I very much enjoyed my time with Nefarious when I first played through the game on Steam for review. However, I couldn’t get myself to play it again primarily because of the fact it was on Steam. I just don’t prioritize the PC when I want to pick up a game to play. So in a similar manner to Shantae: Half Genie Hero, I was elated to see the game come to the Nintendo Switch. I’ve been all too obsessed with the console as of late so there’s no better opportunity for me to get to revisit this game again than on said console. With that in mind, is it still a game I could recommend?
Nefarious focuses on Crow, who is very much a classic bad guy. Practically to a fault, in fact, and he realizes that. No longer comfortable with just kidnapping the same princess over and over, Crow seeks to conquer the entire world for real. In order to muster the kind of power he seeks, he has to travel by airship to kidnap several princesses from the kingdoms they reside in. That’s pretty much how Nefarious functions from a narrative standpoint but there’s plenty of meat on the bones thanks to the game’s characters.
Despite – or maybe because of – how his gig constantly plays out, Crow is delightfully genre-savvy. The way he and the princesses build off of each other makes for both interesting insights and good verbal comedy. Heck, what kicks off Crow’s opportunity to do more to begin with is that Mack (the hero he usually fights) breaks up with Mayapple (the princess)! That’s just priceless! Even though I already played this game before, I’ve still managed to crack up from the jokes told; it pokes fun at so many conventions we’ve come to expect from this sort of game and then some.
You know, it’s funny. I’ve been playing Wario Land: Shake It a little more recently, and I didn’t realize until now that I already compared Nefarious‘s graphics to it when I covered the game before. I was about to type it all over again because my thoughts on the 2D hand-drawn style of the game still apply. Nefarious is a good-looking game no matter how you slice it, even if there are a few smaller things here and there that could’ve been improved on (I always found Crow’s transition to his “camera smush” sprite later in the game to be not smooth enough, for example). The sheer style and personality of the characters and levels make up for those lesser things, at least.
I definitely dug the music Nefarious had to offer. While Matthew Taranto of Brawl in the Family fame initially came to mind, it is worth noting multiple people had a hand in composing for the game. Musicians that helped include the Tarantos, David Levy, and, most notably, Double Cleff (who also did the sound effects). In a way, it shows. There is a nice variety to the kinds of scores present throughout the game’s world, from simple chiptunes to a piano and background vocals. And it only makes sense given the premise of going off to different kingdoms. I still kind of wished there was voice acting, though. Crow’s fully voiced lines at the beginning are bound to throw the player off in that regard.
In this platformer, you run, jump, punch, or bomb your way through a series of levels usually to kidnap the princesses that reside in each of them. I always found the grenades to be more reliable to use than the punches, which are really for close range combat. Nevertheless, the enemies are knocked out easily and satisfyingly. The level designs also keep their difficulty just right for the most part; I’m not the biggest fan of the way later parts ramp up the quantity of enemies. Come to think of it, I still don’t like the boss battles. I get you’re the villain, but the hero battles don’t really have any intensity nor make use of your abilities.
Fortunately, the platforming gameplay is the majority of what you play with, and it’s fun. The dual analog mechanics can take a bit of getting used to for aiming your projectiles and punches, but it works out well. What is arguably the most impressive part of the way levels are designed in the game is that they can last as long as 10-20 minutes and not feel like a total bore.
While some of the littler things I have to remark about are still present in this Switch port (plus the title menu has a weird stutter for some reason), Nefarious remains a worthy title to pick up and play if you’re a platforming enthusiast like I am. It’s full of laughs, personality, and run ‘n jump goodness. And hey – Now that I have it on Switch, I can consider coming back to it when I want to experience it over again!
Review copy provided by Digerati