Browser-based RTS games are slowly becoming an enjoyable alternative to full on, company-backed titles of the same genre. It'll be a while before I can play something like Starcraft from my browser, true, but there are good steps in the right direction.
Does Nano Kingdoms go down the proper path? Yes. Kinda. More or less.
Long ago, in the distant world of Nano Kingdom (shocking!), a father and a son are caught in the midst of a disagreement. Unfortunately, said father and said son are the king and a prince of a powerful nation - and the son's decision to turn to evil has drawn the realm's many heroes to his side. The only hero left, a brave paladin, must set out and beat the various generals back onto the side of good, and then do the same to the evil Alexander.
Truth be told, Nano Kingdoms has a really weird plot. I'm not at all sure WHY some of the heroes swapped sides, when the son is plainly as evil as evil can be. What's more, there's a plot twist right at the end that jumps out with very little foreshadowing or explanation. Very awkward, very... meh. It probably doesn't help that most of the tale is told in stunted, grammatically-incorrect English. Hire an editor, y'all! It would polish your game so much!
(I can help! I do editings!)
Anyway. Story aside, Nano Kingdoms is an RTS. Two castles, yours and your opponent's, are set up on opposite sides of a flat field. As resources pile in your base you need to upgrade buildings and send out troops to defend your fortifications and flatten those of your foe. Reduce the opposite stronghold's HP to zero and you win. Have that happen to you... well, guess what happens.
That's not all, however. Each time you complete a stage (save for the last two) your opponent becomes a selectable hero, each with two magical powers to aid your troops. This lends some diversity to battle, and can vastly change dire situations for the better. Nothing new to an RTS, but special powers are always fun, right?
Huzzah for a mouse!
The only comment I can offer on the control front is the ease of sending out troops. Whenever you want to keep them reined in, click the Shield (defense) button. If you want an attack, click the Sword. Very simple to manage, and ideal for a browser game.
Nano Kingdom's visuals are perhaps its strongest element. Despite being such a small game, it offers a neat range of art, from nifty battlegrounds to stylish character art to good cut scene offerings. The special combat moves are particularly cool, and really spruce up each battle. The sprites could use more detail, but overdoing them might also slow down the game, so... shrug? Nano Kingdom is miraculously un-laggy for an RTS, so there's probably a reason for little detail.
Nano Kingdoms has good enough music, but, like so many browser games, it relies overly much on a very small handful of tunes. Even though the game doesn't last a really long time, the music grows stale in a hurry.
Nano Kingdoms is not hard. It's not EASY, but it's not hard. Your special powers are often game-breakers, turning somewhat challenging battles into utter routs. And while it's true that your foes ALSO have powers, they'll seldom use them as often as you'll use yours. Overwhelming magical force always wins the day. The only truly difficult battle is the very last one. (If you can't beat it, try using the elf. His speed spell propelled me to a six-ish minute victory.)
I'm fine with the difficulty level. What I'd rather see is a longer game. Nano Kingdoms takes about half an hour to beat, which is pretty fast for even a browser-based RTS. It was clearly designed with a sequel in mind, perhaps to the detriment of this first game.
Fun. Not amazing, but fun. Nano Kingdoms is a good time-waster, and it's got enough enjoyment packed into its guts for one or two playthroughs. Add more levels and it might just be a keeper.
PLAY NANO KINGDOMS