Nanostray 2 (Nintendo DS) - Review by Andrew
The origins of Nanostray go way back to Iridion which first appeared on the GBA some years ago. The game was notable as it had the production values which some DS developers still struggle with today. After a sequel, which improved in almost every way on the original, developers Shin'en moved over to the DS with the first Nanostray penciled in for the DS's launch window. The reality was that it missed the mark by some months but it still demonstrated just how good games could look on the handheld. This second outing gained a US release at the begining of 2008 with us Europeans having to wait until now to see what all the fuss was about. Well, was it worth it?
Shoot 'em ups don't really require plots so there 's little point in explaining this one and while the game features an impressive amount of options and modes most of them are locked until you complete the Adventure section of the game. This takes you though eight increasingly more difficult environments each of which includes two bosses. Everything is here just as you'd expect from waves of ships to a whole host of collectables although it's important to scoop these up initially as they increase your firepower. There's also the odd extra life scattered around which are equally important because, although you do have a handful of continues, they are not nearly enough to complete your quest with the usual ease you are no doubt use to. This is because this second outing fro Nanostray is tough and to make matters worse the levels will constantly alter their gravity and a horizontal level can quickly turn into a vertical one. There are even occasions where the whole thing will simply rotate until you complete a task.
Once you do manage to make a dent in the Adventure mode there's a generous amount of extras to indulge in most noteably the Arcade section. This allows you to re-visit some of the levels you've just completed although now they are a little more difficult (thanks to everything shooting back) and you also have the option to upload your very best efforts to a world wide rankings site. There are also Challenges which, as the name would suggest, throw you into small sections of the game with focused fullfillment criteria. Multiplayer fans are also catered for but you will require two copies of the game to fully enjoy features such as the co-operative Adventure mode. There are other modes such as the Simulator (which made an appearence in the first outing ) but it's the single player game which remains the stand out feature.
Up, down, left, right shoot, you know the drill.
As with the last outing, Nanostray is one of the few games on the DS which really does impress and every single levels is just as impressive as the last. It's not just from a single perspective either and the camera switches from cinematic intro and then from verticle and horizontal gameplay views making things very unpredicatble. In addition to this the various bosses are both inventive and well designed. Even with all of this going on there's no notable slow down which is fairly impressive given what some other developers have delivered recently. The only real downside is the smaller ships which appear a little too generic which is a shame given the level of design given to the other areas.
Shin'en have long been the masters of the audio engine and, as with the visuals, this is top draw stuff. Firstly the music (which is a mix between just about every genre) is clear and well composed and not the usual bland none sense we get. This is accompanied by some impressive sound effects and crisp voice over work which really brings the games futuristic theme to life.
Given the structure of a shoot 'em up, there's not a great deal you can do with the touch screen interface. As a result, it's been largely ignored with only the odd option inviting you to use the stylus.
Given just how many genres have been completely saturated on the DS it's a bit of a mystery just why there's only a handful of shooters available. If you are a fan of the genre, this is a problem no more and Nanostray 2 is just what all you die-hard gamers have been waiting for: lengthy emersive missions, intelligent end of levels bosses and on-line, world wide ranking. Not to mention how good it looks and sounds for a DS title. It have been some time getting here but it was well worth the wait and if you only buy one shooter this year then Nanostray 2 should be it. Go and get it now.
Pro: Looks Incredible, Range of Difficulties, Various Modes.
Con: It's Still Just a Shooter!
Final score: 8.5