Sunday, April 8, 2012

Game of the Day - Nightmare in the Dark

My first GOTD post of the "not posting every day" era, Nightmare in the Dark is a quasi-unique game where you fight monsters on single-screen mazes/structures.  The closest game I can say it plays like is Dig Dug - although it doesn't look or feel anything like it and is almost 20 years newer.
You are a little magician dude with two buttons and a joystick to control.  The two buttons are fire (literally and figuratively) and jump.  Actually, by default, there are two buttons for fire that do the same thing.  So you climb the landscape - jumping up and down to get to the different levels and areas - and destroy the monsters with fire.

How you kill the monsters is where it is like Dig Dug.  You hit them with fire once and they stop in place and catch fire...  then you have to bombard them with more fireballs until they are engulfed in flames and finally turn into a complete fireball.  This action of continuously throwing the fire once they are stymied until they finally become fireballs is just like blowing up the enemies in Dig Dug.  And, as you could probably guess, if they are on fire and you don't finish them off, eventually the fire goes out and they start attacking again.  Diff monsters require diff numbers of hits before they become fireballs.

Now then, once they are fireballs, you touch them and they follow you wherever you go until you push the fire button again.  When you do, the fireball is launched and destroys everything in its path.  In fact, you can complete whole levels by burning one monster at the top of the screen and then throwing the fireball, subsequently destroying everything else on the way down.

There are lots of power-ups, but they are incremental (not diff weapons).  Your fire can get longer range, stronger and bigger fire and quicker reload, among other things.  There are also many treasures to collect that increase your score and health/lives.  In fact, many things can be destroyed that toss goodies all over the place - especially at the end of rounds - so you only have a few seconds to collect as much as you can before you are swept off to the next level.

Every 5 levels, a boss appears.  Interestingly, you can't kill the bosses directly with your fire.  You have to burn their minions and then use the fireballs created to attack the boss.  It's a nice touch to add to the difficulty.

As it is from 2000, the graphics are part of what makes the game fun.  They are detailed and spooky/fun.  Each five levels, after you defeat the boss, you are taken to a different world with diff monsters to burn.

NITD is a nicely paced but not frenetic game that will keep you engaged for a while.

By the way, this was Gavaking/Eleven's only published game (it was for SNK's Neo Geo MVS system).


  1. This game reminds me more of Bubble Bobble or Snow Bros. than Dig Dug. My kids love this one and also Pig Out for simultaneous play.

  2. Yeah, the gameplay is pure Snow Bros inspired, but it's a well executed version of it. The theme works well for kids, scary, but not too scary.

    Snow Bros 2 doesn't get mentioned much but is a blast too, especially if you can find 3 friends and play it 4 player.

  3. Nice find! I never saw this one in the arcade but I had a lot of fun with it.

    The second boss is really tough to beat without taking some hits, and those ghosts that throw the blue gunk are really annoying!

    I'm going to put this one on my list to try out with two people. Thanks!

  4. I love this one, thanks for keeping your blog up man!

  5. Ended up playing this game last Halloween, when I put it on my cabinet for a party.
    I gotta say, I love the graphics style, and the Snow Bros. inspiration but I felt that the gameplay wasn't as tight as Snow Bros. I really love Snow Bros, and felt a bit disappointed when I played this one. Nevertheless, it's an alright game that's worth a look at.