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A.P.I Review: N²O
Developer: Gremlin Interactive OPTIONS: S.SHOT
No.1   No.2   No.3
Distributor: Gremlin Interactive 1-2 Player
Game Type: Arcade Shoot-em-up Password
Review Date: September 1998 Dual Shock Controller

Setting the Scene

N²O, Nitrous Oxide: the same stuff you get pumped with when having 
you're teeth pulled.  Luckily this game is a long shot away from the 
pain and suffering that a dentist can cause. 

An interstellar 3D shooter, N²O puts you in the pilots seat of a hi-tech 
fighter craft tearing down Nitrous Oxide filled tubes filled with deadly 
warrior like bugs. The more bugs you shoot, the more N²O is released into 
the tube, the faster your craft goes.  The funkadelic light show surrounding 
your craft serves as a perfect distraction from the serious business of 
blowing the hell out of the evil bugs.  Good luck, you'll need it!

Not since Tempest, Raystorm or Raiden Project have Playstation gamers been 
treated to a pure finger pumping, adrenaline inducing shooter. Personally, 
I think there is nothing better than sitting back, controller in hand and 
mindlessly pumping the X button while being hypnotised by the pretty flashing 
lights on the screen.  Well, the long wait is over because N²O is precisely 
what I've been waiting for.  

I just hope I am not the only one who suffers from these terrible cravings 
because it would be a shame if as many people as possible didn't see this game.  
With a soundtrack by 'The Crystal Method' and more eye candy than an Eye 
Candy Store, game N²O is destined to become a finger twitching, epileptic 
triggering, blister generating classic.


If there was any other way to categorize a game in which you are likely 
to wear out the X button on your controller then I would probably use it, 
but N²O is a plain and simple Shooter.  That's all there is too it. 
Cool music though.


Some games let you know right from the start that they mean business while 
others just kinda flop around and insult your intelligence. N²O is definitely 
the former.  

The first hint of this is the FMV intro, looking very H.R. Giger and ALIEN 
inspired.  It takes you on a trip through the dark and scary tubes that will 
be your new home for the duration of the game.  The next indication that 
you're in for the trip of your short life is surprisingly, the loading screen.  
It also looks very alien'esque and futuristic while the pulsating lights are 
just a sample of what is to come.  The menu system, looking very techno and 
trendy, is easy to use, well laid out and impressively presented.  

Once you get into the game the graphical assault really begins. The first 
thing you will notice once inside the tube is the brilliant and completely mad 
pulsating walls. The constantly cycling  images cover the tubed walls as you 
race towards the enemy sprites. Despite the speed of the game, at no stage 
could I detect any of the big three bad graphics no-no's: pop-up, clipping 
and slowdown.  None of it!  Even the impressive lens flare can be configured 
within the setup menus.

Sounds and Effects

Historically speaking, any game that signs up a popular band to provide 
the soundtrack is destined to succeed. It can probably be debated whether the 
music adds to the success of the game or is just an added extra. The sad fact 
remains that a crap game with great music is still a crap game, and a great 
game with crap music will suffer. Fortunately N²O fits into neither of these 
categories, it's a great game with great music.

The soundtrack is provided by LA based duo, 'The Crystal Method', famous for 
their beat driven dance music. 'The Crystal Method' has contributed 10 musical 
tracks to the game, mostly remixes of their hits songs such as "Trip Like I Do" 
and "Busy Child".  These game editions of the tracks are perfectly mixed for 
the pace and style of the game. With such a great soundtrack the effects in 
the game, mostly comprising explosions, are mostly ignored and take a back 
seat to the music. 


Here's a summary of the gameplay in N²O. Grab your N²O powered fighter craft, 
go into a giant tube filled with N²O, shoot lots of evil looking bugs and 
wait until you die horribly. Simple in it's concept but fairly complex in 
the execution. 

Every level has a slightly different look and feel to it.  The bugs are mostly 
the same although they vary enough to keep you interested. While the best 
aspect of the game is the graphics and music the gameplay stands on it's own 
but would definitely suffer without them. 

Rating playability in a game of this type isn't an exact science, which in my 
opinion is almost perfect.  That's only because I couldn't find any floors in 
the simple premise of cruising down a giant tube shooting sperm like shots 
into the darkness. Maybe it's just me.

One cool feature of the game is the ability to customize the color and skin 
texture of your fighter craft. Each craft is made up of 3 different colors 
which you can change using a cool little shade rotator gadget.  The skin 
texture can also be changed into one of about 20 different variations. 
During the game it is a little hard to see the effects of your design efforts 
(since you're looking at the craft from behind) but it's still fun to be able 
to play around with the colors.

Each level is made up of a giant tube filled with varying types of insectoid 
aliens, from Scorpions to Lady Beetles, all with one purpose in mind, to 
reproduce themselves and destroy you. Inside the tube you are also helped along 
with various power-ups, coins and mushrooms. The power-ups increase your 
firepower, collecting coins allows you to buy firewalls at the end of the 
level while the mushrooms give you shields. 

At the end of each level you have the opportunity to trade in any coins you 
have collected to buy firewalls or for extra points. A firewall is an awesome 
weapons that, once unleased, destroys all in it's path down the tube, however 
these powerful weapons are costly and should be used wisely (or just let off 
to see the pretty lights!).

There is a handy little tutorial in the game that leads you through an sample 
level, giving you tips on what to shoot at and how many points each shot it 
worth. For Example, shooting 3 scorpions in a row yields you extra bonus 

As with most games of this type, add a second player and the fun increases. 
Two players can play in either split screen or full screen. In Split screen 
mode both players are in the same tube but have their own separate screen, 
the advantage of this over the single screen mode is that players do not get 
in each others way. On single screen mode both player are on the same screen, 
in the same tube. 

There is a great feature in the 2 player game that allows you to lend one of 
your lives to the second player should they die before you do. If the second 
player is still alive when you use your last life you will reclaim it and 
continue as normal. This very original feature adds a new dimension to the game 
since it essentially balances out good players with poor by allowing a poor 
player to continue playing side by side for as long as the good player can 
hold out. 

The other handy feature is the abundance of lives that can be gained through 
killing enormous of bugs. The only negative point I could find in the gameplay 
is the lack of a continue feature. While extra lives are easy to get and you 
can usually trade off firewalls to get more points to gain lives, it is a 
little strange that you cannot continue at all. This shortcoming is offset by 
the ability to save you game after any stage, saving preserves your score and 
number of lives so if you have a particularly bad level then you can just 
restore and give it another go.

Overall, the game is a great deal of fun to play, is easy to pick up and while 
the 2 player mode doesn't really add much to the depth it's always fun to 
play with a friend. 

Value for Money

The longevity of game in this genre is a bit limited. Once you have seen 
all the eye candy you can take, heard all the cool tunes you can absorb and 
have to have surgery to remove the blisters from your thumb, N²O is probably 
going to get a little boring. 

However, this is also a plus for this game, since it is so easy to pick up 
and play it is likely that after you do get bored you will be able to come 
back at any stage (in a week, a month or a year) and join in where you left 
off.  An option not available in RPG's or Adventures where continuity is 
the key.

Even though the game comes with 100 levels of action the gameplay really does 
not change much.  In the 20 levels I have played so far for the review all I 
ever saw was bugs, bugs and more bugs. That's OK, I love shooters in this 
style.  Your mileage may vary depending on personal preference but if you're 
looking for depth in your gameplay stick with Broken Sword.
GRAPHICS: 18/20 What can I say, I love this game. Pick it up, and within 30 seconds you're madly blasting at the screen without a though for your own personal safety, your thumbs or your sanity. And it supports the Dual Shock!

The graphics and music in N²O definitely help in making it a winner and the gameplay, while pretty shallow, is easy to pick up and a real blast to play.

The 2 player game adds a little extra depth, but not enough to effect your decision to buy or not. For fans of shooters this is your dream come true, for the rest of you, then stay away from my house because my face is firmly planted in front of the TV playing N²O, for a little while anyway.
SOUND: 10/10
VALUE: 14/20


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