Scale the wall or take the fall?

- Nail 'n Scale [Action Platformer] -

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U.S. Game Box Front

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Japanese Game Box Front...According To That Price Sticker, The Game Can Cost Some Cash...

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Bit2 Was A Very Odd Company That Didn't Publish Many Games. They Were Involved With AshGuine And Famicle Parodic (Both For MSX), And A Few Other Games.

-General Information-
Region(s): U.S.Japan/NTSC_J
Year: 1992 (1990 in Japan)
Publisher: Data East (U.S.), I'Max (Japan)
Developer(s) and Others: Bit2, Data East
# of Players: 1 or 2
# of Saves: none
Fan Translated: No
Other Info: Also known as "Dragon Tail (Dragontail)". There is no major background information surrounding I'Max Corp (Games Division) at this time.
Quick Game Overview: Available HERE.

If there's one thing I know, I know this; Data East published a lot of crap back in the day. However, I also realize that they published some good games too. Then there are games like Nail 'n Scale; games that don't get much mention. Because of the lack of spoken words for NnS, you don't know if it falls in the good, the bad, or the ugly, or anything else. NnS was released in fairly low quantities and has become (to my surprise) rather expensive, but the price of a game doesn't always indicate its worth. You should also know that the game is actually developed by an under-the-radar company known as Bit2 (Bit2 or Bit Squared). Still, whenever I see something that has a dragon on it, I'm tempted to at least give it a try.

Given the timeframe in which NnS was published in North America, the game doesn't look remarkable in any way, but it doesn't look too bad. It should remind you of a lot of early Game Boy games; simple stage appearance, small sprites, and a very basic structure. The game moves smoothly and while a couple of things possess decent animation, the animation is very average for the most part with things having around two or so frames of animation. The stage construction is also pretty random; You'll be standing on top of pianos, trains (or toy trains) and other odd things that don't seem to fit together. The music is pretty upbeat and rather catchy, but it is also somewhat redundant. However, the music does help to carry the game along since the music (sans the boss theme) fits the mood of the game. The game leans more on the quirky side, though the game also attempts to pass off a dark theme with skulls on doors and blocks that transform into hideous demon faces. Still, if the first boss is a giant pig in a shirt and shorts (one that isn't intimidating in the slightest) then...well...YEAH.

Known as Dragon Tail (or Dragontail) in Japan, NnS lets you control a little dude who explores magical levels and battles wicked monsters in order to meet an ancient dragon. His trip will be dangerous and he'll have to brave the dangers only using his crazy jumping skills (he can even jump in mid-air if you walk off a ledge), wits of steel, and heard right; Big ol' nails. They seem more like stakes to me, but to remain true to the title, I'll say that they are nails. The interesting thing is that the game is as much an action game (with loads of platforming) as it is a puzzler. You can shoot nails in four directions (up, down, left, and right) and the nails can stick to certain surfaces. If the nail sticks to the surface it touches, you can jump on the nail and use it as a stepping stone. However, if you jump on the nail that is attached to a block, the block may crack from your weight and if you jump on the nail again while the block is cracked, it will disappear into the world of nothingness. Some enemies and/or blocks can be destroyed with nails while others can't.

In NnS, you can get three items that can help you on your journey. The first is a soft nail; This nail won't crack if you jump on it, regardless of where it is attached. The second item is an explosive nail; This nail will explode after a few seconds and blows up the block it is attached to...but be careful! If you are near the explosion, you can get killed. The explosive nail is usually used in areas where you don't have enough room to attach a nail and jump on it to crack whatever block you want to crack or break. The last item (and it's very rare) is a get-out-of-jail-free card...nah, I'm just pullin' your leg. It IS, however, an escape door, which lets you skip the stage you are on and advance to the next stage. None of the three aforementioned items can be used on the bosses that you fight every ten stages, including the final boss, though you don't fight the final boss after ten like the other bosses. Speaking of bosses, bosses are a little interesting because they have certain weaknesses that you must discover in order to deal damage to them. You can pause the game to view a map of the level, though the map doesn't show the enemies. Some stages have "fake" exits, and you must enter the real one.

NnS is a fair game, though it suffers from a couple of problems. First, the game can be hard, since you have to do MANY leaps of faith that require you to walk off of edges and perform air jumps. Secondly, the game has some length to it. Why is that a problem? There is no password system. Thankfully, you can continue from where you played last if you lose all your lives...IF you don't turn the power off. Lastly, the game is pretty simple and really worth finishing once. With 51 stages, the game can be longer than some will want to put forth since you may have to play for a couple of hours in one sitting. Beyond those issues, Nail 'n Scale is pretty fun and it was worth the four bucks I paid for it. The game also has a two player mode that I played around with that allows for competitive play to see who can beat stages faster. However, since the game is scarce, it is unlikely that you may experience the two-player mode beyond emulation, as two copies of the game are required. If it was released in North America in 1990, it may have been better received, but since we got it in 1992, NnS doesn't exactly match up to some other Game Boy action games at this point. Still, it's playable.

- Written by Vyse the determined -

Game Screenshots

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Video Sample

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