Humans and Goblins; two races that once lived in peace now fight a fierce war against each other in a struggle to regain the light and dark crystals and earn domination for their respective sides. In Ninety-Nine Nights you fight in large-scale battles using one of seven different characters, representing both the forces of good and evil.
One of the main draws of the game is the large-scale battles, on the battlefield you will be faced with literally hundreds of enemies on the screen at once. This works well a lot of the time but can fall short of offering a real challenge. This is mainly due to the poor artificial intelligence (AI). The opposing forces rarely attack you, and even when they do it has very little affect. The only time when you might have a problem is when you are fighting some of the larger boss enemies, which seem to be a little smarter and attack with more power and frequency. But their predictability allows you to easily dispatch them once you get their attack patterns down. You won’t have to fight on your own however, at the start of each battle you are given the option to choose some guard units to help you out. This is a bit of a pointless addition, all of the units fight the same way and never seem to actually be able to harm your opponents, and to be honest they act as more of a distraction than a help, and add nothing to the gameplay.
Speaking of game-play there is nothing in this game that has not been seen already, this is 100 per cent hack-and-slash. There are a few interesting ideas thrown in but it won’t take too long before the repetitiveness sets in and boredom takes over. The biggest flaw in the game is the combat system. It’s a button-masher, plain and simple. Your basic weak and strong attacks are mapped to the X and Y buttons respectively and you can easily beat the game by continuously hitting these buttons. There is a levelling system in place, whenever you kill an enemy you gain experience points and when you gather a certain amount you level up, which gives your stats a slight boost and provides some new moves. These new moves, although more powerful than the base attacks, are rarely used as it remains more effective to simply mash the base attack buttons. To try and change things up a bit you will occasionally be able to use an ‘orb attack’. This is an extra powerful move that allows you to take out multiple enemies with one blow, and makes you invulnerable for a short time. To activate this attack you first need to collect a certain amount of red orbs by killing enemies. When you have enough hit the B button and you’re away. Killing enemies while in orb attack mode will give you blue orbs, which work in a similar way to red orbs except when you have enough hitting B again will unleash a super powerful orb attack killing every enemy on the screen. This serves both as a good way to break up the button mashing and a nice little reward for doing well and string together large combos.
The biggest annoyance that I have with the combat is the amount of slow down that you experience, the whole draw of the game is that you get to fight against hundreds of enemies at the same time. However in the heat of battle the game will slow down severely, which frustrates and damages the appeal of the game.
N3 is a strictly single player affair. The meat of the game is the story mode. As you play the game with each of the different characters, you experience the war through the perspective of your current character, as well as a different piece of the story specific to them. Because of this you will need to play the story mode seven times to fully understand the motives and intentions behind the war. Although this may sound like a good idea the characters you have to choose from seem generic, and tend to play the same way. Each character has their own specific set of moves at their disposal but unless you take the time to learn the moves you will just be using X and Y attacks, which all look and feel the same for every character.
The story itself is weak, and acts as a backdrop for the fighting, rather than establishing any sense of who the characters are and providing a compelling reason to play the game. Each character has only a few objective based missions, these include protecting an ally, defending a certain area or just wiping out the opposing force. The biggest problem here is that throughout the game most of the time the same environments are used for each character, just with a different objective. This helps the already lacking gameplay seem that much more repetitive. When you finish a mission you are given a grade based on factors such as how long you took, how many enemies you defeated and how many allies lived. As well as some points that can then be used to purchase the games ‘extras’, and I use the term loosely. The only unlockables in the game is its artwork. A nice idea but it doesn’t have enough padding to provide a reason for repeat plays.
Graphically the game looks quite nice, especially the cut scenes. The character and enemy animations are fluid although overuse means they do become repetitive. The character models look nice, as do some of the enemies that you fight. Despite the occasional lag, having so many enemies on the screen at once is an accomplishment and really adds to the game. The environments are visually impressive but again get tiresome after a couple of play throughs. It would have been nice to be able to have some sort of variation in the places that you fight. But if you are going to play the same levels over and over you can at least be happy with the fact that they look nice, and offer a lareg space in which to fight. The high point of the game’s audio is the soundtrack. This orchestrated music in the game adds to the ‘epic’ feel that the game is trying to achieve and the tunes are a real treat to listen to. The rest of the audio is pretty standard, the voice acting varies from passable to awful, depending on the current character and the sound effects are bare bones, with only the obligatory grunts and groans given of by the enemies.
Overall I think N3 is miss-able, if you are a fan of the hack-and-slash genre you may get some enjoyment out of the game but if you are just a casual gamer then I would give it a rent. I think that if the developers went the extra mile it could have been a much better game. But unfortunately the poor AI, repetitive game play and forgettable story means that N3 is destined to mediocrity, and is hard to enjoy for more than a couple of hours.
Originally Written By: Liam Kenna