Fantastic Arcade: Nidhogg

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Posted October 21, 2010 - By Kevin Kelly

Fantastic Arcade: Nidhogg

Recently, we spent time in Austin, Texas at Fantastic Fest. In addition to being the country's best genre film festival (read: geek/horror/sci-fi/Asian/shock), they've added a Fantastic Arcade element that highlights the weird and wacky games out there, particularly in the independent games arena. We'll be presenting those for you right here.

In Norse mythology, Nidhogg is a dragon that gnaws on the roots of the Tree of the World. But in indie games, it has nothing to do with that. In fact, at Fantastic Fest, everyone started referring to the game as "sword football." Why? Because it's about two swordfighters, each struggling to push the other one back and gain territory, just so they can be eaten by the Nidhogg at the end. It might sound simple, but it pure, addictive fun, wrapped up for you in retro graphics and music.

Nidhogg is the work of Messhof, better known as designer / artist Mark Essen, designer of indie games like Cowboyana, Turbo, Turbo, Turbo, and Jetpack Basketball. The game was commissioned by the NYU Game Center as part of their "No Quarter" exhibition earlier this year. Although back then the game was called Raging Hadron, and as they described it as "a two player competitive game that combines swashbuckling swordplay with 8-bit psychedelia." Not bad, but I still like Sword Football. It's the most descriptive.  

You either play the yellow swordsman, or the red swordsman, and you have the option of stabbing your opponent, throwing a sword at him, punching him, or leaping/ducking to avoid his blows. But you'll have to kill him to advance towards the opposite side of your screen, following the arrow blinking in your color. It's a constant tug of war as you die, they die, you both die, but eventually (and hopefully) one of you ends up in the final room where you stand victorious ... just before the Nidhogg swoops in to chomp you up.

This takes place in wonderful 8-bit style, over a truly bizarre and apocalyptic backgrounds ranging from giant swinging chandelier to fireballs, and with a soundtrack by GDFX. Right now, the game is touring Indie game festivals, but hopefully it'll be released as a download, because this is an extremely fun two player game. I know that it doesn't sound exciting, but trust me. Once you play one game, you'll keep going back. Over, and over, and over again. I know, because it killed an hour of my time. CURSE YOU, NIDHOGG!

And please, come out already.


Fantastic Arcade: Nidhogg


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