By Mathew Imfeld / September 10th, 2018
Nogalious is the titular protagonist of today’s impressions piece, where he must set out against evil. One day, his daughter gets kidnapped by the being known as Darama. He sets out to rescue her and start off the chronicles of Nogalious. Nogalious, the game itself, is a retro platformer actually released on the Amstrad, Spectrum, Commodore 64, and MSX. Based on what I read, it seems that for those systems specifically, it was a recent release akin to how other developers might develop a game for retro systems specifically these days. The version being discussed however is the one on Steam, boasting superior graphics, though it features the same level design. As a retro title, how does it fare?
Overall, the game plays like any other basic platformer. What is most important is its structure, where much of the time you need to find a key in a room in order to progress. Not all rooms are like this. In fact the cemetery has very few, but finding these keys can be a simple matter of getting to where it is located, finding a switch to make the key spawn, or doing a small puzzle. Of course, a myriad of obstacles and enemies bar the path so caution should be exercised. You can find upgrades and weapons like the ability to jump higher, a bow and arrow, and more. Many of these can also be important to traverse through the level so it is important to keep a hold of these.
In reality, most of these challenges would be simple if it weren’t for one issue: Nogalious dies in one hit, even to the most simple of hazards unless you have found a shield to take an extra hit. Lightning is deadly in any situation, however even the mere touch of water droplets is enough to send Nogalious to an early grave. That in itself would not be a problem if it weren’t for the fact that level design doesn’t feel suited for the idea of being a one-hit wonder. Many things are exceptionally out of synch, making pattern recognition for obstacles and enemies an impossibility. It doesn’t help that the game feels the need to have the player combat many of the foes that stand in their way with just a sword in hand. In all other games I know of that you die in one hit like Super Meat Boy, Celeste, many on-rail SHMUPs and the like, either it placed emphasis on ranged combat or just avoiding all obstacles entirely. Hitboxes are also an issue, compounding the inconsistent difficulty further.
The first boss especially lends credence to the inconsistent difficulty the game has to offer. The concept itself is simple; the boss hides in trees before popping into view where it slowly approaches with minions dropping in front of it, taking an occasional swipe at Nogalious. The problem is that the minions don’t spawn at set intervals along with the swipe. At times I can take it out swiftly and easily, other times it forces me to deplete all my lives, wasting a precious continue. It doesn’t help that in this game, unless an item is necessary in order to progress, you lose all obtained upgrades and weapons upon death.
Then there is the technical side of things. My computer is above the recommended requirements, yet the game did not feel optimized on my end. On my computer screen, nothing moves steadily or smoothly, in contrast to the demo video on Steam. It was to the point where after a mere 20 minutes of play, I just had to stop playing since I was suffering from eye aches and headaches. Which is unfortunate, since the game itself doesn’t look half bad.
In truth, I couldn’t complete Nogalious in a timely manner due to the nature of exhausting a couple of my continues by the time I reached stage three. Sometimes I performed beautifully for most of stage one, only to waste lives on the boss, whereas due to the nature of stage two I waste even more, then I lose the rest on stage 3. In this game, losing all continues is a true game over and it is back to the title screen. Overall, I didn’t have an enjoyable time with the game. I don’t have an issue with difficult games, however this one was not to my liking due to the inconsistency it offered. Perhaps those who are prepared for a very rough experience can have a decent time but otherwise, I would not recommend it.
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