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Homebrew Games Reviews

Nogalious MSX is an Old School Platformer, Warts and All

Nogalious MSX is a version of the game Nogalious but designed for the MSX console of the early 1980s. The title is emulated through the OpenMSX emulator and is intended to recreate an authentic MSX experience warts and all. Similar to other games that have been made for older consoles such as Tanglewood, Nogalious MSX is able to play on the original MSX console.

Players follow the story of Nogalious, the titular protagonist on a quest to rescue his daughter Mariet from the evil spellcaster Darama. With only a handful of stages, Nogalious MSX is technically a short game, but its difficulty turns it into a longer experience. With an old school continue system, players only have a few tries to make it to Darama and rescue their daughter. With every few stages requiring exploration and puzzle-solving to progress, it becomes easy to get stuck but like many older games trial and error is crucial to mastering it.

The MSX console was created by Microsoft Japan and was the console of choice before Nintendo’s Famicom system. Games such as Metal Gear and Bomberman made their inaugural appearance on the console. The MSX itself was incredibly popular Japan with a notable following in both Brazil and Europe, however, the console was never as popular in the United States. A game being created for the MSX today however is a testament to the console’s place in gaming history.

On its own, Nogalious MSX is a game that suffers from the same thing that makes it stand out: MSX emulation. Without a proper user manual players will have a difficult time completing simple tasks like interacting with things on the game map or using objects. Players unfamiliar with the MSX will find the option to alter keymapping in the OpenMSX software difficult also. The movement of the protagonist feels choppy and imperfect, especially compared to other older games from other consoles.

On starting Nogalious MSX the visuals are blurry and warped to emulate a CRT monitor. This is done on purpose and can be adjusted in the properties of OpenMSX. Even with sharper graphics by removing the intentional filters, objects can be difficult to find. A game map on the first stage rewards players with winged boots that increase their jump height, but even without the blurriness it simply looks like one brown shape atop another brown shape.

The soundtrack of Nogalious MSX is surprisingly well-done and is catchy. The music while the story scrolls along is pleasant to listen. In the game itself, stage music doesn’t particularly stand out but also isn’t distracting or grating. As such it fills its role perfectly as “background” music.

Ultimately Nogalious MSX is a fun game suffering from the restraints of its console. It’s an affordable novelty for platformer fans and an interesting love letter to an older console. As such fans of the MSX console will be more apt to appreciate Nogalious MSX for its flaws. For players without a history with the MSX, the original Nogalious would be a less frustrating experience.

Nogalious MSX is available on PC and MSX.

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