Thursday, April 18, 2013

Nano Assault EX (3DSWare) Review

We're doing double duty here at SuperPhillip Central on this Thursday. We posted an editorial earlier, but now we have a brand-new review. It's a shame that more sites didn't officially review this title, a graphical stunner from Shin'en. It's Nano Assault EX, and here's our review.

Shin'en Blinded Me With Science

Shin'en has a stellar track record on Nintendo platforms. You might remember their earliest work with Iridion on the Game Boy Advance, the pair of Nanostray games on the Nintendo DS, and Jett Rocket and F.A.S.T. Racing League on the Wii. Released last year as a retail release, Nano Assault took the world of Nanostray and shrunk it down to microscopic levels. Now, the game has a second chance to shine, and this time it's a much more affordable and enhanced experience on the Nintendo eShop. Dubbed Nano Assault EX, do the extra features make for a game that's worth purchasing if you've played the original?

The basic goal of Nano Assault EX is to save the world from the Nano virus, and the only means to do that is to shrink your ship to microscopic size to root out the virus from each individual cell cluster, of which there are seven. The story mode possesses over thirty unique missions spread across three types of play.

The first you will come across are cellular levels. This is where you traverse a fully 3D cell body's surface, eliminating all enemy threats and collecting a handful of healthy DNA strands. This is probably not an original observation, but it's almost a shoot-em-up version of Super Mario Galaxy, and how that game had planetoids very similar to how these cellular levels are in Nano Assault EX.

Explore cell bodies and eliminate all hostile threats.
The second type of level is that of air combat. These are on-rails levels no doubt inspired by Star Fox and games of that nature. However, instead of hearing the banter between animal comrades, the only sounds you will hear are the whirring of your ship, the laser shots flying past your ship, and the music of the game. I enjoyed both the cellular levels and the on-rails levels, and found they both added nice variety to Nano Assault EX.

Nonetheless, there is still one more type of level that is unaccounted for, and that is the boss levels. Bigger is most certainly better, and Shin'en has packed Nano Assault EX with colossal confrontations (well, as colossal and big as a microscopic creature can be) that will test your bullet evasion and precision flying.

This boss seriously bugs me.
Nano Assault EX isn't the most difficult shoot-em-up on the market, but it is still rather difficult. You get but three ships to work with on each mission, and some levels, most notably the on-rails ones, are particularly long. Factor in the idea that you can't skip the short introductory cutscenes, and you have a minor annoyance. Regardless, the difficulty of the game may put off certain players, so know what you're getting into before you pay the $14.99 price tag (this review should be a big help).

It's just a shame that you have to go through the Story Mode of Nano Assault EX to get to most of the other content within the game. It makes sense that Arcade Mode levels unlock as you beat their Story Mode counterparts. However, you need to invest a fair amount of time into the game to try out the Boss Rush Mode (pretty self-explanatory) and the Survival Mode, where you have but one ship to spare. Additionally, your high scores can be posted to Nano Assault EX's online leaderboards. Here your friends and total strangers alike can compete for top times and best honors as they vie for first place.

The controls of Nano Assault proper were quite satisfactory to begin with, but Shin'en went the extra mile with the controls of Nano Assault EX. While you can still use the face buttons to direct your fire (X shoots forward, B shoots backward, A shoots right, and Y shoots left), the addition of Circle Pad Pro support allows you to simply use the second Circle Pad to control the direction of your shots. The two control methods can be cycled through at any time through the pause menu.

Just think-- your insides have this going on.
Nano Assault EX is a gorgeous game, but that is simply to be expected from the brilliant tech-heads at Shin'en. They know Nintendo hardware well, and they constantly show they are masters at their craft. The 3D effect in Nano Assault EX is positively divine, and helps with knowing when and where to dodge oncoming bullets. Not all is well with the technical presentation of the game, though. Dark areas have some ghosting issues when the 3D is turned on, and the frame-rate can have a few hiccups of sorts as you play. It's nothing of a deal-breaker, but something to note.

Dealing with sound, the voice acting that is present (a female computer voice) is done well and fits the mood of the game well. The music is also superb, with some ambient tracks and some dramatic space opera-sounding themes to bust some viruses to.

Nano Assault EX is another fine offering from the folks at Shin'en. This is an updated, enhanced game that is well worth the $14.99 price tag for those who haven't played the retail original. For those that have, there's not too much of a reason to return to the microscopic world that this game contains. Still, the additions included with Nano Assault EX make for a game that is packed with content, glorious to look at, and most importantly, fun to play.

[SPC Says: 8.5/10]

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