Friday, 17 June 2011

Nerves of Steel (MS-DOS) - Guest Post

Regular contributor mecha-neko puts his life on the line to bring you another FPS Friday.

Another friday, another FPS.

This one's got a half-decent 80's style illustration (Mobygames link) on the box rather than some lousy rendered thing, so I'm looking forward to seeing what this game looks like.

Ye gods, is that hard to read. Here's what it says:

Sometime in the future, South East Asian forces have combined to form one of the most deadly armies ever seen by man. Their goal, world purification. From their secret underground complexes they intend to destroy the world leaving only themselves to control the future of the Earth.

Wait, they want to destroy the world? I hope they're not being literal, because destroying the world is a really bad idea, especially if you're ON it at the time.

These red screens continue on to say that I was sent into some complex to retrieve some secret information, but I've been CAPTURED! OH NO! Still, only I can stop the twisted plot and save the people of the Earth from a holocaust, the like of which the world has never seen.

But I'm captured! What am I supposed to do?

Gah! I'm not captured at all! I'm just standing in a corridor getting shot by this soldier! Did the game just omit the sequence where I escaped... I assume I escaped...? Is any of this real?

I've got a gun and he's shooting me. That's what's real.

Don't look so damn shocked.

Okay, I'm in a small rectangular room. Maybe I was captured after all? And they gave me a gun so I had a sporting chance... and locked two other people in with me so we could shoot it out for their sport? Sick bastards!

If this is a door, it's not opening no matter what buttons I press.

Is anybody else overwhelmed by how absolutely awful this game looks, by the way? This is a real game. Maybe it looks so bad because I'm in a grotty cave level.

I solved the door problem. I walked straight through it as if it weren't there at all. Of all the people to try and capture, they captured the guy who can walk through walls. Better luck next time, eh?

And what the hell is up the colours in THIS room? I think we're experiencing technical difficulties. Please stand by.

Nope, I checked the back of the box. This room is supposed have a red and black plasma column in the middle of it. This is the game that comes inside the box with that picture on it. Madness.

Now that I know that I can walk through that kind of wall, I'm able to go through that far door and explore further.

Oh crap! What were you doing just standing there?! I hope that wasn't a hostage!

Nope, just a guy in a shirt who also wants to shoot me.

It's a cyborg. A badly drawn cyborg. He's lasering me with his laser eyes.

Now this guy's been captured. You can tell because he's stuck in a cell and he doesn't have a gun. Unfortunately for him, it doesn't seem that I can free him right now. Sorry, pal.

You see this wall? It's actually one of those walls you can walk through. Now I have go around sliding against every surface just to find which way to go. I thought I was through with that nonsense after The Catacomb Abyss 3D. Good grief.

Look like the programmers weren't so good at the old collision detection on them there diagonal walls... By brushing up against one I've been forced out into the void outside the level. I'll remember how to do this in case I come across any locked doors, but for now I'm going to try and find a way back into the level properly.

Here's a wall that I can't walk through. FPS conventions dictate that its red colour means that it's either that it's simply 'locked', or that I can open it if I find the red keycard.

After doing a lap of the level (and unsuccessfully trying to sneak into the room by slipping outside the level temporarily), I managed to open the door by pressing Space on it. That's completely different to all the other wall/doors I've encountered, and I'm certain that I pressed every button on it when I first saw it.

It's possible that it only can only be opened once I've killed every enemy on the level. Could the game be that cruel? Nope, I'd just missed the keycard. Not every item is placed on a shining pedestal like in Doom, so I didn't notice when I picked it up. I thought that red thing on the interface on the 'Lives' counter was a glitch.

True class.

Now I have to win a level from each of the other episodes (yes, there are three episodes, just like papa Doom) to see the other zone pictures. BRB.

Tee hee.

Oh come on, you'd have stopped reading in a huff already if you thought I wasn't going to laugh at silly pictures.

By all rights, this game should be an affront to everybody and everything. But, thinking back on it, the guns were nice and loud and there was an easy to read map. The enemies died when I shot them, and they didn't teleport in constantly whenever I picked anything up. The levels were huge, non-linear and had all kinds of interesting shapes. They sure as hell weren't pitch black. There wasn't recharging health, so I had to watch myself constantly. There wasn't a cover system and there wasn't any auto aim screwing up my shots. I could load and save at any time. The only bad thing about this game is that it's so... stupid.

As an FPS rooted in any sort of reality, it's a total failure. If you let yourself be drawn into its idiotic, psychedelic world, you'll enjoy the hell out of it. The best bits of all your favourite 90s first person shooters are there in full, waiting to be found. I simply couldn't help but be charmed by its endearing feebleness. It's like it was designed and programmed by a 4 year old, except they actually had the persistence to create a full three episode game out of it.

Still, I can't help but feeling that I've been had by that box illustration.


  1. This. Yes, Nerves of Steel was an affront to all my sesnses, and I questioned whether I should ever believe the cover art of video game again. I was surprised by your avoidance in mentioning any nauseua you experienced while playing this game, because the poorly reverbed sound effects mixed with the bright neon wall colors that are indistinguishable from the ceiling and floor textures of identical vomit inducing neon was enough to make me feel disoriented and stop playing after reaching the third level. Did I mention that tthe same song plays throughout the entire game. Actually, I don't think I've done enough to describe how awful this game is, I may have to create a websige solely dedicated to letting the internet know that this is the worst MSDOS FPS ever released upon an unsuspecting public.

  2. I made a youtube playlist of this game to share my misery with the world after finishing it. And by "finish" I mean "gave up after realizing how broken and unfinished the level design is." Episodes 2 and 3 cannot possibly be completed, due to a broken teleporter and a missing key respectively. This game is an affront to graphics and gameplay in general.

    1. I recently wrote up an article on TekWar, and it's sent me into playing some terrible FPSs for "research purposes". Anyway, I'm (not) glad to report that last night I successfully played through Episode 2 of Nerves of Steel. The last level is an insane teleporter maze with absolutely no rhyme or reason, but I did find the exit switch. For some reason, I got the blue and red keycards, but no yellow keycard. The exit switch was in a central room similar to the one where the blue keycard was found. I have no idea how I beat it, and am still confused, but it is possible. Am I the only person in history to perform this feat?

    2. An update for all interested parties (which may include no one). I finished this atrocity last night. Yes, I spent my Saturday night beating this thing. Oh God. Anyway, if you did the "Nerves of Stupid" YouTube series, thank you. It helped me get past Episode 3 Level 3, and the music is much better in those videos. Anyway, the last level mixes up the switches. The one that takes you to the end is in the lower right quadrant of the map, I'm not sure if you need to shoot that goofball in a cape first. Anyway, the switch has a red light marking in a triangular pattern in front of it. In the ending, they threaten a sequel by implying that the cape guy is still alive.

      In conclusion, it's official: Nerves of Steel is the worst MS-DOS FPS ever made. I've read of something called Angst: Rahz's Revenge, but from the YouTube video I found, it looks like it's not really worse than Nerves of Steel. They're both terrible.

    3. Congratulations, Vandel! I can't imagine what possessed you to persevere, but I hope you found what you were looking for. I certainly didn't look back after writing this post.

      I've never heard of the Nerves of Stupid series... I'm honestly a little worried that there's other people playing this thing! (Voluntarily!) Does nobody read the health warnings any more?

    4. Well Vandel is a better gamer than I if he somehow forced the game to cooperate so it could be completed. You're probably the first to finish the game properly, so congrats! I hope you took video so I can see it to believe it.

      Glad my Nerves of Stupid video series was helpful in navigating this train wreck.

  3. I remade this game for the doom engine with a dash of actual competence, and hosted the mod on my website. Partly an exercise to show how easily the designers could have taken any of the game assets and done something interesting with them, especially the awful, nebulous maps.


Semi-Random Game Box