Platform: Nintendo DS , DSI
Wireless DS Single-Card Play Download Play
Wireless DS Multi-Card Play
Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection Support
Shooters have been around since arcades ruled the videogame world and with the advent of handheld machines fans of the genre have been able to take their favorites style of game on the road with them. However, the Nintendo DS seems to have a very short supply of these classics. Majesco has stepped up to the plate to meet the DS’s needs in this area. Nanostray 2 has been released on the dual screened wonder and after some extended playtime with the game I would have to say that the results are quite rewarding, and fans looking for their shooter fix on the DS need look no further.
The visuals in Nanostray 2 are quite impressive. Each level is very colorful. As I made my way through through the game I noticed how vibrant each one was too. A lot of action happens all at once on screen and the game seems to nary miss a beat. This was somewhat surprising to me as the DS is not particularly a powerful machine, but to display so much at once with so much punch and very little to no slowdown was quite impressive. Each level has its own design to it as they contain unique enemies, bosses and hazards. It was nice to play different levels that were not recycled from each other giving every one a fresh feeling to each. Nanostray 2’s screen scrolls vertically or horizontally depending on what level you are playing. This was a nice treat too as the game allows for different perspectives to blast your way through. Overall I found that there was very little to not like in Nanostray 2’s visuals.
The audio in Nanostray 2 compliments what is already a pretty solid package. The music can best be defined as a hodge-podge of metal, techno and orchestral tunes, which when heard in each level really do blend in quite well. I found that I kept the volume up when playing as I enjoyed the music that was included in the game. Along with the music are some very good special effects from the weapons to the resulting explosions of everything on screen. There is also some great voice acting too, something I didn’t even think would be included in a shooter such as this. All of the sound in Nanostray 2 sounds good coming out of the DS’s stereo speakers, but for a more involved and enveloping experience put on a set of headphones.
Nanostray 2 is the sequel to the original DS title that sold quite well. Many games released early on in the DS’s lifecycle tried to take advantage of the touch screen option, and the original Nanostray is included in this bunch. This time around though Nanostray 2 seems to ditch any emphasis on touch screen gimmicks in an effort to go old school. And although I love the DS and what you can do with the touch screen, I think that to release Nanostray 2 without any such gimmicks and focus on simple control was a great idea as it really does allow for the core shooter gameplay to shine though.
Nanostray 2’s Adventure Mode (story) is broken up into eight levels of ‘blast them all’ chaos and mayhem. The game splits these eight levels in half allowing you to choose the order of the first four and then the final four stages. This is a nice feature as the game does not force you to go through the same levels over and over again in the same order. And given how many times you will die this can be a bonus. Each level is broken up by a miniboss about half way through and culminates with the traditional big boss at the end. You will find that each level varies in length and time to complete and the amount of time you spend on each really does depend on your skill level.
I should note that there are no save points in the game as you only have three continues. Once you have used up your three continues that is it, you have to start at the beginning of the game. There is no doubt that a lot of casual fans will be turned off by this fact, but when looking at the target audience of this type of game it really is aimed at the hardcore gamer or fan of the genre. Bottomline, this isn’t particularly a bad thing as shooter fans are used to this, however if Majesco is looking at pulling more types of gamers into this genre then they may want to rethink this strategy.
Nanostray 2 also offers a very refreshing Challenge Mode. Here the game presents you with four increasingly difficult sets of challenges that you must complete. They are quite short in length and they test such things as your shooting skills or maneuvering through lots of enemy fire. Once you complete each challenge you unlock a Simulator which is basically a series of minigames that seems to take its’ style from games of past (e.g. Breakout). It is a nice reward and furthers the gameplay experience of this title.
There are two different options to control your ship on screen. You can use the traditional d-pad set up or you can use the touch screen and stylus. After trying both methods out I found that the latter was the more proficient of the two as it seemed to have a bit quicker response then the d-pad. Maybe it was that I couldn’t adjust for the slightly slower response of the d-pad, but regardless I found the stylus better suited for my gaming needs. Controlling your ship via the touch screen is pretty easy as it will go wherever your stylus goes. I found this was quite accurate especially when having to maneuver through an onslaught of enemy bullets, something I didn’t do nearly as well when using the d-pad.
Adding some replayability, Nanostray 2 offers some multiplayer mayhem through single-card download or multi-card play. Single-card download play offers two competitive modes that are both set in a fixed arena. Although it was a nice option this wasn’t as fun as I hoped and I actually didn’t play too much of it. The multi-card play allows for a cooperative adventure mode along with aforementioned arena mode. Finally, there is also an Arcade Mode which is opened after completing the Adventure Mode. Here you can play through any level repeatedly while being able to compare your high scores against the world via the Wi-Fi score upload feature found in the game.
The overall skill level needed for Nanostray 2 can definitely range from competent to hardcore. Newbies to the genre and casual gamers alike may find this game very frustrating due to the lack of saves and the computer AI challenge. I myself have never been a hardcore shooter fan, and there were definitely levels that I struggled with, but I did enjoy what I was playing. Overall this game will definitely not be for everyone, but given the way it did play it is definitely worth a try.
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