Last month at E3, Ninety-Nine Nights II producer Tak Fujii boasted about his game so hyperbolically that he quickly leaped from reciting marketing bullet points to just regaling the press with a fish story. Not that anyone believed Fujii’s new game contains “a million” new features, but the disparity between what Fujii thinks his audience wants and what they actually want became glaringly awkward in a moment that Mindy Kaling could’ve dreamt up: Fujii gushed that players can battle against more than 1 million troops, and he had to repeat this figure three times before he was obliged with a scattered round of polite applause. Fujii sarcastically shouted, “I love you guys!” Then he assured everyone that N3II isn’t your ordinary hack-and-slash title—it’s an extreme hack-and-slash title.
As with diet sodas and potato chips, N3II’s extremity is completely subjective. What isn’t is Fujii’s false claim that crowd-combat in N3II improves on its predecessor with an increased need for strategy and a greater challenge throughout. Within the first five minutes of play, you can mash away on the “X” or “Y” buttons and rack up 2,000 kills and 50 achievement points, then carry on in this fashion to the very end. Either that’ll get your blood pumping, or it won’t. Even the most passionate hack-and-slash fan would have to admit, though, there’s no sense of danger or risk involved with taking on brainless hordes of enemies when that approach is encouraged. N3II offers branching missions as you continue on your way, but “escort the villagers” and “protect the gate” are all just synonyms for “kill the living crap out of everything.”
Should you choose to bypass any of these grand battles, your enemies will just trail behind you like in a Benny Hill chase sequence. (And there’s reason to avoid them, like a clumsy camera that has to always be manually reset behind you.) There’s no getting around the monotonous mayhem, and N3II unfortunately assumes that players are as mindless as the limited fun it offers. The game’s characters are bloodthirsty idiots—we aren’t. So when the biggest wrinkle on the action is a set of box-moving challenges from the God Of War school of puzzle design, it’s all the more insulting. Maybe N3II isn’t intended as a game, but instead as a confidence-boosting regimen. Still, feeling good about racking up 1,800-hit combos by pulverizing the same button is as hollow as parking that new red Maserati in the driveway.