Nogalious is a game that touts itself as a revival of classic 8-bit personal computer platformers. There is more than a grain of truth to that statement, but it doesn’t stop it being a frankly awful idea, even for people who’re still into 8-bit micro-computer games.
Bad Ideas Then, Bad Ideas Now
The primary issue is that the 80’s was an awkward time for computer games. The home computer revolution meant that lots of people had computers, and therefore lots of people were making their own games. Due to being pretty early on in the history of video games things weren’t fully codified yet, so we ended up developing some strange tropes.
Things like the lives system ended up being bought into the home because they were a solid fixture of the arcade era when games needed to steal as much money from kids as possible. In the home it just served to lock off content from the people that had paid for it, or at least to make very short games seem a lot longer.
Nogalious suffers from this last point quite severely. You’re limited to 5 lives and 3 continues, then you have to start over from the beginning of the game. You have no life bar and each hit equals a death. This goes towards disguising the fact that if you didn’t die the game would be over in less than 30 minutes at most.
The controls in Nogalious are also another relic from the past. You can use either a controller or a keyboard, but neither is a particularly good option. The controls are somehow too stiff and too slippy at the same time. Not great for a game filled with precise platforming.
Making jumps is a pain, especially since the jump button seems to respond just a half second too late most of the time. More often than not you’ll end up plunging into water or a pile of thorns instead of leaping heroically across a chasm.
You run around collecting items, both to use against obstacles and to keep progressing. You get weapons to use against enemies but they’re pretty useless and rare for the most part, especially since dying brings back any enemies on the screen that you already took care of.
Like a Boss (But Not a Good One)
Each world ends with a different boss, similar in style to either Mega Man or Castlevania. The bosses are at least as annoying as the levels are. Thanks to stiff controls and one hit kills you’ll probably struggle to beat the first one without smashing something.
The issue with the first boss at least is that it spawns enemies. The issue is that it spawns them into thin air, right in front of it’s face. Which is were you need to be to cause it damage.
Because these enemies appear out of nowhere you have to rely on luck to take the boss down. Even if you pull it off it feels more like a hollow victory than an obstacle overcome.
End of the Line
In trying to revive the games of the past Nogalious has ended up a stiff, frustrating mess. Instead of keeping interesting elements and pairing them with new ones Nogalious focused on just looking and sounding as authentic as possible.
Unfortunately Nogalious is a game that only a rabid enthusiast of the 80s computer scene will actually want to play. Instead of a game which could have introduced the still surviving scene to a new generation of gamers.
- Look authentic
- Music sounds good
- Available on 8-bit computers
- Stiff controls
- One-Hit Kills
- Easy game overs
While Nogalious might hold some appeal for collectors or 8-bit PC enthusiasts it doesn’t have much of a place in the modern world of video games. Many of the tropes that it clings too were lost for a reason. The attempt to stick too closely to the source material has made the game overly frustrating and unappealing. Approach it with caution.