Developer: Shin'en Multimedia
N Amer - 07/19/2005
Could this be love I'm feeling for this magical space shooter? Judging by the beat of my heart, I'd say it has to be so. I've fallen for a shooter! (Pretty ironic when you think about it.)
What's that dear? Huh, you're leaving me!? What are you talking about, we just met an hour ago. But I love you! Please don't go!
The preceding was a reenactment of the first 60 minutes I spent with my new love, Nanostray. Like many of my past lovers, Nanostray wasn't in it for the long haul. It wanted to keep things simple: we dive in for an hour of fun, then exit through the back door. No questions asked. No numbers taken.
It wasn't that simple for me. I became attached to the blistering blast of adversarial ships and their predictable attack patterns. Laser balls, beams and other deadly, ship-burning bursts of energy launched from enemy spacecrafts unrelentingly. The cluster of beams form laser damage fields shaped like circles, triangles, rectangles and other shapes. Easy to see on paper, in Nanostray these shapes become more than a learning tool for pre-schoolers; they become a nightmare of pain that'll have players squirming to get out.
Avoidance is the key to success in this game. Learning how to maneuver in and out of the tiniest of crevices without making contact is a skill not easily obtained.
You had me at "nano." Nanostray's classic combat system turned my hardened interior into cookie dough. Call it love at first touch. The controls are persistent and reliable; if you can't learn 'em in under 30 seconds you must not be playing the same game.
Button placement isn't worth mentioning other than to say it uses the Japanese standard for firing (the A button instead of the B button). Since Final Fantasy VII's release on the PSone (which also used the Japanese standard), I like to see games that aren't completely Americanized when they come to the States.
Serendipity. Unexpected good fortune came in the form of boss battles. Six bosses await your attacks, and when they're not screaming about how much you procrastinate, these bosses like to shake, rattle and roll. They'll shake to deter you from getting too close (your ship is vulnerable to anything it comes in contact with); they'll get rattled when you find their weak spot; and they'll literally roll over to unleash additional attacks. The boss types include mechanical monsters, a large airship and one really big head. Seriously, he shoots laser beams from his eyes!
Sleepless in Michigan. How could I fall asleep with all the polygons flashing on screen? Nanostray is the first Nintendo DS release that strays from the norm, showcasing detailed and highly explosive effects never before seen on this two-inch screen. The action takes place on the top screen, pushing the developers to maximize the amount of content presented. Organic waterfalls, crowded asteroid fields, industrial space stations, and lava-filled volcanic environments are some of the cool (and red hot, in the case of the volcano) locations you'll get to visit. Explosions, enemy deterioration, and elaborate boss animations are just a few of the astonishing effects you'll get to see.
Un-break my heart. Sinking faster than the Titanic, and leaving game players behind like a disappointed blind date, Nanostray sinks to the bottom of the ocean. It hits the iceberg as soon as you start playing, though you won't know it unless you check the completion percentage.
Once three levels had passed, the game said I had accounted for 50% of the experience. I looked at the clock and saw that only a half an hour had passed. Embracing the rest of the game, I expected longer levels, harder challenges, and more powerful boss battles. Less than 30 minutes later the game was over. The credits rolled, and the challenge mode opened up. It was over. My wonderful game had ended.
My heart will go on. Someday. Nanostray is a great game that's about the size of a demo. The challenge mode is a rehash of each stage, asking you to get higher scores and bigger bonuses. While good in theory, this concept is as old as games themselves. Once you've seen the levels, you've seen them. The higher difficulty settings mean fewer continues and faster enemy attacks. Their health has not been increased, nor do extra enemies pop in and out to make the experience more fun or frustrating. It's frustrating enough on its own. Like I said, once you've seen the levels they lose that special something they had when they were fresh out of the box.
Some relationships just weren't meant to be.
Review Scoring Details for Nanostray
Beautiful shooter bliss that could've been a hit or miss. It's a bit of both, starting out exciting and super-fun, but ending way before the player is done.
Earns the award for "Best-Looking Handheld Space Shooter Ever Made" without even trying. I've never seen so many polygons crammed into a DS game before (except for Mario 64 DS, but ports don't count). It was a matter of seconds before I forgot which game platform I was using. For all my eyes could tell, it was Nintendo 64 hooked up to a 20-inch screen.
One good song (the victory theme). The rest are tiresome techno tracks that fail to consume the DS's true power. Nanostray's generic array of sound effects aren't very redeeming.
Not the sharpest shooter in the world by any means. Nanostray’s normal difficulty is a cakewalk; the advanced and expert difficulties are only challenging due to the decrease in health and continue items. The gameplay itself does not become more challenging.
You can't control the spacecraft by touching the screen and you can't switch weapons by pressing a button. Menus aside, the only thing the touch screen is good for in this game is changing weapons, which isn't very good at all. I only have two hands – how can I be expected to take one of them off the DS long enough to switch weapons? Do they expect me to use my nose? I guess I should've tried that. Other, less intense games have attempted this feature and it didn't work. For a game like Nanostray where you're constantly on the move it's a nightmare.
Single-card play: settle your differences during 60 and 120-second intervals. Whoever scores the highest wins. …At least we know the sun will still be shining when you’re finished.
If anyone can justify spending $40 for a game that's shorter than every full-length movie released in the past decade, disregard the score and dive in. Just remember: this is a fling, not a long-term relationship.
Nanostray? More like Nanosecond.
Reviewer: Louis Bedigian
Review Date: 07/27/2005