75Sometimes game reviews shouldn’t be based on first impressions.

For example, take my experience with NANO, a musically inspired app available for the iPhone and iPod Touch from Rustcycle.

Upon downloading the game, I wanted to launch it, of course.‚  As I clicked the app icon for the first time, the loading screen popped up.‚  And it sat there… and sat there.‚  And sat there some more.

Yup, that’s right.‚  It froze on its first launch.

Jan. 16, 2009

Some reviewers may have given up right then and there, but I was still intrigued by NANO’s clean, black and white loading screen and the interesting (albeit small) reputation that it had built.‚  Luckily, the second attempt of booting the app was a success and, for the most part, so was the game.

NANO’s opening screen is simple.‚  You have three options: start a new game, resume an old game or learn about the rules of NANO.‚  I suggest learning the rules first.

The object of the game (if there really is an object) is to guide the benign particles (recognizable by their blue, green and white colors) to the grey Assembler nodes. In order to direct the particles where to go, you must make a path using the “magnetic flow lines” by using your finger to paint their alignment. The Assembler nodes will acknowledge your progress by slightly changing color as the benign particles start pouring into it.

However, watch out for the malign particles, which are red, orange and yellow.‚  If any of these particles enter the Assembler node, all of the progress you may have made will go to waste.

The key to enjoying NANO is to have the sound on.‚  Without the sound, NANO will seem quite dry.‚  However, with sound, NANO really starts to make sense.‚  As you guide the benign particles to the Assembler nodes, the pitches and tones of the music begin to change.‚  The quicker you can activate the nodes, the more interesting and complex the music will get.

NANO has very little structure or guidelines.‚  For the most part, the game is open to interpretation.‚  There is no progression through levels, per se.‚  Instead, players sort of do the same thing over and over again, though the levels do progress in difficulty and there are 255 overall.

As frustrating as this might sound, NANO actually is quite relaxing.‚  Along with the music, the smooth motion of the particles and the soft glowing of the Assembler nodes really makes the game quite enjoyable.‚  Rarely will you notice how similar each of the stages are because NANO isn’t about the stages; it’s about the experience.

Ever since I downloaded NANO, I have found myself playing it after a hard day of class.‚  It has really become a sort of an electronic stress ball for me.

With that said, NANO does have it’s share of flaws, too.

The app still has trouble loading on occasion, either by taking a long time or just freezing the entire device.‚  I have also noticed that if you get a text message during the loading process, your iPhone will most likely freeze.

Although NANO has great, relaxing music, I would have really liked to see (or hear, in this case) more variety in the tones within the game.‚  If Rustcycle could have added more tones and songs as you cleared stages, I think it would have been a great improvement to the game.

Overall, I thought NANO was pretty good.‚  I admit that I was quite skeptical of this app upon hearing about it, but it really proved my gut wrong.‚  Sure, the game freezes when loading every once and a while, but that is really its only (real) negative aspect.‚  I think NANO is a good investment for those stressed-out iPhone and iPod Touch owners who are looking for a 5-10 minute escape every once and a while.‚  Plus, with a $0.99 price, it is worth purchasing just out of pure intrigue.

Nano isn’t perfect, but it sure is delightful to have, especially for less than a buck.

About The Author

Chase Gharrity is a Blast Games correspondent.

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