Review by Nivla

Reviewed: 08/13/00 | Updated: 08/13/00

A game that had so much potential, but did not do so well in its overall performance

Up until the point that Nightshade was released for the NES, there were no games of its kind. The genre of Nightshade is extremely hard to describe. A part of it is like an RPG. Where you have at least some control of the story, where you could explore, and talk to citizens to gain information about your next location. Some parts are like a fighting game, where you fight one on one with your enemy in a fighting game format. Then there are parts where it’s just senseless, where nothing made sense. And that is basically the entire game in a nutshell. Although this game had great potential to be a legend of adventure games, this game blew right up. The story is confusing, and nothing appears to make any sense.

The story is somewhat unclear. It is not explained very well through the course of the game. That is one of the game’s major weaknesses. It leaves the player wondering what has just happened. Therefore, I will quote the back of the box to explain the story, which should be as clear as it could possibly get. It is mankind’s darkest day! The shadows of doom grow long as the ancient Egyptian villian Sutekh envelops Metro City with a wave of crime. But Sutekh’s seedy underworld is about to be infiltrated by a superhero who can melt into the darkness like a phantom. By day this brave new crime fighter is a common ordinary citizen. But when night falls, he is cloaked in a secret identity to seek out and destroy the dark forces that lurk on midnight streets. Who is this man the press calls Nightshade? Only you can answer that, for he is you. Every night you solidify your superhero status, patrolling one hundred of the city’s darkest corner, including King Rat’s filthy underground hideout and the League of Unreasonable Gentlemen. Here you’ll find thieves, muggers and other alley scum that you must either deal with or destroy for clues. But be warned. You’re not the only night stalker. For as you hunt Sutekh, Sutekh hunts you with the human printing press, the closing wall of spikes, deadly jackal pits, and the chilling freeze tray. To overcome these treacherous obstacles, you must seek out hidden weapons, including energy domes, force gloves and The Staff of Ra. More importantly, you must use problem-solving skills to outsmart five crime kings who hold the inner secrets to Sutekh’s Lair. Of course, the ultimate key to destroying Sutekh is your popularity. For it’s a power source that gives you wits to decipher clues and the strength to pulverize villains are rescue innocent bystanders. Remember. If this heroic prowess ever diminishes, you’ll no longer control the night. You’ll be consumed by it.

The player will spend most of his/her time exploring, talking to people to gain clues on your next location, or any possible dangers. As you can see, this is clearly an RPG element. And that is about the only thing I really love about this game. It gives you so much possibilities on exploration. There are very little limits. But this game contains a feature in exploration that is not featured in any other game. There is a bar called the “popularity bar”. This is my favorite feature of the game, and I wish this bar is included in all other RPGs. This bar will raise and lower depending on the deeds you do during the game. If the bar is high, you will get more information out of the citizens you talk to. If it gets too low, you will barely get any information. This really adds to the realism of the game. Another thing I really like about this game is that if you get defeated while exploring or in a battle, you do not die right away. The game gives you a second change. If you “die” during the game, your character is placed in a situation of peril. Whether tied to a conveyer belt on your way to being stomped with a huge chunk of metal, or in a room with a closing wall of spikes, the game gives you an opportunity to continue on with the game. If you can manage to escape, you will resume the game. If you fail in your attempt, you really do die and it’s game over. However, that’s where the great things about the gameplay end. The battles are horribly done. They are in a fighting game format (or at least resemble one). In addition to moving side to side, characters can move up and down. The jumping and crouching are extremely awkward. And they are done extremely difficult to do on the controller. And that is the worst thing about this game, the controls. There is an extremely huge amount of “button mashing” in this game, all of it during the battles. Because the NES controller only has 2 additional buttons besides the directional pad, the moves required are extremely difficult to perform. Only the punches and kicks are easy to do. But blocking, crouching and jumping all require you to press at least 2 buttons, and that is what will jam your thump up real good. You might experience a sore thumb after playing this game for a while. However, there is a really good challenge in this game. But that is only referring to the difficulty. The difficulty is very high here, it is of an ideal challenge. But the scaling difficulty and learning curve are both very terrible. The game requires you to learn too many things in too short of a time. In fact, you will have to think very quickly to get out of a tough situation at the very beginning of the game.

I cannot really find anything to complain about the graphics, so I have no choice but to rate it as very good. There is no need to strain your eyes to see. Everything in this game is so clear. The text in the text boxes is very easy to read. This game really uses the power of the NES to the max. The colors are used very well to create the image that the city is corrupted and flooded in a wave of evil and crime. The audio did not do as well as the graphics, unfortunately. Some of the bleeps and bloops are extremely disorientated. The music is so blurred up it can be described as useless crap.

The fun factor is extremely low. Half of the time you are wondering what is going on. Spending the whole day with a sore thumb is definitely not fun. I would know that from first hand experience. This game will bust your thumb up good. The replay value is quite below average, but not as bad as I thought. There are plenty to do in this game. There is much to explore.

Overall, this is a game with great potential, but it did not fare out so well.

FINAL RANKINGS:
Gameplay:6
Challenge:6
Controlls:4
Graphics:7
Audio:6
Fun Factor:2
Replay Value:4
Overall:4

Rating:   2.0 - Poor

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