A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this turn-based combat game is free-to-play online but will later release expansion packs that will cost $1.75 each. Also driving traffic to this game is a regular Friday web-cartoon, a comic book, and a handheld toy which will be available in Fall 2009. The game alludes to evolutionary theory where Nanovor are nanoscopic creatures hundreds of times smaller than dust-mites. They are silicon-based creatures that live in high temperatures, electricity is their life force, and they live to fight, so there is some violence in the game. However, kids direct the battles between the Nanover, but don't actually inflict the damage. Defeated Nanover dissolve into dust.
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What's it about?
In NANOVER, Lucas Nelson, a student at Hanover High, discovers a nanoscopic world inside his computer while researching dust-mites. These silicon-based creatures, which are many times smaller than dust-mites, live to battle and fight to live, their life force sustained by electricity. Lucas' Science Teacher names them Nanovor and with his assistance, Lucas creates a device he called a Nanoscope with which to collect and evolve these creatures. The secret is too good not to share and soon his best friends are also collecting the creatures and they let the Nanovor battle each other in turn-based gameplay. Lucas and his friends have rivals who discover what they are up to and the story plays out much like any Saturday morning cartoon with a web-movies released regularly.
Is it any good?
Nanovor is a fun turn-based online combat game which can be played with up to four other people. Similar in format to kids' trading card games, kids collect Nanovors, build a deck (called a swarm), and battle others by revealing the creatures in their swarm while taking turns. Depending on what creatures are brought out to play, kids need to think and strategize on the fly, deciding which creature to play next or if they should use one turn to boost the power for a much more powerful attack in the next turn.
Kids will use logic in evolving their Nanover into more powerful versions by playing a Master-mind like code breaking game using three colors of Energy Modules. Energy modules are only used up on success in battle. The Free Game provides you with a certain number of Nanovor and Energy Modules, but thereafter, Nanovor and Energy Modules have to be purchased with real cash either through online transactions, expansion packs, or retail packages.
Online interaction: Targeted towards children 7 to 12, the game has chat via drop-down menu-driven choices and parents control how often and how much their children are allowed to interact with others online. By default, trading is set to "Off" until parents allow it.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can explore science with their kids. What is nanotechnology? Is it possible that there are creatures much smaller than dust mites? Could living creatures be based on Silicon instead of Carbon? What is evolution?
Families can also talk about online consumerism. Games are costly to make. Some game makers, like those that created Nanover, provide some content for free to give players a taste of the game. If players want more out of the game, they have to pay for it via micro-transactions -- the buying of items for small amounts of money. How do you feel about this kind of marketing? Would you rather just pay for the game upfront?
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