Ahhh, Nightmare Creatures. I remember picking up the original on Halloween, when it first came out. I didn’t go out at all that night. I never went trick or treating, I never got M&M’s, and I love M&M’s…. I love them. Once the battle was through, I emerged with a hope that someday, somehow there would be a sequel. Finally, after years of waiting, it came.
One of the things that I remember best about the original NC was the fact that it was the first game that ever got me so excited that I began to emit harsh language at loud and uncontrollable volumes. I wasn’t angry because the game was too hard or too glitchy or whatever. I was angry because those insolent mutant zombie bastards had the guff to step up to my bad ass self. I would be screaming like Bruce Campbell, “You want a little?!? Eh? You want some?! Come get some!!” Yeah, I really got into that game. Perhaps it was the idea of running through newly industrialized, 19th century London, brandishing a giant ninja staff, and tearing through wave after wave of the rotting undead. I was hoping that the second game would help to reestablish this animosity towards walking corpses and necro-mutants gone berserk. The truth is that Nightmare Creatures 2 is strangely different while being fondly similar.
Let me explain. The first major difference I noticed was in the story. The first game was laughably campy due to its remarkable absurdity. Some crazy guy releases a bunch of flesh hungry beasts upon an unsuspecting populace and a warrior monk along with an acrobatic swordsman (actually, it was a woman) have to battle through the cadaverous army. NC 2 resurrects the antagonist of its predecessor, but comparing the two is like comparing R.L. Stine to H.P. Lovecraft. On one side, you have a relatively straightforward, simplistic, almost predictable horror adventure. On the other hand you have an incredibly convoluted, warped, horrific and twisted game that plays somewhat similar to the first, but feels alien.
The protagonist is mentally disturbed. He is being held and treated by a freakish and weird necromancy-sex cult. He frees himself after the sanctuary is devastated by demonic creations and his token love interest is lost in the fray. Who is to blame? Well, I already gave that away. If you remember the bad guy from the first game, you'll guess this one. Throughout the game, you must avenge the deaths of your fellow cultists by decimating legions of some of the most f---ed up monsters ever to hit the screen. There's plenty of weird sexual undertones and violence to go around.
Graphically, the game is substantially darker as well. This is where the game gets iffy. The entire game seems to be made up of various shades of brown and gray. While this helps build tension in earlier levels (especially the first), it can become tiring and soon your eyes will begin to grow heavy. The environments are fairly large, but don't necessarily surpass those of the first. The engine chunks out a nicely rendered and respectably constructed 1930's London, but the real attraction here is the new and abnormal enemies.
While I originally complained that all of the new monsters were this weird "worm color," I have decided that that color is far more disturbing than the bright red and blue monsters from the first installment. And there are some rather freaky designs in this sick little package. My personal favorite is the elongated zombie-woman-demon-thing who you come across as she is getting off an operating table and a giant maggot falls from……somewhere. Of course, there are also your token zombies and bug-like creatures. Nice cinematic animations too.
Sometimes, however, it feels like the developers tried to cram too much into the PSX ram. There are some serious glitches in some areas. At times the game will freeze completely… for no reason whatsoever. Fight scenes are wrought with truly painful slowdown. And, as with most fast paced action-adventure games, unnecessary polygonal warping occurs often.
The game has kept that nice aural, ambient noise thing going on in place of any music. In a game as off-the-wall as this one, the lack of music helps set the mood. Naturally, there are lots of nasty screams and chopping noises to go along with everything else. Sound has never been a problem with Nightmare Creatures, but control has.
It took me about five minutes to pick up the original one, and before long, I was executing some truly evil combos, slicing and dicing any sorry-ass bastard that dared cross my path. However, There were some serious problems with turning, at times, the camera seemed more interested in a wall than an important battle that could determine the fate of the world, and the jumping was wildly off. While it doesn’t surprise me that the control wasn’t fixed… at all, I was even more surprised to find that the combo system was totally screwed. Sure you can “hit, dodge, hit, dodge,” but that’s not nearly as fun as “hithitihithithithit…. zombie dead.” The incredibly fast and furious fighting was one of the best things about the original. Why, oh why, Kalisto? Why?
Nightmare Creatures 2 is certainly not without its fair share of problems, but it is a solid game that is worth taking a look at if you were a fan of the original (like me) or just some sicko that wants to see naked zombies… like me. Wait. Did I say that out loud?
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