Review by Blitz Dragon
Nanostray's no Ikaruga, but it comes awfully close.
Let me begin by saying that Nanostray is the first "shmup" (shoot 'em up) game of its type on the Nintendo DS. It is also one of the few original games out on the DS right now, and were it not for the game's scarcity, it would most likely be a top seller (as of right now it is one of the most wanted DS games, however).
All ambiguous rumors about the game's development or Majesco's legal troubles aside, the question at the heart of this reviewer's mind is this: Is Nanostray a good game? The answer, in my opinion, is definitely yes, but a conditional yes at that. I'd like to rate it categorically:
Gameplay: Always the most important thing in any game, regardless of genre, is its gameplay. Nanostray devotes serious attention to this most-important aspect. From the second you begin a game (available in three difficulties, Normal [easy], Advanced [normal], and Expert [hard]) you will notice that Nanostray is no walk in the park. Even on the easy mode, you will probably die half a dozen times before you even reach the first boss. There are four main weapons and a bomb attack, each with its own flavor. The learning curve is fairly short, though, and by your second or third hour on the game you will find that you are memorizing enemy placement. This could either be a good or a bad thing. There are no limits on continues, so you can play as long as you like to clear a given board. 9/10.
Storyline: Unfortunately, Nanostray delivers absolutely no in-game story, and very little within the manual. While story has never been a biggie in shmups, you do start to wonder why you're going postal on nearly a dozen planets. 2/10
Sound: The sound effects and musical score in Nanostray get along excellently with the fast-paced setting of the game. You will not be disappointed as you hear enemy ships exploding, energy beams firing, and bombs bursting. The techno-like soundtrack will keep you focused and attentive to the action. 9/10
Control: Actual ship control is marvelous. You can control your ship effortlessly and will rarely end up in one of those "oops, I flew into the wall again" problems. Weapon selecting can be an issue, as it MUST be done with the touch screen (even though several main buttons have no function in the game). This is a problem for some, not a problem for others. I would have preferred some button assignation options, but I can deal with the touch screen (as should any veteran DS player). 6/10
Graphics: In my opinion, graphics cannot help a game, but they can hurt it. I do not place a lot of emphasis on graphics and will make this very brief: Nanostray is pretty. There is little slowdown and textures are detailed and smooth. I did not care for the 2D backgrounds, in my opinion they clashed with the 3D game mechanics. Still, Nanostray boasts some of the best graphical capability on the DS at present. 8/10.
Replay: There are numerous side missions called "challenges" that force you to beat certain levels under time or life restrictions. There's also a worldwide ladder for points rankings and three difficulty modes. Nanostray will certainly keep you busy.
Overall: Nanostray is one of the better games on the DS, with highly addicting gameplay, good sound and music, graphics that won't stop and a high replay value. If you love shmups I definitely recommend Nanostray. If you have not played a shmup before, I would at least tell you to give it a try. 8/10 (not a composite).
Rent or Buy? I don't know that many places that rent out DS games, so I would suggest you find a friend who has Nanostray and ask to try it. Buy it only if you feel you would like to try the challenges, as the main game can get repetitive (especially after you memorize enemy positions).
Pros: Lots of action, great graphics, one of few original DS games, only DS shmup at the moment.
Cons: Lack of story, short main game, enemy positions do not change...
...okay, I'll say it. This game is rarer than a watermelon grove in Antarctica.
Rating: 4.0 - Great
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