Nitemare 3d for DOS

Nitemare-3dToday’s game is called Nitemare 3d and was made by Gray Design Associates back in 1994. The company basically consists of one guy, David Gray, who was better known for the adventure games he made. The first being Hugo’s House of Horrors. Nitemare 3d has the same main character, Hugo, who in this game must rescue his beloved Penelope from Dr Hammerstein. It’s in the first person perspective, although I hesitate to call it a shooter, you do have to fight a number of enemies with guns.

Because of the very limited amount of time I’ve had lately, I could only get to the fourth level of the first episode (the shareware one). Gemini of ADG had more of a chance to play it and you can see his review here.

Grey dudeGraphically the game uses a ray casting engine to produce a 3d texture mapped environment, basically the same type as that found in Wolfenstein 3D. The engine run fairly smoothly and has the addition of animated wall textures, but isn’t quite as smooth as Wolf3d. Artistically it doesn’t look as polished as commercial or shareware from a larger software company, but it has it’s own charm and is consistent in its presentation. Some of the death animations in particular are amusing, such as one enemy turning into a flower in a pot!

BatsSound design is fairly similar in the sense that it’s not as polished as games produced by larger teams, but again it has it’s own charm. The Adlib music is decent and can be quite catchy, it fits the feel of the levels quite well and seems to make quite good use of the card. Digitised effects are used for all the usual game sounds, some are better than others such as the gun shot, but other don’t work as well.

The game controls in pretty much the same way as other shooters from the time, with the addition of a key for slow movement as well as fast. This is sometimes needed as the collision detection requires you to hit almost dead centre, with many shot missing appearing to travel through enemies. You can still land shots, but it’s not as intuitive as it should be.

Secrets!The weapons mostly fire projectiles that move visibly through the air (except for the revolver with silver bullets) and can end up being blocked by scenery nearby even though the shot itself is passing through empty space. Enemies have no such issues as they fire instant hit weapons, so if they can see you they can shoot.

Level endWhilst the enemies have an advantage in terms of shooting, they are fortunately relatively easy to deal with. The enemies don’t seem to really be the main challenge of the game, at least in the levels I’ve played. The levels are very maze-like and contain many hidden panels which you have to find in many cases in order to progress. I’ve spent more time searching and wandering the levels than doing much active shooting.

Luckily unlike many other early first person games there is an auto-map function. You have to collect magic eye power in order to use it however, which means you’ll have to use the map as sparingly as possible. You can also collect crystal balls which will plot the enemies on the map for you as well, which can be useful in working out roughly where to go next. Both use their power up over time, but can be toggled off and on as you need them.

SkeletonsAnother feature to help you find the secret panels is the magic eye icon in the status bar. When you’re looking at a hidden panel one of the middle pixels light up as long as you have some magic eye power left. This is really handy when you suspect a hidden panel is nearby, but is harder to notice during normal game play. This however doesn’t seem to help when finding destructible walls.

OutsideSo far I’ve found Nitemare 3d a difficult to place game,  it’s definitely not a bad game, but I would have preferred less secrets, or ones not necessary to progression at least. The main reason I stopped at level 4 was simple, I couldn’t find the panel necessary to progress further. After much searching I gave up. The designer, David Gray, even put a walk-through in with the registered version to help with the more difficult to find secrets. All that being said I did enjoy the time I was playing it.

So do I recommend it? Well that depends. If action isn’t as big a deal to you, maybe you’ll enjoy it. If you’re more into shooting bad guys, maybe this isn’t for you. I suggest tracking down the walk-through to make your life easier. Play the shareware episode first and if you like it, David Gray still sells it on his website for about $12 USD.

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