There aren’t a lot of stories like that of the development of Loose Nozzles, and of those games that do have an interesting development story, even fewer are actually decent games to play. Loose Nozzles nails both, though. The way it was created is interesting and heartwarming, but when it comes to gameplay it’s also nuanced and thoughtfully designed. This is a full package deal and one of the more challenging and engrossing games I’ve played in a while.
First off, what is Loose Nozzles? Well it’s kind of a blend of Lunar Lander and Choplifter. You’ll fly a rocket around using left and right thrusters, fighting against gravity and your own inertia. Your main goal is to rescue survivors in each level, which you’ll do by flying into them and letting them board your ship. Crashing into things is bad, and can cause parts of your ship to fall off, which will make continuing on much more difficult.
This isn’t necessarily some breakthrough in game design or some unheard of concept for a game, but as I said the gameplay itself is incredibly nuanced and challenging. Coming to grips with how your rocket controls is a pretty steep learning curve, and even once you feel pretty confident with your flying just one tiny slip up can really flush your chances of success down the tubes. However, this also makes Loose Nozzles extremely satisfying to master.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about Loose Nozzle’s design is its scoring. Beyond just rescuing survivors and taking them back to your base, you can also earn up to 3 stars in each level based on your performance. These are based on 3 categories: Fuel efficiency, not crashing your ship into anything, and how closely you can fly to the terrain without bumping into it. This adds a tremendous amount of replay value to an already challenging and lengthy game.
So we’ve concluded that Loose Nozzles is a good game, but what about that “interesting development story” I was going on about before? Well, Loose Nozzles is from Foster and Family Games which is comprised of just two people: Industry veteran Chris Foster and his son Ian. The game has been a labor of love on nights and weekends for the past 8 years, and initially was the idea of Ian when he was just 5 years old. Yes, he’s 13 now, you did the math correctly.
If you were wondering what the art style in Loose Nozzles was all about, well it was all Ian’s art from when he was 5 years old. Not only did he dream up an idea for a game where you had a rescue rocket that could break into pieces, but he drew out those dreams and Chris made them into an actual game. Despite being the somewhat scribbly artwork of a young child, the visuals in Loose Nozzles are crisp and super smooth, giving the game a very unique look.
It’s this juxtaposition of juvenile art style and extremely grown-up gameplay that really stuck out to me when first playing Loose Nozzles. Also, as the father of a 3-year old, the rockets and terrain and characters in the game are really quite impressive for a 5-year old. Oh! And Ian also provided most of the sound effects and voices. It’s hard to describe just how endearing it all is when seen and heard in motion, it’s something you really can’t appreciate without seeing it for yourself.
Good news then! Loose Nozzles is entirely free, and if you want to support this inspiring endeavor you can buy a one-time IAP that will unlock additional game modes, skins, and more, adding even more variety to the base game. As I’ve said, Loose Nozzles is a very interesting story and a very good game, and it’s one that you should most definitely try for yourself. Being that it’s free, there’s really no excuses not to be downloading it right this minute. If you want to learn more about Chris and Ian’s development adventure over the past 8 years, check out the game’s website or some of their YouTube videos about the project.