By Mento 2 Comments
May the Fifteenth
The source: Indie Royale's June Bug Bundle
The pre-amble: Noitu Love 2: Devolution is a scrolling brawler and the sequel to Noitu Love, which was a homage to 8-bit action games. In the same vein, Noitu Love 2 is based on classic Treasure games filled with frenetic action and oddball bosses. The player controls operative Xoda Rap (who, like the original game's Noitu Love, appears to have gone all in on the whole "backwards name" idea despite how dumb it sounds) and has to fight off an invasion of grinning robots that were thought to be destroyed along with their creator centuries earlier during the events of the previous game.
The playthrough: My knowledge of Treasure is rather limited - they had a stronger presence on the Sega Genesis and I didn't get to play a whole lot of Mischief Makers, which appears to be the chief source of most of this game's homages - and nor do I really play a lot of the super fast, super tough action Arcade games in which everything seems to move at mach speed and before I blink it's asking for another quarter. In spite all this, I can definitely appreciate the appeal and the craft in this game. Made by a single person more or less (that would be Joakim Sandberg, an industry bit player who went on to make his own games), it's an artistic and programming endeavor on par with Dean Dodrill's Dust: An Elysian Tail from last year.
I haven't gotten too far through the game but the few bosses I've thought were very imaginative and, well, huge. Like the kind you'd face every five minutes in the aforementioned Treasure games and Metal Slugs and what have you. Unfortunately, the bits between these amazing set-pieces are often a whole lot of mild platforming and brawler filler. Some of the stages have some neat ideas, often requiring the use of Xoda's Shield ability which generates a small safe haven on the screen to hide behind, but a lot of it is clearly building up to the next big encounter. This isn't an inherently bad practice, because the occasional breather between colossal bosses is definitely appreciated, but it means so much of the game is kind of... dull. You rush through it, because there's no real reason not to, and hope the cool bits aren't too far away.
I'll be giving Noitu Love 2 more attention at a later date, for sure, but deep down I sort of think I ought to be educating myself on the various Treasure games that it so affectionately mimics. I don't believe I ever beat Gunstar Heroes or Dynamite Headdy or Mischief Makers, and that seems like something I should rectify before I can really give Noitu Love 2 the appreciation it (probably) deserves.
The verdict: Yeah, I'll keep it around. I think some homework is in order first, however.