Yume Nikki Gensou (PC) review
"ok, so Yume Nikki, but it's a 2D hack 'n slash Metroidvania"
The internet marks a new age of works created by fans to advance the legacy of a pre-existing work, and these efforts have nurtured new artists from those building upon the old. While many of this content makes for compelling arguments to suppress all creative thought (link to an unfiltered DeviantArt page here), one would be remiss in recognizing impressive fan-created content. Few tributes are as challenging to pull off well as the fangame, which must meet the criteria of being recognizable to its source material in terms of aesthetic and tone while still bringing something new to the table. With fangames, you've the good, the bad, and the weird: highly professional games, 2-bit garbageware, and the likes of Yume Nikki Gensou.
The original Yume Nikki was a game about wandering about a psychedelic hellscape, taking in the grim sights and sounds. No platforming or combat; chiefly aimless exploration and the thrills and chills of discovery. There are literally dozens of excellent fangames based on this niche style, such as Yume 2kki and .flow, but why not make a fangame that's a 2D action-platformer structured like a Metroidvania and plays like a translation of Devil May Cry? What could possibly go wrong?
So, uh, that's what an entity known as Atelier Izumi did, hosted on a dead Japanese website with many dysfunctional download links, chiefly to Yume Nikki-inspired music and fangames (including a Street Fighter-esque affair). Information about Izumi is as elusive as the creator of the original Yume Nikki; seems to be a theme with these Yume Nikki fangames. Maybe they're cursed or were made by warlocks or something. The manual and in-game text are all in Japanese, and since I no sprechen de Japanese, almost everything about this game was a mystery as I went in. In fact, pretty much the only aspect of this bizarre work I knew about beforehand, and the reason I started this strange journey in the first place, was the music. See, I'm a biiiiig fan of video game music, seeking out obscure gems far and wide. Yume Nikki Gensou had one such soundtrack, and from just the first level theme, I knew this game had to be unique. I knew that because Gensou has one of the best soundtracks I've ever heard, a mix of complex tempos, percussion, and array of instruments forming fascinating variations of loops from the original Yume Nikki. One could only hope the game itself would be as interesting.
"Interesting" was one of the first words to come to mind when I started the gameplay, what with Madotsuki jumping around with a knife and all. After the initial confusion subsided, more confusion followed as I noticed the strange "boing!" sound effect for every jump Madotsuki took as she somersaulted into the air. Immediately inescapable were the trademarks of Adobe Flash games: low visual detail, music that didn't loop well, and a tiny resolution. That last one was a pain to work around; using fullscreen in Flash just results in a massive letterbox around the tiny image at the center, so the least terrible solution was to enable the "Hide Toolbar" function and the "Run in 640 x 480 screen resolution" function in the .exe file's Compatibility Properties menu. All this and the lack of controller support by use of freeware program Joy2Key) did not leave a positive first impression on me.
Community review by Follow_Freeman (June 10, 2018)
When he isn't in a life-or-death situation, Dr. Freeman enjoys playing a variety of video games. From olden shooters to platformers & action titles: Freeman may be a bit stuck with the games of the past, but he doesn't mind. Some things don't age much.
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