Nanobotz: A New Twist on a Familiar Game

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The developers over at MoreGames Entertainment consistently create games of the highest quality. Thankfully, they don't waste their abundant talents creating sudoku clones or solitaire collections. Instead, all of their games are either original, first of their kind for the platform, or refreshingly new takes on old staples.

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Their latest game, Nanobotz, continues this tradition by building on the familiar artillery duel subgenre.

What Type of Game Is This?

One of the earliest ancestors of Nanobotz is Scorched Earth, a game in which a tank on one side of the screen attempts to destroy a tank on the opposite side of the screen by firing various weapons at it. Scoring a direct hit usually requires some measure of trial and error as each side tries to adjust the angle of fire, misses, and corrects. At the beginning of a battle, you have a predetermined amount of money with which you can purchase weapons to deploy against your foes.

Nanobotz brings several innovations to this type of game. First of all, one's enemies can be positioned at anywhere from a 0 to 360 angle from one's own bot (the Nanobotz equivalent of a tank). This is a significant departure from more traditional games in the subgenre because in the latter the range of firing usually spans something more like 45 degrees. If this sounds a bit confusing, take a look at these screenshots:

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A screenshot from Atomic Cannon (above). Your enemy will almost always be somewhere within a roughly 45 degree range.

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A screenshot from Nanobotz (above). Your enemy can be at any angle to you.

The second innovation is really a corollary of the first one but I thought it worth mentioning separately. As opposed to the single horizontal span of terra firma that one finds in more traditional games, Nanobotz is populated by mini planets (this is what allows the 360 degree play discussed above), each with its own gravity(!).

Other Features

  • Different universe sizes
  • Different universes to choose from
  • The player can choose how many players there are, and how many bots each has
  • Choose how many rounds the battle will have
  • Different AI levels
  • Customizable max health and starting budget
  • Planetary mines. You can set how frequently they are encountered
  • Wind, can be turned on or off and its intensity can be set by the player
  • High scores list

What Makes This Game So Fun?

I already feel like a broken record: The graphics, sound effects, and user interface are all outstanding as they are in every single game made by this developer.

As mentioned above, the most obvious thing this game brings to the table is a new twist to the genre. If you enjoy games like Atomic Cannon, you'll be just the sort of person that will appreciate the new experience that Nanobotz provides (Nanobotz shouldn't be thought of as a replacement for Atomic Cannon, but rather as a complement to it). The effect that having the full 360 degrees in play has should not be underestimated. And the fact that each planet has its own gravitational pull really makes things interesting. For example, you may not have a direct shot at your enemy, in which case your only choice may be to fire a missile into the air and count on gravity to do the rest. This aspect of the game can be difficult to master but is really rewarding once you finally get the hang of it.

The second thing that makes this game a lot of fun is the large selection of weapons one can choose from, each complete with its own visual special effects. Take a look at this:

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The arsenal.

As is the case in any good artillery duel game, you can see that the arsenal in Nanobotz is quite extensive. There are all manner of missiles (including guided missiles whose path you set), grenades (that you can set the timing on), guns, beam weapons, asteroid strikes (!), etc. Additionally, there are also several tools available for purchase, such as jets and grappling hooks that you can use to move your bot from planet to planet, shields, and a bulldozer that will burrow your bot into the planet it's on. Each of the weapons are good for different sorts of attack. I might use a rapid fire gun if an enemy bot is right next to me but more frequently opt for a missile or beam weapon if the enemy is farther away. This adds a tactical dimension to the game that really enhances gameplay.

It may be a small thing, but I also really like the fact that when you score a hit on an enemy bot, coins fly out it! These coins are what you use to purchase weapons between rounds.

Any Room for Improvement?

My only real complaint about this game is that I wish that multiple-round play would have taken center stage. As it is currently, the game defaults to single round play, which means that you never get to take advantage of the money you earn during that round because there is no subsequent round to purchase weapons for.

Similarly, there's no big show when you win a multiple-round game, you're just taken back to the main screen. There isn't even a summary of who won the battles. Similarly, multiple-round mode allows for ties: if you win the first round of a two-round match and the enemy wins the second one, the game just ends at the conclusion of the second round. This isn't a vital defect or anything but I really feel that the developers missed the opportunity to have a tiebreaking round or in some way make this outcome more exciting.

Another addition I'd like to see is something akin to the trophy room in Astraware's Hammer Heads game. In that game, each player can acquire trophies for various accomplishments. In Nanobotz, trophies could be awarded for, say, winning 3 rounds in a row, winning 10 rounds in a row, winning a round using only the default missile, finishing a round with a health above 90, etc. I'm not saying by any means that Nanobotz should be faulted for not including something like this, I'm just suggesting it as a way to improve this game even further. A "trophy room," like a high score list, gives players that extra incentive to keep playing.

Conclusion

Nanobotz is yet another solid contribution to the Windows Mobile gaming scene from one of the industry leaders. The music is great; the graphics and effects are great; and the innovative additions to the genre make gameplay addictive.

Anything well done deserves to be commended, but I think the most commendable thing about MoreGames Entertainment is there continuing commitment to being original.

Natestera, exactly the same addictiveness with K-Rally here too :)

Ben, great review, will link to from my next Games news roundup!

Nate: K-Rally is a great game. I have to admit that I stopped playing it shortly after career mode, though (as a side note, I wonder what that developer's been working on lately?). In any event, Nanobotz should be able to help wean you off K-Rally.

Werner: Thanks!

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