Slakinov'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.