9.5

Dark Nebula 2 is a phenomenal game built for mobile devices. Outstanding level design and aesthetics, with tilt play.

9.2
Stands tall among other mobile game elites: feels right at home on the mobile device

Tilt gyroscope gameplay is sharp, and you can adjust plane-zero on the fly

Outstanding level design and aesthetic presentation: it looks gorgeous and each level is uniquely set

You might wish it were slightly longer and had more environmental variety, but those are small nit-picks

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Few genres have transitioned well to mobile devices other than puzzle and simulation games to date. Sure you have your standard action RPGs (Dungeon Hunter, Chaos Rings) and old School games (Myst, Oregon Trail), but in general those still don't feel right on the touch portable devices. What does feel right is a game built from the ground up specifically for mobile devices, that uses the innate controls of the system (touch or tilt), and has aesthetic sensibilities that fit. Such thinking has delivered greats from Zen Bound to Infinity Blade. Thankfully 1337 Design understands, and has delivered a phenomenal game that suits the platform perfectly, stands tall next to mobile game greats, and betters the original in every way.

Though there's not much of a story in Dark Nebula to follow, the general sense is that your spaceship has crashed on a jungle planet far out in space, and as marble-like brain, you must make your way through the surrounding environments to find a suitable replacement to get off the planet and on to your mission. As a vulnerable computer brain housed in a marble shield casing, you don't have much capabilities other than rolling. Thankfully, as a smart marble, you do have the capabilities of using your surrounding environment to traverse the deadly zones nearby. Thus, Dark Nebula, if it resembles anything, resembles Marble Madness (NES) but instead of a controller, you use your phone's innate tilt gyroscope to move yourself around. Thankfully, you can adjust the zero-plane level on the fly quite easily, so you don't have to stand over your phone, and could even play upside down if you wanted.

Through jungles, caves, and industrial zones, then, you'll roll and occasionally bounce your way to the end of 20 fantastic stages. Traps, enemies, boss battles, you name it, you'll overcome a lot to get to the end, but with the elegant game mechanics and gorgeous environmental designs, you'll want to do it all again when you finish. As you make your way through each of the 20 levels, you'll want to grab some golden orbs for completion sake, as well as extra lives which are scattered about. Each level grades you on orb completion, lives lost, and time, giving you some extra incentive to dive back in when you make it through.

Aside from the top-notch tilt gameplay, the other clear highlights are the level design and aesthetics, which go hand in hand. Each level feels quite unique on the whole, and despite the fact that you might wish for a tad more environmental variation, the presentation is just outstanding. Each level presents new challenges and modes of play, from super-speed to pin-point bouncing, to rolling along narrow catwalks with rotating arms to dodge. And all the while you'll drool from the gorgeous visuals. Each stage is thoughtfully put together, and does a lot to render the environment meaningful visually, whether you're rolling over jungle ground, mesh webbing, or digital pathways. You'll also be privy to some great musical scores as well; I definitely recommend playing with the sound on and earphones equipped!

Every aspect of Dark Nebula Episode Two is top notch from first to last. Though you might wish it were longer than 20 stages, and had a tad more environmental variety, you'd be crazy to keep those things between you and this fantastic game. As one of the very few games to really feel at home on the mobile device, and to reward the player with excellence all around a great replay value, do yourself a favor and pick this one up.

9.2/10

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