Jeff Markiewicz On August 3, 2010 at 10:27 am

Ninety-Nine Nights II is the sequel to the first one released in 2006 by Q Entertainment and Phantagram. These two developers have a decent pedigree, the first responsible for the puzzle-game Lumines and the later working on the Kingdom Under Fire series. Clearly something special should’ve arisen from this partnership yet it fell to mediocrity. It turned out to be a simplistic hack-and-slash title with the twist of hundreds of enemies on screen at a time. It was quite a technical feat even if the rest of the game didn’t match up. Now we are 4 years down the line with Ninety-Nine Nights II, developed by Q Entertainment and Feelplus. Feelplus has actually had its hands in some great games as well like Lost Odyssey and No More Heroes. Once again a recipe for something great could be in store but can they break free from the chains of the first one to let it come to fruition?

The story of the first game revolved around a battle between Light and Dark after an orb shattered and a Demon Lord was unleashed on the world. Ninety-Nine Nights II has nothing to do with that anymore but instead a mysterious force led by the Lord of the Night has been conquering civilization after civilization. Now they are on the doorstep of the Orphea Castle and an unlikely cast of warriors assemble over the course of the game to battle the new evil and remove them from their lands. The story is told through the perspective of several characters that occasionally cross paths along the way. It works relatively well, giving you one perspective at a time but the characters all fit into generic archetypes and the story is about as predictable as a romantic comedy. It’s told well enough to push you forward though and doesn’t get lost trying to tell it like other games but it’s still nothing special.

Ninety-Nine Nights II is a third-person hack-and-slash game with some basic role-playing elements. The combat system is quite simplistic with just a quick attack and strong attack. Mixing those up along with how you’re moving allows you to do some basic movies. As you progress through the campaign you’ll unlock other characters which all have similar move sets but differ in attack speed and style. Health is regenerative overtime but is slow, your alternative is to pick up health off the ground which certain enemies drop and are in certain vases. Throughout the game you’ll be smashing through hundreds of enemies and collecting orbs and items. The orbs you put to use upgrading yourself, weapons, and active and passive spells. Each character has a special ability to get navigate the world from slashing down to dispelling fire. It’s quite simplistic and has no use whatsoever outside of those situations. Finally you have a power meter that builds up from killing enemies and picking up power-ups off the ground. At each 25% level, you can unleash longer and more impressive attack flurries called an Orb Sparks and are unique to each character. It’s quite a setup and sounds great but they dish out the items slow and nothing special comes with leveling up other than a tiny bit more health or something being a tiny bit more powerful. The first couple hours all your characters will have the same exact spells and accessories just because you haven’t found that many. It’s almost forgettable that those options are there.

I generally like to kick ass in hack-and-slash titles so perhaps the difficulty was just not for me. Luckily the game includes multiple settings for that so I knocked it down to easy and started playing my recently unlocked tank character. There was a glimmer of fun. I was knocking enemies out of the ball park and it was starting to get semi-satisfying. By the time I entered this new area of the level I had only lost a sliver of health so I was smooth sailing. All was good. Then I encountered tons of enemies whose shots have the ability to knock me down. Basically, I couldn’t get up for over a minute and by the time I managed that, the next shot killed me. The game then flew me back 15 minutes to the last checkpoint and I shut it off in frustration. You could block, but by the time you see them coming from off-screen, you’re mid-animation fighting another enemy. Basically you have no choice other than to get knocked down and every level included enemies that have this annoyance. After a while, I decided to get back on the high horse and give it another go with the goal of actually using the block button for once. The only thing that changed this time around was instead of being on the ground; I had my shield up and gained 2 achievements for blocking 100 and 300 attacks respectively. In the end, trying to lower my shield and do something got me killed. Again. The third attempt worked just by throwing out every single one of my spells back-to-back to kill enough of them to actually do something. It’s usually not as severe at other parts but you’ll be in a middle of a massive swarm of enemies, trying to have fun, and you’ll randomly get knocked down by some random enemy off-screen. It’s incredibly annoying and sucks the miniscule amount of enjoyment that could be found in this title.

Another large issue with the title is the controls. The gameplay is simplistic so the layout and everything works fine. No real issue there. It’s just that they aren’t that precise or have much flow. If you attack, you’re stuck in that animation until completion. This makes it exceptionally hard to counter projectiles or enemies that charge at you even if you see them coming. This makes the block button essentially useless. Then if you try to use it and you’re repeatedly getting hit, when you stop pressing the button, you don’t stop blocking. You can’t attack or anything. So trying to sense a time of opportunity when you’re getting wailed on by projectiles gets killed right off the bat because the game will continue to block for a great length of time afterwards. Basically if you expect nice finely honed controls like that of Ninja Gaiden, they aren’t here and just add to the annoyances.

There are times were you have objectives to protect innocent civilians or protect a door from getting broken down. With the former, they are typically just side objectives so if they die, you may just get a lower rating at the end. With the doors, you fail outright and have to replay that section but by default, they give you no health meter. The door doesn’t show any damage and the game doesn’t even make it clear that was the objective until after you’ve failed. If you dig into the options, you can get the game to show a health bar for NPCs but nothing else. So other than some vague audio clues, you won’t know how much life it has left.

Essentially on one side, this game has about an ounce of fun in it. It can take a while to eek that little fun out of the game but it’s there. Standing in your way is a simplistic combat system that just doesn’t feel that good and several annoyances. Despite several characters, they all seem to play exactly the same. Some might switch it up a little with projectiles or moving quicker but you never actually change your play style. It’s always run into the middle of the enemy and start mashing buttons. The annoyances range from checkpoints which can be incredibly far apart to enemies that knock you down. It takes that ounce, rips it out of your hand and takes your arm with it. It just kills everything and will make even the most sane rage quit.

There is an online mode for up to two players. They are specially designed modes and unfortunately don’t include cooperative play through the campaign. There are no premade characters and instead you use your characters from the single player. This also means that depending on your level and how far you’ve progressed, you can easily find yourself seriously out-skilled. Some of the modes have you working together though so it’s not a huge problem, like survival. Basically this mode has you pitting your skills together to fight waves of enemies in a small arena. The enemies that knock you down do in fact spawn in this mode and unless one of you are powerful, expect to be annoyed as come in great numbers. There are two other modes unlocked at the onset, which are Maze and Race. Unfortunately no one was playing them. Race is one where problems would arise though with varying skills as it’s simply a race to see who can get the most kills. In addition to these there are several modes to unlock and some levels to ascend but considering not many people are playing just weeks after release, this isn’t going to get much play unless you have a friend. What I saw is decent but when there are no people to play with, there is no opportunity to have any fun.

Since the inception of the Xbox 360, enemy count has been pushed to the limit. This game seems to top it out with literally hundreds on screen at once but at the sacrifice of everything else. The level design is exceptionally primitive and resembles more of a Playstation game than anything this decade. They are even used multiple times across the characters when their paths cross which makes it more repetitive. The animations are equally primitive. Sometimes you do get the occasionally cool scene with a bunch of enemies flying or a random animation they’ve held in reserve but overall it’s not that great. The art is quite generic and bland. All the little details we’ve come to see filling our game worlds are notably absent. The most you’ll get here are random boxes and vases to break open. The effects like falling rocks or crumbling stones are similar to what you’d find in Tomb Raider 1. The cutscenes can look pretty decent but it’s due to pushing more polygons and better animations than anything inspired. It truly is like playing a Playstation 1 title updated in HD that has no personality.

The sound design is simplistic and basic all around. Despite being in massive battles with hundreds of enemies, it never really conveys that magnitude through the speakers. You just have a myriad of short repetitive sound effects that do enough to relay what you’re doing but nothing else. The music is forgettable the second you hear it. The voice acting during the cutscenes is actually okay despite fitting into generic character stereotypes. During the actual gameplay the voice acting from the random NPCs falls short and aren’t that great. Overall it’s workable but does nothing for the already stagnant and boring atmosphere.

Hack-and-slash titles can be a lot of fun. Even the average ones can offer quite a bit of fun for a couple hours before they run their course but Ninety-Nine Nights II’s does this remarkably quickly. After a couple swings of the sword it immediately gets old. It’s just not that satisfying. The game feels like a massive grind to nothing. There is no crown jewel at the end, nothing to really keep you going. Despite getting new characters, weapons, and accessories nothing seems to really change. The story is decent but it is as generic as everything else in the title. The gameplay and level design are exceptionally primitive, almost like playing an original Playstation game in high definition. Most missions just have you activating a series of devices or basically killing everything in the area that will open a door that gets you to next part. When you’re just fighting off easy guys, a glimmer of fun starts to shine until the game throws one of its numerous annoyances at you. Even on easy, there are parts that are unfair due to poor game design. When you fail due to some cheap enemy and get kicked back 30 minutes, it’s like a little kid getting spanked for something he just doesn’t understand. He doesn’t know what he did wrong and will just keep doing the same stuff next time since he just doesn’t know any better. So instead of fixing what’s wrong, he just gets mad at the spanker, which in this case is the game. At its best, this Ninety Nine Nights 2 is an incredibly generic hack-and-slash title. Poor gameplay and several annoyances consistently drag it beneath this unfortunately. It may look like a stopgap measure to hold one over for the next Dynasty Warriors or even Kingdom Under Fire but it barely holds a candle to those titles. It’s hard to recommend this to anyone except those who are absolutely diehard hack-and-slash fans that enjoy being tortured from time to time. It’s simply not that fun.


Functional but nothing here. Barely any fun to be had. Just a massive grind to nothing. The story is the best part and that is generic at best.


Ton of enemies have a certain wow factor but everything else lacks soul. Levels, animations, and effects are quite primitive. Everything looks bland and uninspired. It’s like playing an old Playstation game in HD.


Relatively bland and simplistic. Never actually conveys the grand nature of the battles. Voice acting ranges from okay for the main characters to pretty poor for the NPCs. Music is very forgettable and nothing to talk about.


Massive grind to nothingness. You’ll be taken back how quickly this game outstays its welcome, which may actually happen in under a minute. The game is functional and the enemy count is nice but it’s not fun and there is no variety. It’s like playing a Playstation 1 title in high-definition.

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