Saturday, April 3, 2010

Night Creatures

Manley & Associates / NEC

Hm, where to start with this one...

Well, I love this sidescrolling quest game, and I've played through it many, many times, but make no mistake: it is a kitsch classic through and through and NOT a quality product. You won't have fun with it unless you're willing to laugh at it and forgive it its many technical and mechanical flaws. There's a great deal of outlandishness that you'll have to tolerate...

The controls are "floaty," to be kind, and the collision detection is out-of-this-world awful. Blows that appear straight and true go right through your adversaries, allowing them to knock you around the screen, rendering you helpless as you're endlessly bobbled about. You must take ridiculously unfair deaths in stride if you're going to make it to the end of the adventure. You have to be the sort who'll find humor in a poor ungainly fellow being gang-beaten by bats and rats until he meets his doom. If you're not that sort, then don't bother with this game.

The characters are quite the goofy bunch. The main guy looks like a stooge, with his awkward gait and crimson trousers. At the bottom of the screen is a portrait of his unfortunate countenance, which gets even sillier looking as he undergoes his curse-incited transformation into a night creature. And then there's the "wise woman," who looks like a portly Aunt Jemima (as once acutely noted by VideoGames & Computer Entertainment) and gives advice in the form of laughably stilted and inarticulate blurbs.

The enemies are also ridiculous. Individual bosses can often be taken out with just one use of an item or weapon. Cerberus here ranks among the silliest game creatures in history. He initially charges at you in fierce fashion but turns tail and flees as soon as you swing your sword. Once you've completed your futile swipe, he comes at you again, only to run away again when you take another hack. So proceeds the inane affair that was supposed to make for a dramatic commencement of the final stage's boss gauntlet.

You can change into four different beasts (bear, wolf, badger, and owl), which seems cool, but unfortunately, the forms are nearly worthless. Take the badger form: there's one part in the catacombs level where you'll need it to get through a narrow opening.

That... is the only time I use the badger form in the whole game.

And let's not forget about the "eerie" three-number soundtrack. Yep, this is a quest game that has only three tunes. The "instrumentation" for said tunes is hilariously poor.

Should you be able and willing to tolerate all that stuff, you'll discover that the ending is terribly brief. If you don't find the "joke" funny, you might just find yourself pissed that you wasted twenty minutes on the affair.

Basically, if you're thinking about buying NC or giving it an honest go, you've got to decide if the above-cited items will amuse you or simply irritate you. If you're up for some lowbrow hijinks, try it!

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