After a long period of silence (they discontinued their emulators in the second half of 1998), Bloodlust made a comeback in late 1999, with the intention of making games again. The first announced was a new episode of the most bloody Pong clone ever. Remembering the hours spent on Noggin Knockers 2, I patiently waited until the first days of 2000, when it was finally released. |
The first impact is good: the graphics show some great illustrations. They are far better than Bloodlust's old productions, but their particular style is always recognizable. All of their games are also plenty of high-quality speech effects, and this one is no exception. The intro is quite weird, and gloomy. Unfortunately, all the good things crumble when, after your decide to play alone or in company, you are brought to the selection screen. Noggin Knockers X, as the subtitle implies, is based on duels. You choose one of the four, then you choose which of the two duelers you want to be. No more choices. You'll never be able to perform a Sh*tman VS Klubbor or a Wireman VS Hellbent fight; you'll never be able to make Wireman and Mr. Tripps battle on a background different from their usual one; and you won't even be able to decide on which side of the screen you want your character to be. Such limited variety and freedom of choice instantly chops down most of the fun. Now that I think, were are the guys that put the "ball" on the screen gone?
Sadly, the bad things are not finished. In the second episode, you needed to hit the ball some times to fill an energy meter, which enabled the use of the special attacks and forced the player to make a little strategy. No more of that strategy here. You can use your attacks as much as you want now. Playing with a friend, we ended up continuously using our respective attacks. The gameplay is much more confusing than in the previous episodes. There's a nasty bug too: move up or down too much, and your character will go out of the screen :/
At least, there are some reasons to dedicate some minutes to it: if you win with a character, you can see a fun animated sequence, full of the usual mix of gore and humour that is a Bloodlust trademark. And, like in the previous episodes, the backgrounds have strange characters, continuously making fun comments. If you know the online comic "Overclocked", you'll surely recognize Pretzel and Green in a background ;)
In a few words, Noggin Knockers X isn't a horrible game, but comparison with the previous episode is quite embarrassing. The programmers show some inexperience with their first use of the Games Factory, but fortunately they would have refined it in Skippy's Revenge and in the great Wrath of the Sea King. I'm back to playing Noggin Knockers 2 now... Reviewed by: Davide Mascolo