Late last year we reviewed Dark Nebula [99¢], a game that called itself a "skill-based action game" that we described as "short but sweet." While the gameplay mechanic of utilizing the tilt controls to move a rolling ball around have been used since the earliest App Store games, the original Dark Nebula really took this to the next level-- so much so that it was difficult to even group it in the same genre as other ball rollers on the App Store.

In the original Dark Nebula you controlled a ball through 10 levels that vary widely with all sorts of different obstacles including spikes, lasers, switches that needed to be tripped, and others. The graphics of the original were fantastic, and while there wasn't a ton of content in the game, what was there was top notch. The entire experience was good enough that I played through the first Dark Nebula at least twice, if not more.

The sequel, Dark Nebula - Episode Two [99¢] arrived on the App Store this afternoon, and is even better than the first installment. Episode 2 sports nearly twice as many levels across a variety of environments along with a new combat system that allows for boss fights. Yes, boss fights in a ball roller.

Aside from the usual dodging and weaving, in Dark Nebula - Episode Two, you can roll over pads which will equip your orb with a colored ball that orbits around it. Initially you use this to destroy matching colored objects in the game world to open gates, but it doesn't take long until you're fighting red swirling blades of death. A few levels later and Dark Nebula - Episode Two pits you against a giant boss with blades that wind up and go in to a massive slicing frenzy which you need to take down in a similar fashion by smashing it with your orbiting weaponry.

The production quality of Episode Two is absolutely outstanding. The visuals are remarkable, and incredibly detailed environments pair perfectly with all kinds of flourishes that flow over the screen when you restore your shield, reach a checkpoint, or do other things.

Just like the original, playing through Dark Nebula - Episode Two won't take very long, and if you're determined you will be able to complete the entire game in one sitting. But what's so refreshing about the game is the high quality of the levels. Unlike some games where you feel like you are playing the same level over and over again, the level design in Dark Nebula remains fresh throughout.

To add replay value, the developers have added in seamless online leaderboards to track your performance on each level, along with a ranking system and an expert mode. It's as easy to recommend Episode Two as it was to recommend the original Dark Nebula. Reactions on our forums have been remarkably positive, and overall it's really hard to imagine ball rolling games to get better than this-- That is, until the inevitable release of Dark Nebula - Episode Three.

TouchArcade Rating

  • russiaone

    Here! Here! To awesome AWESOME game design!

  • russiaone

    Here! Here! To awesome AWESOME game design!

  • starmonkey101

    great review.
    Outstanding game.
    Bring on Episode 3 :D

    • Joe

      Yes please!!

  • starmonkey101

    great review.
    Outstanding game.
    Bring on Episode 3 :D

    • Joe

      Yes please!!

  • http://www.yourpersonalrobot.com your personal robot

    Easily one of the best games in the entire store!
    This series has a quality and atmosphere just a few other games are reaching.
    And I would love to see part 3 continuing, where part 2 ends (great surprise)!

  • http://www.yourpersonalrobot.com your personal robot

    Easily one of the best games in the entire store!
    This series has a quality and atmosphere just a few other games are reaching.
    And I would love to see part 3 continuing, where part 2 ends (great surprise)!

  • hapz

    NOTE: This is not a free update.

    Episode 1 = $0.99

    Episode 2 = $0.99

    So it is pretty much 99 cents for every episode...

    This fails for me, not buying it.

    • hapz

      :(

      bought it in the end.. too great a game to pass by

      • http://www.kotodama.net/blog Zak

        Yeah, because an hour or two of a really great game is totally not worth 99 cents. They're obviously just trying to pull one over on us working stiffs. Heck, with that 99 cents, you could buy half a coffee at Starbucks instead!

    • Chris

      Ok then, the REST of us will decide to pay half the cost MacDonalds cheeseburger for it.

      It's a great game; if you don't want to get it, suit yourself, but you're missing out.

    • omg

      Best game ever!!! :) The level design is epic! :)

    • Alex.B

      For one this game should be worth more than 99 cents I telling you this 99 cents thing is going to come to be a problem for the App store one day. With these new phones coming out someone is going to come up with an online store that is fair for the developer and good for the consumer. Any quality game should be no less than $3.00 hell a double cheese burger cost more than that and it gone in 60 sec

    • Mr. Gates

      I Know Right!
      When I went to the theater to go see "The Empire Strikes Back" I was flabbergasted that I was asked to pay for a SECOND TICKET !!!!
      It was only the next installment of the Same Story ,...ya know?

      I eventually broke down and got paid for the ticket,....But I'm not happy about it

    • Chappers

      If there are 20 episodes and they are all as good as these then the price is more than worth it. Just try it, you'll be converted, don't be tight.

  • hapz

    NOTE: This is not a free update.

    Episode 1 = $0.99

    Episode 2 = $0.99

    So it is pretty much 99 cents for every episode...

    This fails for me, not buying it.

    • hapz

      :(

      bought it in the end.. too great a game to pass by

      • http://www.kotodama.net/blog Zak

        Yeah, because an hour or two of a really great game is totally not worth 99 cents. They're obviously just trying to pull one over on us working stiffs. Heck, with that 99 cents, you could buy half a coffee at Starbucks instead!

    • Chris

      Ok then, the REST of us will decide to pay half the cost MacDonalds cheeseburger for it.

      It's a great game; if you don't want to get it, suit yourself, but you're missing out.

    • omg

      Best game ever!!! :) The level design is epic! :)

    • Alex.B

      For one this game should be worth more than 99 cents I telling you this 99 cents thing is going to come to be a problem for the App store one day. With these new phones coming out someone is going to come up with an online store that is fair for the developer and good for the consumer. Any quality game should be no less than $3.00 hell a double cheese burger cost more than that and it gone in 60 sec

    • Mr. Gates

      I Know Right!
      When I went to the theater to go see "The Empire Strikes Back" I was flabbergasted that I was asked to pay for a SECOND TICKET !!!!
      It was only the next installment of the Same Story ,...ya know?

      I eventually broke down and got paid for the ticket,....But I'm not happy about it

    • Chappers

      If there are 20 episodes and they are all as good as these then the price is more than worth it. Just try it, you'll be converted, don't be tight.

  • http://www.fx4boutique.com fx4boutique.com

    Wow, that looks amazing. I can see why it got the great reviews.

  • http://www.fx4boutique.com fx4boutique.com

    Wow, that looks amazing. I can see why it got the great reviews.

  • zenid

    this is wonderful news and I can't wait to try it!

  • zenid

    this is wonderful news and I can't wait to try it!

  • JCat

    First time buyer - now I'll have to purchase part 1. This development teamed nailed it! Quality and total fun throughout!

  • JCat

    First time buyer - now I'll have to purchase part 1. This development teamed nailed it! Quality and total fun throughout!

  • Mooro

    This game is just stunning. It is worth so much more than 99c. Can't under stand the logic of people who complain about having to pay less than a dollar for a game of this quality. There are plenty of $60 dollar console games that don't have the level of polish and playability of this game. Congrats to the devs. Keep up the excellent work.

  • Mooro

    This game is just stunning. It is worth so much more than 99c. Can't under stand the logic of people who complain about having to pay less than a dollar for a game of this quality. There are plenty of $60 dollar console games that don't have the level of polish and playability of this game. Congrats to the devs. Keep up the excellent work.

  • robman84

    Gorgeous with fantastic design and playability. I can't wait for episode 3! Tis dev should also have a crack at doing other types of game (can you imagine a Zelda LTP type game with these graphics, or an Alien Breed type shooter?)

    I wish the main character was more animated, but heck what a tiny gripe!

  • robman84

    Gorgeous with fantastic design and playability. I can't wait for episode 3! Tis dev should also have a crack at doing other types of game (can you imagine a Zelda LTP type game with these graphics, or an Alien Breed type shooter?)

    I wish the main character was more animated, but heck what a tiny gripe!

  • Alex.B

    I just purchased this game and there is no way I would sell this for 99 cents it's a shame.

  • Alex.B

    I just purchased this game and there is no way I would sell this for 99 cents it's a shame.

  • Corey

    Retina 960*640 then this game would be complete!

  • Corey

    Retina 960*640 then this game would be complete!

  • lukeb

    I just finished level 19 on expert mode, which I thought would be the last one, but what's this now?

    • lukeb

      What a treat 20 turned out to be. Is that a preview of an upcoming game? I hope so. First one to get there should get to test it.

  • lukeb

    I just finished level 19 on expert mode, which I thought would be the last one, but what's this now?

    • lukeb

      What a treat 20 turned out to be. Is that a preview of an upcoming game? I hope so. First one to get there should get to test it.

  • stefan

    starting with episode one. its fun, great in-game tech tune, nice gfx ...
    worth downloading and p(l)aying.
    regards,
    stefan

  • stefan

    starting with episode one. its fun, great in-game tech tune, nice gfx ...
    worth downloading and p(l)aying.
    regards,
    stefan

  • lovely

    This game is just pure win.

    I've never played something as good as this, the audio and graphics are outright 10/10.

    I only have one concern though, and that is the developers run out of ideas and stop after this episode, or episode 3.

    PLEASE continue, I will buy every episode even if it costs more than 99cents until u guys stop this series. Can't wait for episode 3!

  • lovely

    This game is just pure win.

    I've never played something as good as this, the audio and graphics are outright 10/10.

    I only have one concern though, and that is the developers run out of ideas and stop after this episode, or episode 3.

    PLEASE continue, I will buy every episode even if it costs more than 99cents until u guys stop this series. Can't wait for episode 3!

  • http://www.mozzarellashop.it MasviL

    A real masterpiece.

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