The Forces of Light and Dark Clash Again
November 2, 2009 – Hack ‘n slash games are extraordinarily popular these days. The mindless button-mashing against endless waves of (usually) dumb enemies has been a winning formula for games like Dynasty Warriors and Ninety-Nine Nights. NNN2 promises to take that same winning formula and bring it to the next level with even more enemies, better visuals, and a darker story. The original wasn’t received very warmly, so the announcement of a sequel was a bit of a surprise to a lot of us. But if you’re jonesing for some brutal action, Ninety-Nine Nights 2 is shaping up to be one of the better games in its genre.
The premise is simple, as it’s basically the all-too-common good versus evil story set in a world filled with a war being waged by Goblins, Demons, and Humans. The war began because of the mysterious power stone, which was destroyed birthing a demon and throwing the world into ninety-nine nights of darkness. The Demon Lord and his army were defeated on the one-hundredth day by the Keeper of the Orb and peace reigned. That is, until the Keeper of the Orb was murdered and the stone was torn in half. The humans took one piece while the Goblins took the other and the war began. It seemed like the humans were going to win when the Elves sided with them, but the Goblins had made an ally as well: the Lord of Darkness. So while the fantasy story isn’t terribly original, it’s enough of a backdrop for a game that doesn’t necessarily need to be story-driven.
The most important thing in this type of game is the combat, since slaying countless foes is going to be the activity that takes up most of your time. Luckily, there’s a bit of depth to the gameplay that allows you to level up your character, customize your active and passive skills, and choose from a selection of familiar weapons. You use your skills by holding the left bumper and pressing the four face buttons on the Xbox 360 controller. When the bumper isn’t being held, the face buttons are used for jumping, dodging, and weapon attacks. The controls aren’t anything gamers haven’t seen before, so there’s really nothing to get used to, and they’re simple enough for newcomers to the genre.
The original was flawed, but one thing the developers got right was the game’s visuals, and NNN2 is looking even better this time around. The orcs, goblins, and trolls look like the giant, disgusting creatures we’ve come to expect, and they’re ugly mugs make it even more satisfying to slay them in combat. Like any good fantasy RPG, there’s also several classes to choose from, each paired with their own unique set of skills and spells. The locales are include the jungle, castle, desert areas we’re accustomed to, though the level design seems to be a bit stronger now.
One great new feature in the game is its colossal boss fights, which draw obvious connections with games like Demon’s Souls. The game seems to have taken a page out of Shadow of the Colossus’ book, because to defeat the bosses, you have to climb them while attacking their limbs as you go up. Again, not terribly original, but giant bosses are a welcome feature in really any game if you ask me. The boss fights should definitely help to break up the repetitive hack ‘n slash gameplay a bit.
All in all, Ninety-Nine Nights 2 is looking like a worthy sequel, as it fixes some of the issues the previous game had while adding a few new elements to the mix. It still hasn’t managed to separate itself from looking like another Dynasty Warriors clone, but it’s still early and there’s still a lot we don’t know about the game, so there’s still time for it to prove itself. One thing is sure, if you’re looking for another fun, button-mashing, excessively gory, fantasy RPG, NNN2 shouldn’t disappoint.