Nasty

words manifested by: AJ Johnson

A game by Fun Infused Games for Xbox 360, originally released in 2009.
Nasty is an action-platformer on the Xbox Live Indie Games channel. At first glance, it looks sort of like a puzzle game with its static screens, but this is not really the case. Yes, you will need to have a strategy for taking on each level – and you’ll need to put it together quickly – but straightforward action and precision platforming are still the name of the game. Take equal parts Contra, Bubble Bobble, and Berzerk, shake vigorously, and serve over ice.


Nasty features a total of 100 single-frame levels, and offers local 2P simultaneous play throughout. The game also has a battle mode which allows up to 4 players to participate in deathmatch, last man standing, or score attack in one of 10 levels. The controls are exceedingly simple: you have a JUMP button and a SHOOT button. Holding the JUMP button lets you jump higher/further, and holding SHOOT gives you rapid fire. You can aim in 8 directions (down only when jumping), and you can duck. There is precisely one advanced technique: you may hold down the left trigger to lock yourself in place and fire in any direction, as in Contra III.


Killing is your prime directive. Each level is populated with a series of enemies, and you must kill them all in order to open the exit door and proceed do the next level. On its own, that doesn’t sound like much, but there’s quite a bit of variety here. First off, there are numerous enemy types, each of which has its own movement and firing patterns. Some follow a simple patrol route, others bounce off of walls and platforms, and some will seek you out directly once you get within range. There are even a few monster generators, but these will self-destruct after spawning a handful of enemies, even if you don’t get to them first. Understanding enemy movement patterns is key to destroying them, and you must consider this carefully because each level puts you in close quarters with several types at once.


And it’s not just the enemies you have to worry about; the environments are a challenge unto themselves. You’ve got your genre staples: one-way platforms that you can jump up through, destructible blocks, and insta-death spikes and lava. But there are no bottomless pits. Great, you say, one less thing to worry about… ah, but the alternative opens up even more challenges. Falling off the bottom of the screen means that you’ll reappear on the top of the screen, inertia intact. Moving off the left or right causes you to wrap around as well. And it’s not just you that can pass through these areas; the enemies do as well. In later levels, you’ll need to consider not only what you can see on the screen, but where it’s going to end up when it moves off the edge. You’ll often need to use the wrap-arounds to your advantage as well, to drop in on an enemy, grab a pickup, or just to get the hell away from whatever it is that’s trying to kill you. The only thing that doesn’t wrap around the screen is bullets.


Mixed in with the enemies are a number of pickups, including several different types of fruit and diamonds, which are placed around the environments and occasionally dropped from enemies. Since the goal of each level is to simply kill every enemy quickly, you may wonder why you’d even bother grabbing the pickups. After all, the only thing they do is add to your score. But, for every 10,000 points you earn, you get an extra life. And you’re going to need those extra lives. If you’re good at killing and collecting, your balance of lives will build quickly, but eventually you’ll start losing them faster than you can earn them.


Fortunately, despite some of the old-school challenge, the game is a bit friendlier than the games of previous generations and doesn’t punish players by making them start the entire game from scratch when they lose. There are 3 difficulty levels, each of which offers a greater number of continues. On easy, you get 15, normal gives you 5, and hard gives you but 3. You can lose a life (you get 3 per continue) and start back in the same level with your progress intact. Use a continue, and you restart the level from scratch, with all enemies and items re-created.


There is a checkpoint every 10 levels, so even if you use up all of your continues, you still don’t have to start the game from scratch. You’ll just drop back to your nearest deca-level checkpoint. So, you don’t have to beat the entire game in one sitting, and you don’t have to sweat all over your controller out of fear that you’re gong to lose all of your progress once your last man falls to bits. To progress, you really only need to be able to clear 10 levels before you run out of continues.


The difficulty levels don’t just offer fewer continues; they also change the enemies. For instance, in hard mode, some of the pursuing ghosts will split into 4 smaller ghosts when destroyed, and some previously docile enemies will be able to shoot at you. Reaction-challenged players engaging in hard mode will have an open invitation to the title screen.

Each level has a time limit, which is invisible to the player. But you’ll get a 10 second warning at the end, and then an enemy known as the ”Doom Bolt” will be added to the level. This enemy is similar to Evil Otto from Berzerk. It’s an invincible spiked ball with a face that roams through the level, pursuing you relentlessly. Fortunately, it cannot pass through walls like its evil cousin, and you can put a stop to it by simply destroying all of the remaining enemies.


If you’re playing the game correctly, however, you won’t be seeing the Doom Bolt often, as the levels are, for the most part, designed to be beaten in under 30 seconds. The trick to mastering the game is to become a fast strategist, and figure out the most effective method for dispatching your foes in the shortest time possible (or to die and do it better next time). Powerups and items will disappear within a certain time limit, so even after you’ve killed all of the enemies, you can’t just hang around forever grabbing pickups.

Many of the levels offer powerups. There are 12 total ranging from different gun fire types (spread, wave, grenade), penetrating bullets, damage multipliers, increased speed, increased jump height, time stopping, and invincibility. The non-timed powerups stay with you until you are killed, and they even transfer from one level to the next. Holding onto a 3-way spread gun or super jump for a few levels can make your life a whole lot easier, and your enemies a whole lot deader.


At the end of each level, you’ll be rewarded with medals, depending on the speed in which you cleared the level, number of shots fired, firing accuracy, how quickly you destroyed the enemies, and whether you managed to get through the level without being killed. Each medal is worth 500 points, so the game further rewards good gameplay with more points, and therefore more lives.

The first boss appears in level 29 (the demo allows you to fight a boss on level 10), and you’ll come up against new bosses every 20 levels or so after that. Some have exposed weak points, some will drop minor enemies to distract you while you fight, and of course, each has a movement pattern to consider. Sometimes there’s a powerup right in the room with the boss, but not always, and any powerup you may have brought with you from a previous level will be lost the instant the boss gets the upper hand (er, claw) on you. These are not crazy-huge highly-detailed pulsating animated beasts, but they preserve the gameplay and flavor of the 2D boss romps of old, and they will test your mettle.


The game has a bit of humor in the intro and ending sequences, as well as some humorous level titles, but not much in-game otherwise. But the game does not take itself seriously in the least, and its less-than-30-seconds gameplay is practically equivalent to a Wario microgame, although this is a more focused experience. Here is the premise of the game, according to the introduction:

Space holds evils more sinister than you could possibly imagine… Things so terrible they can make the strongest of men soil themselves, cry uncontrollably for their mommies, or both. Traveling from planet to planet, the evil Dr. Slug enslaves entire races and forces them to join his unholy army. Worse still, the health benefits for the enslaved are adequate at best. While some planets might be okay or even embrace having their cities destroyed and life forms enslaved, Earth isn’t about to be anyone’s bitch.

Trained since birth in the unlikely event that a cruel warlord from space were to attack Earth, Guy and Bob are humanity’s last hope for survival. Against all odds and armed with only wits, weapons, and a love for violence, our heroes have entered Dr. Slug’s Flying Fortress of Doom, prepared for an epic battle to determine the fate of all humanity.

And really, when you get down to it, what more reason do you need to start killing things?


DEVELOPER INTERVIEW
8 Bit Horse interviews Kris Steele of Fun Infused. We discuss the developers' gaming influences, the decisions regarding the art style and gameplay, and the overall development process. Check out the video interview below, which features footage of the game in action.




2D CRED
The development team behind Nasty is known as Fun Infused, and this is their first game. It has had some tweaks and bug-fixes since its initial release which have tightened up the overall experience.



The next game from Fun Infused is called Abduction Action. It is a single-player game, with a decidedly smaller scope than their debut 100-level multiplayer action-platformer. Abduction Action has just 4 levels, with a couple of different enemies and 1 boss in each.

You play as an alien UFO pilot who is bent on causing trouble for Earthlings. In this scrolling action game, you will be picking up people and animals (represented by very tiny sprites) with your gravity beam to abduct them, or just drop them to their death. You can also levitate and drop huge rocks and other objects on people to kill them, or on bosses to lower their life bars. The military will, of course, attempt to put a stop to your terrible xeno-antics. The game is chock full of cows, chickens, aliens, and cheerleaders. The studio also released an enhanced version of the game titled Abduction Action Plus



After Abduction Action, Fun Infused developed a game called Hypership Out of Control, an old-school arcade-style action game that has you piloting a spaceship that can’t slow down. You must avoid obstacles while hurtling through space, and collect coins to build up your score multiplier. The game embraces its arcade-ness with nice chunky sprite art, a high score table (with online leaderboards), and a fun sense of humor.

The game features numerous game modes that alter the way you play the game, from a normal 3-lives mode, to a hardcore 1-life mode, to a super speed mode where your ship accelerates nonstop, and a mode called "coin down" where you must constantly collect coins to stay alive.

The studio went on to release an updated version of the game called Hypershp Still Out of Control, which features some new gameplay and updated graphics.



The studio also developed several other 2D titles, including Volchaos, a game where you collect gems while attempting to outrun ever-rising lava; 2D Voxel Madness, a game that mixes platforming and the contemporarily popular mining genre; and Bad Caterpillar, a modern take on the classic Atari game Centipede.

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