Noitu Love 2

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Noitu Love 2 is a surprisingly addictive platformer by Joakim Sandberg (aka Konjak), the indie developer responsible for Chalk. It's been available for a couple of months now, and while I had meant to review it when it came out, there were some unexpected delays. So without further ado, I present to you Noitu Love 2.

The graphics for Noitu Love 2 features some of the most professional art I've seen in any recent indie game. Visually, it resembles the older, 16-bit games of the Sega Genesis/Super Nintendo era. The pixel art is very smooth, but then, that's not surprising considering Sandburg's professional background. The entire game most resembles the Genesis classic Gunstar Heroes, especially with the bright color tones and the elaborate explosions and special effects. There's a lot of attention to detail here, especially when showing off the various time periods that Xoda travels through. My main complaint is that there can be quite a bit of screen tearing, especially during the more hectic parts of the game. This is definitely a product of the game pushing Multimedia Fusion to its limits. However, there isn't any lag, so the tearing is not quite as noticeable, especially when you get more involved in the game.

Screenshot 1
Meet the Darns.

The sound is just as phenomenal as the graphics. The effects are crisp and clean, and once again they evoke the feel of the older 16-bit games. The music is very catchy and is something I wouldn't mind listening to on its own. Thankfully, Sandburg was kind enough to provide the soundtrack as a free download on his website, so keep that in mind if you find yourself enjoying the music as much as I do.

Another strength of Noitu Love 2 is the storyline. Taking place 200 years after the first game, NL2 is about Xoda Rap, a peacekeeper who's charged with investigating the resurgance of a grinning robot hoard that Noitu Love had previously defeated in the first game. From there we're taken on a wild ride through different eras as Xoda tries to find out the truth behind the hoard. Although there's a lot going on, the story focuses on simplicity so that the player can concentrate on the action.

But the the best part is, of course, the gameplay. While NL2 is mostly a standard action platformer in the vein of Gunstar Heroes and the Metal Slug series (which is what it was modelled after), what makes it unique is the control scheme. The player moves Xoda using the WASD keys, and uses the mouse to aim and attack. Either the mouse or keyboard can be used to execute special moves such as dashes, though I find that I end up using both methods, depending on the situation. This results in some very fast-paced gameplay and also allows the player to rack up impressive air-comboes that add to their score. (In fact, a good player can pass some levels without touching the ground more than once.)

Screenshot 2
A fiery situation.

The level design is another strong point of the game, as each level differs not only in the art and style, but also in the fundamental gameplay. Things are always changing up to keep the gameplay interesting and challenging, and that's what makes NL2 so much fun.

As a bonus, there are various unlockables that keep the game replayable. These come in the form of extra characters and difficulties, which should extend the life of the game.

Sadly, Noitu Love 2 is not free, costing $20 to purchase. There is a demo available though, so give it a try and see what you think. Personally, I think the $20 is worth it, though it may be tough on those strapped for cash. As with all MMF games, Linux support is still choppy, though expect this to improve with Wine.
Konjak's Website.
Information about Noitu Love 2. A trailer and the demo can be found here as well.

Rating:
Highly Recommended.