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Just a Peek

Nanosaur II: Hatchling for iPhone and iPod Touch

I was a huge fan of Cro-Mag Rally. I played it whenever I had a free ten minutes, which wasn’t very often, unfortunately. The game was just a blast to play. I got a kick out of all the tracks and associated scenery, and I loved driving in first person view.

Lot of fun.

But as much fun as Cro-Mag Rally was I’m afraid that another game has taken up my spare ten minutes. In fact, this new game is so much more involved that I wind up wasting a half hour before realizing it and I could easily play longer, and often do. (Which means that the stuff I’m suppose to be doing isn’t getting done. I guess that book I’m suppose to be writing will just have to wait till next year.)

What game is it that has usurped Cro-Mag Rally’s place on my list of favorite games to play?

Nanosaur II: Hatchling, like Cro-Mag Rally, from Pangea Software.

If you are familiar with the first Nanosaur game from Pangea then you’ll know that the main character is a dinosaur. (OK, you could have figured it out from the title of the game as well.) What you may not know is that, instead of your avatar being a smart Velociraptor, your digital alter ego is a pterodactyl. He’s (she’s?) even equipped with a jet pack and weapons.

The object of Nanosaur II is to go back in time and recover eggs. Sounds easy enough, right?

Well, it is and it isn’t. (Besides, if it were easy what would be the point of the game?)

In a Flap
Gathering eggs that have been stolen and placed back in a time when dinosaurs were big and fairly stupid wouldn’t be a lot of fun, unless you are a prehistoric Easter Bunny.

What is fun is gathering eggs while dodging trees, hulking Brontosaurs, vicious velociraptors, robot sentries armed to their metal teeth with all manner of nasty weapons, other flying reptiles, and much more, all bent on preventing you from grabbing eggs and delivering the goods.

Hulking dinos dot the extraordinary landscape in Nanosaur II

The controls of Nanosaur II are simple enough; tilt your iPod touch or iPhone to make your pterodactyl soar, swoop, and turn. It does take a bit of getting use to, but after a few unpleasant crashes you start to get the hang of it. When you swoop in low near and object (eggs or power-ups) you reptile extends its legs letting you grab the object.

Learn to turn sharply to maneuver through trees and avoid a fiery death. The key is practice.

Good Golly Miss Molly! Great Graphics!!
Play Nanosaur II for five minutes and even the most ardent gamer will grudgingly admit that the iPhone and iPod touch can be made into decent gaming platforms.

Each level in Nanosaur II is a feast for the eyes. Trees don’t all stand straight up, rocks and boulders litter the earth, the landscape rolls beneath you hiding little copses and clearings that may harbor eggs or power-ups.

Once I got the hang of flying I found that was all I wanted to do; fly and explore. Glide through the different areas in a level and see what I mean. Your pterodactyl slightly alters its wings as you get it to maneuver through the air and it’s just a blast to watch. After clearing a level, I will often just hang out and take in the sights.

There are also many little touches that add an immersive quality that is reserved for bigger console games.

Glide through trees, avoid raptors, fetch eggs

For instance, in the first level there are many velociraptors that jump up you. These guys are quick and they often run just ahead of your blaster fire. If you can steer them into water you’ll find that they slow down and can’t jump up at you, making them great targets.

Speaking of blaster fire, when you miss your mark your blaster shot will kick up dust on land, spray on water and set unfortunate trees ablaze.

Turn off the game music (which is good, by the way) and you’re treated to an erie silence as you soar over the land. That is unless you are near a worm hole, which drones on like a 50 gallon drum full of angry bees.

The "fog" effect could be a bit better. That’s the technique 3D programmers use to limit what’s displayed so as not to overtax the graphic processor and make things run slow.

Instead some distant objects gradually materializing into view, especially large objects, like mountains, they appear as if being extruded from a wall. If it weren’t for that, the flying effect would be completely convincing.

This likely points out the limitations of the iPhone as a game machine, but I see it as an annoying nit. If Pangea had gone for less detailed graphics I’m sure they could have fixed this.

Another irritation is that the game has hung my iPhone a few times. This happens at the start of the game when the screen is blank. You can try rebooting your iPhone -- it may take a few minutes, but it has always rebooted and I’ve lost nothing.

It’s hard to tell who’s at fault here, but both Apple and Pangea should do whatever to fix it.

It’s On Now Lizard Lips
There’s the standard compliment of settings and controls, so I won’t bore with those.

Did I mention that this game is actually a shooter? The power-ups give you different weapons including heat-seeking missles and cluster grenades. High tech armement for a high tech dino. Other power-ups replenish health, shields, and jet juice. I like to take out the robo-gunners with a few well placed heat seekers, then use my blaster to toast anything living, then, if I survive, I just scoop up the eggs.

As levels progress so do the intelligence of the bad lizards and their robo-minion, which can sport lasers, blasters fire and other nastiness.

All of the above and more make playing Nanosaur II on the iPhone or iPod touch that much more fun.

I’m sure you have your favorite iPhone game, but if you like 3D shooters and flight simulators and even have a passing fancy for dinosaurs then do yourself a favor and grab Nanosaur II.

The controls are intuitive, the graphics are first rate, the sound is top notch, and, at a buck ninety nine, the price is spot on, too.

*GET IT NOW and go kick some lizard tail.

Peeked at Nanosaur II: Hatchling for iPhone and iPod Touch
Manufacturer Pangea Software


iPhone, iPod Touch

Latest version of iTunes

* Note: My rating system goes like this;

  • Get it Now! - Highest rating and an absolute must-have
  • Highly recommend - Minor flaws, but a great product
  • Recommend - Flawed, but still a solid product
  • So-so - Problem product that may find a niche market
  • Avoid - Why did they bother making it? A money waster.

Vern Seward is a writer who currently lives in Orlando, FL. He’s been a Mac fan since Atari Computers folded, but has worked with computers of nearly every type for 20 years.

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