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N20 - Nitrous Oxide Review

Jason_Zimring By:
T Contains Animated Violence

What do these ratings mean?

Up the dosage.

If I were ever going to host a rave, I would also set up a huge screen and have people play Nitrous Oxide (Fox's latest game for the PlayStation) all night long. The game is a vivid array of colors and sounds that can be both invigorating and hypnotizing at the same time. Basically, it's the gaming equivalent of an acid/nitrous trip.

In Nitrous Oxide, you choose one of four Tunnel Runners (or ships) to fly through each level. Each level consists of a Torus, or tunnel formed by accelerated subatomic particles around a tubular shaped circuit. In English, you're flying through a tunnel featuring different surfaces, dimensions, obstacles, an impressive display of colors, all running at sky-high framerates... Mmmmm, pretty colors.

Your Tunnel Runner can move only in a 360 degree circle around the tunnel. It accelerates automatically, and though you do have brakes, they can only slow you down for a few seconds. As you move through each Torus, you must kill a set number of bugs (bad guys) to complete the level. There are over 30 levels in the game, including the mind melting bonus levels. In the bonus levels, your ship reaches higher speeds than anywhere else in the game, so don't be stingy with the crystal meth..... od.

Nitrous Oxide presents a soundtrack fueled by the techno band Crystal Method. Basically, the game just plays through ten different songs, including four tracks not found on Crystal Method's studio album. As an added bonus, you can use the game in a normal CD player and have an entire album's worth of Crystal Method's music at your fingertips. Thus, when you buy Nitrous Oxide its like getting a Crystal Method album included for free. Well, the first one is free, anyway.

The game features a variety of enemies, which usually resemble insects. Each enemy possesses its own characteristics which you begin to figure out the more you play. When you kill an enemy, it turns into a coin, which you can pick up for points or use to buy special weapons. You can get other bonuses with multicolored magic mushrooms that you pick up.

There are nine special weapons which are available, and you can usually pick these up inside a Torus. Most levels also feature a boss at the end. Also, any time you shoot an enemy, your ship gains speed. While your brakes slow you down for a few seconds, you always regain your speed right back. Thus, the farther into a Torus you go, the faster your ship travels and the more tripped out the game becomes. Hey man, the walls are breathing.

In two player mode, which you can play either split screen or on the same screen, you team up with your friend and try to get through each Torus together. This way, he can't bogart that j while you are busy playing. : ) One player mode proves to be much more fun, however, as you tend to feel more in control. In one player mode, your ship stays more or less in one place on the screen, while the tunnel revolves around you. In two player mode, the tunnel is set and your ships revolve around (unless you play split screen, which heavily cuts down on your visibility).

That's basically it - the game is very simple. While the graphics are cutting edge, the gameplay is almost exactly like the old arcade classic, Tempest. Just get through each level alive and rack up as many points as you can, in order to forever hold your place on the high score list.

Nitrous Oxide seems to be the latest improvement in all those fly-a-space-ship-shoot-them-up games, and Fox has darn near reached perfection. I have only two small complaints to distract me from my happy place.

My first complaint involves the controller set up. The game offers 8 different controller configurations, but you can't custom configure. There are certain commands I felt needed to be switched, but I didn't have the ability to switch them.

My second complaint concerns the games intensity. Intense, man. Actually, this is not so much a complaint as a comment. I find that within a hour a playing in each sitting, my eyes and brain can't focus on the game very well. You are constantly flying through a barrage of colors at high speeds mixed with the pounding techno sounds, and the effects can be dizzying.

Don't get me wrong - this game is very fun to play, and I'm always ready to start up again after a break. This is old-style arcade action at it's best. The game is very intense, exciting, and ultimately exhausting. Better start stockpiling your pharmaceutical of choice...

B+ Revolution report card
  • can become exhausting
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