Do you remember that one episode of Star Trek? You know, the one where Bones was trying to help a baby star become a red giant by painting lines of stars for it to follow around hazards? And Spock kept saying how illogical it was, and Kirk was all like, "Shut up, man, I'm trying to concentrate, these aliens keep getting in my way"? And then Uhura was all, "Yeah, it's like Nitrome wants this to be way hard or something"? And Scotty was all like, "I cannae do it"? If you said "Yes", well, you're a dirty rotten liar, because that never happened. (And it won't until J.J. Abrams starts returning my calls!) But the good news is you can pretend it did with Nebula, an arcade-style game of skill, reflexes, and lots and lots of patience.
You guide your young star along the path to greatness and red giant-hood by clicking and drawing lines of stars for it to follow. You need to collect the keys in each level to proceed, which is easier said than done since bombs, aliens, dark matter, and other hazards lie in wait. All, of course, rendered in Nitrome's signature lovely style. The areas are rich and vibrant, the enemies cheerfully cartoonish and varied. It's just too bad stopping to smell the roses is a good way to wind up getting blown to bits. While your intrepid star can withstand two hits, a third will mark the sad end to its journey. Well, until you restart the level anyway.
The problem here lies in an overly finicky control scheme. Or maybe it's just that our adorably goggle-eyed little star has the attention span of a fly and everything is so brightly coloured. In any case, guiding it safely around obstacles is less fluid tracery and more herky-jerky. It's really a shame that you don't get much time to enjoy your surroundings, lovely as they are, since staying ahead of the star and making sure it doesn't blow itself up can wind up taking all of your attention. Which is a shame because there are some really interesting things going on in some levels that I would have liked to experiment with more. Setting off massive chain reactions of explosions is fun, and the fact that some obstacles require you (yes, you!) to intervene is clever, if tricky.
At thirty levels, Nebula offers plenty of time to refine your star-rearing skills, especially for those of you who are quicker on the draw than yours truly. (Maybe a lifetime of having to fend off feral moose in the Canadian wilderness has left me jittery and ill-suited to games likes this?) Although the most relaxing game in town, Nebula still entertains, challenges, and features a hero so adorable I'd like to squeeze it to pieces, if not for the fact that I prefer my face un-melted.