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Gaming Evolution
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Gaming Evolution
Gaming Evolution

Developer: Shin'en
Publisher: Majesco Sales Inc.
Genre: Action
Players: 2 players simultaneous
Release Date: Jul 19, 2005
Written by: Faerieprincessco




To put it simply, Nanostray offers a fun and exciting shooter experience on the Nintendo DS. Being reminiscent of 2D shooters such as Gradius and Galaga, Nanostray provides players action-packed stages where they can blast enemies to smithereens.

These days it's not often players can come across a brand new space shooter. It's a genre that seems to be slowly fading away. Thankfully, Nanostray does a great job in staying faithful to the space shooter formula. Even though Nanostray features a top-down view, it also plays like a vertical shooter. It's a view never seen in space shooters and it's quite hard to describe. It's almost as if the player is directly behind the ship, but at an angle. This makes Nanostray a little hard to adjust to, as players learn their boundaries and how close they can come to objects before actually making contact with them.

What's somewhat disappointing about Nanostray is the fact that it lacks a story. Even though space shooters usually don't have strong storylines, most of the time there's at least a couple sentences in the instruction manual informing the players to save the galaxy, or something along those lines. However, Nanostray provides nothing. Whether it was one paragraph or a couple of sentences, something would be better than nothing. Nanostray proves to be of no plot and to be a "blast away everything you see" kind of game.

Although, no one never said that blasting away at everything you see isn't fun. When it comes down to destroying enemies to a pulp, there are four different weapons players can choose from. For example, one weapon shoots a continuous stream of lightning that will lock onto an enemy until it’s destroyed while another weapon shoots fire from the sides of your ship, but not the front. Each weapon also has a sub-weapon, offering a more powerful blast. Sub weapons can range from shooting a solid beam of fire straight ahead to surrounding your ship with electrical waves. Sub-weapons are based on a meter. This means that once this meter runs out that sub-weapons can no longer be used. Don't worry though, there's a way to refill this meter so players can continue to set off powerful attacks.


The sub-weapon released here homed in on its target!


With these unique weapons, Nanostray offers very exciting gameplay. Players will start with adventure mode, which is broken down into stages. Each stage takes place in a different sector of the universe. Players will come across artic mountains, molten lava and jungle like atmospheres while flying in the air. Unlike most space shooters, Nanostray isn't linear. This means that players can choose any stage they want that is found in the sector he or she is currently in. Each stage provides about five minutes of fast-paced action, which is then ended by a challenging boss. Each boss is about five times the size of your ship, all equipped with hard to dodge lasers and other projectiles. Unfortunately, adventure mode is only packed with a total of eight stages. Sounds short, but with the challenge Nanostray offers, players will eat up several continues before they actually complete it. Still, eight stages each packing about five minutes of action isn't a lot. Luckily, there's more to do in Nanostray once players have completed adventure mode.

Obtaining high scores has always been a popular element in space shooters, and Nanostray is no different. By destroying enemies in sequence, players will get something called a 'wave.' A wave occurs when you destroy a lot of enemies on the screen all in one shot. Waves give off bonus points as well as leave gold and blue coins behind. These coins are vital for a high score, so be sure to collect them! Also, blue coins will re-fill your sub-weapon meter. Also, by releasing smart bombs, you blast everything on the screen which results in some massive point gathering. However, it's also good to note that players are also rewarded with bonus points at the end of the stage if they decide not to use their smart bombs. It's up to the player's discretion to determine the best tactics to use when trying to get a high score.


Quite a few enemies to dodge here...


Nanostray makes use of the touch screen on the Nintendo DS, even though some may argue how useful it is. Since all of the flying action takes place on the top screen, the only way to switch weapons is to use the touch screen. This requires players to take their eyes away from the action for a split second, which can cause an unplanned disaster. It’s for this reason that regardless of the varied weapons Nanostray has to offer, players might think about sticking to one weapon during the current stage. Glancing at the touch screen to view energy life bars or sub-weapon meters isn't a big deal, but when it comes to being forced to touch the screen... it really just breaks the player’s concentration.

Nanostray's gameplay is fun, but it's far from perfect. The distracting way of having to use the touch screen creates a design flaw and the lack of length of adventure mode comes to be a disappointment. Regardless of its faults, Nanostray still proves to be a traditional addicting and challenging space shooter.

Boasting beautiful 3D graphics, Nanostray proves to be eye candy with possibly the best graphics seen on the Nintendo DS so far. For the most part, the graphics are smooth and have a realistic feel to them. For example, players will notice that as objects move farther away from them, the smaller they will get. Coincidentally, the farther players go off the screen, the smaller they also get and they even move a bit slower.


It looks like you can just reach out and grab a boulder!


Nanostray does a great job in showing the true graphic capabilities of the Nintendo DS. Although, there are some minor technical flaws. It seems that players can't reach every part of the screen; the left and right boundaries are a little before the edges of the DS screen. This is most likely due to the "angled" view mentioned earlier, but it causes some frustration as many coins end up in these areas but players can never collect them. Also, if too many objects are on the screen at one time, lag occurs. However, this is a common issue seen in space shooters all the time; it just never seems to go away.

Just like the gameplay is full of fast-past action, the music is right on beat with it. When it's time to battle a boss, a "Warning!!" message will display on the screen followed by some form of alarm beeps. Also, the sound fits in with all the action in the game, which makes it more appealing. The music isn't too powerful to the point where it takes away from the exciting gameplay, but it's on that middle ground where it is just plain enjoyable.

Player's will hear techno-like beats as well as nicely done explosive sounds when enemies are defeated. The music sounds clean and crisp, regardless if the player is wearing headphones or listening to the music from the speakers. It's a solid soundtrack and possibly the best music heard ever in a space shooter title.

Due to adventure mode being so short, it's a good thing that Nanostray has a lot of replay value to consider. As players complete stages in adventure mode, that same stage is then playable in arcade mode. In arcade mode, players can play a stage of their choice in attempt to obtain the highest scores. Another option arcade mode offers is that after completing a level, a code is given. If you go to nanostray.com, you can enter this code and see how you rank against other Nanostray players all over the world! It's not an idea that is entirely new, but it may help in giving players the replay value they want.

Aside from arcade mode, there's also challenge mode. During the game, there are 22 challenges to be unlocked in Nanostray. These challenges definitely live up to their name, as it's sometimes a struggle to meet their goal. Challenge mode asks players to beat specific stages with a certain high score, with only one ship or even without using sub-weapons. This can prove to be a tough challenge, especially when it comes down to the boss battles. Completing all these challenges will definitely take a player quite a long time; despite of how good they are at space shooters.


One of the more simpler bosses...


Nanostray also offers wireless multiplayer, but it's nothing too spectacular. Two players can go head-to-head in any stage featured in Nanostray. The multiplayer proves to be fun, but at the same time it doesn't feel complete. When the two player match is done with, it's not nearly as obvious as it should be about who the winner was. There's just a little trophy displayed on the winner's screen, but it doesn't state their name on the opponents screen. The replay value of Nanostray is strong, but if you aren't a big fan of trying to get high scores then you may think otherwise. Sadly, the adventure mode of Nanostray isn't enough to rely on for a long space shooter experience.

Final Thought
Nanostray is a solid title, but it has its shortcomings. Many elements, such as the angled view and the use of the touch screen prevent Nanostray from being a perfect space shooter. However, Nanostray is a great example of why it may be the case that not every single Nintendo DS game should utilize the touch screen. The way Nanostray brings so much action into every stage with its 3D graphics proves to Nintendo DS owners that we haven't seen the Nintendo DS's power used to fullest capacity yet.

Since it is so rare to see space shooter titles these days, Nanostray does an excellent job in providing such a genre to Nintendo DS owners. The rumor that only about 39,000 copies of Nanostray got shipped to stores sounds very accurate, making Nanostray not exactly an easy find. It's really sad that this game is that hard to find though. It's really a great game to own for any fan of the shooter genre.

8.5/10

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