Welcome to the waistline watching world of Nom Nation…
The hint that this isn’t your average game is at the very beginning when you see Channel 4 mentioned, this is what’s commonly known as Edutainment. Now don’t go running off at the mention of that word, stay and hear me out.
With Nom Nation you’re cast as a chef battling against the evil Jabber the Gut and the McFatass corporation, who’re trying to turn everyone into slobs using high-calorie food. That’s pretty much it plot-wise, but to be fair you don’t expect more from a platformer.
Most of the gameplay is pretty standard platform fare. You run and jump around the levels picking up a certain item, in this case grains of rice. Enemies along the way can be jumped on to dispose of them, or you can pick them up and throw them at each other. So far so pretty similar to most games of this genre… where’s the education bit ?
Well, that’s contained within the power-up system. Taken some damage? Then grab yourself some vegetables to replenish your health. That’s just the start, and one of the more obvious ones. There’s walls to be broken down, but in order to do this you’ll need to source yourself some muscle building protein in the form of a steak. As with any power-up in a game like this, they only last for a limited time. But that’s not all, there are unhealthy foods to be eaten as well that will also help you out. Need to get through an area quickly? well scarf down a donut and get a sugar rush for a burst of super speed.
The healthy foods you can combine to get combo powerups, but you’ll need to keep an eye on the amount of the bad foods that you eat. Too much of those and you’ll end up clogging up your heart with cholesterol and losing a life in the form of a heart attack – how’s that for an education in healthy eating ?
I have to say, initially I didn’t realise that this was an edutainment game. It’s certainly better put together than other games of that nature I’ve seen (and quite a few regular non-educational ones as well for that matter) and as a result of that I can quite happily recommend this as a tasty morsel to pop onto your PSP or Vita for a quick gaming fix. The slightly 8-bit graphical style certainly suits the smaller screen better than the full screen glory of the PS3. This one’s definitely proof that the “minis” are by no means short on quality and really shouldn’t be ignored when you’re looking for something to play. The entire package has been well thought out and put together, with the sound matching the visuals in presentation and quality.
Yes it’s tricky in places, but what platformer isn’t? Admit it, how many times have you looked at a Mario game and said something rude during an ice themed level? The key is that it’s fun, and once you’ve got the hang of the food groups and what they all do, it’s an engaging game that’ll have you thinking as well as bouncing around like a loon.
Take a chance on this one, especially if you’re a fan of platformers with a hint of puzzling, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. As for the educational bit, for a younger crowd I can see this making them think differently about what they’re eating. After all, it’s going to be easier to get a kid to eat their greens when you’re selling it as a “power-up”…
Well played Playerthree and Channel 4, Well played.