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For: iPhone

Out of NOM 10

Product: NOM 5 | Publisher: Gamevil | Format: iPhone | Genre: Action, Platform | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0
NOM 5 iPhone, thumbnail 1
During one of NOM 5’s self-indulgent cutscenes, one character says to another, “you’re getting on my nerves”, which seems precision-timed to match the player’s response at that particular juncture.

Gamevil’s latest has some inventive ideas and creative settings, but it’s hard to care when its wackiness is so overbearing.

Whether its relentless silliness is forced or natural, it’s much like the gaming equivalent of an ice-cream headache.

Padded cell 

The story begins with the eponymous silhouetted hero worrying about having “no chicks” in his mobile phone contacts. Perhaps that’s because, as he soon discovers, his phone is really a spaceship, from which an alien named Cowabunga emerges. (Yes, really.)

Cowabunga then takes NOM into space to meet the apparently famous Spaceking, though not before he has collected the mysterious Truth of Life.

You’ll achieve this by running, jumping, and swimming through a series of gaudily coloured stages, each representing different alien planets.

Run, thinboy, run

NOM’s movement is automatic, which means you simply need to tap at the right time to avoid or destroy the obstacles in his path.

He also has an energy bar that depletes after every hit he takes, though he can collect items along the way to top up his health. Successive hits and / or dodges fill up a Passion meter, which increases his speed.

The hazards that lie in your way are many and varied, and part of the initial appeal comes from anticipating what wacky encounters await.

Sadly, Gamevil introduces too many new hazards at once, and thus is forced to remind you with on-screen prompts when to tap and for how long.

Occasionally, it removes the prompts altogether, then reintroduces them later in the level seemingly without reason. Perhaps that’s an attempt to counter the game’s other major issue: the stages are simply too long.

Karate kid

Seeing NOM kung fu-kicking and somersaulting his way past flying aliens, stomping on larvae, or punching his way through lengthy insectoid foes might be more appealing if you didn’t have to do it for several minutes at a time.

Other games of this kind – like the little-known WiiWare title Tomena Sanner that NOM5 most closely resembles – have the sense to keep stages short and challenging, thereby increasing the replay appeal.

NOM 5 has the challenge, but not the brevity. On your first go, you might earn an F ranking for missing 30-odd prompts (out of well over 100) – ordinarily, such a low grade might provide the impetus for another attempt, but not here.

Like a boss

Curiously enough, the comparatively compact boss stages perfect the formula. A relatively small number of hazards provide a fairer challenge, with the timing of dodges and attacks coming more naturally.

You can make things a little easier by purchasing relics to boost stamina, luck (increases points), and miracle (minimises damage) levels.

An in-game shop allows you to spend real-world money on such items, though you can also earn them by achieving high ranks and triggering Bonus Time, or, as the game would have it, 'BOUNS TIME'.

That egregious grammatical flub sums up NOM 5’s rather slapdash feel. For a freebie, you won’t lose any cash trying it out, but don’t blame us if you end up irritated by the amount of time you wasted playing it instead of the many better iOS titles out there.
Reviewer photo
Chris Schilling | 30 August 2011
Gamevil’s deranged freebie aims for ‘quirky’, but hits 'annoying'. For nutters only
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