The Multi-Tasking Platformer
NyxQuest: Kindred Spirits (from here on referred to as NQ) is a 2D platformer that was released on WiiWare and later on the PC. NQ is a platformer that could only be developed for the Wii or PC. No other console could do what this game demands. This game represents what I consider to be a new style of platformer; the multi-tasking platformer. The game is fun, offers a relatively stiff challenge, and is a phenomenal show-piece for the benefits of the Wii's control scheme.
In the game, the player plays as Nyx who is on a quest to find her friend Icarus after his wax wings melted due to flying to close to the sun. The game, like the God of War series, tells an off-kilter version of contemporary Greek mythology. The concept is interesting but the story, in execution, isn't very enthralling. The story serves a simple purpose; provide a rationale for the setting and the gameplay. Though I found myself not caring about the story the atmosphere and environments were very well done. As the game progresses so to does the day. The game takes place over the course of one day and the morning of the second day. The environments are highlighted by a phenomenal lighting system pushed by a very well made graphics engine. On the Wii, the game is beautiful and technically impressive. Unfortunately, the game does suffer from occasional frame rate problems. The game's atmosphere is further cemented by the score and sound design. Though there aren't many pieces, the music has a very well produced middle eastern sound with heavy use of percussion and string instruments. The surround sound is pretty good as well. The surround is usually used to add a more full, all encompassing atmosphere but occasionally the game utilized very well produced discrete surround for some of the elements in the game. The presentation is great for this game all around.
The game is played with a Wii remote and a nunchuck controller. Nyx is controlled by the analog stick on the nunchuck, jumps with a press of one button (with up to five consecutive jumps by way of Nyx's wings), and glides by holding another button (which last over a short period of time). The Wii remote is used to control different powers given to Nyx by the Greek Gods. These powers include controlling the movement of objects in the environment, dictating how the wind moves, and for firing lightening bolts. These powers are controlled by way of an on-screen reticule. The powers are time limited depending upon the power and/or the object the powers are being used on. These powers are given to the player over the course of the game adding new gameplay elements as the game progresses. This helps keep the game fresh and unique while increasing the challenge. Speaking of challenge, NQ is no push over. Expect to die quite a bit especially as the game progresses. The player is given a health bar and can replenish that health with powerups but the game is challenging enough that I died much more often then I had expected. The game controls very well which is a really good thing as many of the puzzles and actions require very precise controls. As I mentioned, this game requires quite a bit of multi-tasking. The player will often be asked to control one object with the Wii remote through tight corridors on one part of the screen while simultaneously controlling Nyx with the nunchuck on another part of the screen. The game can be pretty demanding. The fact that the controls work as well as they do is a testament to the quality of this game.
NQ is a phenomenal platformer that is demanding without being frustrating. The atmosphere is great, the graphics and sounds design is some of the most impressive I've seen on a Wii, and the controls show just how great the Wii's odd controller can be. NQ represents the type of great gameplay the Wii can have due to its unique design. Wii developers could learn a lot from this game.