NekoChan Hero Collection acts as an odd sort of compilation, due primarily to feeling like an assortment of odd ideas and experiments more so than several fully developed games. NekoChan Hero Ninja World 2 (and its just as poorly named predecessor) are the most straightforward entries, showcasing the familiar nostalgia driven obsession with reconstructing retro classics that seems to cause so many novice developers to create the sort of indistinguishable fluff that comprises most flash game sites.
Given its immense disposability and abundance of frustration, it’s disappointing that Ninja World 2 seems to be where Cosimo Menga has devoted most of its time. From a completely arbitrary standpoint it would appear to be the most finished of the four games in the collection, but it lacks so much in the way of inspiration or purpose that the energy spent creating its many increasingly tedious levels is wasted on me. Ninja World 2 (and to an even greater extent the original) is so unfocused and indistinct that it begs the question as to why I should be playing it as opposed to the literally thousands of nigh identical platformers available across the internet. If basic functionality was the basis by which games were judged Ninja World 2 might have a chance, but then again I couldn’t so much as exit the game without using ALT-F4 so even that would be a stretch.
Neko Land however is strangely alluring. Its design is that of a once button timing based obstacle course, which when paired with some appealing (though fairly bland) pixel art proved unexpectedly entertaining. Though it is nearly as simplistic as a game can become, I found myself becoming rather excited with each obstacle passed, allowing me to see a little more of the map and what I was up against next. Sadly this become rather obnoxious when I was forced to completely begin again after each failure, made worse by the finicky precision required to actually progress past many obstacles. Still, it’s the most original game in this collection, and the only one I would say I actually enjoyed up to a point.
Lastly we have Neko Land 3D, which is odd in every conceivable way. Though it plays somewhat similarly to Neko Land proper, the shift to 3D has brought with it one of the most poorly placed cameras I have seen in a very long time. The act of playing NL3D is even more unconventional, requiring you to jump and slide through obstacles, only you can only change directions when you hit certain points on the map. The problem here is that you’re afforded such a horrendous view of the map and given such little time to traverse it that it becomes nothing but trial and error (with the same aggressively strict limitations as its 2D counterpart). Part of me is impressed that this exists within this collection given how dramatic a contrast it presents to the other games, but it is far and away the least understandable and polished of the lot which makes it little more than an especially bizarre novelty.
I think that’s where the problem lies. That within the context of itself, the most interesting thing about NekoChan Hero Collection are the parts which don’t work quite right; the parts that try something weird and unique but are abandoned before they become anything more than unfinished tangents. But unless you have an obscure obsession with NekoChan’s development pipeline and overarching creative process there isn’t much point to any of this. I have a fondness for messy, atypical experimentation within familiar frameworks, but there is so little to latch on to here that it seems like any time devoted to it would be better spent elsewhere.
NekoChan Hero Collection was developed by Cosimo Menga and is available on PC via Steam.