Shin’en has a bit of a history in the shoot-em up genre with its Iridion games, which were technically impressive but, sadly, lacked fun in the gameplay department. Now, once again, they’ve decided to still to a similar formula for their firs DS title.
While the majority of titles to have appeared on Nintendos dual-screened handheld have been mostly 2D affairs, Shin’en has decided to put it to the test at pushing polygons around and its good to see that the DS can really handle it well. Everything moves around the screen incredibly fast, with only a little slow down appearing when opponents fill the screen. So aesthetically, NanoStray is very pleasing.
But for all the graphical splendor, Shin’en have offered here, they have once again missed out on the most important aspect of any game, the gameplay, although thats not to say that NanoStray isn’t fun. Compared to other games which are similar, such as Ikaruga and Parodius, NanoStray is rather dull when it comes to the core gameplay. There are 4 weapons to choose from, but more powerful versions of them can be accessed with a press of the B button, but using these will drain energy from your power bar. Weapon selection is done via the DS’ touch screen, but this feels extremely clumsy and doesn’t help much during intense boss battles. The second screen also plays host to a radar which lets you pinpoint where an enemies weakness lies, although, once again, this is a poor use for the DS’ capabilities and something we are seeing too much of for the handheld.
NanoStrays best feature lies in its scoring system. When you destroy a wave of enemies, you’ll receive a bunch of coins, Gold ones boost your score, while Blue coins refill part of your power bar, and providing you don’t use your secondary weapon, your score multiplier will net you huge amounts of points. However it is possible to hit enemies before they appear on screen, resulting in you missing out on their coins and affecting your score, leaving the whole system feeling a little broken.
At the end of each level you will be given a code to input onto the NanoStray website to submit your score onto the leader boards, giving you a bigger incentive to perfect those runs through each level.
So as with both Iridion games, Shin’en has got NanoStray looking fantastic, but they’ve still not hit the nail on the head with the gameplay.