...Okay, I'm being hyperbolic here, I do technically know what Mary Skelter is, I just didn't really want to. The creature designs are gonna knock your block off, I swear, and the storyline is certainly imaginative, it's just that...Mary Skelter is one of those video games whose fandom and marketing both seem to revolve around the "sexiness" of its human characters, and as far as I'm aware they're all just kids. It's also one of those games with a preposterous number of said human characters to find, like Pokemon for people with too many dakimakura to pass off as a funny joke anymore, and it's too bad, because its actual storyline and setting, like its creature art direction and its soundtrack's unapologetic use of the fiddle, are way too good to have been paired with such a terrible sales hook.
The Best Creature Designs From Whatever the Hell Mary Skelter Is
See, at some point in Mary Skelter continuity, a shooting star fell into the middle of an unspecified city, erupted instantaneously with a vast network of black roots, sealed the entire metropolis within an inescapable dome of alien flesh and just sort of took it somewhere. The whole city, everybody in it, completely gone the next morning. Big, black hole left in its place.
Generations later, I think, the city has evolved into a malevolent, sentient hellscape known only as "The Jail" to its human captives and their descendants, who spend a great deal of their short lives either locked in cells, fighting through unending dungeons and suffering various tortures at the hands, claws or tentacles of the Marchens; surreal monstrosities the Jail creates from whoever and whatever it pleases.
It gets creepier, too, because at the center of the city is an enormous, living spire, possibly the seat of the being's consciousness, and it has never stopped growing towards what appears to be a moon hovering static in the alien sky...actually an egg. Supposedly, when the spire reaches the "moon," something simply called a "Witchcraft" will hatch, and has the power to grant one wish.
It's all a pretty damn fantastic story concept, but I have no idea what happens from there, and the fandom is actually so preoccupied with the "collectible anime teenagers" part that any further information on the story, the setting, and the creatures is scattered incompletely across fan blogs and gaming videos. What I've managed to collect here was such an adventure that I actually started on it the whole previous year's Halloween season, and even scouring complete gameplay videos is a chore and a half, because it looks like every game in this series is brutally, soul-suckingly long. I can only spend so much of my precious lifespan skimming through someone else's twelve hour grinding sessions.
When I realized that several bosses were designed to "break open" into different designs, that this game has Russian Nesting boss monsters, I probably should have thrown in every towel that can be thrown. But, I kept on, and while definitely not complete, I present to you some number of things worth looking at from a game I can't say I'd find worth playing.
We'll go through regular enemies, first; at least those from the first two games, unfortunately the only two with complete bestiaries on their fan wiki. Several varieties of """duck""" lurk the Jail, with birdlike bodies, wings and clawed feet, but anything avian ends there. Pain Duck has a giant paintbrush tip for a head, and like all three ducks, it wears a toothy bear trap on its shoulders, like some sort of collar. Blood Duck is an entirely red variant on almost the same design, but with a grinning human mouth in its birdy chest. Finally, Ains Duck seems to reskin the paintbrush into a closed flower bud and places a big, round eyeball in the chest. A final variety, Superior Duck, isn't pictured here but is basically just a rainbow recolor of the Pain Duck.
Other enemies come in a variety of names and colors, but not always design variants as noteworthy as the waterfowl. This thing is an example of a slime-like monster family found throughout the first two games, but unique among such creatures in that its otherwise invisible surface is patterned with eyeballs, and each eyeball surrounded by "electronic" looking flower petals. It's a two-dimensional texture on a 3-d model of just a jelly ball, so it's hard to say what it's supposed to really represent. At the center of this odd thing is a relatively ordinary, spherical red nucleus.
Artiner is part of a family of monsters who resemble half-used tubes of craft paint with humanoid, monstrous arms and legs. These wield large paintbrushes as weapons, and of course, inhabit the same areas as the ducks.
This enemy is a high heeled shoe, though where the stilleto heel should be is instead a "tail" ending in a triangular pad. I think it's supposed to look like it hangs from ceilings from that thing, like a sucker maybe, but in the came it's just sitting on the ground. The opening of the shoe is pitch black and lined with teeth, with a single reptilian eye staring from the darkness and a giant, purple tongue flopping out. Love this thing!
A muscular man in tattered monk's robes, with either a painted white face or a white mask. One mutated, enormous arm bears an eye on its bicep, the other limbs are absurdly shrunken, and multiple parasites protrude gruesomely from the figure's back, resembling the scaly abdomens of flea-like insects with no visible appendages. Isnt this more than one "parasite?" Variant names include "infecten" and "brainvader!"
BLOODCLUB A centipede-like Marchen, with a single large human-like eye on its spiny head, and a row of human mouths with brightly colored lips all the way down its fleshy, pink underbelly. These designers were almost never content to just scale up an arthropod, but opted for absurd and dreamlike anatomical twists!
This thing is a horrible mechanized contraption, seemingly cobbled together from mostly wood, with a pole-shaped body atop four legs. This image cuts off whatever's attached to its right arm, but its left arm has a stapled-together human forearm and a gigantic hacksaw for a hand. Atop its pole body is the head of a dead man, also stapled in place. It's all pretty grisly, but I love the little "neck ruff" of shingles, like from a little birdhouse. What are those even there for?? So the head doesn't leak blood down into the joints??
Who in their right mind could be more into this game's protagonists, I mean honestly? This is a wife, right here. She's got it all. Big boobs, reasonably big butt, giant gnarled arm with giant gnarled claws, no other arm, no legs, poison ivy vines crawling around on her wooden skin and a giant octopus tentacle for a head, lined with pink flesh and what are either suckers or eyes, probably somehow both. That covers pretty much every base you could ever need, I'm pretty sure.
Another enemy family with a lot of recolors, these fun little guys (okay, they're actually alarmingly large) are round, blobby ghosts ala Slimer, with whispy grey hair and extremely sharp teeth in their otherwise humanlike faces. They wear little jackets and huge top hats with various patterns, and eye masks with only blank, bright white, glowing circles for eyes. They basically look like the ghosts of the Mad Hatter!
I don't know what this thing's name means. A "Flynicker" is apparently what you call a slimy clot of red flesh with flipper arms, a single foot and a big huge eyeball.
The Fool is an incredibly difficult design to describe, honestly. It has a fleshy, upright, intensely blue cucumber-shaped mass for a face, featureless except for a bright pink stripe and two rows of pink dots. It has like...fins on its back? Like a pair of biomechanical fishy fin things? It has humanoid arms, kind of, the forearms remind me of scaly seashells or something, with tentacle-like fingers. It has a dangling tail. I just have no idea what this thing is.
The head shape and eye placement is also lifted straight from Ultraman's Alien Metron! I guess the whole "Fool" species was a bit of a Metron homage.
This horrible, horrible thing is by far one of my favorite Marchen body plans. It looks like a great big, lumpy, wrinkly white maggot, sticking straight up as it stands on four almost perfectly human legs. Multiple arms sprout from its body, some bloody and skinless, one bizarrely holding a skinless arm and hand. Its head is just a darkly colored ball with a glowing, yellow eye to either side of its unpleasantly yonic, horizontal mouth, wicked little white teeth in its thick gums. More of these heads sprout from its body, at different stages of development, and the second largest is situated on an almost mushroom-like stalk, as if ready to form into an entirely new "maggot."
The VERY largest of its additional heads, however, is held in one of its free arms as though plucked from its body, and seems to be its primary weapon.
Several variations on this monster exist, mostly just in color swaps, but there's also one I've seen in some low-quality videos whose "heads" are just brains, each with just a single eyeball in the middle!
Okay, now how the HELL do I put this thing into words? It's sort of "humanoid?" It stnads on two more or less humanoid legs, even if they end in clawed toenails, their knees are sharpened points and the flesh is as colorful as butterfly wings. The arms are similarly clawed, and appear armor plated. There's no head, per se, but the torso looks like a segmented, insectoid abdomen, like the belly of a cockroach or a cricket, with a pair of insect limbs sprouting from its sides.
And then, uh...where a head should be, I guess, or maybe where "shoulders" should be? God, I don't know, they're too far away from the humanoid arms to be the shoulders, but....waffles. A pair of giant, deliciously golden waffles. Liege waffles, I think those are called? I'm not saying it has a pair of things that "resemble" waffles, they are literally a couple of beautifully rendered waffles, even glistening with what may be syrup. Do those represent its "eyes?" I just...I don't know. This sure is a Metamorphosis I guess. Why not.
This one isn't too absurd; I could see it as a regular enemy in just about any RPG game! It's a Rafflesia flower, but with a fanged worm-like sphincter mouth in the center and a row of little beady ocelli. The rest of it is a slug-like body that tapers into a second worm-head, with three long, spiny jaws, a little tad Graboid-esque!
Marvelously unpleasant! This floating enemy's main body looks almost like a bright green stingray, with some neon pink spines, a pair of purple filamentous antennae and a couple of scowling little pink eyes. It's cartoonish and kind of plasticy looking, yet, dangling from its underside are multiple pairs of realistic human legs with hideous, swollen, splotchy blue bruises. It's like it went and stole some legs off some dead bodies, I guess? But it floats in the air anyway. It doesn't need to walk.
This is another I could see in a "normal" game. It's just a really nicely rendered, fairly realistic moth, but the eyespots on its wings are actual veiny eyeballs!
Thse moths also have strangely artificial looking wings, patterned in rectangles that look kind of like...xylophone keys, kind of.
It's a sea angel!! Like, an almost normal one. It has four wing-fins instead of the usual two, it's colored in a rainbow of Lisa Frank pastels and its feeding tentacles are always deployed, but otherwise, just a friendly neighborhood Clionid!
Wow, okay, now we've got a big sphere made of little grey blocks, some of which are breaking off and floating away to reveal an interior surface of bloodshot, lidless eyeballs, then it has a humanlike nose and giant, red-lipped human mouth, more eyeballs sprout from said mouth on extremely long, slimy purple stalks, and then it has a detached set of hovering spheres for "arms" with giant, hovering hands all made of the same little blocks.
I think the fact that it's called "Pandora Hand" when it has two ands is just an artifact of Japanese translation. That's your most pressing question about this thing, right?
A fraky plastic spider of spindly, doll-like limbs, with a torso on top and a disarmingly friendly looking, simple head; kind of egg-like with a little green clown nose, an admittedly cute smile and closed eyes with what appear to be spectacles. The weirdest part of the whole thing are the "arms," each consisting of three more plastic, clown-nosed faces. All of theirs eyes still appear to be closed, but with a wide variety of expressions.
This cute thing feels more like something out of "Splatoon!" A brightly colorful, speckled sea cucumber talking around on its oral tentacles, dotted with eyeballs whose bright green eyelids feel very expressive, even if you can't tell what expression the whole thing is making.
Yet another thing with a human mouth in its stomach, with red lips again, but this one has the torso and legs of a human woman, too, dressed in only a few skimpy pieces of golden armor. The arms are much thinner and bonier, however, with clawed hands, and instead of a head, it has a green crystal hovering over its golden neck-hole, and a halo hovering above that in turn. Six more crystals float in a wing-like arrangement behind it, so the whole thing is like a really messed up idea of an angel.
VILE EYE ENEMIES
These are the Vile Bahn, Vile Unknown, and Desperanzeye, enemies resembling upright pea pods, or maybe edamame bean pods, full of eyeballs instead of tasty beans! They stand on a pair of simple little humanoid legs, and attack with a pair of long whip-like tentacle arms. The inner edges of the open pods look almost like zippers, or perhaps those are just tiny little teeth! This is another of my favorite enemy types, and it's hard to pick a favorite of their wonderful color schemes. Vile Unknown is looking quite creepy with white base, red veins and candy-cane striped tentacles, while Desperanzeye has that eerie, golden circuit-like pattern over pitch black, and each of its eyeballs is more like a whole clump of little red-ringed eyes. Lovely!
What do you envision when you hear the name "SUN RAPTOR?" Well, the Jail doesn't give a shit about whatever you were thinking. The Jail thinks a "Sun Raptor" should be a blood red cabbage with a bunch of black, claw-like little roots poking from between its leaves, one pair of giant black tentacles, and three little eyeballs on top.
WILD. This is like a gangly, anthropomorphic cat person I guess, but its golden, hairless skin looks kind of like cloth or leather and even sewn together in places. It has an X-shaped wound and more stitches instead of eyes, no nose, wicked teeth in its gaping smile, spider-like legs on its back, and a beautiful purple eyeball, with a vivid green iris, rolling around in its belly. I like how the bottom edge of that eye socket is kind of shaped like a dripping teardrop, too.
This is the kind of thing a really edgy kid comes up with as their personal Original Character, and I mean that in the best possible way. That edgy kid is going places.
That's what you called this? A Round Cat? It's not even really round, is it? Its face is round, sure, with a big wide toothy smile and six eyes that are mostly sewn shut. The rest is just a large-clawed cat with a hunched, almost insectlike back, and a bunch of sharp spines that sort of look like protruding, upturned rib bones!
So now we're looking at some of the BOSSES! These aren't "Marchens," but more powerful beings known as Nightmares! These bastards can apparently chase you and damage you on the actual map, without even initiating a battle sequence yet. Part of gameplay is running away from these roaming Nightmares, and if you do enter a full blown boss fight, you can't run away or actually kill the creature; reducing its health to zero will only temporarily incapacitate it. This changes only when you kill the "core" of their respective dungeon area.
This one is an utterly absurd looking humanoid covered in overlapping plate mail scales. Its legs are tiny, but its big, flaring torso is dominated by a huge, gaping throat. Its adorable face is almost insect-like with its little fanged mandibles and big, rolling eyes, vicious white teeth set in exposed, red gums with no lower jaw. It also has huge demonic horns, and a chainsaw that somehow appears to be made from stitched together human faces. How do you make a chainsaw out of faces??
I mean, it's got a black military looking hat, and its little face sticks out of a white hood that flares into a comedically gigantic neck ruffle. Its torso gets a black top with poofy sleeves and a golden pearl necklace, it has a white doiley-like lace skirt thing and puffy white pantaloons, and finally a cape with a pattern of little gold stars. This Nightmare changes just a little after taking damage, but still in a pretty striking way:
Some of the designs in this game genuinely do feel like "nightmares," in a way that's kind of difficult to explain with words. Maybe browse through some of this very website's Nightmare Menagerie pages (like here, here, or here) and maybe you'll get what I mean? The creatures that appear in dreams, unrestrained by conscious logic, frequently exhibit anatomical quirks that truly defy explanation or even any reasonable aesthetic sense, in a genuinely "random" or "messy" way that can be difficult to capture on purpose. Many of monsters in Mary Skelter, however, feel so authentically dreamlike that I wonder if some of them weren't actually collected from the dreams or hallucinations of various real people, as we do for the Menagerie!
Unfortunately, like I said, this is a gruelingly long-ass game where you also have to collect under-dressed high schoolers, and nobody apparently cares enough about any other aspect of the game to have made most of the remaining enemies and bosses all that easy to find. If anyone out there can locate images of monsters from the third game and beyond, maybe I can squeeze another article out of them.
MORE HALLOWEEN FEATURES: