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Sometimes a game comes along that we desperately want to like, even when all there is to go on is a handful of screens and a teaser trailer. Icarian (now NyxQuest) was one such game. We fell for its charming premise – a winged girl from the halls of Mount Olympus searching for Icarus after he fell from the skies having flown too near the sun – and we loved its delicious art style. Having played Kindred Spirits we’re still enamoured with the story and visuals, but perhaps it was inevitable that the actual ‘game’ bit of the game, which is fairly routine 2D platforming, is a little bit of a letdown.
So our winged heroine, Nyx, hops down from Olympus and finds the Earth in ruins thanks to some evil types. Each level sees her negotiating these ruins in locations taken from the Greek myths, and inevitably they’re stuffed with pitfalls, traps, devious devices and the odd shadowy creature. Nyx must be careful not to put her tootsies on the burning sands or she’ll take a health hit.
Initially the only moves available are jumping with A and gliding with Z. Your wings effectively give you a quintuple jump although your gliding ability is finite so you can’t stay airborne forever. The Nunchuk steers Nyx around the screen while Z makes her run daintily.
As you progress, Zeus and other gods empower you with new abilities, and this is where the pointer comes in. Combining the pointer and B, you’ll be able to nab fireballs out of the sky and lob them at enemies, grab bits of scenery and fling them about, raise and lower columns and, later on, fire lightning. Whatever the ability, it’s worked into the game as a puzzle-solving aid. Juggling Nyx’s movement with these powers is a decent challenge, and one you’ll only get on Wii.
However, while the hand-to-eye coordination is a test, the puzzle-focused platforming isn’t particularly absorbing or tricky. You’re never far from a checkpoint and your respawns are infinite, so death is only a minor irritation rather than game over. What’s more, the plethora of checkpoints means that even if you do kick the bucket, you’ll already have scouted out any problems and will be equipped to replay the section without making the same mistake.
The enemies are a little dull, too. In fact, there are only three sorts: shadowy birds that fly in patterns, weird shadowy ram things and shadowy dragons. We’re fully appreciative of memory constraints, but the enemies don’t do justice to the rest of the splendid visuals. That said, NyxQuest is a really solid debut from Over The Top Games – pretty, atmospheric, thoughtful and just the sort of thing we love seeing on WiiWare and want more of. Although lacking the polish of Lost Winds, its nearest WiiWare relative, this is well worth a play.
Jul 7, 2009