The Joy of Gaming with jfe2

Posted on Nov 7th 2009 at 05:15:29 AM by (jfe2)
Posted under Nightmare in the Dark, arcade, zombies

Bubble Bobble is freaking great. I have loved Bubble Bobble since I was a wee gamer, playing in the arcade tent at the festival that ran in my neighborhood. The gameplay was simple enough for a little kid to pick up then, and is hard to master even now that I'm older. Snow Bros. is another game that I have fond memories of playing at the same arcade tent. The images of the little Snow dudes jumping around on platforms is something that has stuck in my memory for years.

By chance today, I discovered a Neo Geo arcade game called Nightmare in the Dark. It looked interesting enough at first glance, with big, colorful sprites and amusing looking characters. After watching the game play on the screen for a bit though, I realized that this game played almost just like Bubble Bobble and Snow Bros! Some would maybe blow it off as a cheap knock-off because of that, but being the simple-arcade-platformer fan that I am, I knew that I had to play right away.

Nightmare in the Dark puts you in the shoes of an old cemetery gravedigger. The story is pretty slim, and plays out through a simple narrative on the demo screen that tells you about how the gravedigger is an outcast in his town due to his fugliness. When shit goes down at the local cemetary however, he checks it out and becomes their hero. The dead have started to rise from their graves and its up to him to figure out why. Simple premise, but the story admittedly isn't the strong point here.

The addictive gameplay is what really makes this game a gem. Each level is set up with various platforms that are occupied by a variety of different enemies, including the standard zombie, fast little top-hat-wearing hunchbacks, flying ghosts, and crazy undead ostrich things that lunge at you from a distance.

You are tasked with eliminating the various beasties by throwing magic fire stuff from your lantern at them, which freezes them in their steps. When you hit them with enough fire, they turn into a giant fireball that you can collect and toss at other enemies. When tossed, the fireballs will bounce off the walls a few times, annihilating whatever is in their way, before finally exploding and leaving behind a nice power-up for you to use. Power-ups consist of different potions that can upgrade your movement speed, the distance you can throw your magic fire, and the power of said magic fire.

The gravedigger can only jump up to the platforms above him, and cannot drop down to a platform beneath him, which means that you have to use a bit of strategy in this game. The time limit, which starts at 99 seconds, also helps to ramp up the challenge. When the timer hits zero, an invulnerable pumpkin monster will chase you around the screen until he kills you dead.

The bosses in this game are a real treat for anyone who loves sprites. There is a Frankenstein monster that can summon grunt zombies, a huge mummy-head-car thing that has knives sticking out of its head, and a sorcerer who floats around the screen summoning TONS to raise the chaos level. The bosses can all usually be beat by hitting them with the giant fireballs made from the grunts that they summon, but some of these bosses can be quite challenging to actually hit.

It took me about a half hour to forty five minutes, and about eight bucks in quarters, to play through to the end. There are roughly twenty five levels total, and it goes by pretty fast. The game does manage to present a fun challenge though, especially towards the end. Although the game is rather short, it has tons of replay value. This is the type of old school arcade game that is meant to be played over and over again, with the goal of achieving huge scores. I think I had a total score of around 500,000 when all was said and done, but I know that I could destroy that number in the future.

I would really recommend giving this one a shot if you ever get the chance. I had never heard of it before today, and am so glad that I found it. This game is a throwback to a time when games were fun and dangerously addicting, and achieving that high score was the most important thing in the world.

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i used to love playing bubble bobble.
Being a huge Bubble Bobble/Snow Bros fan myself this game looks great!! I'll definately be looking for a way to play this one. Thanks!
This deserves to be in the front page imo.
That game looks absolutely amazing.
Where did you come across it?
@Crabmaster2000: Yeah, if you love Snow Bros. you will LOVE this game!

@yassassass: Thanks man! Smiley

@Izret101: I run into all sorts of crazy arcade cabinets at flea markets, movie theaters, and even some restaurants around here. This one was at a flea market, but I was happy to find out that it can be found for MAME as well.

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I'm a 23 year old husband, father, and gamer. This blog is an outlet for all of the random gaming thoughts that I have, and will also allow me to express how gaming impacts my life. And yes, the blog's title is a Bob Ross reference... That'll be our little secret.
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