Yume Nikki

        A new year begins today, and with it countless possibilities. There’s no way of knowing how the year turns out, but with any luck it will be a good one. And to celebrate a year of future possibilities, I’m going to talk about a game that is filled with speculation and wonder. Today I will be talking about Yume Nikki.
        To begin with, there is absolutely no dialogue in the game itself, aside from some instructions telling you to find ‘Effects’. From there you are left on your own. You play as a lady of indeterminate age named Madotsuki who lives in a small apartment alone. Madotsuki actually means ‘window’ or ‘aperture’ in Japanese, leading to some speculation that the name is purely symbolic rather than her actual name, since she acts as our window into the game. She also has a window on her jacket, furthering the symbolism, and in fact the name sounds similar to the Japanese term of a ‘windower’, someone who daydreams or looks out the window.
        So we just got started and there’s already oodles of meaning and speculation. Let’s move on though- we have a whole game to cover. Her apartment itself is very small, consisting of a rug that covers most of the floor, a desk, where she saves her game via writing in her dream diary(which is what Yume Nikki means), a tv that apparently cannot access any channel, but it can be used to play Nasu, the only game Madotsuki seems to own.
        The game is simple and repetitive to the extreme- the only goal is to jump up and grab eggplants that fall for ten points. The game never ends until you miss one, and you never get any sort of reward for playing. As far as the game itself goes it is essentially there to waste time and fill up space. Odds are after trying it once or twice, the player won’t go back to it at all. However, it does serve an important purpose in showing that Madotsuki has pretty much nothing to do. It is her only game, her only source of entertainment.
        She also has a small balcony, but her apartment is high up enough that nothing can be seen of the world below. If she wanted to see what is down there, she would have to go out the door- and she either will not or cannot. If you try to do so, she will shake her head. Personally, I think it is more that she chooses not to leave for whatever reason, because the sound effect that occurs when you try to do so sounds like the Japanese words “Dame” and “Muri”, essentially her saying ‘no’ or that leaving is impossible. Since no would indicate a refusal to leave rather than it being a physical impossibility, the second phrase likely also is just her stating that she will not go out.
        So, if she won’t go outside and she has nothing to do inside, what is there to do? Simply sleep. Once Madotsuki is in bed, she will fall asleep, and the other 99% of the game can begin. When she falls asleep, you’ll see her seemingly get back out of bed, but now there is music playing, and the evironment around the balcony is different. The tv now displays an eye if you turn it on, and Nasu will not work. Much more importantly, Madotsuki can finally go out the door!
        However, as this is a dream, she does not go out into the real world, but inside arrives at the Nexus, a central area where many doors can be accessed. Each of these leads to a different realm of sorts to explore, such as a vast forest, a building filled with inexplicable numbers, a dark realm of puddles, or and even darker one filled with eyeballs and the like.
        As you might imagine, these places are where the various Effects can be found. Some of them have useful effects that help you explore the dream world, like the Bicycle, which doubles your speed, or the Cat effect that can draw various creatures to you, moving them out of positions where they blocked your progress. Or, if you’re aiming for a more direct and nasty solution, the Knife effect can scare them off, or just kill them- though in some cases that may have some unwanted consequences.
        In any case, you may think that getting a look into Madotsuki’s dream will give you a clearer understanding of her psyche and character, but in truth the dream world only raises more questions for everything it answers- and if it actually answers anything is debatable. For instance, in one area you run into a girl named Monoko, as the game’s files tell, and she seems like a normal, albeit silent person.
        However, when you use the Stoplight effect, which normally freezes characters in place, she will freeze- but also transform into grotesque version of herself with five arms, one coming from her head, she seems to have some sort of wound in her stomach, and her left eye drips some sort of fluid. Given it is the Stoplight effect that causes it, some have speculated that Madotsuki saw Monoko die in the real world due to a traffic accident, and now the memory of it is haunting Madotsuki’s dreams. Further evidence for some sort of traffic accident happening in her past is that the Stoplight effect itself is found on a bloody corpse on a road, in front of traffic cones- the obvious implication being that he was run over by a car that couldn’t stop in time.
        Another, particularly famous part of the game is Poniko. While her actual name is unknown,(Poniko just meaning ‘ponytail girl) the girl in question does certainly demand attention if found in the game. Aside from being one of the very few ‘humans’ spotted in the dream world, she appears to have her own home similar to Modotsuki’s own. In fact, it has many of the same features- rug, desk, bed. The location of it, somewhere very, very deep in the dream world that is hard to access, and she is the only character in that area, despite it being fairly large, which also carries the implication that she wants to be left alone.
        She also constantly looks to her left, rather than ahead at you, implying she is trying to ignore you or is uninterested in your presence. You can draw her in with the Cat effect or scare/kill her with the Knife, like most anything, but aside from those two near universal traits, she will not react to anything you do or interact with you in any way. Perhaps Poniko represents someone Madotsuki once knew and wanted to be friends with, or a former friend she fell out of touch with.
        There’s not much to do in her room, but you can mess with the lights. The music changes if you do, and both themes are unique compared to the rest of the game, appearing nowhere else and feeling strangely ‘human’ compared to the others, which sound dissonant and ominous by comparison. However, there is a chance that something strange will happen if you flip the switch.
        There is a 1/64 chance that flipping the switch will make Poniko vanish, and the creature Uboa appear. Uboa’s appearance changes the music into a disturbing sound like a far off scream or moan, and the monster itself appears to be a black blob of some sort wearing a grinning humanoid face mask. The room also changes- the walls and floor turn black, and various objects now have eerie smiles and faces.
        You cannot leave the room now, and trying to flip the switch again is futile. There’s no way out, at least without Mdotsuki pinching her cheeks to wake up, or using the Medemaude effect, which returns you to the Nexus. Uboa will not attack you- you’re stuck with it. If you come into contact with Uboa, it will teleport you to an inescapable white area where a monster can be seen in the background reaching out to distant mountains.
        This of course raises several questions- why did turning off the lights call this strange creature? What is it? Is it Poniko? The fact that Poniko vanishes and it appears would suggest they are one and the same. As for why it appeared at all, that is more vague. Perhaps Poniko was annoyed with Madotsuki for turning the lights on and off and decided to punish her, as well as remove her from her home. However, I personally think it may be a reflection of how Poniko seemed to be ignoring Madotsuki. Perhaps she turned the lights on and off to try and get Poniko’s attention, wanting to talk to her, but she instead was replaced or transformed into a monster that forces Madotsuki out of the house.
        Plus, despite the various odd and interesting places and creatures Madotsuki sees, none of them will truly talk or interact with her in a very meaningful manner, and they tend to be spread out over many different areas rather than being easy to find. Even finding something to communicate with would be an arduous task, and one that is ultimately fruitless. Perhaps the entire dream reflects not only on possible past events in Madotsuki’s life, but also her inability to make friendships with others.
        Of course, these are only my own speculations to add to the already immense pile of ideas and concepts that have been theorized about the game. I would suggest, dear reader, that you download the game and see for yourself. Maybe what I said will seem right to you, or maybe you’ll come up with your own ideas of what is really going on, but regardless, it is a vast and impressive game that everyone should see at least once.

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