Day 231: Niji

Posted: 2011/06/28 in Indie Games

I’m purchasing an Xbox Live Indie Game (XBLIG) every day, seeking out the quality titles that got lost in the shuffle and are not well represented in the top 50 lists on the Xbox Dashboard. Today is day #231, and today’s game is “Niji”.

Way, way back, on Day 4, I reviewed a game called Machiavelli’s Ascent. It was a simple, but strangely compelling, game of a jellyfish constantly yearning upwards towards the surface. Niji takes that basic idea, adds some key elements (including multiplayer), and takes an already addictive concept to the next level, all in a visual style influenced by traditional Japanese art and at least one gameplay element that reminded me of playing Jet Grind Radio and Jet Set Radio Future. That alone made it a must buy for me.

First, from the developer (binary madness):

“Do you like swimming against the stream? Play Niji, a multiplayer tower swim experience that puts you into the role of Niji the Rainbow Fish. Scale waterfalls, jump from one into the other and perform flips to build up huge combos. Play alone to save your love Masu from the evil thundercloud Arashi and try to set new highscores or compete with up to three friends in three local multiplayer modes.”

In Niji you must keep jumping from waterfall to waterfall, climbing ever closer to an elusive goal. Unlike Machiavelli’s Ascent, Niji actually has a story mode that (together with the art style) helps give the game a great sense of style.

In something that would meet the approval of the developers of Jet Set (aka Jet Grind) Radio, you must do flips and tricks between waterfalls to keep an energy meter high. This is important because getting a boost up from a waterfall uses energy, as does your boost function that lets you jump between waterfalls spaced particularly far apart. These in-between tricks are crucial to chaining waterfalls together and maintaining your upwards momentum. Successfully jumping from waterfall to waterfall also fills a colour meter that, once full, gives you a huge upward boost. You must also watch our for bad waterfalls that will actually impede your progress. Multiplayer is a welcome addition to the formula, as is the ability to warp from one side of the screen to the other (ala Asteroids).

For a mere 80 Microsoft Points, this is a game that looks great visually and has that “one more play” addictiveness that a game like this needs. If you loved Machiavelli’s Ascent, or if you liked it but thought it needed a little something extra, you’re a strong candidate for this game. Everyone else should consider it worth a trial to see if it’s your type of game. Niji is a great reminder of how games don’t necessarily need to be complex to be enjoyable.

Click here to download “Niji”, and then please come back after playing to rate the game.

Know someone else who would want to read the review, or rate the game? “Share This” and invite them to.


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