need to enter the dream wordl), a TV with a console (both completely useless to advance the game) and the diary (the ONLY save point of the game).The room is also connected to a balcony (where nothing happens) and a door who would lead to the others rooms of the house but our lovely heroine refuses to open for unknown reasons.

Madotsuki's room.Lovely, isn't it ?

To die is impossible in Yume Nikki: the only things that can hinder the player's progress are getting lost (which can be quite frequent given the nature of your surroundings, as I will explain later) or stuck in a place with no exit. In both cases, the best solution is pushing the "pinch" button: Madotsuki will literally pinch her cheek to awake, and she'll go find herself back in her room.The various creatures the player will encounter in the game (which come with any shape and form) are pretty much harmless and the only "dangerous" ones are those who will teleport you in one of the above mentioned exit-less rooms if they get you.

Now, if the core of the game sounds even remotely interesting to you, then I really recommend you to keep reading, because it's just the tip of the iceberg (in my humble opinion at least).

The game is devoid of any kind of dialogue and filled with countless symbolic characters/creatures, backgrounds and situations.Combined with the dream-like premise, this gave rise to any kind of interpretations and theories.
One of the most noticeable things about Yume Nikki is how it manages to give a great visual and emotional impact by using such an outdated graphic engine.Even though the game uses the basics of RPGMaker and its "cutish" characters layout (which applies for Madotsuki and many other NPCs as well),  all the scenarios have a dream-like, obscure and visionary tone.Madotsuki's dreams are most of the times dark and disturbing (I can't help but think that "Nightmare Diary" would have been a MUCH more appropriate title for this game), and the BGM surely play an important role as well.
Sure Yume Nikki can be considered an "horror adventure game", but the first term fits only partially to it.The fact that you can't die in any way takes away from you that sense of fear and thrill that games of this genre usually give, but that doesn't mean that Madotsuki's journey is more pleasant than Silent Hill's Harry Mason or Resident Evil's Leon Kennedy exploits.On the contrary, Yume Nikki gaming (or viewing, if you'll heed to my warning) experience revolves around subtler, and yet somehow deeper feelings.There is an inexplicable sense of solitude, anxiety and anguish in the places you visit.From vast expanses of grey landscapes to dark alleys populated by eyes floating in the darkness which just won't stop looking at you, it's very hard to don't feel "something" about the various locations you come across.

" ♪I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my biiike ♪"

The various levels are hard to navigate because the background often keeps moving even when you don't, and when you enter a new area (even if it's in the same stage) you might find yourself in another visually completely different one.This peculiarity doesn't just give the player the "feeling" of being in a dream (where things don't have to be coherent on a basis): it also pushes further the sense of bewilderment the games aims to convey.The player literally finds himself lost in a world of dark and twisted dreams, both phisycally and emotionally, until the very last egg/effect is found.
And on that note, I allow myself to take the risk of giving you readers a very, VERY minor spoiler (but also some kind of warning) about the ending: it's not one you will likely forget very soon.

From some years from its debut (if you could call a beta version like that), it's safe to say that Yume Nikki stood defiantly the test of time. A quick search on Youtube and Deviant Art will show that works related to this game keep going as you read. The game also spawned a wide number of fan-made sequels and spin-offs (like a splendid 2D platform game version which resembles Castlevania:Symphony of the Night in many ways, with different characters and multiple endings !!).And if for some reason you want to pit Madotsuki against Goku, Kenshiro, or Naruto it's not a problem: she has even a M.U.G.E.N. counterpart.

One of the many strange but beautiful fan-made artwork you can find related to this game.This one is by BakaNekoChanSan

Finally, I suggest you, kind reader, to go watching the various "Let's play:Yume Nikki" videos you can easily find on Youtube and enter (at your own peril) the strange, disturbing yet astonishing and visionary world of Madotsuki's dark dreams... in all its glorious 32 bit.

P.S.:About my (possible) mistakes in this and other articles: I will be grateful to any who will point them out to me in a polite and positive way.But please, please restrain from harsh or (even worse) sarcastic comments: I already know how cool you are... whoever you are.
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About Crawler3333one of us since 1:39 PM on 11.13.2012

I'm an anime, cartoons, comics (of course) and video-game lover. You might find me rambling, ranting and annoying people also in the following websites:

*Youtube//Google//GoodAnime as Crawler778
SodaHead//Wikia as Crawler3333

and if you still don't have enough of me, you can check my own blog:


Finally, if you happen to have an Adventure Quest Worlds account (which I really recommend you, because AQW it's a very fun and free fantasy MMORPG with a touch of anime style) and stumble upon a certain XAtreidesX, well, that's me as well.

On a very final note, I ask you not to be too harsh on my English language and forgive my mistakes on grammar and whatnot. Needless to say any correction on my posts is welcomed as long as it's polite.