One of the criticisms that the 3DS and Wii U get is not fully utilizing the capabilities of their touch screens. There are games that make no use of them whatsoever beyond a few menus. I’m not saying those games are bad, but sometimes they could have easily made better use of what they had to work with. The same can’t be said about Noitu Love: Devolution as most of the action takes place on the touch screen. While the game is for the Wii U and 3DS, I will be doing separate reviews as there is a difference in how they feel while playing. I’ll explain more as I talk about the 3DS version in this review.
Noitu Love: Devolution is actually the second game in the series with the first coming out around the mid-2000s on the PC with the sequel releasing a couple of years later. After getting a Steam release a few years ago, we’re finally getting Noitu Love: Devolution on the Wii U and 3DS, though strangely not the original. The game takes place one hundred years after the events of Noitu Love where the titular character defeated a group of robots known as the Grinning Darns and their leader, Darnacus Damnation. Darnacus had attempted to use machines known as Evomatics to turn everyone into monkeys because…well why not? Now in the present day the Grinning Darns have returned, and on top of that a cyborg duplicate of Noitu’s co-worker created by Darnacus has been reactivated. Now it’s up to a new team known as the Green Helmets led by Mr. Almond to stop the Darns and get to the bottom of why they’re still around.
The game is controlled by a combination of the D-Pad/face buttons and the touch screen. If you remember Kid Icarus: Uprising and its control scheme, this is sort of similar. You use the D-Pad or face buttons to move around, jump, and duck, while repeatedly tapping the touch screen to attack. You can also swipe the screen to do special attacks such as a dash kick or a mid-air spinning kick (I seriously don’t know of a better term for it). Defeating multiple enemies in a row will build up a score multiplier, not to mention some enemies may drop a health pickup as well. Essentially, get ready to be tapping the screen a lot…possibly, but more on that in a bit.
The goal of the game is simple: progress through each of the game’s seven stages taking out the various types of Darns in your way, then defeat the boss at the end of the stage. Aside from tapping the screen to attack, tapping on an enemy will usually target the enemy and move you within attacking range immediately. You can also hold down on the touch screen for a few seconds and then release to fire off a powerful ranged shot, but this can be a bit tricky to pull off depending on where you are in relation to the enemy as there is a way to grab weaker enemies, though if an enemy is too close when you try a ranged attack, the game might think you’re trying to grab it and your attack won’t go off as planned.
In terms of difficulty, that’s kind of a tough call. On the one hand the game certainly provides a challenge with its control scheme and the bosses can be difficult if you’re not fully comfortable with them. The game also has a Hard difficulty with adds more enemies and bosses and mid-bosses take more hits to take out. On the other hand, the normal difficulty is actually kind of easy if you’re comfortable with the controls. My first time through the game took just over an hour. My second time through I just avoided most of the enemies and it took just under fifty minutes.
That’s not to say the game isn’t worth it. I couldn’t find a price point for the 3DS version but on Steam it’s only $4.99 so I’d guess that the 3DS version will be around the same, and for that price I’d say it’s worth it. While I breezed through the game on Normal difficulty, I had a lot of trouble on the very first stage on Hard difficulty as my usual tactic of just running past enemies and needlessly tapping the screen over and over again no longer works, at least not well. On Hard difficulty you actually have to implement some strategy to your attacks. It kind of reminds me of Mega Man 2 where there’s a Normal and Hard difficulty, but it’s almost as if they should have been labeled Easy and Normal instead.
I won’t get too much into spoilers but I mentioned earlier about a Darnacus creating a doppleganger of Noitu Love’s co-worker. Beating the game will unlock the doppleganger, known as Rilo Doppleori, as a playable character. You still have to tap the screen to attack with her, but she has a ranged attack instead of having to get up close and personal. This is both a help and a detriment as she can attack from a distance, but you can’t tap an enemy to auto-target and close in on it. It’s a unique way to play through the game once you have the main game down and need a new challenge.
It took some time for Noitu Love: Devolution to grow on me as my first impression of it was that it was too easy. Once I got past that and checked out Doppleori and Hard difficulty my thoughts on it changed. There is some replayability in terms of getting a better score or just wanting a higher challenge. Honestly, I never beat the game on Hard difficulty so I’m not sure if anything else can be unlocked, but that’s part of why my impressions changed; the Normal difficulty is like the warmup to get you used to how the game works, while Hard difficulty is the real deal, and for five dollars you’re getting a game that’ll last a while.
If I had to give any major criticism for the game, it’s trying to rapidly hit the screen while holding the 3DS steady, and that’s not even really that major. Then again if you have the stand from Kid Icarus: Uprising that kind of eliminates that issue. Beyond that my only other complaint I’ve basically already stated: Normal difficulty is pretty easy while Hard difficulty really ramps things up quite a bit. Other than that I can definitely say that Noitu Love: Devolution has grown on me to the point of tracking down the original PC release to check it out. If you have a few dollars lying around and want to check out an action-packed arcade-style game and don’t mind constantly tapping the touch screen to attack, Noitu Love: Devolution is a great game to check out.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.