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Long read: The beauty and drama of video games and their clouds

"It's a little bit hard to work out without knowing the altitude of that dragon..."

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WiiWare Roundup

NyxQuest plus two Final Fantasy spin-offs.

NyxQuest: Kindred Spirits

  • Price: 1000 Points
  • In Real Money: £7 / €10

Openly inviting comparisons to Ico on the basis of its lovely hand-painted graphical style, this quietly captivating platformer can also tip its feathery cap in the direction of LostWinds - that other gentle platforming gem which now seems like an oasis of style and restraint amid the morass of shrill, overpriced tat clogging up the WiiWare channel.

The storyline, which is based very loosely on Greek mythology, tells the tale of Nyx. Originally the goddess of the night, she’s reimagined here as a winged nymph on a quest to find her lost love, Icarus. You may recall he came a cropper in a wax wings/sunshine-related accident.

Fairies? Pah! Let’s see Tinkerbell defeat a double-headed smoke Gryphon...

Guiding Nyx with the nunchuk, you trot along using up to five flaps of your wings to clear obstacles. After some basic hops to get you started Nyx earns new abilities. The Z button allows you to glide, or run when on the ground. After a chat with Zeus the remote comes into play, enabling you to grab objects in the gameworld with the B button and move them around.

Shifting blocks to cover scalding sand and toppling pillars that are in Nyx’s path seems like rudimentary stuff, but the game slowly becomes more inventive than it first seems. You’re faced with seemingly impossible barriers that require more than obvious solutions to circumnavigate - and that’s just the start of the abilities that the game drip feeds you along the way.

I’m wary of mentioning Braid for fear of making NyxQuest sound more arty than it really is, but structurally there’s much to compare. Both have simple interfaces that become steadily more complex through environment rather than button combinations. Both mark progress by the introduction of new skills, but each addition enhances the simple core of the game rather than smothering it.

It’s lovely, and if there’s any criticism to be made, it’s that while NyxQuest effortlessly builds into something delightful, it never quite manages that little extra twist that distinguishes a truly memorable title. Even so, that’s still enough to make it stand out from its WiiWare peers, and there are few better ways to spend 1000 points on the service right now.


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