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"Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare" is described as a title from the "survival horror" genre of video games. As one might assume the player must "survive" something of a horror type fiction; creepy crawlers and other types of "evil" definitely follow the title heavily. This game comes across to me as a murder mystery in the introduction. The player's main character, Edward Carnby, embarks on a mission to uncover the truth about the questionable death surrounding a close friend. The plot then quickly shifts to mention a statuette believed to hold mystical powers used by remote tribal Indians. It is the player's quest to recover this statuette and unlock its power.
Text is featured heavily throughout this game, so literacy skills are essential. The player will frequently find him or herself engaging with numerous lines of text in order to be guided through the wasteland. I found these areas of reading to be excessive, intrusive and felt they took away from the general gameplay experience.
Gameplay itself is simple and requires no learning curve. The player will guide his or her character using the arrow keys through the area, and be instructed how to use recovered items using the "A" and "B" keys. There are areas of combat to repel evil creatures and this, too, was simple to master. The character is initially equipped with a small revolver which I found easy to "aim" and fire. The majority of this game features a following camera view suitable for the area being investigated whereas battle scenes are from a third person overhead view.
Graphics are good in this game, as the title was "ported" from pre-existing data. The game can be described as 3D which isn't often seen on the Gameboy Color console. I found some of the graphical areas to be blotchy but the overall impression of the video was good.
There are not much to review by the way of sound in this title. While in the wilderness there are a few animal calls and environmental sounds, but that is about as detailed as the audio becomes throughout the game. It is a rather enjoyable listen as the sound effects are appropriate for the areas. There are also fragments of music while reading through the text.
Overall this product is acceptable but not particularly engaging. I found it to be a simple and brief game which ended before it "really started". The title would likely be more geared towards an adult audience due to the necessity of reading frequently; although I found myself "skipping over" these parts a lot. I don't feel that younger children would enjoy this title due to the slower pace, text heavy style in which this was presented.
Of course with the backlight of my GBA SP I was no longer alone in the dark...
Alone In The Dark: The New Nightmare uses pre-rendered backgrounds - except for in battles - to create a pseudo 3D environment which is impressive for a Game Boy Color title for they are detailed and show great use of colour. The manner in which Edward Carnby - whom you control - is scaled to appear of the right proportion in relation to the camera is handled well. Detailed as the backgrounds are, there are times when what is represented is not clear hence it's not always obvious where it is you are meant to look, and how it is the stills relate to each other. Still, that's not to dismiss the quality of these graphics.
The game shows it's audio prowess near the beginning by recreating eerie forest surroundings, but the sound effects find themselves to be on the limited side. As for the music, it does add to the atmosphere but there's not much of it either as there is an over-reliance on silence - which is effective.
As with action-adventure games of these types, there can be much pressing against the scenery and hoping to come across something relevant. In the earlier stages of the game there is some exploration to be done but not so much later on as the number of possibilities to find the way forward narrow down with too many screens which simply serve as routes. There are instant deaths in this game, but only in a small section, and is no big deal.
Battles take place in another screen. Working against you are the pace of the enemies - none seem to be slower than you. Your range of fire is wide making combat inaccurate but that's not to say care should not be taken with ammo conservation. The battles are actually set encounters - not random as they might appear - and you could be forced to backtrack because when you run out of ammo it is game over.
Or in my case, start over again. Luckily this wasn't a long game, and on the second time of asking ammo wasn't such a problem. Though there are no options as such there are a generous three files for saving. But despite showing what the Game Boy Color was capable of, not enough happens in the game - both exploration and battle elements are lightweight - so there's no incentive to play Alone In The Dark: The New Nightmare, never mind replay the game.
Even if you're not familiar with the title, you might guess that Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare is a graphical adventure. In fact, it's the fourth part of a series and this Game Boy version gives you the chance to play it on the move.