Saturday, October 2, 2010

Demo Round-up: Ninety Nine Nights 2

What to call the sequel to Ninety Nine Nights? One Hundred Nights? N3-2? Ninety Nine Nights Two doesn't seem like the most flowing title, but at least it's better than Two Worlds Two.

I have a confession to make: I actually really enjoyed the original N3. One of the earliest games released for the Xbox 360 in 2006, it was visually impressive, it let you smash entire legions of enemies, and I even liked the Japanese-Tolkienesque setting, even if two of the seven playable characters were pretty awful. It was a simple sort of game, though, and I wasn't really anticipating a sequel.

Ninety Nine Nights 2: Now with Extra Grey

I spotted the demo a month or so ago and thought I'd download it out of curiosity. The demo gives you a single mission with no real exposition (I think it had some fluff on the loading screen, but it didn't really provide much context), with a character who wasn't in the first game. It drops you onto a grey battlefield with a few grey enemies to fight your way through on your way to some grey objectives on your mini-map. It's immediately striking how monotone the demo mission seems; it is probably to try and invoke a smoky, harrowing battlefield, but it just looks dull. The vivid colour palette was one of the defining aspects of the first game's visuals, it seems a shame to have moved away from it.

Repeated presses on the attack buttons see enemies sliced in two around you, but the combat is simplistic and there aren't enough enemies about to distract you with the scale of the battle. Some basic hack 'n slash gets you through to an uninteresting boss creature, which is so busy beating away at the disposable AI allies that you barely have to dodge any attacks as you wear it down. After the boss falls, the demo ends, and I was left with absolutely no desire to have had it go on for any longer. It just seemed so pointless, even if my gaming time wasn't as constrained as it is I couldn't see the point of slogging through something like this. It almost makes you wonder why developers release demos for games like this - I can't imagine anyone playing it and thinking "I've got to get me some more of this", they'd be better off hoping some people who may have enjoyed the first game would pick it up on a whim. This demo is probably only losing them sales.

Maybe I'm being a little harsh, maybe the actual game is more interesting than the demo suggests. Sadly for Konami and Phantagram, a metascore of 45 implies otherwise.