What do you need to know about Nippon Ichi Software’s 2D games?

There is a whole line of NIS games people might not know about. They don’t have any specific designation and header. However, each one is a 2D game focused on stories and puzzles, and people who enjoy one will likely love the others. Have you heard of them? Well, with this guide, you definitely will know all you need to about getting into these 2D affairs.

What sets the NIS 2D games apart?

Many of the NIS games are known for sharing certain themes or character designs. For example, there are a lot of games where players are championing people who would normally be the antagonists, like with Disgaea, Criminal Girls and The Witch and the Hundred Knight. Others sometimes focus on fanservice, with Uta no Prince-sama and Criminal Girls being good examples. The NIS 2D games don’t do any of that.

Instead, they are very story-heavy games that rely on minimalistic color schemes and characters designed to be as adorable as possible. Stages are fairly straightforward; it is generally easy to see where you should be going next. There are opportunities to deviate from the path, in exchange for finding some collectibles that will help you better understand the lore behind each game’s scenario.

How many of these 2D games are there?

So far, NIS has made three 2D games. It all started out with htol#NiQ: The Firefly Diary. Playing through it, it is actually easy to see how it was something of an experiment for the developer, with subsequent 2D games still maintaining the idea that one character needs to be protected and another is perhaps a bit more capable at watching over them, but also making succeeding a little less challenging.

htoL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary (PlayStation Vita, 2014)

Mion is… different. She’s a young girl with horns growing out of her head that lives in dilapidated, empty world. The only other creatures there are ominous, deadly shadows and two unusual fireflies. One, named Lumen, can get Mion to move to different locations. The other, named Umbra, has the ability to go into a shadow world to help eliminate obstacles or move items so Mion can move in the real world. Between the two, they might be able to help Mion out of the depths and into the light.

It was also eventually ported to PCs in 2016. This version is available worldwide.

A Rose in the Twilight (Vita and PC, 2017)

Rose is a young woman who has woken up in a castle where time has stopped. A strange rose grows around her. With it, she can absorb blood in areas and place it in others to cause items frozen in time to move again. However, she’s not alone. A giant also resides in the area and is very good at helping Rose stay safe and get around hazards. But why is she in the castle? What caused her curse? It is up to players to find out.

The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince (Switch, PS4, Vita, 2018)

Once upon a time, there was a wolf who loved to sing and a human prince who loved to hear her song. He was so enchanted, he tried to climb the cliff she was on top of to see who was singing. She lashed out in fear, blinding him and sending him flying off. His parents then imprisoned him, since he was now “useless.” The wolf traded her voice to the forest witch for a human form and went to save him, so she could guide and take him to the witch so he too could make a wish and be restored.

Do these 2D games have anything in common?

None of these NIS 2D games are set in the same world or involve the same characters. However, there are some themes that touch on the same notes. For example, each one involves lending a helping hand to someone in need. In htoL#NiQ, players control a firefly guiding a lost little girl to safety and directing her through a dilapilated world. In A Rose in the Twilight, players follow Rose and a Giant as they must constantly switch off and use their special abilities to get both characters through the castle. The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince is an extensive escort mission where you use a shapeshifting wolf to guide a helpless, disabled prince through hazardous woods.

These 2D games are also designed to evoke emotions. There is a sense of loneliness in all three titles. Mion is all alone in the labyrinth, though there are memories of something more. Rose has no idea why she is suffering from a curse and alone in the castle. The Wolf was alone until the prince started coming to listen to her song. Tragedy strikes in each game, as every one of the protagonists, save for htol#NiQ‘s firefly and A Rose in the Twilight‘s giant, can very easily die. When death does happen, and there are situations where such a thing is a necessary learning experience, we see how devastating it is. Yet, in all three games there is also hope. Maybe Mion can escape. Perhaps Rose’s curse can be broken. Could the wolf and prince get to stay together? These games tug on heartstrings.

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