Do you know that old nursery rhyme that starts off, ‘Rub-a-dub-dub, three squirrels in a tub?’ No? Well, there’s not much to tell you beyond the fact they all went flying off a cliff at a magnificent speed. Noble Nutlings is a game about a trio of rodents’ decision to challenge gravity in makeshift carts. It’s nearly as much fun as it sounds, but the in-app purchases are a bit of a roadblock.
Noble Nutlings is a game by Boomlagoon, a company with ex-Rovio employees on its staff. The influence is clear: the Noble Nutlings are a trio of goofy, differently-colored squirrels that seemingly suffer no permanent damage even when they land on their heads after a long fall. Unlike a certain pack of birds, however, the squirrels don’t boast individual abilities. They’re just going for a ride, and you’re in charge.
“Mom! Tell Skippy to keep his tail on his side of the car!”
Noble Nutlings is a racing/physics hybrid. Every level is full of loops, lumps, and jumps, and you need to reach the end within a reasonable amount of time if you want to earn Stars. True to many physics games, Stars are necessary to unlock new levels and progress to new worlds.
It’s a very simple premise, and it works well because unlike games of a similar pedigree (say, Bad Piggies), you don’t need to stress about collecting all the stars within a level. You earn acclaim for simply moving as quickly and safely as possible, which lets you sit back and focus on speed and crazy stunts. The levels in Noble Nutlings are cleverly-designed and challenging, so it’s nice to simply appreciate them for what they are instead of having to explore every nook for shiny things. You can even challenge your friends’ times on a level via Facebook.
They’re the fastest things alive.
Unfortunately, Noble Nutlings trades one stress for another. Earning all three stars on a level typically means you need to progress at breakneck speed– but your ‘ chilli pepper’ boost empties quickly, and refills need to be purchased with coins, the game’s soft currency. These refills are costly (you can buy more coins with hard currency, of course). You can collect coins as you race, but when a game lets you progress depending on how quickly you can complete a level, it hardly seems fair to put any kind of price tag on the boost button. Worse, some of the times required to grab the third star in each level are kind of insane.
You can upgrade your cart’s wheels and body for better speed and balance, a process that also requires lots of coins. If you don’t want to spend real-world money, you should brace yourself for some grinding. There are worse fates since, again, the levels in Noble Nutlings are fun to play through, but you never lose the feeling that the odds are purposefully stacked against you. Noble Nutlings is cute, and it’s well-polished, but we’d rather pay our money up front and ditch the in-app purchases.