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Nom Nation

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Grilled

Product: Nom Nation | Developer: Playerthree | Format: PSP | Genre: Adventure, Platform, Puzzle | Players: 1 | File size: 24MB | Version: Europe
 
Nom Nation PSP, thumbnail 1
Edutainment has a bad reputation, and with good reason: learning stuff is generally hard and boring.

It doesn't have to be that way, though, and there are a few games doing the rounds at the moment that try to disguise their educational benefits.

Nom Nation is such a game, but while it's a great-looking, cheery title that succeeds at teaching you about nutrition and a healthy diet, it's missing a little spit and shine, which detracts from the overall package.

Good for you

Produced by Playerthree and commissioned by Channel 4, Nom Nation casts you as a chef out who's to stop Jabber the Gut in level after level of puzzle-platforming - with the emphasis firmly being on 'puzzle'.

It's not a complex story: the McFatass Corporation, with its army of Burnt Bits, is making slobs out of everyone with high-calorie foodstuffs. And, well, that's just not on.

To stop this terrible war on health, you'll have to take advantage of the different inherent properties of foods scattered around each area. Taken a big fall? You can top up your health with vegetables and whole grains. Need a speed boost to dash across a perilous land bridge? Grab yourself an energy drink or coffee.

These power-ups add a cerebral challenge to Nom Nation. You may run up against a breakable wall, for instance, at which point it's time to get your protein on and build instant muscle. If there are no lean steaks kicking around, you'll need to seek one out sharpish - each power only lasts a short while - and use it to get past the offending obstruction.

You can combine food groups for additional effects, too, including superhuman strength or increased protection against attacks. But, you'll need to keep an eye on the amount of junk food you're consuming, because this 'bad' food clogs up the heart. Too much cholesterol, and bang! You suffer a massive heart attack. Life lost.

Not lovin' it

It's a novel concept, but in terms of enjoyment it's a right pain. Watching what you eat is clearly a key message in Nom Nation, but there's just no effective way of reducing your cholesterol in the game.

Combat presents another issue: fighting foes is unwieldy due to how quickly they move and the slippery controls of your avatar. To knock your enemies out, you throw them at one another or jump on their heads - getting hold of one, though, can prove really tricky. They also pack a real punch and can seriously damage your health bar if you mess up.

The missing ingredient in Nom Nation is the attention to detail in a few of the core gameplay elements, because everything else is scrumptious. It's beautiful, sounds great, and has unquestionably taught me a thing or two about dietary habits.

Right, I'm off for a cheeseburger.
 
Nom Nation
Reviewer photo
Peter Willington | 24 May 2012
Another great-looking puzzle-platformer for the PlayStation minis line of games. It's a shame, then, that the underlying gameplay is a little sloppy
 
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