In 2004, Japanese freeware developer Kikiyama popped open the RPG Maker 2003 game application and thought to herself, "Hey, wouldn't it be an awesome idea to make something that'll confuse and creep a lot of people out?" Such is the origin of Yume Nikki (Japanese for "dream diary"), a bizarre adventure game that's been described as "EarthBound meets Silent Hill" or "Eraserhead in RPG Maker" and does not fail to bring on the weirdness factor.The plot is simple: as Madotsuki, a young lady that seems to have an obsession with a single, incredibly depressing video game, all you can do each day is sleep - during which you must travel throughout her dreamscape to collect "effects" and reach new areas in the world. It's extremely open-ended, with few hints as to how to actually progress; really, it's more about exploring the strange and disturbing things that go on in her mind than anything else.The current version of the game, 0.10, was released in October 2007 along with an English translation of the effects and menus. Download, and have fun playing this in the dead of night!For French Tropers, the game was recently fully translated in Molière's language and is available for download here.See also LSD: Dream Emulator, a game with a similar premise, only in 3D and with randomized environments. It is the Ur Example of games like this.In February 2013 a countdown appeared on yumenikki.net. It's been revealed that a Yume Nikki novel, comic, and album are in the making. The manga has already started serialization in Manga Life Win, and is drawn by Hitoshi Tomizawa of Alien Nine fame. As of no later than October 2013, an unofficial English translation has surfaced on the internet.Not related toMirai Nikki.
Alien Blood: Averted: when Madotsuki stabs a creature it doesn't matter what it is —a bird girl, a giant foot-Martian who cries green tears, a poop monster, a horrified face on the wall— they will always bleed red blood.
All Just a Dream: The entirety of Madotsuki's adventures. Of course, this is no secret.
Ambidextrous Sprite: Averted with the Knife effect. Madotsuki always holds the knife in one particular hand regardless of what direction she's facing. You can change the hand she holds the knife in by pressing '1'.
Ambiguous Situation: There's no dialogue of any kind, nor anything that might even pass for an Info Dump. All the player is given is a series of surreal, disjointed open worlds to explore and a set of effects they can use to interact with those worlds. Naturally, fan interpretations of every little thing abound.
An Ice Person: The "Yuki-Onna" effect gives Madotsuki the ability to start a snowstorm.
Art Shift: Pretty much the whole game. Most areas have different styles, like Number/Neon world, the forests, the wildernesses... though the 8-bit-area is the only one where the player's sprite changes to match the style. In many others Madotsuki looks out of place.
Berserk Button: Normal Toriningen do not appreciate it when they or their brethren get stabbed.
Bizarro Fiction: One of the few non-literature works that can definitely be called this.
A lot of the things you find around the dreamworld could apply. Like those horrifying portraits you find in the sewers.
The white desert itself seems to be composed of various body parts sticking out of the ground in places. It's also where you find Monoko, the five-armed girl.
Body Motifs: One world contains little other than eyes and hands, and plenty of sights can be given a Freudian reading.
Broken Bridge: Effects are sometimes needed to access hidden areas, such as using the Knife effect to cut through a conspicuous part of a wall, or equipping the Midget effect to enter a tiny hole in the ground. Interestingly, only one-of-two effects are absolutely necessary to use at least once to complete the game: the Umbrella and Yuki-Onna effects, which douse a burning doorway so Madotsuki can reach the Poop Hair effect.
Cat Girl: The Cat effect, naturally. It draws NPCs to you — even Uboa, who doesn't move on his own!
Cosmetic Award: Almost all of the effects do nothing meaningful except alter Madotsuki's appearance.
Creepy Child: Madotsuki could be interpreted as this. She is a quiet Hikikomori who has no qualms about stabbing numerous innocent creatures to death within her highly disturbing dreamscape.
Cut and Paste Environments: Some rooms seem like part of a larger area, but are actually entirely separate from it. Examples include the secret room Hell's Crossroads, which is smaller and simpler than its more major counterpart, and the second Wilderness area, which serves only to connect the Teleport Maze and the Famicom World. A case of Tropes Are Not Bad, as this trope is used to induce Mind Screw and Empty Room Psych.
Cute and Psycho/Ax-Crazy/Knife Nut: Another representation of Madotsuki seen in fanart, based on the Knife effect and the fact that it is the only way to interact with many of the dreams' residents.
Cute Witch: Madotsuki can become one through the Witch effect.
Deconstruction Game: Gameplay-wise, the game takes non-linear exploration to its logical extreme, basing itself entirely on traversing Beautiful Void and little else. While it may or may not have been the author's intent, it does prove a point to players with little patience.
Dream People: Because Madotsuki won't leave her bedroom in her waking life, these individuals are the only ones she can encounter and interact with.
Dream Within a Dream: There are five beds that can be found in Madotsuki's Dream Land, and one of them allows her to access the Staircase of Hands; which bed does this is randomized every time she falls asleep. Following a path after that allows Madotsuki to enter a Spaceship and meet Seccom Masada. After that, Madotsuki can sleep in yet another bed inside the spaceship, only to wake up in the same place, just as the spaceship crashes on Mars. Due to this, some fans have speculated or interpreted that all of the game is just a dream.
Down the Rabbit Hole: Because Madotsuki has few things to do in her waking world besides refuse to leave her bedroom, play her Famicom, or visit her balcony, she spends most of her time exploring her bizarre dream world as she sleeps.
Dummied Out: There are two huge islands on the 8-bit plains map that can't be accessed without cheating.
Eldritch Abomination: Many of the dream's residents resemble no living being, though few are hostile.
There are also a few Humanoid Abominations within it. The more infamous of these include Ponikonote A seemingly non-conspicuous girl that has a chance of transforming into Uboa when the lights are flipped off. and Monokonote A monochrome girl that turns into Body Horror when the stoplight effect is activated..
Fan Nickname: Many of the character and area names are unofficial.
Fan Remake: Yume Nikki 3D is a combination of this and Fan Sequel. While it stars Madotsuki and uses some concepts and environments from the original game, much of the content is original.
Fan Sequel: Interestingly, Yume Nikki seems to have spawned a sort of 'genre' referred to as Yume Nikki Fangames. However, knowledge of the original game is seldom required - if anything, they are more like 'games in the same style', and the resemblance to the original game wavers between fangame to fangame. Here's a short list.
Yume 2kki: An utterly massive collaborative project.
Also, in the flying broomstick event, if you try to get off of your broom in mid-flight, you end up falling to your death. Well, at least you wake up before anything seriously detrimental happens. But you don't at the end of the game.
Follow the Leader: An astonishing number of people with time on their hands have taken to making fan games of Yume Nikki. The examples in Fan Sequel are only a few of the more well-known ones.
Gag Penis: Kyukyu-kun resembles a column-sized multicolored dildo with a perpetual smile on it.
Game-Breaking Bug: Parodied in the 8-bit dungeon with a particular event where "talking" to a seemingly-nondescript wall tile will cause it to bring up a dialogue box with nothing in it, and repeated interactions with it will cause the graphics to corrupt and the game to eventually "crash" 8-bit style, followed by Madotsuki waking up.
Game Within a Game: Nasu, the aforementioned incredibly depressing video game which Madotsuki has on what appears to be a NES.
Genre-Busting: It's made on RPG Maker, but it's not an RPG. It's a horror game... Except not really. It's an adventure game, but missing the action and fast pace that is usually associated with them. Exploration game is closest, but you could call it a number of other types and nobody could say that you're really wrong.
Girlish Pigtails: The Toriningen and Monoko have these. Madotsuki also has her braids.
The Hero Dies: Actually, even this is ambiguous. In fact, some cite the fact that dream world jellyfish appear near Madotsuki's blood pool as proof that Madotsuki didn't die, or that the real world was ALSOAll Just a Dream (as in another layer in her dreams). Although, others say they are shinigami or messengers of death and others say that they symbolize that Madotsuki wouldn't be able to escape her dreams even in death Either way, it is still unclear if she ACTUALLY died and what is seen is left up to speculation.
Heroic Mime: Indeed there isn't any dialogue to be shared in the first place.
Hikikomori: A common interpretation of Madotsuki, as she seems unwilling to leave her room.
One of the areas of the game is rendered in an 8-bit style reminiscent of the original MOTHER. Even the Effects menu transforms to fit the motif. It even includes an exact replica of the palace and its immediate surroundings from that game's Magicant.
Remember when your game would crash because the cartridge wasn't inserted correctly or was dirty? There is an event that simulates that.
Iconic Outfit: Madotsuki's pink shirt with the checkerboard motif.
Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence: Used symbolically: Madotsuki is unable to join a Toriningen picnic because of a few plants in her way, and there is no way around or through them; this is often interpreted as a sign that she suffers from social exclusion.
Konami Code: Typing left, right, left, right, up, up, down, down, on Nasu's title screen causes the character's head to turn into an eggplant.
Knife Nut: Most NPCs don't react to you at all when you try to interact with them. So what else can Madotsuki do to get an interesting reaction out of them? Stab them!
Let's Play: Here's one of the better-known ones. Since most of the fun of Yume Nikki is in the exploration, it's advised that potential players give the game a whirl before watching, or else only watch a little bit at first to determine if it's the right game for you.
Another one is located on the Let's Play archive. It uses subtitles in an attempt to retain the ambiance of the original game.
Mayincatec: A lot of things in Madotsuki's dreams seem to vaguely resemble Meso-American deals. So much so that some events are referred to as "Disco Aztecs" or The Aztec Rave Monkey. Specifically they are in the style of patterns embroidered on carpets, probably in part because the straight lines and simple shapes are easier to render in the game's graphics. Most of these are direct references to the Paracas culture in particular. One comparison here◊.
The Maze: Quite a few. And the game never gives any hints about where the effects are hidden, so you'll just have to try every single path if you don't want to use a walkthrough.
Meaningful Name: Although the literal translation of "Madotsuki" is "windowed," and thus possibly a reference to her shirt pattern, it's also a somewhat obscure Japanese term for a person who spends a long time looking out the window; that is, a daydreamer.
Mental Story: It's about a hikikomori lucid dreamer, whose primary interaction with the products of her subconscious is to stab them with knives.
Mini-Game: "NASU" (Japanese for "eggplant"), the most depressingly futile minigame ever made. It doesn't help one's spirits that the game music (only heard when you start the game and inevitably lose) is off-rhythm and out of tune.
Nonstandard Game Over: The normal way to end your dream session and wake up is to pinch yourself awake. However, certain events, such as FACE, the 8-bit game crash event, and disembarking your broom during the witch event will involuntarily wake Madotsuki back up.
Nothing Is Scarier: The message boxes, which appear before the "Glitch" event, are unsettling empty. So is the entire dungeon area, which is dark (necessitating the use of the Lamp effect if you wanna see where you're going), and the room where the event occurs is an eerie, nondescript dead-end. See also the Empty Room Psych example above.
This also applies anywhere no NPCs can be found in.
Parental Abandonment: Where are her parents? Or at least any existing caretaker? How young is she, anyway?
Perpetual Beta: The game is still in v0.10. This is also true of its fangames.
Pinball Scoring: The ones digit in NASU's score is always zero because every point reward is a multiple of 10.
Pinch Me: Literally, pinching herself gets Madotsuki out of the dream world.
Press X to Die: During the Witch event, you fly over a huge cityscape. Pressing "1" (which normally causes you to disembark your broom) will cause the screen to fade out, followed by a crashing sound and you waking up on the floor face first.
Quicksand Box: Since there is absolutely no dialogue or anything vaguely resembling a hint, getting completely lost is a very real possibility.
Fortunately, getting out of a dream is as simple as the single press of a key.
The Quiet One: Madotsuki only can say two (Japanese) lines in the game, and that's when she can't use an effect or can't perform an action due to an effect being in use: "Dame" (No or Can't) and "Muri" (Impossible).
Triggering the Uboa event is a 1-in-64 chance. The element of surprise makes it all the more terrifying.
The Mars Event has a 1 in 20 chance, contrary to most events having 1 in 64.
A particular event in the White Desert has a whopping 1 in 3600 chance. Though this is generated for each step, so walking around for a few minutes will usually trigger it. It's called Takofuusen (octopus balloon), by the way.
Shoot the Shaggy Dog: So, you explored all your dreams, just so you can walk up a few steps and jump to your death, from the same balcony that you start out on. As if you couldn't have done that in the first place?
Turns Red: Normal Toriningen will normally go about their business, leaving you alone. If you anger them by stabbing one, they will turn mad and chase you, banishing you to an inescapable area if they catch you.
Vague Age: Madotsuki, although this is just one of many things that's vague about her (and the game).
Video Game Cruelty Potential: You can stab virtually anything with the Knife effect, which sometimes gives you money. There's a reason some depictions of her are gleefully homicidal.
Video Game Cruelty Punishment: Stabbing a sane Toriningen will make her demented and turns her into a Goddamn Bat. Stabbing one of the sane ones in the number world might cause the area where you get the Severed Head effect to be larger, with more Toriningen chasing you. Also, if you make one Toriningen mad, they all get mad, and will stay mad until the next time you wake up.
Warp Whistle: The Medamaude effect, which brings you back to the Nexus.
White Mask of Doom: The creature Uboa highly resembles a distorted Noh mask. If you encounter Uboa, he emits a Scare Chord and you are locked within the dark room with him. If you touch him, he teleports you to a nightmarish inescapable area.
Wrap Around: Some areas do this, making the area seem much larger than it actually is.
Youkai: A number of effects, Yuki-onna and Oni in particular.
The toriningen resemble tengu, being avian humanoids with long, beak-like noses. Much like the tengu that kidnapped monks and dropped them in remote places, insanetoriningen can capture Madotsuki and entrap her in inescapable areas.
Ax-Crazy: Madotsuki doesn't take Uboa taking her effects very well.
Ascended Fridge Horror: The theory that Madotsuki is locked within her room against her will is made canon (see below).
Blob Monster: You know that ink puddle hemorrhaging from the pen at the end of chapter 5? It materializes into Masada by chapter 6.
Big Bad: Seemingly Mars-san, the boss of the dream world.
Closed Circle: Madotsuki is locked within her room, and can't leave until she collects all the effects in her dreams. If it ends like the video game, she won't be leaving through the door...
Darker and Edgier: Instead of just a girl in a weird dream world, Madotsuki is being held there against her will, she isn't the first person, the dream world is actually some sort of metaphysical realm called the Revival Pouch, Mars-san is the evil boss, and vague implications seem to be making the characters out to be in a Black and Grey Morality sort of deal.
Gainax Ending: The last chapter ends abruptly and leaves much unexplained. After Poniko stabs Madotsuki's diary, Mars-san erupts as a giant from the window symbol on Madotsuki's shirt. Masada restores Madotsuki by throwing the effects, after which Madotsuki walks to the stairs in her veranda so she can truly wake up. However, according to the note on the last page, the next chapter is supposed to be released in May, though, up until then we have no clue how it ends.
Hammerspace: Dream residents and dwellers can store and pull out items from their chests, no matter the shape or size.
Mood Whiplash: Right as Madotsuki was thankful for meeting a normal person in her dreams, Poniko turns into Uboa without any provocation. So it's surprising even to players who wondered what would cause her to transform.
Wham Episode: Chapter 5 is the point in which original plot points emerge. Uboa appears and steals Madotsuki's effects. Seeking revenge, Madotsuki finds the Knife effect, but some force stabs her diary in the real world and causes her to lose her memories.