Review by grimakis
"Nanostray, a Galaxy of Fun!"
Nanostray is brilliant title for the Nintendo DS. This game is absolutely incredible. I got it about one year after its release. I had heard a lot of bad things about this game as well. Well, if you read anything bad about this game, sit down a for a few minutes, and wash those bad thoughts away.
Nanostray is a simple, 3D, scrolling shooter. This game works on rails. It could be compared to Galaga, or a number of shooters on the GBA. One thing about Nanostray is, it's a very intense game. You will find it very hard on anything higher than normal difficulty. If you like games that are very intense, this game is for you.
This is where the game actually shines. It is very difficult, and requires quite a bit of skill. The only thing that offsets this is the fact that each stage plays-out exactly the same every time. Therefore it is possible to memorize enemy locations and make a battle plan. If the waves of enemies were to be randomly generated, completing any single challenge would be impossible.
With 8 different levels, this game could last 4 hours, or 1. If you are skilled at games, I recommend starting on advanced, because normal just won't be as fun. This game is very arcade style, and at the end of each level, there is a boss. There is an area of the touch screen in which you can monitor the bosses health and weak spots. Each boss has its own set of moves, which it performs in a routine. Some times you need to get a boss down to a certain health amount for it to start using better moves.
As far as the ship goes, it is a single entity. You don't have any satellites like in R-Type and other similar games. The weapons are simple to understand, but the terminology that the instruction manual can be slightly confusing. You have what the booklet calls base weapons; there are four of them. Each base weapon has its own sub-weapon, which shares some properties with the main version. The sub-weapons are much stronger than the base weapons, but they drain energy. You can restore energy by destroying the occasional waves of ships that appear, and collecting the blue coin that is generated. Sub-weapons are essentially just more powerful variants of the main weapons.
Your four main weapons are as follows. The most basic is the Pulse. It simply fires blue laser blasts at a moderate rate. The Pulse Sub-Weapon fires a continuous beam of energy. Most of the time, you will be using this weapon. The second weapon is called Side Shot It is a faster version of Pulse that is fired from both sides of the ship. This is useful for broadside attacks on enemies you can't damage from the front. The sub-weapon variant is fire a continuous stream from the ship's sides. The third weapon is the Seeker. It fires two lasers from the front of the ship, that alter their course so they home in enemy ships. The sub-weapon fires more powerful starbursts of energy, that also have homing capabilities. The final weapon is called Lightning. It locks on to enemy ships and deals damage over time via electrical shocks. The sub-weapon generates electricity all around your ship, dealing damage to anything that might be in the vicinity. Last but not least, the ship is equipped with several smart-bombs. Detonating a smart-bomb with clear everything on the screen, and give you a second to prepare for the next wave. Smart-bombs cannot be replenished.
Well, aside from the fact that this is probably the best looking game for the DS, the detail is incredible. I really had doubts that the DS could render graphics of this quality. Apparently it can. Each enemy is very detailed. The backgrounds are beautiful, especially the level that takes place above molten planet. The graphics are so detailed, you might be unable to distinguish background from foreground, which could potentially be problematic. One interesting observation I have made is that because the backgrounds aren't repetitive, geographical features can help you remember which enemies appear where. However, during the game it may be hard to focus on detail with all danger around you. Fortunately, you can unlock ship models, wallpaper, and even music to view afterward. Good job Shin'en. I really cannot stress enough how good this game looks.
Not much to say. A lot of it sounds very similar, but it fits the feel of the game well. Music gets intense as the game does. Having said that, the music is also relaxing throughout most of the levels. Most people don't see sound as a very important aspect of the game. Unfortunately, this couldn't be farther from the truth. Music can affect your quality of play. I can happily say that the songs will not distract or disorient you in any way. My favorite part is that you can listen to the music once you beat certain challenges. Almost like a sound test menu. That brings me to my next point in the review
Replay Value 10/10
This game has wonderful replay value. It's just like an arcade machine that gobbles up your quarters, except this one doesn't gobble. There is an arcade mode which allows you to replay the levels from Adventure Mode for better scores. There is a Challenge Mode in which you can try to unlock things by replaying levels and surpassing a certain score, or not losing a life during the level. It is incredibly challenging, and very rewarding. The unlockables include concept art, viewable enemy models, and soundtracks from each level. You will need to practice each level many times to even have a shot at completing these challenged. Rest assured, this game will last you a very long time.
The multiplayer is very good for a scrolling shooter. You can play based on score, lives or time, in which 2 people play the same level on the same screen, but 2 different handhelds. While you can't directly interfere with the other player, you can steal their kills. Your only goal is to play through the level as best as you can. The greatest feature is that multiplayer requires only one cartridge. Other DS owners can download the software from your DS via wireless, and play multiplayer with you. A smart decision by the developer.
Great game, good sound and graphics, and wonderful multiplayer.
Rent or Buy: Buy
Editing notes: In addition to increasing the length of this review, I have some other information I would like to share. A sequel to this game has been released, and from what I have read, it I very similar to this one. The sequel features a side-scrolling aspect, meaning some levels scroll vertically, as in this game, and some scroll horizontally, as in R-Type. Before purchasing this game, you may want to look at Nanostray 2 before making a decision. It is interesting to note that a Japanese version of Nanostray 2 was never released. One last thing, after 5 years, Nanostray is STILL one of the best looking titles on the DS.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 07/07/06, Updated 01/06/11
Game Release: Nanostray (US, 07/19/05)
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