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Publisher: Pangea Software    Genre: Arcade
Min OS X: 10.2.8    CPU: G4 @ 700 MHz    RAM: 512 MB    Graphics: 32 MB VRAM

Nanosaur 2: Hatchling
April 5, 2004 | Eric Ford

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What happens when you combine deadly dinosaurs, gorgeous landscapes, and the genius of Pangea Software? You get Nanosaur 2: Hatchling, a great sequel to the third person shooter that was released four years ago. Featuring a beautiful graphics system with cool visual effects, tight control, and good multiplayer to boot, Nanosaur 2 is a good title that any Mac gamer should try. However, the greatness of the game is over-shadowed by the fact that it is only three levels long.

The story featured in Nanosaur 2 is simple, yet beautifully direct. For those unfamiliar with Pangea's previous title, Nanosaurs are intelligent dinosaurs capable of all the malice and deceit that mankind can achieve. Following the events of the previous title, you play the role of the remaining Nanosaur hatchling that was left behind when a group of rebel Nanosaurs stole a plethora of Nanosaur eggs with the intention of using them for their own diabolical purposes. Your mission: to travel to all the different worlds inhabited by the rebels and take back the eggs that were initially stolen. A simple enough story, but this is not where Nanosaur 2 shines; it's all the other aspects of the game that make it great.

The object of Nanosaur 2 is very straightforward. Scattered throughout each world is a certain amount of eggs that the hatchling must retake. After picking up one, it must be transported to the nearest warp gate to send it back home. After every egg is rescued, the hatchling must then find and enter a warp to reach the next level. Sounds simple enough, right? Not really.

Now, once you reach the third level, simply trying to find all the eggs is a hard challenge, but to make it even more interesting there are a variety of rebel Nanosaurs that are trying to ensure that you don't finish your mission. From landmines to laser wielding robots to high leaping dinos, there are plenty of things to avoid or kill before you can begin to work on your primary mission. Luckily for you, the hatchling is equipped with a shield for protection and a turbo jet pack for those times of hasty retreat. Also in the game are several weapons that you can collect and use against the rebels, such as bombs and tracking missiles. Even with this arsenal, the game becomes challenging really quickly. The first two levels provide a nice introduction to the challenges in the game, but afterwards, you're hit hard and fast with a level that definitely offers some excitement.

Multiplayer in Nanosaur 2 is fun, but limited. There are three game modes, Race, Battle, and Capture the Egg. Race is your traditional race around a level, Battle pits the two players against each other with set lives, and Capture the Egg is like the single player mode, except your racing against another player (and fighting each other) to accomplish it. For each mode there are two different courses that it can be selected, and the multiplayer itself is split screen on one computer. I found the split screen to be adequate on my cinema display, but it can be a little small on a laptop, especially with two players looking at it. Also, I suggest one player use the keyboard and another use a game pad so that both won't be fighting over the keys. It's a nice addition to the game, but a network method would have been better.

There are some very small complaints that I have with the gameplay; the main one being collision detection. Sometimes when flying around a level, you may crash into a tree when it seems as if you've cleared it. There are also other times when you may feel that you can get through a certain area and you end up being unable to do so. Combine with this with the difficulty of the game and you find you have to watch yourself very carefully when planning an escape route when you have lots of baddies around you. Another issue is I don't like the fact that you can only save between levels, but since the game only has three it's not that big of a deal. Another small gripe is the fact that while the hatchling has an afterburner allowing him to fly faster when needed, there is no option to slow the bird down when making tight turns or navigating through tough areas. I'm sure this would have made the game a little easier and I could see why the developers didn't put it in. Regardless, it's something I felt I should mention.

Finally, the only thing holding this game down is the fact that it only features three levels. I'm not quite sure why it ends so quickly; I can only hope that Pangea has a level expansion kit in the works for all those that bought it. It's even more disappointing because it's a great game.


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