- NA release: November 1998
- PAL release: N/A
- NA release: N/A
- Developer: Kalisto
- Publisher: Activision
- N64 Magazine Score: 57%
Nightmare Creatures is a port of an earlier PlayStation title that really is a bit too authentic of a port. When this was released on the N64, it already felt very dated and really needed improvements. It’s a horror slash-’em-up set in 1834 in London. You play as one of two characters, neither of which have any backstory, personality or dialogue in the game (if you want to know, it’s in the manual).
The story itself is told by little snippets of text at the start of each level that scrolls through part of the screen. On some levels, including the starting level, there are enemies at the start and they’ll attack you as this text scrolls past. The gist of it is that there’s an evil man called Crowley that runs away from you the entire game and a load of monsters in your way.
The controls of Nightmare Creatures are really poorly implemented tank controls, where you turn left and right to turn, forwards to go forwards and backward to go backwards. The camera makes matters worse as it’s usually behind your character, but tries to be at an angle for fights, and then some areas have their own camera angles – the first boss has a high up camera that really messes with your brain when trying to move.
To make matters worse, the game has platforming sections where missing a jump means instant death, as your character can’t swim, so water means instant death – apart from a few sections where the water is shallow and you have to walk through it (the shallow water looks no different from instant death water). This control scheme may have felt more natural on a D-pad (the original came out before the PS1 got analogue sticks), but it feels very wrong on an analogue stick.
The levels themselves are also mostly bland, and it’s easy to get lost due to everywhere looking the same, as well as the black “fog” to hide loading. They’re also mainly long corridors with a few optional areas and some hidden switches (many of which blend into the walls). Missing switches can also be very deadly, due to the “adrenaline bar”.
The manual explains that a virus is turning people into monsters, and the hero you play as is infective. Adrenaline keeps it at bay, and you keep this topped up by killing monsters. If you take too long before killing monsters, your health will start to drain. If you didn’t read the manual, then you’ll just start losing health with no warning (the mechanic isn’t explained in the game). This means that if you kill all the enemies but need to hint for a switch you missed, you’ll likely die multiple times. Supposedly this was a last minute addition to “fix” an issue where a player could potentially run past all the enemies.
I really can’t blame anyone for running past the enemies, either. The combat is tedious. The game lets you mix things up with lots of combos, items and spells to use, but combos rarely work and once you hit an enemy, their recoil means you can just mash the attack button until they die. That said, I did end up using cheats to see more of the game and I couldn’t defeat the final boss as you can only harm him with combos, and seemingly the basic B-B-B one doesn’t count.
The story in the menu paints a setting that could make for a really good game, but none of it is translated into the game.
The final nails in Nightmare Creatures’ coffin are the linearity of the gameplay, and the frequent instant death situations that result from the deficiencies of the camera, the control system, and the general design of the puzzles – thing you’re stepping in a puddle? Nope it’s a water-filled bottomless pit, and your character swims about as well as a puppy in a weighted sack.Martin Kitts, N64 Magazine #25
Remake or remaster?
I think a new game in a similar setting could be a nice idea. The Order 1886 did something similar (but with a more steampunk vibe).
Official Ways to get the game
There is no official way to get Nightmare Creatures
N64 Games by Date