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YMMV / Mary Skelter: Nightmares

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  • Ass Pull: The first game ends with a number of questionable story developments, as you can see below, but one that deserves special mention is the reveal that Snark is an alien and the Jail is a tool to recreate his home planet. It is completely out of place with the setting and narrative up to that point and, in a polar opposite from just about every other "twist" in the game, has absolutely no foreshadowing. Some like that it is a legitimately-surprising reveal, but those that dislike it feel as though it cheapens the entire story.
    • The Novel that comes in the Limited Edition does explain this somewhat in the very first page. While the specifics of the plan are a twist, though somewhat hinted with the Professor's musing about the need for a god, the Jail's nature as an invasive extraterrestrial entity is not. Lacking this does make it seem to come out of nowhere however.
    • The ending for Mary Skelter 2 pushes things regarding the Jail. Being able to fuse with a Jail egg to take its powers and become a godlike being capable of remaking a world? Out there, but in line with its established mimicry powerset. Being able to use a Jail egg to reset time? That's a stretch with no prior hinting.
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  • Author's Saving Throw: The developer stated during Mary Skelter 2's announcement that both that game and the remake of the first would receive several changes based on player feedback, including better balance and debugging, "adjusted" dungeon sizes, improving the (by their own admission) plain Quest system, and changing up the Jail roulette. The changes are arguably most apparent in the bonus Underground area from the first game; it was originally a gigantic monstrosity that quickly goes from being interesting to being needlessly tedious, but has been changed to be drastically simpler in the remake.
  • Complacent Gaming Syndrome: Unfortunately, the job balance is not very good. It seems that players inevitably gravitate toward running a Paladin to soak up damage, a support member as a healer and/or second source of items, and three teammates that are equipped to throw out party-wide attacks as early and often as possible.
    • The Paladin portion to this tactic was utterly destroyed in Mary Skelter 2. While the first game you could set this up almost immediately into the Graveyard by switching Alice over for the 6 SP Cover skill, attempting to do so in the second game with Hameln you'll quickly be greeted by Cover's new 44 SP cost, nearly four times the amount of SP she'll naturally have access to and even overloading her on SP gear would only let you use it twice at most.
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  • Complete Monster: Snark, the King of Nightmares, is the one responsible for nearly all the misery within the story. Prior to the main story, it was revealed that he used an Eldritch Abomination known as the Jail in his home planet to do his own bidding. Disguised as the benevolent leader of the Dawn, Professor Tohjima, he found the Blood Maidens and raised them so that he could manipulate them into fighting the monsters known as Marchens and destroy the Jail Cores to accelerate its maturity. It was also revealed that he experiments on an innocent Marchen only to be discarded so that it could be tortured by the Gate Guardian, Kadowaki Towa. In addition, he manipulates a religion, Order of the Sun, by poisoning its Divine Figure by feeding her a food that was produced by the Jail and massacring the followers with his Marchen in the bad ending so that he could get the ingredients for his own agenda. After the Professor revealed himself to be Snark, he discards all of the Dawn members and the Blood Maidens and regretted that he didn't kill them earlier. After the Jail completes its insemination process that produces a new core, Snark fuses himself. In the Golden Ending, he sacrifices all of the Marchens to it. Covering himself with a mask of benevolence and absent-mindedness in order to hide his true sociopathic nature, Snark manipulates all of the factions and the Jail itself so that he could become a god to recreate the world in his own image.
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  • Contested Sequel: The sequel has garnered sharply-contrasting opinions: some like the gameplay improvements and enjoy the story, while others think the game is too similar to the first outside of brand-new balance issues and are not happy about the abrupt endgame slaughter of the heroes and subsequent Reset Button Ending.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Snark had been hiding in plain sight all along. They got away with it because their cover story was so good that they could shoot down any suspicions and accusations thrown their way.
  • Demonic Spiders: Deus Machina in the remake. Originally just a step up from Butcher and no more or less challenging than anything else in the Jail Tower, the remake gives them nearly three times the health of anything else in the area, multiple attacks a turn like Nightmares, a full party heal for roughly a quarter of their health, and they generally come in groups of 4-5. Expect to see them in nearly every fight on the final floors, occasionally accompanied by Ralchikita and Ungod but most often just a full group of Deus Machina.
  • Disappointing Last Level: The first game ends on a less-than-satisfactory note, with Chapter 9 in general having a number of issues:
    • A sudden, massive Difficulty Spike within the last couple of floors. A number of enemies gain party-wide Magic attacks, which are strong enough to threaten a Total Party Kill in Horror mode. To make matters worse, one of said enemies is of the Demonic Spider "Zombie" family.
    • A whirlwind of Ass Pulls and general bad writing, the most blatant of which include the second team that shows up for a handful of scenes before vanishing, the reveal that Snark is an alien invader, and Hikari reviving as the Angelic Girl. Bonus mention also goes to the interrogation that determines the ending that you get, which should have been a Moment of Awesome for Jack but instead features the Professor explaining away all of Jack's evidence and making him look way out of his depth before Haru mercifully ends it.
    • The True Final Boss fight is a multi-tiered battle like the one at the Temple. With fast fingers and a bit of luck, it's possible to beat the final boss while only facing a handful of its attacks. Outside of its ridiculously-strong "Felony" spell, which is just the aforementioned party-wide magic attacks cranked Up to Eleven, you can make an argument for the random encounters leading up to this final boss being significantly harder than the boss itself.
    • The Upper Tower is also a hideous, eye-searing hue of red.
  • Ear Worm:
    • The City Streets dungeon music.
    • The first game's opening theme, Arakajime Ushinawareta Bokura no Ballad, is a very catchy J-Pop tune.
  • Esoteric Happy Ending: The True Ending of the first game veers into this territory in light of its post-game ending, which strongly suggests that they'll be lifted out of the underground crater only to find more Jails on the surface.
  • Fridge Brilliance:
    • The girls have an affinity towards Jack because most of their stories have princes, who Jack is taking the place of in their minds. This is made explicit with Sleeping Beauty and to a lesser extent Cinderella, but likely applies to the others as well. Note that the characters whose stories don't prominently feature princes (Gretel, Hameln) or the princes are treated like crap by the protagonist (Kaguya) are generally less romantic toward Jack.
    • Alice's affection for Jack is intertwined with her logic-based Blood Libido, as she's convinced herself that she has no motive or logical reason for existing without him. This is likely what causes her uncharacteristically-irrational freakouts surrounding Jack, such as when Gretel teleports Jack away for a few minutes.
    • More Fridge Sadness than Brilliance, Red Riding Hood's Pierrot class looks like a fairly typical clown-inspired costume, but with the exception of her having a teardrop under her eye. While at first it just looks like facepaint to fit in with the rest of her attire, it turns heartbreaking when you remember her confession that she killed Little Mermaid in self-defense prior to the game's events. In the real world, this tattoo's meaning has changed over time, but most commonly is seen as representing the wearer has killed someone, with the victim sometimes being a fellow prisoner in jail, or as a means to show grief over the death of a loved one. In Red Riding Hood's case, it's both.
    • Mary Skelter 2 plays up Alice's interest in tea parties. It makes perfect sense, as she is a mimic created by the Jail, that would likely be prone to over-emphasizing her fairy tale traits.
    • Of course it's Red Riding Hood who has a beloved (adoptive) family member secretly killed, and is being impersonated by the main villain.
  • Fridge Horror: In Mary Skelter 2, Thumbelina's Freak Out! and attempted murder of Cinderella is unsettling enough in and of itself, but it was proven by Jack and Alice that the Jail can use a strong desire to turn people into Nightmares. How close was she to turning into one herself?
    • Speaking of Mary Skelter 2, there is Jack's cool new "Ripper Mode", which he gets access to after becoming a Nightmare. The prospect of a friendly Nightmare going nuts and attacking you is unsettling in and of itself, but then we get to the True Ending, where Jack uses the Jail egg to create a copy of his original Blood Youth self to protect the Blood Team's Alice while he fuses with the original, now also a Nightmare, to become Nightmare Love. Now this doesn't seem too bad... until you remember that Jack's Marchen replica can do everything the real, Nightmare version could, meaning he too is capable of going all Jack the Ripper, implying that Jack was always at just as much of a risk of going berserk as the Blood Maidens.
  • Game-Breaker:
    • Any AOE ability that hits for "multi" elemental damage. In this game's case, that guarantees hitting every enemy's weakness, causing massive damage and causing enough blood splatter to put everyone in Massacre Mode while the enemy will be lucky to even get a turn. With enough Blood Crystals, Thumbelina can change to her final job to learn this ability as soon as she joins.
    • For single targets, the Marauder class "Raging Rush" skill: a multi-hit attack that deals out full damage with each attack. With a high enough strength stat, any party member who uses this can easily dish out over 10,000 damage per use.
    • The Destroyer job in general completely trivialises much of the game, winning battles in a single turn if given enough agility and a decent AOE attack, and can be hitting bosses for upwards of tens of thousands of damage with some simple buffs.
    • The Logic job tampers with the effects of the Jail Roulette to the point of being able to outright kill anything with a little bit of luck. Jail Blessing Up adds an additional target to any effect specifying an exact number of targets and Jail Effect Up increases the effects gained. One possible effect is to hit a target for 3-10% of their maximum health. The Logic's passives mentioned can push that up to around 43-50% and allow it to pick two targets, including the same one twice resulting in an 86-100% loss in health.
  • Genius Bonus: References to Japanese folktales The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter and Crane's Return of a Favor become this to Western gamers. In a case where this might not necessarily be a bad thing, the sequel uses a variation of a centuries-old spoiler that Western fans are a lot less likely to be familiar with.
  • Good Bad Bugs: When you retreat from a preset encounter, you are pushed back a tile in the direction opposite of the one that you're facing. If you're in a pinch, you can enter the preset encounter icon backwards or to the side, retreat, and get pushed into one of the corridors that it's guarding.
    • Sleeping Beauty and Kaguya have three attacks that hit all enemies; Force Wave, Amber Red, and Gigantast. Force Wave, despite being "minor damage" compared to the other two's "damage", surpasses Amber Red at all ranks and is only just barely passed by Gigantast at the final rank and costs less than half of what either of the other two do allowing for unintended SP efficiency for their damage output.
    • Nightmares are able to spawn on the chains found in some labyrinths. They can not move from these spots, as the only way to move along them is through the balancing minigame, giving you the ability to safely escape without being chased.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Compile Heart has a reputation for the amount of Fanservice that they add to their games. Here, seeing a girl get Stripperific is bad, because that means that you're about to enter a world of hurt.
    • Mary Skelter 2 stars a character named Tsuu - "tsuu" being how the English word "two" is rendered in Japanese. If intentional, it wouldn't even be the first time that a Compile-branded company made a "tsuu = two" pun.
    • Mary Skelter 2 and Death end re;Quest are about two steps removed from being full-on Dueling Works, both being incredibly-depressing Compile Heart games released within close proximity of each other in Japan that end up involving a Stable Time Loop and a narrowly-averted Kill 'Em All. As detailed on the Character page, the crossover DLC in Mary Skelter 2 highlights the similarities between the games' casts.
    • Mary Skelter 2 was also predated by an earlier Compile Heart game in utilizing Time Travel. Though in that game's case, the time shenanigans happens at the mid-way point of the game.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Dawn Liberation Force leader, Professor Tohjima who is revealed to be The King of Nightmares, Snark, comes to Earth with the intent to destroy the world and remake it in his own image. Planting seeds of the Genius Loci "Jail" across Earth, Snark also raises girls as the "Blood Maidens" and manipulates them to destroy the Jail cores. Poisoning the religious leader of the Order of the Sun, Snark replaces her with his own servant to string them along to working towards his own purpose before slaughtering them. Even when Protagonist Jack discovers his true identity, Snark manages to create a convincing cover story and evades suspicion from others by dismantling Jack's argument. Even if the Order of the Sun followers are saved from him killing them, Snark sacrifices his followers, the Marchens, as a backup plan to see his goal of becoming God come true. Ruthless yet intelligent and in possession of an unshakable facade of politeness, Snark cements himself as the most dangerous adversary seen in the game.
  • Most Annoying Sound: Any Nightmare's growl when on a floor where they can appear. It of course not only means they are on the same floor, but also usually means they are getting closer! It's especially bad in the Tower as the Nightmares in both tend to appear far more often than in other dungeons.
  • Most Wonderful Sound: Cinderella's Noblewoman's Laugh, especially with the Japanese voices, when she utilizes (and often kills enemies with) one of her skills.
  • Never Live It Down:
    • The game was ported to Steam by Ghostlight, who ports several smaller scale anime-styled games to PC...including the controversial Mugen Souls. Cue a tiny subsection of gamers complaining about possible censorship, despite Ghostlight's ports being identical to their console counterparts and the fact that the only change in the handheld version of Mary Skelter was the "Genocide" to "Massacre" rename done by Idea Factory International themselves.
    • Mary Skelter 2 is doomed to be known as "that one game that Sony broke by forcing a minigame to be patched out."
  • Obvious Judas: A bit of a weird example where the Big Bad's true identity is painfully obvious, but the villain effectively dismantles The Hero's arguments when it comes time to make them confess; the player is required to confront them with several pieces of specific evidence (some of which are only available in certain chapters and can very easily be missed entirely) to get the best ending.
  • Player Punch: The sequel has an effective one by ending on Little Mermaid's novel death. Everything that the player tried to accomplish feels rather pointless, huh? Keep playing...
  • Porting Disaster: The game flat out did not work on several Windows 7 running PC despite it listed as minimum system requirements and the game doesn't suggest something stronger. Those who can play it might found random graphical glitches on several configurations, most reportedly on AMD.
  • Squick: The more...interesting ways that the blood theme comes into play arguably veers into this. For example, in the prequel novel, Red Riding Hood is given a cake for her tenth birthday. Sugar is very rare within the setting, so it is heavily implied that Miko sweetened her cake using Marchen blood.
  • The Un-Twist: The foreshadowing for the Professor being up to no good becomes so obvious, not even a third into the game, that you're probably guessing there's some kind of twist, right? Nope.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: While the story is entertaining enough, the mystery that the game tries to set up is undermined by the Foreshadowing being as subtle as a falling anvil.
  • The Woobie: Red Riding Hood has it rough, especially when taking the prequel novel into account. She deconstructs the Cool Big Sis trope, the implication being that she wants to be cute but feels like she has to appear strong for her sisters. (This itself being driven from having to kill a Blood Maiden who referred to her as a sister at the tender age of ten years old.) She becomes increasingly defensive of the senior members of the Dawn as the rest of the team becomes increasingly suspicious, culminating in a Heroic BSoD so intense that she starts losing control of her breathing. Near the end, the Big Bad tells her that she has outlived her usefulness, and in her ending she's left as a bundle of conflicted emotions.
  • Vanilla Protagonist: Jack's compulsive drive to climb the beanst- uh, Jail Tower is interesting, but the lad himself is otherwise inoffensively bland. As mentioned above though, a bit of Fridge Brilliance does halfway justify him being an inexplicable Chick Magnet, as most of the girls in the story have a predisposition to see him as their fairy tale prince due to the stories and characters they subconsciously draw inspiration from.

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