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November 14 2018

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  Nightmare in the Dark - ŠEleven/Gavaring Co. Ltd 2000

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Game Stats
1 or 2 player


166 Megs
Japanese Name:

Nightmare in the Dark

Released On:


Reviewed By:
Top Reviews By This Author:
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Another newer release on the Neo Geo, this game is a single screen platformer. When I first saw this game, I actually thought that it was a side scroller, but it turns out that it is not, and all the action takes place on one screen. The closest thing that I could compare this game to would be a very old arcade game called "Snow Bros", or perhaps another classic game "Bubble Bobble". However, the gameplay mechanics in Nightmare in the Dark are slightly different to both those games.


The aim of the game is to fight off the hordes of zombies, ghosts and other assorted monsters on each screen by setting fire to them. By tapping the A or C button, your character will shoot out fire. If you hit an enemy enough times they will turn into a large fireball that you can pick up and hurl across the screen. This fireball will bounce off walls a few times before blowing up, and will take out any enemies in its path. If you leave an enemy too long they will start to break out of the fireball, so you have to work quickly. Once all the creatures on a particular level are destroyed, you move on to the next.

When a fireball blows up after you kill a few bad guys, it usually drops an item of some kind. Some of these are either treasure chests (try shooting these) or diamonds that just give you extra points, while others are potions that power up your character for a while. These are a must if you want to survive for very long, as they make your attacks more powerful (so you can turn enemies into fireballs much quicker), make you move quicker, and also give your attacks more range. Look out for the skulls that sometimes appear however, as these will make you less powerful!

Each stage in NitD is made up of five sub-levels, and on the fifth level of each you will encounter a big boss character. The method for beating all of these is pretty much the same - the boss will spawn a few smaller bad guys, which you will need to turn into fireballs and throw back at him. Repeat the process a few times to kill them. Later bosses also use other methods to attack you as well, so you will need to learn their attack patterns to stay alive (but you still kill them in the same way).

If you have played Snow Bros before then you will basically know what to expect, but as I mentioned the gameplay mechanics in this game are slightly different. In Snow Bros you turned the baddies into snowballs, which you could only roll left and right on screen, while in NitD you can grab the fireballs and move them up and down. NitD is also a bit slower paced that Snow Bros, but it isn't too slow. Also, if I remember correctly, boss encounters in Snow Bros were every tenth level instead of every five.

Graphics & Sound:

Nightmare in the Dark is more graphically impressive than I expected it to be. While it is far from the best that the Neo Geo has to offer, it still contains some nice animation, well done enemy sprites, and stage backgrounds, even if they are only single screen. The only gripe I have is that most of the enemies aren't very interesting, and it can get boring to keep fighting off hordes of the same baddies all the time. This isn't a major complaint though... I mean, there is more variety to them than there ever was in Snow Bros and Bubble Bobble :)

The same high standards are maintained in the audio department too. While the sound effects are well done but perhaps not particularly memorable, the music is very good. It's moody and very well suited to the game, even if it does seem a bit repetitive at times. Overall I haven't got any major complaints with this part of the game!


When I first started playing NitD I found that I was enjoying myself quite a lot, probably more than I expected to. When people originally assumed that it was a Castlevania style game they got quite excited, but when they found out that all the action took place on one single screen they lost interest. I have to admit that I would have preferred another side scrolling platformer, but once I started playing NitD I changed my mind and thought that it was very enjoyable.

Actually, what I should probably say is that I was having fun up until I'd been playing for about 20 minutes. You see, NitD can be completed on your first sitting in about that amount of time. Although this wouldn't make too much difference to you if you were playing it in an arcade, if you had just laid down a few hundred dollars for the cart to play it at home in your own arcade cab etc (I don't think this was officially released in home cart format), you would probably feel very cheated. Although there is some replay value in going back and trying to beat your high scores, and also in the fun two player mode, the distinct lack of levels means that you will lose interest quickly.

Despite being short, NitD can still be quite challenging in places as the enemies are quite clever in trapping you. The one frustrating aspect is that while you can jump up to a higher platform, you cannot jump down, which is definitely a hindrance (although if you could it may have made the game too easy). Some of the boss stages can be very tricky as well, although with the help of a bunch of coins in your pocket (or the insert coin button on a supergun like mine ;) they can be beaten quickly.

Final Judgement:

When all is said and done, Nightmare in the Dark is a fun retro-style blast from the past, but one that is over all too quickly. By all means give it a try if you are looking for something different, but beware of paying a high price for the MVS cart as it just isn't worth it in my eyes. If there were a few more stages or maybe even a selection of different characters to play as then this game would be worth at least a 7/10 (maybe more), but as it is, NitD gets the following ratings:

Graphics: 7.5/10
Sound: 7/10
Game play: 7/10
Replay Value: 4/10

Overall Rating: 6/10

Outside Links:
Related Reviews:

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Review by Bobak!

Review by Yukuridanshi

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A very similar game, but a lot more cutesy than NitD. This game is a lot longer however!

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