Reviewed in 2011 by Tibe

UNDERTAKERS, GHOULS & OTHER FOLKS

by Tibe

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To all those who have spent hours on Bubble Bobble or possibly Snow Bros. in the arcades or even on NES, Gavaking's Nightmare in the Dark is waiting for you! Let's remind ourselves the principles of these platform-games a little different from Wonder Boy, Mario Bros or Sonic. Here's how it works: The stages are fixed screens filled with platforms and enemies, and you have to eliminate all of them to reach the next level. Each soft offers different methods or ways of playing to achieve this, but the principle remains the same for all. Alongside the great Bang Bang Busters and Zupapa on Neo Geo, here is the 'Cemetery Party' version of our game of platform! All a bunch of crappy creatures invested the necropolis you are in charge of. So, you go take care of the ghosts and other ghouls of all kinds. After all, you're the guardian of the cemetery, right? Just make sure that they keep quiet.

Flames temporarily immobilize enemies.
Flames temporarily immobilize enemies.

Anyway, from what I was told, you're so ugly that the people from the village don't want too much to see you... Nevermind, put on your beautiful retro-hooded sweatshirt, lighten your lantern, and follow me closely: we're gonna kick some butts! In Nightmare in the Dark, player controls a small goitre hunchback responsible for watching over the village cemetery, armed with his magic lantern. It will help you stop your enemies by setting them on fire (great balls of fire, man). It's about hammering at them until they turn into fireballs, and then retrieve and use the poor living torches as you wish: you can either blow them against the walls, or play bowling with their cronies! The game is based on bonus multipliers, triggered only if you manage to knock several enemies in a row, with a big bonus falling from the top if you eradicate all of a sudden. During the levels you'll need to collect different power-up, for your hero can level-up on three criteria: speed, power and reach of your flames. You have the power to collect the precious colored vials, to become the Maaaassttteeeeerrr...

This giant Frankenstein can make ghouls raise from the ground.
This giant Frankenstein can make ghouls raise from the ground.

The scoring system is one great feature of Nightmare in the Dark, it's comprehensive and taking with the different diamonds and coffers to recover, the bonuses and various multipliers, so much that you want to return to the game regularly to improve. It's the least the game could do to improve its replay value, because its biggest flaw is that it's particularly short. In total, five worlds made of five levels each, it's twenty five courses in all and for all. Now, just remember Bubble Bobble and its ninety-nine screens! Here, the game is challenging enough, at least enough not to have you clearing it the first time you play with the four basic credits: but with a little practice, many players can reach this achievement. Anyway, NITD is still attractive to compete with a friend and try to perform hi-scores. The whole realization is nice with cute graphics, colorful and well designed, but packing too few backgrounds and enemies. The animation is well decomposed, with only a few slowdowns - especially against some Bosses. As for the soundtrack, it's damn good, with catchy music worthy of a horror movie and well-chosen sound effects.

Carefully collect Power-up, Speed-up and Range-up...
Carefully collect Power-up, Speed-up and Range-up...

Well, Gavaking managed to produce a nice little arcade-platform game with this all cute Nightmare in the Dark, developed in the purest tradition like hits such as Bubble Bobble or Snow Bros. Nevertheless, these two are still references of the genre, with their still unmatched gameplay and replay value. Meanwhile, NITD is stylish and perfect to spend some good time with friends, and it meets all the criteria required to obtain a great platform game. The gameplay could have been perfect, but it has some annoying little flaws: the loss of all bonuses granted happening when any enemy touches you is very penalizing, as the basic speed of the character is too slow, and the difficulty is sometimes too high in certain stages. To cross the five different worlds is a friendly course, the Bosses are super cute (and sometimes huge!) and it's fun to calculate the trajectory of fireballs to knock as many enemies as possible. Anyway, Nightmare is still too short with its twenty five levels, having the players quickly go around the question.


GRAPHICS

80%

Simple but cute, NITD features a successful cartoon-horror style; but a little more variety would have been great.
ANIMATION 83%
Characters and Bosses in particular have a smooth animation, and overall the game is fluid and decently animated.
SOUND 78%
Few themes, but all are fitting well the action andthe effects are just good.
REPLAY VALUE 64%
NITD packs only 25 levels that can be cleared with just a little practice.
GAMEPLAY 82%
The game mechanics are pleasant, the action is taking, plus the cooperative play and scoring system are excellent.

NEOGEOKULT

RATE

76%
A good little game nicely crafted, but offering a too limited life.

VALUE FOR MONEY

An expensive convert (more than 150 euros) making the rate not so good. NITD is taking and very fun, but way too short for such a price. Anyway, the choice is rather limited in the genre: Zupapa or Bang² Busters are the only two rivals!

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