Thanks to LUEGOLUEGO STUDIOS for the review code
Release Date: 08/08/2018
In this puzzle platformer, you take control of a young man named Nogalious who sets out to rescue his girlfriend from an evil force! A very simple story throwing back to the very simple days, this one of the MSX!
Nogalious is a screen-by-screen platformer, not unlike MSX games of old. You can definitely feel the MSX influence through the game’s soundtrack, which is outright lifted from the MSX port of the game the devs would create, and it’s pretty darn good, being faithful to the hardware that produced games like Nemesis and Vampire Killer.
The visuals here aren’t that bad either, although they definitely aren’t MSX quality, being a bit above it due to extra colors, animations and just more smoothness in general, with the screen transitions being the closest to MSX this game gets to looking, but the pixel art is still very charming nevertheless.
Being a puzzle platformer, Nogalious tasks the player with going screen by screen, finding keys to open the exit and moving onto the next screen. Starting out, Nogalious can move and jump, but that’s about it. Still, he can find items and upgrades and use those to help clear the screens, whether it’s an upgrade, a weapon, or something secret.
Each world is broken up into a certain amount of screens, and ends in a boss encounter. You get the sword right before the first one, but you may not be able to get past it, since for some baffling reason, the first boss just loves to spawn smaller enemies that show up out of complete nowhere; often leading to them spawning on top of my character with no way to counter or do anything to avoid certain death.
You have limited continues, so the entire game is trial and error just like the games of old, for worse in this case, and in my case, I was literally unable to beat the first world due to the boss’s enemy RNG working out badly in my favor, time and time and time again. Even as I’d slowly master the puzzles leading up to him, I’d just keep dying and getting bored with retrying, to the point I’d take breaks for months at a time before giving it another go, since I really do not like covering games if I don’t make it far enough to see all the mechanics.
Yet, it kept happening. I got very familiar with the first world and even found some clever secret items, but just kept meeting the same dead end. Along with that, the hit detection in Nogalious is very jank in general, with some enemies being very difficult to avoid contact with, while some enemies are easier to dodge than you think they would be.
Alas. The presentation is good, and the game has promise, but I still could not get over that wall, after two years of off and on attempts. It also didn’t help that controller support in this game is clunky as well, but I was able to remedy that by eventually buying a Steam Controller, which had better compatibility than my USB pads of old. But even with a fine controller, the game’s difficulty was just too inconsistent and not fun to get into for me, and eventually, I had to draw a line.
In conclusion, Nogalious is an incredibly average throwback to the MSX. It does a lot of things really well in paying tribute, but some of these aspects go a bit too far and hurt the playability of the game overall, especially with all the random bugs that pop up and still persist to this day. If you can get a controller working, you may find a decent time here, but you’ll still encounter lots of iffy hitboxes, funky glitches and a difficulty so varied it’s not even funny, with walls you may or may not be able to clear.
It is really cool that the music can play on a real MSX and even is in the MSX port of the game, (sold separately, which also has some controller bugs unfortunately) but a good presentation needs to accompany a good game, and sadly Nogalious isn’t quite there yet, though hopefully the other parts in the trilogy will be. In all honesty, I’d just recommend you check out the MSX version of the game, if you want to check this title out at all, since it’s much more impressive when a throwback is actually running on the hardware it was inspired by to begin with.
I give Nogalious a 4 out of 10.