Ninety-Nine Nights attempts to mine the same ground that games like Koei's Dynasty Warriors and Phantagram's Kingdom Under Fire have covered in the past, but it does so with only a bare minimum of strategy. While you still have limited control over other troops, this game is all about running into a crowd of hundreds of enemies and slamming on the two attack buttons until everyone is dead. While those attack buttons produce some flashy combos, Ninety-Nine Nights is a very shallow game that gets old fast.
Ninety-Nine Nights tells the tale of a war between humans and foul creatures, such as goblins and frogmen. But it doesn't necessarily tell its story as one epic event. Instead, you're given the same story from multiple perspectives. You start out with only one character available, the 17-year-old Inphyy. Her story is one of vengeance, as she sets out with her army to destroy the goblins responsible for killing her father. You'll also play as Inphyy's older brother, Aspharr, and a mercenary named Myifee, as well as a few others. Each of the game's seven characters offers varying takes on events from both sides of the conflict, but a handful of missions flow through the same basic areas. So by playing through with every character, you'll notice a fair amount of repetition. Also, the campaigns of Inphyy and Aspharr are definitely the cornerstones of the game. Many of the other characters' stories are significantly shorter, though even the longer ones are only around six missions. Regardless, none of the characters have particularly compelling stories to tell, and the game's annoying English voice acting doesn't do a good job of conveying what little story there is.
Though a couple of the unlockable characters play differently, the bulk of the action in the game is painfully straightforward. You have two attack buttons, a dash maneuver, and the ability to jump or block. Hammering on the X and Y buttons will bust out combos that send the swarming hordes of enemies flying, and clearing a space around your character is usually easy, keeping you relatively safe from most damage. The characters gain experience and level up as you play, and each level brings longer, flashier combos. But the longer combos are usually a bit more canned, which can often leave your back open to attack. As a result, the shorter, four-hit combos take priority. Kills earn you red orbs that charge up a super-attack meter. Enemies killed while you're in your super-attack mode give up blue orbs, which charge up another meter that can be used for a devastating screen-clearing attack. Each character has different combos, timing, weapons, and super attacks, but the process of picking a short, simple combo and doing it over and over again doesn't change much.
In addition to leveling up your character, you'll find items around the battlefield that can be equipped. You'll find new, more powerful weapons, but they're just stronger versions of your existing weapon. They'll look a bit different in your character's hands, but they don't grant new combo attacks or change the gameplay in any way. You'll also find items that can boost your hit points, attack range, and defensive ability, among other attributes.
Though you're the most effective fighter on the battlefield, you'll also be given control of two groups of soldiers in most missions. Prior to entering a level, you can choose which soldiers you'd like to bring, like swordsman, archers, and so on. Your control over these soldiers is pretty limited, but it does what it needs to do. You can tell them to attack or hold back, as well as dismiss them altogether, causing them to stand back while you do the fighting. Your troops often seem completely useless and rarely seem to kill enemies. But they're usually good at engaging the enemy, which frees you up to run around behind enemies and take them out. Either way, their presence seems designed to make the battles look and feel larger, which works.
Graphically, the game is built around putting tons of characters onscreen at one time. You'll see hordes of goblins come swarming over a hill in your direction, and it's initially impressive, but when the hordes grow too large, the game does slow down quite a bit. While it gets sheer numbers right, the game uses an ugly blur effect on far-away enemies that looks less like a distance blur and more like you're seeing double. Plus, as you might expect, the hordes of enemies all look alike. You'll encounter a handful of different enemies as you play, but there isn't enough variety. The boss characters you encounter do, at least, look a little different and use different, more interesting-looking attacks.
Individual campaigns won't take much time to finish, and if you run into trouble with any one mission, you can always go back to the previous one and kill more enemies until you gain a level and become more powerful, making everything a bit easier. The game does become time consuming, however, if you want to get all of its achievement points. You'll earn points for completing each character's storyline, and there are additional points to be had for getting all the characters up to level nine and finishing all of the missions with at least an A ranking.
On paper, the multiple characters and item collection might make Ninety-Nine Nights sound like a reasonably deep action game. Unfortunately, the action starts out completely mindless and wears even thinner as time goes on. Whether you're a fan of the let's-see-how-many-guys-we-can-cram-onscreen genre or not, this one's probably not worth your time.