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Score: 62%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Majesco
Developer: Shin'en
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Shooter

Graphics & Sound:

Majesco's latest gift to the gaming world, Nanostray, is a beautiful if shallow and ultimately unsatisfying shooter.

There's no denying that Nanostray has some great graphics. Showing just what the DS can do, it offers a healthy number of levels, each with 3D graphics that easily exceed the Nintendo 64. Each object, player, enemy and effect show that the DS has a lot more in store for us when developers figure out how to use it. The backgrounds and settings are equally diverse and attractive. Like in all shooters of this nature, though, the backgrounds go a little overboard and often prevent you from clearly seeing the action going on; when you can't discern between the giant, derelict ship in the background and the giant, derelict ship about to ram into you, explosions soon follow. On the flip-side, "hum-drum" characterizes Nanostray's sound pretty well. The sound effects are your usual spread of explosions and techno lasers and the music is just techno-babble that fits but isn't that interesting.


Nanostray's gameplay is about as simple as you can get; it's a classic top-down shooter. You auto-scroll through each level from the bottom to the top, fighting off hordes and hordes of enemy ships coming at you in waves and unleashing everything they have at you and then you face a supercharged boss at the end. In short, you hold down the fire button while you move around, avoiding enemies and their projectiles. It really doesn't stray far from its Galaga roots. It isn't entirely in the stone-age though, and does offer some things that set it apart from the 1980's arcade hit. For one, you can select which stage you want to go to, which is nice but ultimately superfluous. You can use multiple different types of weapons and two modes of fire for each. It's not an overstatement to call the gameplay shallow, but being a portable title, perhaps that's what you want. As far as story, there really isn't any; the game itself offers no story to speak of.


I've never been very good at games like this and while Nanostray does offer a difficulty selection, it only offers two harder modes. There is no easy. On the other hand, they take a slight departure from most shooters that makes the game considerably easier. While ramming into an enemy will still kill you, being hit by their shots will not. Instead, the game offers you a shield gauge and you will just lose some shield power. The game also replenishes your allotment of smart bombs, which allow you to kill all the enemies on the screen, every time you die.

Game Mechanics:

While it is for the Nintendo DS, Nanostray's use of the touchscreen seems entirely tacked on. Switching weapons requires touching the appropriate weapon button on the screen, but since this is such a fast-paced game, it is extraordinarily easy to die when you take your hands offthe controls to do so. Using the stylus is also completely out of the question. Whenever you reach a boss character,you must also touch a "scanning" panel to open up a window to see the boss's weak spots. While this is interesting, it's also completely unnecessary. One really interesting side note is Nanostray's multiplayer option which offers several game types that allow 2 players to go head-to-head.

Nanostray is an utterly predictable and typical shooter game that makes good use of the DS hardware, but not it's unique input devices. Shooter fans with a few minutes to spare may enjoy working through this one, but I couldn't advise it as a purchase for most players.

-Alucard, GameVortex Communications
AKA Stephen Triche

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