We link to U Can Beat Videogames once in a while here (in fact, here), and this week has an especially interesting installment, Beam Software’s cult classic NES game Nightshade. It’s a weird point-and-click adventure game, hugely ambitious and largely successful. Sadly it was released fairly late in the life of the NES. Nowadays it looks amazingly prescient, putting the player in control of a Batman-like hero with no powers at the beginning of his career. It’s an engaging combination of gritty and comedic, offering a Batman-style dark graphical look to its city, but also full of in-jokes, and some of the weirder character art on the system.
It’s arguably better to play Nightshade now than when it was first released. It has no save or password function, but that’s not so much an issue with save states. It’s available on Steam and on the Nintendo Switch Online service.
It does have the standard point-and-click style of obtuse puzzle sometimes, but there’s an abundance of cool ideas. You don’t have “lives,” but instead, when Nightshade “dies,” he’s thrown into a James Bond-style deathtrap. The first four times this happens, there is a way out of the situation, and if you can figure it out in time you get to continue the game with full health. (The fifth time, the trap has no escape.) Each of the traps is unique and a situation that appears nowhere else in the game.