Compatible with PlayStation Vita (PS Vita)
No Region Protection / Dungeon RPG
Kangokutou Mary Skelter [Limited Edition Famitsu DX Pack]
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featured reviewJoshuaKadmon (8) on 26, Oct. 2016 01:38 (HKT)
Complex Yet Enjoyable First-Person Dungeon Crawler
I love first-person dungeon crawlers, and I've been playing them for ages, all the way back to the original Wizardry that inspired the genre. In recent years, DRPGs (as Wizardry-likes are often termed in Japan) have enjoyed a grand revival on handheld consoles, likely due to the success and innovation of Atlus' Etrian ...[read more...]
descriptionCompile Heart, Dengeki Bunko, and Dengeki PlayStation have announced that they are all collaborating on a brand IP entitled Kangokuto Mary Skelter! The new "active dungeon RPG" title planned for the PS Vita is only the tip of the iceberg as a novel published by Dengeki Bunko is already planned along with Dengeki PlayStation's promise to develop a serialized prequel.
Kangokuto Mary Skelter is set in a universe where 1999's Japan is home to cities such as 'Jail,' a living prison that was birthed and then subsequently swallowed by the earth and buried 666 meters below ground. As a result of this cataclysmic event hostile monsters known a "Marchen" began to appear, threatening the safety of humans. Kangokuto Mary Skelter follows male protagonist 'Jack' and heroines several decades after this massive event as they aim to escape their prison-home. The girls' unique reaction to the Marchen's blood provides them with increased physical abilities that will allow them a chance at freedom.
The primary condition for players to escape is to grow the living Jail 666 meters, raising it from the depths below. The structure possess three great desires by which it grows: appetite, sexual desire, and the desire for sleep.
|Original Name||神獄塔 メアリスケルター 限定版 ファミ通DXパック|
|Official Release Date||Oct 13, 2016|
|CERO D (17+)|
|Product Measures||53cm x 20cm x 11cm|
|Average rating:||Too few reviews (min 3 reviews required)|
Please note that opinions expressed in any review are those of our customers and do not necessarily match those of the Play-Asia.com team.
Mechanically, this is a solid dungeon crawler with each character being able to eventually learn skills from 5 jobs unique to that character, with additional strategic and tactical choices in the form of allocation of resources, weapon selection, party formation, a tag-team system reminiscent of modern fighting games, and a main character who can't fight directly but supports the rest of the team with his own unique mechanics.
But, as interesting as the mechanics are, where Mary Skelter really shines is atmosphere. The dungeon's appearance is bizarre, littered with cards and dice giving an Alice in Wonderland feeling. But, as you learn more about your situation, it starts to make sense (but still feels bizarre). The invincible Nightmares that wander the dungeon in real-time and chase you if you get too close do a good job of raising the tension at times, as well.
I love first-person dungeon crawlers, and I've been playing them for ages, all the way back to the original Wizardry that inspired the genre. In recent years, DRPGs (as Wizardry-likes are often termed in Japan) have enjoyed a grand revival on handheld consoles, likely due to the success and innovation of Atlus' Etrian Odyssey series. There are a plethora of good ones to choose from, especially on Vita, but Mary Skelter is easily among the best I've experienced. As it is developed by Compile Heart, it should come as no surprise that Mary Skelter holds some similarities to their other work on Moero Chronicle/Crystal, though thankfully it holds much less in common with MeiQ: Labyrinth of Death. Mary Skelter is also less fanservice-centric (but only marginally so), and there's a lot more care taken to build an interesting story and cast, which may be attributed to co-development by major publishing label Dengeki Bunko and their Dengeki PlayStation brand. Production values are top-notch, with an impressive soundtrack and stylish artwork to bolster the solid gameplay. There's a nice balance between story elements and exploration too, plus the dungeon environments are quite varied and intriguing to investigate. The "Divine Prison Tower" known as Jail is a living being, one that shifts and evolves with the player's actions and its own whims. Unlike most games of this type, all of the explorable areas are interconnected and form one megadungeon circling the growing tower of Jail, and some of the roulette bonuses that you receive from satisfying Jail's whims even open up additional floors to visit. Combat isn't horribly difficult and remains approachable, but there are so many mechanics at play (party members going berserk from tainted blood, dangerous bosses that rove levels in real-time, various traps and puzzles, enemies' elemental resistances and weaknesses, etc.) that the game still offers a decent challenge and will punish lazy or reckless players. Like its cousin Moero Chronicle, Mary Skelter impressed me not only by including and enhancing mechanics found in its best contemporaries, but also introducing new concepts and genre innovations that I may not have expected from a titillating Cero-D adventure that marketed itself on rubbing mini-games. Those are included too, of course, and they are pretty fun and gratifying to those who are interested. However, while the rubbing mini-games are constantly available once you unlock them (about 10-15 hours into the game), they can also largely be avoided, as they provide buffs at the temporary cost of a character's blood gauge and once completed may be repeated without having to replay the rubbing sequence. That being said, players who will likely import and enjoy this game most won't be phased by a little fanservice. It's staggering to me that Mary Skelter succeeds in wrapping in influences from a bunch of competitive series without feeling unwieldy, though some may argue that levelling/class mechanics can be too easily exploited or that combat against common enemy types can [nearly] be broken if you play a certain way. But personally, I see this as part and parcel to the immense degree of customization on offer, and Compile Heart has already put out two updates since launch that help with gameplay balance, minor bugs (none of which have I actually encountered), and enhanced UI elements. The roaming bosses are not unlike Etrian's FOEs, the real-time traps and environmental puzzles remind me of the Wizardry entries on DS, the story and themes are closer to those of Operation Abyss/Babel, the post-apocalyptic modern-fantasy mix feels a bit like Stranger of Sword City, the focus on characters and narrative trumps Ray Gigant by a fair margin, and the visualized class changes equal that of Dungeon Travelers 2, while housing features and dating events surpass Demon Gaze 1 & 2. In most cases, when a collaborative game project sets out to include that many features from a dozen of its direct competitors, it will fail by trying to accomplish too much with no balance or focus. But I feel like Mary Skelter is a rare exception to that rule, and while so many interwoven gameplay mechanics certainly make it feel complex or initially intimidating, it still manages to feel fun. The player is introduced to these systems slowly and steadily, so it feels like you grow with the game. As for how long Mary Skelter actually is, your mileage will most certainly vary. The story itself can be completed in about 50-60 hours, but there's easily enough optional content, exploration, character events, and unlockable bonuses to fill 100+ hours. Mary Skelter is a very good first-person dungeon crawler, one that I'll likely come back to frequently in the next year or two, and I hope it's successful enough to warrant a sequel or another game like it.
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