Nomolos: Storming the Catsle review
I love when new NES games come out. It’s something of a rarity, so it’s always great to see an old system getting an actual game, instead of newer systems getting new games made to kinda look like they were made on the older systems. There’s just something really cool about it.
This is Nomolos: Storming the Catsle, an NES game that I frankly have trouble comparing to other games. Some people have been saying it’s like Castlevania, but I find it very different.
So read on and see if the game is worth checking out! This’ll be a quickie.
Developer: Gradual Games
Publisher: Retrozone (retrousb.com)
Date of Release: May 15th 2012
Genre: Side-scrolling platformer
Nomolos is a side-scrolling platformer… unsurprisingly. You play as Solomon, a normal housecat, who’s girlfriend Snow got kidnapped by a big Purple Hippopotamus, and he transforms into the cat knight Nomolos to go and save her.
You have a few basic things you can do: walk around, attack and jump. The walking is actually pretty fast and there’s no momentum, you basically just instantly stop when you stop pressing the d-pad (unlike, say, Super Mario Bros where you keep a bit of forward momentum). I think the lack of momentum is a good thing in this case, some of the levels may be hard to traverse if you’d slide off platforms.
The jumping is very high and horizontal movement in the air goes at the same speed as on the ground. The jumping is very smooth, and you have perfect control over it, as in you can change direction whenever and however you like. This also includes height. The platforming is still very much precise and occasionally has a few almost pixel-perfect jumps required. I’d compare the jumping with Mega Man, but with a lot higher and a lot more air control. This game will highly challenge you platforming skills at parts.
Attacking is very Castlevania-ish. Like the whip in Castlevania, Nomolos’ sword doesn’t come out instantly when you press the attack button, there’s a slight delay in the attack animation. That’s actually not much of a problem, just a very tiny hurdle to jump over, like it is in Castlevania. Nomolos has access to more weapons though. He can find flails, which circle all around him (twice, so multi-hitting certain enemies if your range is good) and is a little bit faster than the sword, and a lance, which shoots a lot faster and traverses the whole screen. One quirk in Nomolos’ movement and attacking is that he can’t crouch, so you can’t avoid enemies by crouching.Your attacks have a wider range though (even the sword) which hit everywhere in front of Nomolos’ sprite (at least for the sword), so crouching isn’t actually needed even to hit the smaller enemies.
Speaking of enemies, the enemies here follow the Ninja Gaiden school of thought, where they spawn when you reach a certain pixel coordinate in the level, so if you go back and forward again, the enemy will respawn. Unlike Ninja Gaiden, you can get the same enemy to respawn multiple times, so be careful! A few enemies will either shoot projectiles, or follow you around the screen to try to hit you, so proper dodging skills are required here. This game has its fair share of insanely annoying enemies, but I enjoy them. I think there’s a minor issue here of too many enemies that just walk forward and really do nothing, but it’s not a big problem, as they can and will still hit you. The bosses are pretty interesting too, requiring to learn patterns to be able to defeat them.
Difficulty-wise… this game is pretty tough. Even though you’re very maneuverable, enemies are fast and will hunt you down, and sometimes they’re just placed in a hard-to-dodge manner. There are also a few traps in there, with enemies being hidden from view. In Normal difficulty, you get 3 hits before dying. There’s an Easy difficulty where you get 5 hits and enemies are slower and weaker, but that’s pretty much not worth playing. Then there’s the Unfair difficulty, where it’s 1-hit deaths. Overall it’s quite a good challenge. Infinite continues do help make it manageable though.
The gameplay is fast-paced and combines various aspects of many great games, but ends up feeling like its own thing. The biggest problem is probably the level design. While it’s certainly not terrible, it’s also not terribly inspired, and they repeat elements a lot. You’ll see levels actually repeating the exact same segments multiple times, sometimes in a row… and by that I mean actually the same segment, with the same monster spawn points (And sometimes items). I think making the levels shorter instead of artificially lengthening them by repeating some of it would have been preferable.
Not great, at first. The actual tile-sets and character/enemy sprites look fine, but all of it tends to be set on a single-color background. As you advance, the game starts looking better and better. Once you get to the caves the levels start looking very good. Some of the bosses are pretty big and interesting to look at, and the normal enemy sprites look fine as well. Some are a bit hard to see the details on, but overall they look pretty good. It’s not high-grade NES quality, but it’s still solid.
The music is apparently “an all-baroque soundtrack with music by Domenico Scarlatti, Johann Sebastian Bach, Jean-Phillipe Rameau, Francois Couperin, and Antonio Francisco Javier Jose Soler Ramos”. It’s kinda… okay-ish, I guess? Some levels have really annoying music, others seem very fitting, and it generally has that pretty classic NES feel to it… I just have trouble really enjoying it because a lot of it sounds rather dissonant to me, with repetitive segments and just overall it sounds weird. Some of them seem like they’re trying to have too many sounds or… stuff going on at the same time. This is no Mega Man or Castlevania, that’s for sure.
Nomolos: Storming the Catsle is definitely a fun game. It’s challenging. The controls are relatively spot on. The attacking is a bit awkward but easy to get used to. The graphics are pretty good but would have benefited from extra polishing (I know the NES can do better). The music is all over the place. The level design is pretty good but a bit too repetitive (literally). It’s pretty middle-of-the-road in regards to other NES games, but it’s definitely a good effort from the guys at Gradual Games.
I enjoy seeing these new NES games, they bring something pretty unique to the table. I still suggest that people buy it from retrousb.com, and I’ll be happy to support whatever Gradual Games makes next. Go and check out Nomolos: Storming the Catsle at retrousb.com!
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