Ninety-Nine Nights II (XBOX 360)

Armoured Heroes at it for a while…. You can find my review over at SquareGo

Ninety-Nine Nights II

2/5
Ninety-Nine Nights II

It must be a rule somewhere that in times of medieval-fantasy strife there were a breed of women with wombs of steel. These women presumably only bred with similarly robust gentlemen and the resultant offspring were invariably born with perfect hair, rippling muscles or ridiculous curves and the ability to not die when faced with quite ridiculous odds. It’s the only explanation for the constant stream of heroic oddities that populate hack and slash games like the Ninety-Nine Nights series (N3 for short). Another rule is that if you’re born with sweeping filmstar hair, roguish scars, a bad attitude and worst of all, a memorable nickname; then you’ll be asked to rid the land of some pestilent evil that probably wronged you a few weeks earlier.

As such its no real surprise to learn that our long suffering hero stereotypes are on hand to maim their way to victory once again in N3-II. Thankfully this time you don’t need to keep track of an entire army of useless pikemen as well. Yes that most painful aspect of the original game; herding your pikemen and archers around the battlefield and trying desperately to stop them from getting killed has been removed.  Instead there are simply a variety of troops doing their own thing as you hack and slash away oblivious to them.  Occasionally you’ll be given the option to save some from a handful of enemies in an awkward place but for the most part it’s sailing solo.

While it’s always fun to run screaming though several hundred enemies at once with a large sword or axe, after the first few thousand deaths there’s an inescapable feeling that this sort of mass genocide might border on the edge of being unjustified. I mean do we really know why we’re killing these invading demons? Do we ask? No, we just suppose that because the elfy-humanoid types are the underdogs we should root for them.

In fact, kudos has to go to Q Entertainment for steering the villains away from the stereotypical pantomimery that usually appears in fantasy titles. Despite their monikers and woeful Friday night Goth clothing Lord Dark and his missus seem like fairly innocuous types, even if they do refer to everyone as ‘bugs’ and seem utterly unaware of concepts like hubris.

It’s still a giggle to play and a pretty spectacle but not much has really changed from N3; the rolling hills are still swarming with uglies, our heroes (more of whom unlock as the game progresses) run, jump, slash and magic them away in a largely unsatisfying manner and occasionally a boss appears. It’s not bad, just nigh on exactly the same as before.

Annoyingly the inability to save during missions is still infuriatingly unchanged as has the combo-less combat. Yes, fighting the hordes of evil can be done with the use of two buttons, one for heavy attacks and one for light.  You can block, sure, but theoretically you can dodge as well, and there are magic spells which feel like cheating, but come in handy when you’ve become so bored with one battlefield that you feel like you did when you threw the chessboard at your granddad having realised the game would take more than 10 minutes and didn’t have lasers.

Massive fans of the original N3 will lap it up, but anyone else would be far better off looking for something with Dynasty in the title. [not the TV show with the shoulder pads or power hair -Ed] I’m sure you’ll hear the clink-clink of some more heroes coming along soon enough.

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