Review: Nighthaw-X3000: maimi meets toho
This is a guest post by: Bill Cooney who you can find @ on twitter.
From the get go, Nighthaw-X3000 throws you into a neon filled world reminiscent of a 1980s Tab cola induced fever dream. This arcade shoot ‘em up will keep you on your toes while navigating through challenging levels and upgrading your ship.
Almost immediately upon arriving at the main menu, the game blasts you with a synthesizer theme worthy of a hot Miami night. The music is one of, if not the best aspect of this game. That’s not to say other aspects aren’t enjoyable either, but the music really goes above and beyond. I found myself continuing to play mainly to get to the next level and hear the new song that came with each one. The music fits, too. It’s perfect for blasting away hundreds of enemies on a pastel backdrop, it just makes it feel right.
Aesthetically, the game is pleasing as well. Visually, the main menu itself is reminiscent of a coin operated arcade machine, with everything in 8-bit style. There are a few short cut scenes sprinkled throughout the game, and these are visually stunning as well. I never knew I wanted wide vistas of pastel 8-bit skylines this badly! Though visually stunning, the dialogue is lacking.
While not a major component of gameplay, dialogue is easily Nighthaw-X3000’s weakest aspect. At best, it’s generic, and when it’s bad, hooo buddy. I don’t want to drag the game too hard on this, because it really is quite a beautiful and fun game, but man the dialogue got me. For example, the very first text you see is:
“YEAR: 2000 LOCALISATION(Yes that should be a z): SOME DESERT SHIT. BASICALLY: A MIDDLE OF NOWHERE”
I’m sorry, a middle of nowhere, what does that even mean?! I wish I could say that the dialogue gets better later in the game, but it doesn’t. The main character, because of the poor, almost adolescent dialogue, is easily unlikeable. This doesn’t really affect gameplay though, because you play as a spaceship and only see the main character in cut scenes.
In the gameplay department this game soars. Controls are simple, as they should be for a shoot em up game. Arrow keys to move, ctrl gives you a directional boost, with x and z controlling fire and special abilities respectively. This game is a great challenge, for those who enjoy shoot ‘em ups and people that might not have played one before. When I say challenge, I mean it. I was eventually able to get as far as level 10 before I got game over and this took me 5 hours. Player’s reflexes will need to be razor sharp to make it through each stage, and defeat the boss that awaits at the end. There are few health and armor pickups available during levels, so players will need to conserve their precious lives.
Overall, Nighthaw-X3000 is a visually stunning game with the soundtrack to match its 8-bit 80’s aesthetic. Yes, the dialogue is corny, but the fast paced gameplay more than overcomes this small detail. For anyone who likes a good shoot ‘em up or for anyone nostalgic for the greatest of decades, Nighthaw-X3000 is now available on the Steam store.