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Rating: 4.5/5 (24 votes)
Comments (33) | Views (5,078)

nanobots.gifPatrickNanobots is the latest from the web-game nanofactory assembly line that is Nitrome. While not as inventive as some of its other releases, Nanobots takes your classic shoot-em-up, wraps it in a cool metaphor of nanomachines fighting inside a cell, and polishes it to a shiny finish. The result is one of the best Flash-based shmups on the internet.

The game puts you at the helm of a little pod that you control with the mouse or keyboard. It can move forward, backward, and pivot in any direction. The ship is always firing, which is sort of de riguer for any shmup that's honest with its genre. You must blast away (with well-toned sound effects and animated explosions reminiscent of Mega Man) wave after wave of invasive machines with one major catch: the nanobots are color-coded and can only be destroyed by weapons of the same shade.

For example, the pink 'bots have to be shot using your pink bullets, yellow enemies must be destroyed with your yellow bombs, while green foes can only be eliminated if you equip the orbiting green mace. You can only possess one weapon at a time, adding another layer of prioritization ot your melee blastastcity.

Analysis: For all its charms and well-oiled tunings, Nanobots suffers from one glaring flaw — no intra-level saves. This isn't 1982 and we're not playing a quarter-munching arcade game. Put some checkpoints in-between waves so we don't have to repeat a ten minute sequence if we die just short of the level's end. That's a basic rule of core game design, much less casual game design, that should be a little more forgiving.

Shrink down for a fantastic journey into the depths of the human shmup.

Play Nanobots

The game is also available to play at the MTV Arcade.


Oooh, not bad!

Level 4 is baffling though.


Argh. I still hate the use of an on-screen keyboard for entering the user's name into the high-score list. I have a real keyboard!


:sigh: I would have preferred a more straightforward control scheme. Thrust/rotation is more 'real', yes, but I find it somewhat frustrating to use than the basic up/down/left/right/use mouse to turn scheme.


Ok, on my second try I did mouse primary instead of keyboard primary which feels much better, though I stand by my assertion that I prefer the 'dumb' way to handle it.


I agree with Ben. Their mouse controls are awkward. I use a trackball, and would have preferred moving with the trackball and shooting/whatever with the left button.


Wow, this is Nitrome's first fare in a long time that I've really enjoyed! It's pretty fast-paced and attractive. The keyboard controls are a bit clunky compared to the mouse--which is disappointing because I normally like primarily keyboard-controlled games. I think the best thing for this game would be to incorporate rotation/aiming for the mouse and keyboard for the thrust/aiming. Otherwise a lot of fun!


Ugh. Clunky controls and it froze my computer.


does anyone know how to get pass level 4? as in, after you destroyed the greens you cant do anything.


I did not like this game at all. I would prefer mixed mouse-keys control. In mouse-control mode, why not be able to strafe with the arrow keys? It just seems silly to me that in a non-scrolling shmup that I have to face the way I'm shooting. If I can turn, rather than just moving side to side, I should be able to move and shoot independently. Maybe you can argue that that's part of what makes the game difficulty, but poor design choices are not a substitute for challenging gameplay.


"The result is one of the best Flash-based shmups on the internet."

Nitrome seems to get more than its fair share of dues from you guys.

I don't see why this is one of the best.

Maybe I'm just being paranoid.


Patrick is free to write anything he wishes. Neither I nor anyone from Nitrome coached or coaxed him to write what he did. If you take issue to something he wrote, then please do comment here freely explaining why you disagree. :)


jiawai, I agree with you 100%. I've got up to Level 4 THREE times now, without any success. Maybe it is just something Nitrome will fix very shortly- in which case I'll forget the whole thing.


Nitrome seems to create a lot of pretty games with interesting ideas, invariably crippled by slow and obtuse play control. Upon seeing "shmup" and "Nitrome", I'd hoped they would manage to avoid crippling this game similarly - come on, shmup controls aren't hard to design! Even for a free roaming, shoot-in-any-direction game, just copy Robotron or Abuse or even Warning Forever! - but no, they managed it again... *sighs*.

Brent Silby October 13, 2007 3:43 PM

I enjoyed the concept here, but agree that the controls are difficult. I thought the graphics were nice and the gameplay (if the controls were easier) would be very engaging. As far as the missing "save game" feature is concerned, personally I do not have a problem with games that require you to start from the beginning every time. But that's the arcade-gamer in me talking ;)

PhilMarlowe October 14, 2007 3:55 AM

I enjoy this game a lot, but what's with that bug on level 4? Has anyone gotten any further than killing the green guys on level 4?


Yea, I don't think Level 4 works.

Tchakkazulu October 15, 2007 6:01 AM

This game is made to be played on touchscreen. I think that the mouse controls will suddenly start making sense.


I think this game is one of Nitrome's better games as of late, with them producing a game almost every week and a half (unless I miscount).

This game has reasonably good controls (I mean, they're not the most intuitive, but they're clean and they work) and I find the bomb mutation to be soooo slow, btu beyond that it's a fair bit more solid than a lot of it's other games that run like molasses.

I couldn't pass 4 either, but hey, they'll fix the bugs eventually, right?


EVERYONE! Good News! Nitrome have FIXED the Level 4 menace! The pink and green foes have swapped, we are FREE!


yech, thats awful, maybe itd be better if the steering wasnt so difficult. i tried it with both the mouse and the keyboard but neither work well.


This may sound like a dense question, but-

Can Nitrome change the game AT ALL after it is released? Because if a game received complaints that it needed, say, more lives, couldn't Nitrome actually then put the lives in? This game needs some things.

The virtual keyboard is new for their older games, though. That must have been added afterwards.


Hooray! Finished the game.
I'm talking to myself I think.

Dum de dum.

night-claw October 20, 2007 8:18 PM

Every time Nitrome makes a new game, I insantly go to play it. Nitrome has never let me down with a bad game. Until now... A odd game, that instantly loses my interst after two seconds of shooting.


level 4 has invsisble mine things that hurt you when you hit them. Took me a long time to figure that one out. watch where you step!


LOL someone posted as 'Davsuks'!


This is a great game! Plain GREATGREAT!!!!!!!!!!


Can someone help me pass level 6?It gets really hard when theyellow nanobots come.Please help me.


Oh my gosh! Level 5 is way too hard! HELP!!

IUHoosiersFan (Cheesemeister) April 14, 2009 10:00 AM

How many levels are there in this game?


Hey Cheesemeister.

No, I don't unfortunately, but I've sent out the alarm to see if there's anyone who does.

Anonymous June 3, 2009 3:56 PM

Has anyone passed Level 6 yet? How many levels are there?


Whew! I finally beat this game. A few weeks ago, I decided to beat every Nitrome game from the beginning. Nanobots has been the hardest so far. There's 6 regular stages and then a boss level. Now that that's over with, time for "Off the Rails".

Anonymous August 2, 2010 12:52 PM

I have beat all 8 levels ha!


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