Mento's May Madness: #11 - Nimbus

01/05/12 - Amnesia: The Dark Descent12/05/12 - Nimbus24/05/12 - Chime
02/05/12 - Blocks That Matter13/05/12 - Puzzle Bots25/05/12 - Diamond Dan
03/05/12 - Capsized14/05/12 - Rhythm Zone27/05/12 - Doc Clock: The Toasted Sandwich of Time
04/05/12 - Delve Deeper15/05/12 - Starscape28/05/12 - The Misadventures of PB Winterbottom
05/05/12 - Eufloria17/05/12 - Tobe's Vertical Adventure30/05/12 - Gemini Rue
06/05/12 - Frozen Synapse18/05/12 - Uplink: Hacker Elite
07/05/12 - Greed: Black Border19/05/12 - Zen Bound 2
08/05/12 - Hammerfight20/05/12 - Max Payne 2
10/05/12 - Lume21/05/12 - A.R.E.S.: Extinction Agenda
11/05/12 - Machinarium23/05/12 - Avadon: The Black Fortress

12/05/12 - Game #11

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The game: Noumenon Games' Nimbus

The source: The very first Indie Royale Bundle.

The pre-amble: More Swedish shenanigans with Nimbus, a game where you guide a ship through a series of obstacle courses. The ship has no means of self-propulsion, so players must use gravity and features of the surrounding environment to propel themselves all the way through to the exit.

The playthrough: I kind of liked Nimbus. It is slow to get started, though, with many of the early levels simply reiterating the game's core concepts of astutely manipulating the natural gravitational forces to glide through and past a myriad of spikes, trampolines, launchers, barriers and the keys that unlock them. The whole thing is presented with a very jovial and bright 16-bit manner, a deliberately retro feel that is emphasized by the dialogue-free introductory cutscene where a boy blimp (our hero) is separated from his girl blimp after she is kidnapped by a giant monster that mocks him before flying off with the boy in pursuit. You can't have a video game plot more straightforward than that.

Each stage has an equally straightforward goal, which is to simply reach the end. However, in the time I spent with the game (enough to clear the first world), I spotted a few Super Mario World-esque alternate exits and a set of collectibles that occasionally provide an additional challenge to a level. There's also the requisite time trials that connects to scoreboards both global and personalized with a player's Steam buddies. Beyond that, the game clearly still hadn't run out of things to show me, and I suspect that I'll even reach the point where I can make upgrades to the little blimp guy protagonist which will facilitate some faster times and new regions.

That said, I've already seen signs that further levels will get longer and more devious and will punish indiscretions by forcing you to repeat large swathes of what you've already seen. This issue seems to unfortunately be part and parcel of the game's central conceit in that some sections are only passable if you manage to gather a lot of momentum from the previous areas; without it there's no way you'll have the necessary speed to propel yourself over the obstacles ahead and you therefore have little recourse but to start over. The game hasn't become the super challenging hell that Super Meat Boy or Trials devolves into just yet, but when that difficulty spike shows up it'll probably kill any goodwill I have for the game. But, hey, I'm mostly speculating on a trend I'm seeing here. (Plus there's no way would dig a game like this unless it was bastard tough.) I'll be sure to keep with it until I reach that point, if indeed it ever comes.

The verdict: Will revisit.

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