The era of 8-Bit gaming is fondly remembered by many gamers. The colourfully simple graphics, the satisfying bleep-bloop of the chiptune soundtracks and the promise of a real challenging gameplay experience are all milestones in video game history, and are now being revisited by a whole new generation of developers.
Luegolu3go Studios is one of those developers, and NOGALIOUS is their love letter to the era.
A kickstarter success story, and the first part of a planned trilogy, NOGALIOUS takes place in the faraway kingdom of Russadir, where the titular character, a former knight of the kingdom, lives with his daughter Mariet. As part of a plan to make Nogalious “disappear”, the evil Darama kidnaps Mariet in order to lure our hero to her castle. To rescue her, Nogalious must overcome puzzles, enemy-filled dungeons and four of Darama’s most powerful henchmen.
Nogalious’ adventure takes players through 5 different levels, ranging from the perilous outskirts of the town, a creepy cemetery, and several stages of Darama’s castle. Each of these areas do a nice job of avoiding the pitfall of repetition, and are wonderfully inspired by many classic games (without straight up ripping them off). The first couple of stages are pure Ghosts ‘n Goblins and Altered Beast worship, with lumbering baddies and dangerous drops, while the later levels are heavily reminiscent of Castlevania. Everything is wrapped up nicely with The Legend Of Zelda-esque character sprites, so there is plenty to love about the overall presentation of NOGALIOUS, especially for gamers that appreciate this iconic era of video game history.
For the most part, gameplay consists of players guiding Nogalious around obstacles and enemies onscreen in order to collect keys that allow him to progress onwards. Utilising a one-hit kill system, and offering only a handful of lives (and limited continues), NOGALIOUS forces you to memorise each setting, otherwise you’ll be seeing that game over screen and starting over from scratch many times.
Taking your time is key with NOGALIOUS, as the difficulty starts off high and only rises from there onwards. The obstacles that stand in you way throughout each of the levels vary from deadly water droplets, lightning strikes and vines that birds chew through (dropping you into harms way if you’re not quick enough!). These setbacks are tough, but being forced to learn their patterns not only adds a layer of nostalgic authenticity to the game, but also gives players the chance to take a step back and look at the details of the game itself.
Controls-wise, NOGALIOUS also stays true to old-school 8-Bit computer games too, as you’ll be fully reliant on your keyboard, but unfortunately this is where the game trips up slightly. While it does harken back to the days when gamepads weren’t used very often on these formats, struggling with the keyboard mapped control scheme makes what is already a tough game a bit more uncomfortable. Jumping feels slightly clunky, especially when trying to land with any sort of accuracy, and the combat also suffers as a result.
I appreciate the effort to stay true to the games that it was inspired by, but some of their technical elements have been left in the past with good reason.
Overall, NOGALIOUS is a charming (and remarkably challenging) start to what looks to be a promising new game trilogy. As an homage to the golden era of 8-bit gaming, it absolutely nails it, with the brilliantly drawn pixel art and appropriate soundtrack to go along with it. It has a couple of technical issues with the controls and use of weapons here and there, but these are just hiccups that are not enough to completely mar the experience.
It’s unlikely to bring newcomers to this style of game in to the fold, but is a treat for gamers that spent many hours on these games all those years ago.
- Plenty of secrets to find.
- Captures the spirit of old 8-bit games perfectly.
- The level designs look great.
- Controls are pretty temperamental.
- Combat feels unsatisfying at times.
NOGALIOUS is available now for PC via Steam.
A review code for the game was provided by the developers.
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