Nanotube


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Rating: 4.1/5 (91 votes)
| Comments (31) | Views (8)

PsychotronicNanotubeSlakinov's Nanotube is a stylish action game that tasks you with preventing an army of colored orbs from escaping the center of a circle. You have control of a wall of segments at the perimeter of that circle, and you must block each orb with a wall segment of the same color. The [right] arrow moves your wall clockwise, and [left] moves it counter-clockwise. Each level gives you a different configuration of segments, beginning with a simple block of yellow, and eventually evolving into complex multi-colored patterns with tiny zones of impact.

Luckily, one missed orb isn't enough to kill you. As you block shots properly, a meter in the center of the screen will make its way toward the positive side. And as you miss, or block orbs with the wrong color, it will go the other way; and if it goes completely negative, then your game will end. Based on your progress, you will then receive a ranking, most of which are humiliating to some degree.

There is a level select option at the title screen, but it doesn't save your progress, so expect to start over at level one if you leave the page and come back.

Analysis: Nanotube is a satisfying treat on many levels. The orbs fly at you with a regular rhythm and pop with a musical sproing, so if you're playing well, the game will automatically play a random tune for you. If you're playing poorly, then it will sound like you're hacking at the inside of a piano with a pick-axe. It's like having your own little hostile xylophone.

The visual presentation is smart, made of thick chunks of color on a black background and featuring a surprising amount of humor in the level names. It's almost like a sub-game of Spot-the-Allusion. Nanotube will be an annoying experience for the color-blind, though, as many of the levels feature similar colors on purpose, for the sake of challenge.

The gameplay reminds me of Tempest, if only because there's a swarm of thingies coming out of the middle of a geometric shape. Nanotube is certainly intense like the arcade games from the Golden Age. You'll have to be very precise and quick after the first couple of levels, planning your next move even before the current orb hits. There's enough twists from level to level to keep you interested, even as you approach a point where you can't cope with the action any more.

The disadvantage of playing such a game on a computer keyboard is that the arrow keys are a poor way to control circular movement. Inevitably, there will be a disconnect between your mind and the action, and that's when your life meter will plunge. You get used to the control scheme, of course, just like with any rotation-oriented game; but there isn't a wide margin of error here, so the issue stood out more than usual for me. Dial controls have been out of style for over 20 years now, though, so we have to make do.

Play Nanotube

31 Comments

Neopolitan killed me. While a fast response is necessary, I think the keyboard response is too quick. I keep overshooting the rotation. I believe mouse controls may be more fun.

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postverket Author Profile Page March 11, 2008 12:48 PM

steering wheel? :-)

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I just want to say to the game developers -- find a way to port this game to the iPod! The iPod offers a perfect control scheme for this game, and it's perfectly suited to the iPod because it would allow quick 15 minute games when there's not enough time to do anything else.

Of course, if the developer is just a small one, this may never happen, but it would be sweet if it did.

Excellent gameplay and presentation... I got up to level 20-something where:

you start to get "dark matter" orbs which need can't touch any of your colored blocks.

This was a really cool twist because:

you also have gray blocks which match the color of the gray orbs, which cause your battery to drain if you match the gray blocks and orbs. It forces you to have two gameplay rules in your brain at once - one for matching colored orbs to colored blocks, and one for explicitly not matching gray orbs to any block.

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TheSimpleAndy Author Profile Page March 11, 2008 1:11 PM

I agree, the keyboard controls are too quick. I really liked the idea. Maybe start with a larger radius too and then work it down smaller for added difficulty. I went from doing really good, to really bad way too fast :(

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Adding an option for mouse control may be nice, but I really like keyboard controls. My main computer is a laptop, and touchpads are truly horrible for games.

What it really really needs is a pause button. I lost because my cat decided to attack my foot!

(Also agree with iPod and radius == difficulty comments.)

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This is spectacular.

Little margin for error is an understatement!

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So is being rated a GM Monkey a good thing, or a bad thing? (39,285 final score). Very cool and fun game!

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Ezrabbit Author Profile Page March 11, 2008 5:09 PM

I'm a caged primate.
I suck. :}

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This is clearly not a game I'm well suited for. Somehow my brain refuses to relay the input from my eyes in a timely fashion to my hand. Oh well, at least my pencils are sharp (performance rating: pencil sharpener)

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Heh, cool idea, but I'm horrible at this. Once I start making mistakes, it's usually the start of a big chain of mistakes. But it's fun nonetheless. Hard fun. ;)

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Anonymous March 11, 2008 6:40 PM

Maybe it was just me, but it was very difficult to distinguish between red and orange in the Thermostat level. For the first 10 seconds or so, I thought it was just a red & yellow level, and I got really confused when I started getting "error" sounds while matching up orbs to (what I thought were) the correct segments. The shades of color should be more distinct, visually.

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twosixtyseven Author Profile Page March 12, 2008 12:06 AM

was i the only one who thought the controls should have been reversed?

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Jonathan Author Profile Page March 12, 2008 1:12 AM

Made it to Level 17 and got 46,510 - Dinnerlady.

This is a fantastic game. So simple, yet so complicated.

I also disagree with many of the comments about the keyboard being too fast; I feel like the speed is exactly right considering how quickly you have to be able to move in the later levels.

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This was actually a really good game. I'm surprised that I haven't seen anything like this before.
And I agreee that the rotation could be slowed down a bit.

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I died on the very first level that had more than one color. Level 4. I was rated a moldy something.

Stupid colorblindness. :-(

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That was kind of beautiful, until I hit a level with Blue and dark blue and my mind just could not cope with the distinguishment... oh well... I got called an estate agent. I find that offensive.

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Jayunderscorezero Author Profile Page March 12, 2008 10:44 AM

I LOVE this game. Although I do have one major complaint: that level select on the game's front page is an absolute pain. If you've gotten up to a high level and want to try again, you just have to sit there tapping at the thing for far too long. Would a drop-down list of completed levels have been too much?

Other than that, I love this one.

Highest rank: Head Technician. Yay!

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Lovely game, my highest rank is Celebrity physicst. Anybody know what all the ranks are? I got them up to Celebrity physicst, unable to get any higher for now.

Known ranks:

0-999 Waste of oxygen
1000-1999 Dead skin cell
2000-2999 Pondlife
3000-3999 Phlegm
4000-4999 Bacteria
5000-5999 Compost
6000-6999 Mouldy sandwich
7000-7999 Pocket fluff
8000-8999 Pez dispenser
9000-9999 Floppy disk
10000-12499 Lab rat
12500-14999 Do you want fries with that?
15000-17499 Pencil sharpener
17500-19999 Estate agent
20000-24999 Caged primate
25000-29999 Shaven monkey
30000-34999 Exceptional monkey
35000-39999 Gm monkey
40000-44999 Toilet cleaner
45000-49999 Dinnerlady
50000-54999 Vending machine repairman
55000-59999 Lab receptionist
60000-64999 Dropout student
65000-69999 Work experience chump
70000-74999 Wannabe scientist
75000-79999 Have-a-go scientist
80000-84999 Scrapethrough student
85000-89999 Office temp
90000-94999 Lab intern
95000-99999 ? ( 100000-109999 Trainee technician
110000-119999 Lab technician
120000-129999 Head technican
130000-139999 Physics geek
140000-149999 Professor
150000-159999 Celebrity physicst

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Fun! A pause button would definitely be helpful.

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Fusion pioneer! Score of 206889. Now I need to lie down. Great game.

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This game is really great, however I do agree that at times the wheel does move too fast for I tend to overshoot as well. Also when getting to further levels, and you are faced with blue and purple orbs, I found it quite difficult to distinguish the colors, but hey I still made ti to dinnerlady!

This game would be really awesome on the Ipod!!!

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Wow, not one for when your drunk..... I'll try again tomorrow. ;-)

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Farrhago Author Profile Page March 14, 2008 8:03 PM

I made it to 144,430 and Professor =D
Also, I found that if you keep on successfully blocking the orbs,the meter eventually maxes out. When it does, you get 500 points extra per orb blocked with the meter full.

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zekecake Author Profile Page March 15, 2008 7:39 PM

Great game, Long time visitor of JIG, but this is my first post.

To answer DOrus:

My high score is 286,359 and my ranking was "Human 2.0 Beta." I don't know if there's anything between that and "Celebrity Physicist," but I'd suspect that's the highest rank achievable. I'll see if I can improve and find out!

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Wow. That's really cool. Simple, unique, fun.

A few months ago I drew out a little sketch of an idea for a game, pretty much a polar coordinate pong. But realized it wouldn't quite work. This is so similar but has that little extra in idea that makes it an great game rather than just a dull idea. So big, big congratulations.

PS: I got to play an original Tempest game at the Game On exhibition last week. If this comes to a town near you, GO!

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Is it just me, or is the game over requirement completely inconsistent? Sometimes I die after just 2 or 3 hits, other times I survive 5 or 6.

It would help if I could understand how the meters in the middle were moving.

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I got Megalomaniac with a score of 221572. I also think I got nuclear physicist at some point.
I also tend to over shoot, especially annoying during the levels like James Brown is Dead where the collectors are only one cell wide.

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Ok its not nuclear physicist its Quantum Engineer at 170934.
Chris as far as I can tell each time you collect one it moves a fixed distance towards the green side. If you miss one it moves towards the red side and you die if it goes completely red. So if you start with it quite green you can miss quite a few and not die.

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This game is great! I've been playing for a while and cracked 300000, finishing all 42 levels in one go (final score was 308713)

Here's the complete list of rankings:

0-999 Waste of oxygen
1000-1999 Dead skin cell
2000-2999 Pondlife
3000-3999 Phlegm
4000-4999 Bacteria
5000-5999 Compost
6000-6999 Mouldy sandwich
7000-7999 Pocket fluff
8000-8999 Pez dispenser
9000-9999 Floppy disk
10000-12499 Lab rat
12500-14999 Do you want fries with that?
15000-17499 Pencil sharpener
17500-19999 Estate agent
20000-24999 Caged primate
25000-29999 Shaven monkey
30000-34999 Exceptional monkey
35000-39999 Gm monkey
40000-44999 Toilet cleaner
45000-49999 Dinnerlady
50000-54999 Vending machine repairman
55000-59999 Lab receptionist
60000-64999 Dropout student
65000-69999 Work experience chump
70000-74999 Wannabe scientist
75000-79999 Have-a-go scientist
80000-84999 Scrapethrough student
85000-89999 Office temp
90000-94999 Lab intern
95000-99999 Lab Assistant
100000-109999 Trainee technician
110000-119999 Lab technician
120000-129999 Head technican
130000-139999 Physics geek
140000-149999 Professor
150000-159999 Celebrity physicist
160000-169999 Theoretical physicist
170000-179999 Quantum Engineer
180000-189999 Evil Genius
190000-199999 Crazed Experimentor
200000-209999 Fusion pioneer
210000-219999 A Danger to Society
220000-229999 Genetic Freak
230000-239999 Enhanced Human
240000-299999 Human 2.0 Alpha
3000000+ Human 2.0 Final

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There's actually more rankings that I thought. I just beat 400000 and reached Human 3.0 Final

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I beat all 42 levels, and my top rank was Wannabe Scientist. I liked the "quark" series of levels. The dark matter orbs were fun, because it was hard to get those orbs into an opening while getting the the colored orbs into the their matching collectors at the same time.

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