Tuesday, October 2, 2012

"Nightshade", NES, 1992.

Like the NES Maniac Mansion (hey, I recently learned about an earlier Famicom version, not made with SCUMM!) and, say, Scooby-Doo Mystery for the Genesis, this always struck me as an adventure game of great potential that just happened to be trapped on the wrong platform -- to wit, one without a mouse, pretty much necessary for sane navigation of this school of graphical adventure.

The zany superhero send-up scenario (gritty, but with jokes!) is a bonus -- for every Superman there's a Superduperman, and in games other titles with similar tone might include the Defenders of Dynatron City or Superhero League of Hoboken.

Night falls like a black shroud over Metro City, and the ancient Egyptian villain Sutekh goes to work. And so do you. For you are the mysterious, unknown hero who lurks in the corners, melts into the shadows, and rules the darkness. You are Nightshade for the NES!

Infiltrate one hundred of the city's most seedy recesses while chasing thieves, thugs and muggers you must squeeze for clues, or destroy. Question dangerous characters, and hunt for hidden objects like force gloves and energy domes. All essential for survival as you fend off the hired assassins hot on your tail.

Follow Sutekh's trail of treachery too closely and you'll be figuring out how to escape the jackal pit, the human printing press, the closing wall of spikes, and other traps. Use your powers of intellect and keep your eyes open and your mind alert. Or you'll no longer control the night, you'll be consumed by it.

This was a new direction for Beam Software, their biggest jump into adventure-gaming waters since their mega-hit text adventure of The Hobbit... it was pitched as the first game in a series but the series never manifested. Instead, it informed Beam's critically-successful (always an indicator that critics are the only demographic with which it achieved success) 1993 SNES adaptation of the Shadowrun RPG. Why is Nightshade's trenchcoat reflecting the cityscape?