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Portabliss: Noble Nutlings (iOS)


This is Portabliss, a column about downloadable games that can be played on the go.

Take the character designs and look of Angry Birds, and put them in a game with the physics-based driving of a Trials or Motoheroz game, and the result is Noble Nutlings, the most Finnish game ever made.

The Angry Birds resemblance is no coincidence. Noble Nutlings is the first game from Boomlagoon, a developer founded by Rovio's former lead artist, server designer, and web programmer. Your protagonists are still a trio of spheroid critters, each a primary color. However, instead of birds in a slingshot, the Nutlings are chubby lil' squirrels in a wagon.

The goal is to maneuver that wagon from point A to point B through tilt-based leaning and an acceleration button, trying not to flip over and destroy your wagon, and trying to pick up as many acorns as possible along the way.

The terrain is extremely hilly, loopy, and otherwise rounded, making it difficult for you to stay upright and stay grounded, and difficult to take off when desired. Basically, you're always out of control in some way. You can earn in-game money (or, of course, spend real money) to upgrade your cart and its two visible wheels, which changes stats and also lets you have a watermelon for a wheel. I experimented a bit with this, but I didn't really feel the difference between different items.

Much like Trials, there's a lot of finesse involved with doing a perfect run, beyond just holding the accelerator and slamming on the (chili pepper) boost. And to encourage replaying (or to force it) there's a three-star system for each level, just like Angry Birds. Certain levels require a certain star total before opening. And much like Trials, I haven't grasped how to do it properly yet.

In what will only become a more frequent trend for Portabliss, I have no trouble recommending this game to you, because it's free. Take it for a spin, and see for yourself whether you're nuts enough about it to squirrel it away in your iPhone home screen.

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