Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Nyan Nyan Tower (PC)

Collecting physical copies of doujin PC games is becoming something of a mini-hobby for me recently, and 2001's Nyan Nyan Tower is my latest acquisition. It's a cure maze game that plays a lot like a top-down version of the old SEGA arcade game Flicky: your aim is to go around each single-screen stage, pick up all the fairies, and bring them to the exit. Just like in Flicky, and Blitter Boy, and other games of this type, there's more points to be had by bring multiple fairies home at once. However, unlike every other game, it's not that simple: each fairy is colour-coded and they have to be picked up in rainbow order from red to violet, in order to score the big points.

When you start the game, you can choose between story and challenge mode, though the only difference I can see between them is that Story mode has a dialogue scene at the start. More meaningful is the choice between two characters, Nora and Ziam. Nora's normal attack is very close range, and only stuns enemies, though it can destroy destructible walls and reveal hidden coins (of which there is one on each stage, and every five stages you get to use them to play a bonus game), and to kill enemies, she has to use a charge attack. Ziam, on the other hand has a ranged normal attack, which kills enemies in one hit, but needs a charge attack to destroy walls and reveal coins.

Nyan Nyan Tower would be a pretty great game if it weren't for two problems. The first is that it's really, really slow. I'm sure it's not a frame rate issue, since all the sounds seem to be playing at the right speed, plus I'm sure my computer, which can emulate the Dreamcast and PS2, should have no trouble keeping up with a 2D indie game from eighteen years ago. But even though Nora moves slightly faster than Ziam, they both still feel like they're wading through treacle the whole time. The other problem is kind of related, and it's that the game is just too easy. Even if you play for score and go around collecting the fairies on each stage in order, you'll get more than ten stages in before you lose a single life. In fact, it's so easy that I've yet to have the patience to play an entire credit of it yet: I get bored and give up long before I'm in any danger of running out of lives.

It's a shame, but not every game can be a lost classic, I guess. Still, in NNT's favour, I will say that it's very well presented, and it's got some good ideas, even if the execution isn't great. The developers, Shisui House seem to have been pretty prolific around the early 00s, and they've got a few games I'd like to look at in the future too, and this one wasn't bad enough to put me off them, at least. But I still don't recommend tracking it down.

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