Timing-wise, I picked a pretty good day to review Nasty--which I downloaded and tried out this morning. When I sat down to do the review, there was a press-release in my inbox announcing it had been updated:
The 1.5 update to Nasty features several tweaks to gameplay and new weapons that promise to make Nasty a more fun, more action packed experience. Many of these changes were made to address concerns gamers had about the initial release.
The changes to Nasty include:
More bullets on screen.
Faster, less "floaty" jumping.
Three new weapon types.
More precise collision detection.
Since I never played the 1.0 version (I went back and checked to make sure that I was on 1.5), I can't comment on what the game was like before the update. After playing through Level 25 or 30 of the updated version, though, I'm not impressed. My notes from playing the game are almost identical to what's supposedly been "fixed" in this release, so I think it's still got a ways to go.
Nasty opens with a pretty long and completely unnecessary exposition having something to do with aliens coming to enslave humanity. The actual enemies encountered in the game don't seem to be aliens, though--more like ghosts and slugs, with an occasional robot tossed in to raise the sci-fi quotient. If they are aliens, they seem more intent on conquering our farmer's markets than enslaving the human race (all the collectibles in the game seem fashioned after fruits).
There are four types of guns: standard straight-shot, a sine-wave shot, a scatter-shot, and a "grenade" gun which fires bullets on a parabolic arc. The first three are all fine, but the grenade gun spelled certain death every time I picked it up--the arc is so long that it's impossible to shoot nearby enemies and jumping over them isn't always possible in tight corridors. Other powerups include speed bonuses and a high-jump bonus, but these seem to be positioned ONLY in places where you actually need them. The high jump only appears when there's a high ledge to jump to and the speed boost only appears when there's a lot of terrain to cover. To me, this is more a sign of lazy level design than powerups that actually add something to the fun factor.
If you take too long in a given level, a "Hurry Up!" message will appear onscreen. Shortly after, an unkillable enemy will appear on screen and usher you to your doom. The biggest problem with this is that there's not a timer anywhere on the screen. It's fine if the levels are time-limited, but for crap's sake at least give us some sort of indicator somewhere so we know how we're progressing. The jumping, supposedly fixed in the 1.5 release, was the single most annoying thing about the game for me. It appears as if the jumps are on a linear progression (imagine a triangle with base points at the start of the jump and the end of the jump) instead of a parabolic progression (like a real jump), and it felt so unnatural that I just couldn't buy into the "physics" of the world.
There may be some amazing content in levels 28-100, but if the first few levels aren't great why would I want to play any more of them? There are only two things that a platformer like this HAS to get right: running and jumping. Nasty does neither for me (the running isn't terrible, but I'd speed it up even more), so I just can't recommend it at 400 points (or really, any price). For the same price, you can get Karnn Age (240 points), Bullet Trap (now 80 points!), AND still have 80 points left over for something else. Not worth the points.