Further catalysing these mad, balletic battles is the construction of the various stages in which they are set. The forest level is interspersed with fields of head-high grass that obscure the bodies of both swashbucklers, meaning you're fighting blind. Another stage , set in the Clouds (again, Nidhogg), has "floors" that crumble the longer you stand on them, transforming the duel into the world's deadliest game of hopscotch.
Unfortunately, the stages are also where the first of Nidhogg's problems arise. You see, there are only four of them, and you can play through them all in less than ten minutes depending on how capable a Nidhogger you are. While Nidhogg may be the entertainment equivalent of a dram of 18 year old Glenlivet, it's also got roughly the same amount of content, and you can only play so much of it before you start to feel tired and dizzy and a little like shouting at your friends.
Speaking of friends, Nidhogg is primarily geared toward playing with another person in the same room, either by sharing a keyboard or, if you don't enjoy cosying up to another human being, plugging in a gamepad for the second player. This is definitely the ideal way of experiencing Nidhogg, if only because you can punch your stupid friend in their stupid face when they win through their DIRTY CHEATING TACTICS. (Disclaimer, bit-tech does not condone the punching of your friends in their faces, however stupid either may be) But alongside this is a single-player mode which involves battling around twenty opponents of increasing difficulty, the difficulty of which is pretty well balanced.
There's also a tournament option if you've got more than one friend who wants to cluster around your PC, and an online mode. Sadly, the matchmaking system for the online mode appears to be completely broken. Last night after five minutes of searching it found one other person on the entire Internet playing Nidhogg, which either means the game is doing extremely badly or that the netcode doesn't work as it should.
Lastly, it's priced at twelve pounds, which unless you've got a group of Nidhogg-loving friends who regularly pop round an evening's pixel-based duelling, the game doesn't really warrant. Especially in its current, online match-breaking state, twelve of your dolphin-friendly line-caught squids is a little pricey.
None of these issues stop Nidhogg from being an absolute riot, but they do affect the longevity of its appeal. This is quite unusual, as most games these days are bloated to the point of exploding Mister-Creosote style, but there it is. Nidhogg is the distillation of fun, but the angels have been given too much of a share.