What’s in the Box: Mary Skelter: Nightmares

Another recent release and a recent acquisition is Idea Factory’s Mary Skelter: Nightmares, an intriguing-sounding dungeon crawler featuring interpretations of numerous fairy tale characters and some cool mechanics.

Once again, this is a game I’d like to spend a full month giving the full Cover Game treatment, so today we’re primarily focused on what’s in the limited edition box. Idea Factory’s limited editions have typically been some of my favourite to date — helped along rather by the fact I’m yet to play a game by them that I haven’t enjoyed immensely — and so I was excited to get my hands on this one.

So without further ado, let’s take a look inside.

Surprise! I lied. This is the outside, not the inside. But the artwork is cool, so it’s worth taking a moment to appreciate. This is definitely one of Idea Factory’s most stylish games to date, featuring a very distinctive use of colour and copious amounts of Danganronpa-style bright pink blood splatters.

The tone is set pretty nicely by this cover art; you should be prepared for an otherworldly, fantastic experience (with cute girls), but also one where danger, fear and violence are just around the corner at every juncture. Beware. Beware!

Pop open the box and we’re immediately confronted with the game itself, featuring the same cover art, only with a bit less thigh on display due to differing box proportions.

Back of box blurbs these days aren’t as informative as they used to be, since a lot of games are sold by word of mouth and pre-release buzz rather than encouraging “impulse purchases” from store shelves. As a Vita game in particular, I’d be very surprised to see Mary Skelter at retail, but despite that, this blurb is actually reasonably informative: we can see that it’s a dungeon-crawling RPG with customisable characters via a job system, and that there are various interesting-sounding mechanics to engage with. But if you bought this, you probably already know all that.

Interestingly, the PEGI content warnings mention “sex” but no “violence”, despite the packaging and artwork being liberally splattered with blood. Also, it’s PlayStation TV compatible: always a plus for me, as Vita games look lovely on the big screen and it’s nice to pipe the sound through a decent speaker system.

Lift out the box insert that held the game and there’s a bunch of goodies underneath, beginning with this tasty bit of artwork peeking out at us…

It’s a big poster! Actually, it’s cooler than just a normal poster because it’s printed on nice silky cloth rather than paper, making it easy to get the creases out if you plan to hang it somewhere. For those familiar with the Hyperdimension Neptunia U and Superdimension Neptune vs Sega Hard Girls limited editions, the material is similar to that used for the dakimakura case in the former, and the cushion cover that came in the latter. Nice, soft but sturdy cloth that should stay in good condition for quite some time.

Under the poster we’ve got an artbook. It’s a hardback one with a nice solid cover and lovely glossy paper inside, though the binding does seem a little flimsy, suggesting the pages might fall out after a while if you’re a bit too rough with it. Take good care of your Blood Maidens!

Here’s what’s in the artbook: there’s a gallery of artwork, character profiles and images, pictures of character transformations, rough sketches and concept art, creature images, pictures of the world, and event scenes from the game. The latter has the potential for mild spoilers, though without the dialogue it’s hard to determine context.

I’m also guessing this is where the “sex” content warning comes from. Each of the main heroines has a sequence of images like this.

Speaking of the main heroines, I haven’t played the game yet, but I’m putting good money on Cinderella being Best Girl, based purely on what I’ve seen of her so far. I mean seriously, look at those thighs. She looks like she could crush a watermelon. Or a man’s head.

I really like the idea of the heroines being based on fairy tale characters, and I’ll be very interested to see how this is handled in the game itself. I’m certainly a big fan of the designs if nothing else, though.

The final thing we have in this box of goodies is this softback “Novel Book”. This is, like I mentioned in my look at Peach Beach Splash’s limited edition, a nice throwback to the earlier days of computer gaming. Titles for the Atari ST, Amiga and DOS-based PCs would often come with some sort of supplementary reading material besides the manual — sometimes a novella, sometimes an “in-character” prop such as a magazine, sometimes the “actual” manual for the starship you’d be flying or whatever. They were always cool, even if their main purpose tended to be for copy protection more than anything else.

Mary Skelter’s “novel book” is just for entertainment, though. It features 14 different stories and warns of spoilers, so I won’t be reading it until after I’ve cleared the game, as it suggests.

We can take a quick peek inside to see how it’s presented, at least, though, and damn, there is some lovely-looking artwork in here. Eschewing the usual clean lines of Idea Factory’s in-game style, the artwork in the book instead makes use of a “hand-painted” look, which fits nicely with the game’s aesthetic of being blood-splattered as well as being rather evocative of old fairy tale books.

There’s artwork on most of the double-page spreads throughout the book, so it looks like the stories will be as much a feast for the eyes as they are for the imagination. I’m looking forward to investigating once I’ve cleared the game.

So that’s that, then! It’s a shame there’s no soundtrack CD, as that’s something I always like to find inside a limited edition, but the quality of the goods in here is certainly decent and they complement the main game content nicely.

I have no idea when I’ll get to Mary Skelter just yet, but watch out for it on MoeGamer in the coming months… I sense we’re in for a wild and blood-splattered ride!

More about Mary Skelter: Nightmares

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