When looking at my list of my most anticipated games of 2012, one would find a lot of the usual suspects. That new Tony Hawk game looks pretty sweet (especially if the original soundtracks make it in), Diablo 3 is going to be amazing, and whatever the hell Valve is up to is going to be a day one purchase. However, I made the list while kind of drunk, so I’m really confused about this one entry. It is called “Nomolos” and next to it, I drew a tiny doodle of a cat in armor humping an old NES and saying “You never forget your first”.
Curious about this poorly animated mystery, I found a business card from a small team called Gradual Games. Ah, now all the blurry memories come flooding back. I remember a small, unassuming table with a single monitor, 3 eager, tired developers, and a demo for an upcoming NES action game.
Yes, that’s right, an upcoming NES action game. Yes, that NES. Nomolos is a totally original action platformer in the vein of classics like Ninja Gaiden or Castlevania. Except, it’s not just an homage to classic games, it is a classic game. Gradual Games has built the entire game from the ground up using old NES assembly language. They expanded the memory from 128k to 256k, but other than that, the game will see a physical release for the Nintendo Entertainment System.
So, putting the novelty of an actual NES game coming into the world, how is the game itself? Can it live up to the hype of being the singular NES release of 2012, or is the whole thing a gimmick?
It’s totally awesome.
I got to run through two levels and a boss battle, and so far, the game is shaping up to be stellar, and on it’s own merits at that. The gameplay is everything that was right with NES games of the era, with a bit of modern design philosophy to temper the “Nintendo difficulty” that prevents so many younger gamers from enjoying classic games. The controls feel tight and less floaty than most of the games from the era, and the deaths, though frequent, never feel unfair. Masochists and Super Meat Boy fans will not be disappointed if my demo was any indication of the challenges to come.
The art is a gorgeous trip down memory lane and really stretches the hardware available to its limits. Every sprite is amazing and the artist obviously has a firm grasp on how to emote on a tight pixel budget.
Talking to this new studio was the icing on an already tasty cake. Each member seemed really passionate about the game and the role that they played in making it. Their energy was infectious and really made the demo experience all the more gratifying (and each new level nervewracking). It is obvious that this project is made with boundless love for the games of yesteryear and if even a fragment of that gets into the final shipped product, it is going to be time to dust off that NES.
Check out the trailer and gameplay footage below.