So when I was handed NIDHOGG II to review, I honestly had no idea what I was heading in for. I had never even heard of NIDHOGG; somehow the first one had escaped my notice.
For those of you who have also not heard of it, NIDHOGG II is a 2D side-scrolling platform fighting game. To quote the website, this sums up the game pretty perfectly:
Outsmart your opponents with all kinds of weapons in this life or death tug-of-war that ends in the belly of a flying worm.
Here is some gameplay footage of me playing the first few rounds so you can get a taste of it:
So here's the plot. You start off with a sword in hand with no indication of what exactly you should be doing with it, or how you should use it. There is a colorful world around you, but what you are doing there is beyond anyone's guess. And then as you start playing, opponents start attacking you. Or is that the same opponent, over and over again?
As I started getting the hang of playing the game, I realised what was happening. There are seven scenes: a mid-scene that you and your opponent share and three end scenes either side. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to keep going to your end of the scenes by killing your opponent in order to be eaten by a giant flying worm that chomps you up and sets you onto the next mission.
What I enjoyed was the variety of stages. There is even one stage where you literally run through the belly of the worm, and when you exit the end of the belly it lets off a certain flatulent sound before being chomped by mr flying worm to end the stage in victory.
When you are done setting your best time for arcade mode (mine was 50 minutes on the first try), you can play local or online multiplayer. This is where the real fun sets in. I challenged my wife to all the stages and risked getting divorced when I went through one stage hacking and slashing through her character without being touched. We also had some epic stages where we went back and forth for almost ten minutes until she finally beat me. (Read: until I got tired of it).
You will only find the most basic of controls on this game. Do you remember the old 2-button tv game controls we had in the 80's? Yeah, pretty much like that. One button is to hack and slash, while the other one is to jump. At the start I thought that was about it, but realised about halfway through arcade mode that pressing up and down on the left sick allowed my character to change the stance of the sword hand up or down.
This nifty trick came in handy. When slashing at legs no longer worked, jabbing them in the eye was pretty much the way to go. As you progress further into missions, you unlock the rest of the weapons which total up to four: a fencing sabre, a two-handed broadsword, a dagger and a bow. Just as you get the hang of one, you realise that a different would work better. Each time you die, the weapon changes.
In most weapon based games, I generally favor the bow for its long range, but not in NIDHOGG II. The arrow can be hit down by your opponent, rendering you pretty useless in close combat. When I learnt how to throw a weapon, that became my favorite party trick. You see, once you kill your opponent, there is an arrow at the top of the screen giving you the go ahead to run to your goal. This means that you can just keep running and evading your opponent. Throwing your weapon into the back of your enemy's head is a sure-fire way stopping them in their tracks and placing the mission back in your favor.
What at first seemed like a very ridiculously simple way of playing the game made it so much enjoyable in the long run.
Compared to today's games available out there, the graphics are not amazing. Having said that, there is some artist beauty in the stage scenes and they are very creative. I rather enjoyed seeing my character's blood splatter like paint over scenes. And the more you killed on a certain scene, the more the stage filled with your painted innards. There is even a satisfying crunch as your ribs and bones explode.
NIDHOGG II is yet another game that spells Replayability very well. You can play this day in and day out if you have the right company, or if you are trying to beat the best arcade time in the world. There is a 8 player tournament of sorts, where two face off against each other in elimination match style until there are only two left in the finals. I dare say this could turn into an eSport of some sort if someone was crazy enough to be inclined to do so.
They would have to add more stages, character customizations and weapons if they'd want to keep me longer than a week though. While this game can be greatly enjoyable, I would grow bored of it very quickly if I played it too often.
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER
As I am pretty sure this game was catering for a love of old arcade games, it's hard for me to say the graphics could have been better. It wouldn't have hurt though. The game is pretty good as it stands, but one hopes there will be some DLC for extra customization, weapons and stages some time in the future. Some fun mini games would have been enjoyable too, and would probably have increased the replayability for me. Like bumper cars with blades around the sides and front, or flying on the back of the worm and seeing how many coiny clouds you can collect while swiping at your opponent who is attempting to do the same.
All in all, one cannot deny the fun factor in this game. There is action, adventure, horror, science fiction, fantasy, and comedy. It brings back that arcade simplicity in gaming that we used to have in the 80's, which I guess some kids of today may not appreciate. Yet, unless I have friends coming around daily to have some chop suey against me, I don't see me being stuck on this game too often. Having said that, I look forward to some decent DLC and even a sequel.
A fun action packed fighter that could do with some extra content