N3 II: Ninety-Nine Nights Xbox 360 Review

September 6, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews & Features, Xbox 360, Xbox

Publisher – Konami – Developer – FeelPlus – Genre – Action – Players – 1-2 – Age Rating – 18+ – Other console/handheld formats – N/A

N3: Ninety-Nine Nights was widely regarded as a badly designed game, suffering from various design flaws that transformed an otherwise enjoyable game into an infuriating experience on occasion. You’d have thought that lessons would have been learnt from these mistakes for a sequel, but alas that sadly is not the case.

N3 II: Ninety-Nine Nights is still focused on mass slaughter above anything else, but granting some context to all that bloodshed is a fairly substantial storyline. It’s a straightforward and clichéd good versus evil affair with bland characterization. In spite of this, it still manages to somehow be compelling on occasion and there are five characters, each with their own stories of which largely neatly intersects with one another.

Not even close to the insurmountable odds that it appears to be.

To many, story won’t matter a jot in such a game though, as once again, N3 II: Ninety-Nine Nights is of the crowd control genre, where the majority of the time is spent carving through an entire army. To do this, you use simplistic combos as well as magical skills and are able to use a powerful orb attack to take down masses of enemies down all at once, all whilst laughing maniacally, perhaps.

To give this empowering illusion that you’re some sort of god of war, your attacks literally slice the enemies in two, whilst the opposition’s AI is severely limited and will simply stand around for the majority of the time, as if they’re awaiting their deaths, allowing the kill count to quickly rise. For the genre, that’s somewhat of a success and perfectly acceptable to fans.

Much less successful is the checkpoint placement, of which is actually an improvement over the original game for the simple fact that they actually exist this time around. But their sparseness means that it’s not uncommon for death in the game to set you back as far as 45 minutes or so and having to replay such large chunks in an already repetitive game will make even those tolerant of all the hacking and slashing, begin to hate the game to its rotten core.

Progression can be eased somewhat by levelling up the skills of your character prior to beginning a stage. This is done by spending the orbs that defeated enemies politely leave behind, levelling up your character, weapon or accessories in the process, though you have to be careful of what you opt to spend the orbs on, or you may very well be forced to replay a stage to amass more to improve another area of your character, though some are sure to find a compulsion in this.

In terms of variety, Mass combat games rarely have much to offer and N3 II: Ninety-Nine Nights is an even worse culprit than other games in this regard and an attempt to mix things up with the occasional platforming sections, just causes frustration due to awful, imprecise jumping. There’s too much of a reliance on hitting objects to open doors and the battlefields are bland, lacking the colour that often made the original game look so appealing. The combat itself no longer rewards you additional combos as you level up, so you have fewer options for mixing up your attack strings than you previously did, though the accessories that grant you magical abilities do offer some welcome variety to the large scale combat.

Combat is fun, but a number of problems get in the way of that fun.

The five characters also have little to separate them from one another, other than, of course, cosmetic and minor differences in their strength, speed and such. Each also has their own unique ability to reach inaccessible areas. Worse, is the fact that each character doesn’t have their own set of levels, so you’ll find yourself fighting through the same handful of dull looking stages during the course of the game again and again, albeit with different objectives.

There’s online options, though at the time of writing I wasn’t able to experience them, though it’s fairly substantial, with a few modes of play, the most notable being maze, where one player fights off enemies and the other solves puzzles. In a nice touch, experience gained in the online modes can be carried over to the main story mode, allowing you to boost the stats of your characters, though I can’t see such a niche game garnering much of a community, which makes the lack of local multiplayer all the more disheartening.

N3 II: Ninety-Nights, whilst making some improvements, largely loses of what made the original game quite likeable, that being fun and a less limited set of hues. Its flaws are more critical, resulting in a game that often isn’t very much fun to play and it’s just a soulless experience that, ahead of crafting a good game, is seemingly focused on attempting to impress you by filling your screen with as much enemies as possible.

Well, I’m unimpressed.