Nano Rally in Review – Small Cars, Big Race

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You know those things in life that you always want to try, but never really get the time to make it work? When I first saw Sauce Digital’s Nano Rally, I knew that I had to try it out. Simply put, I always wanted to race remote-controlled cars around the many layers of obstacles of a house. Sadly, I didn’t have any remote controlled vehicles or much house (let alone layers of obstacles) to bump around in. Needless to say, this game piqued my interest. Nano-sized racecars cruising around everyday household objects – sounds good to anyone else?

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Nano Rally placed you in the tiny driver’s seat of a miniature car. You, the lone blue car, must traverse the vast area of your house through a variety of different courses, made up of many delightful and colourful obstacles. Two game modes are at your disposal: Single Race and Championship. Single Race lets you race any unlocked course, while Championship is a sequence of races for a selected area of the house. At first, only the Kitchen is available to play, with other sections unlockable only after you pass the Championship mode in the top Quartile.

A nice feature of Nano Rally is that you can choose your car’s acceleration, top speed, breaks, and handling before beginning a course. How you customize may determine how well you run through the track. For example, “handling” allows for more responsive steering: great for those sharp turns on obstacle-heavy courses.

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Racing is fairly simple. You are given a number of laps to complete, and your total time is recorded at the finish. I found some of the excitement to be missing when I realized that you’re the only car on the course. Indeed, Nano Rally has more of a time-trial type gameplay than arcade style racing. In each race, your final time is ranked against a series of artificial times with very nationally-oriented names; for example, “The Bear” is the Canadian driver, and the French racer is named “S-Car GO” (pronounced “escargo”).

To be brutally honest, the top scores given in the rankings are probably from near perfect driving, which makes the game extremely difficult in its current form. Many other reviews have mentioned that it was near impossible for the casual gamer to unlock more tracks.

My last point on the gameplay goes towards the control scheme. Although the steering, brakes, and gas pedals work great, the racing gameplay is somewhat made awkward by the camera. In simple terms, while racing it’s not the car turning but rather the world revolving around the car, similar to the early iPhone app “Spinner Prologue”. This is no the most intuitive racing format.

Finally, a small but perhaps crucial thing to note is that there is no pause button – so get ready to roll… and roll… and roll…

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It’s clear that the developers spent many hours working on Nano Rally’s graphics; the courses and obstacles of Nano Rally are absolutely fantastic.. Every object in the game is colourful and beautifully rendered. It is in fact more than enough to make up for the lack of racing lines in the courses, even though I do prefer knowing which way to turn when I can. Sound effects are also clear and accented by the ever-so-necessary “vroom vroom” of your tiny engine.

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There is an online scoreboard for best track times and best overall times and players have their country flags shown beside their names for others to identify with. Additionally, the settings allow for changes to vehicle steering controls with a few tilt sensibilities and auto-acceleration tweaks.

At the moment, Nano Rally lacks real racing gameplay due to its time trial race formula. According to the iTunes description, the devs have promised fixes such as: additional difficulty levels, racing lines, and camera options. At the moment however, Nano Rally is just a cute game with good potential, but it seems to be waiting for something; for now, it just gets tapped.

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App Summary
Title:Nano Rally (V 1.0)Developer:Sauce Digital
Price:$0.99App Size:0.5 mb
  • Beautiful graphics
  • Online leaderboards
  • Racing in your house!
  • Much too difficult
  • Camera motion doesn’t give the game a “race” feel
  • No actual racing against other cars, just best times

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