The Disturbing Delight That is Nidhogg II’s Art

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Frantic fencing, the screams of the defeated, and giant flying pixelated worms dominate the original Nidhogg; a one-on-one horrifying fencing game. In it players did battle each other in four different side-scrolling levels, doing their best to reach their goal at the opposite side of the screen while dodging, parrying, and possibly killing the opponent in their way several times over. Nidhoggs’ simple mechanics gave players the ability to learn the game quickly and focus more on their strategy. Whichever player manages to cross the screen and get to their goal first, is rewarded by being devoured by the Nidhogg, the aforementioned giant flying pixelated worm.

This week, Messhof Games released the second installment, Nidhogg II, and the game’s gotten a huge overhaul, with new environments, characters animations, and the highly request addition of more weapons! Now players can enjoy facing off with throwing daggers, axes, and even bows and arrows.

Where once we had low res graphics, that left a lot to the imagination, the newest game is freaky in how much is looks like Simpsons characters battling in a nightmarish landscape where everything is fleshy and toothsome. The new cutely, grotesque art is the result of the hard work of animator,  Toby Dixon.

Toby’s work is vividly bright and visceral; grossing you out at every turn. Toby not only works on pixel art, but he is also a talented sculptor and uses his creations to animate wacky claymation characters. Toby admits that translating his oddball style into something that would work with creative director of Messhof, Mark Essen’s classic video game ideas was more challenging than it first appeared.

“So I actually found it a really difficult process coming up with an art style that’s worthy of a Nidhogg sequel, and it took quite a while to arrive at one that we liked.” Says Toby, “Early attempts ranged from stiff and boring to overly silly and puppet-like. A lot of Mark’s reference points came from classic video games, like Castlevania, Yoshi’s Island etc., whereas my style is a bit goofier, influenced by cartoons and claymation. I think it ended up somewhere in between. ”

The result of Toby and Mark’s collaboration is a unique style that fits the games’ dark, squishy humor. Cartoonish characters explode in a splatter of candy colored blood and bits that leaves you simultaneously grossed out and giggling as you dash past the pile of goo that was your opponent to throw yourself into the Nidhoggs’ gullet.

“The art that I enjoyed making the most was for the swamp level, which is one of the fancier stages. There’s a bit where you fight inside the body of an old nidhogg worm as it writhes around that I’m pretty proud of. As you enter the worm, it opens its mouth and rolls out its tongue like a red carpet; there’s bits of flesh and bone wobbling about the place. It’s definitely a bit gross, but I think probably one of the more memorable moments in the game. I’ve enjoyed watching people’s faces as they play that level.”

Nidhogg II is as ridiculous as it is fun and if you want to see more of this awesome new release check out this weeks’ Game Engine! Erika and Trisha will talking with some folks from Messhof about the game. Game Engine is on  Twitch every Tuesday at 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm Pacific.

What do you think of the new art style for Nidhogg II? Let us know in the comments below!

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