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Nanostray 2

version: usa - year: 1998 - developer: shin'en - publisher: majesco - format: nintendo ds, cartridge - condition: mint - rarity: common

Never released in Japan, unlike the prequel.

 

Several welcome game modes extend the life-span of Nanostray 2.

 

A beautiful european tribute to japanese shooters?

 

Backgrounds are varied and nicely drawn.

 

Some bosses are more inspired than others, like this awesome liquid face.

 

Viewpoint anyone?

 

Mid-bosses are often very inspired. Here the screen will rotate 360° and will require you to adjust your weapons setup to fire either sideways or backwards.

 

Another nice organic boss. Just shoot his eye into oblivion!

Review - German code-shop Shin’en is not new to the shooter genre, having previously developed Iridion I and II for GameBoy Advance, and Nanostray (Danshaku) on Nintendo DS.

The most interesting aspect of Nanostray II is the presence of both vertical and horizontal shooting levels, which certainly adds some variety to the formula.

Graphically, this game is impressive, with its crisp visuals with lots of lens flare , varied backgrounds, interesting bosses and functional weapons system. I particularly appreciated the clever dynamic use of camera angles, to introduce bosses: empowering!

Shin’en obviously predated a few ideas from Japanese shooters, such as the opening section which is reminiscent of R-Type III The Third Lighting, or the boss in the water planet, which is a crab highly reminiscent of the crab boss in Sammy’s Viewpoint. And this is actually a very good thing, especially if it’s done with such attention... A lot of care has been put into Nanostray 2, be it for the beautiful cut-scenes in the story mode accompanied but decent speech, or for the detailed 2.5D graphics which have nice textures, vivid colors, super-smooth scrolling, and interesting mid-bosses and bosses designs. Some bosses are certainly better designed than others but overall the quality is there, and you can see the developers really put their heart into the game.

The atmospheric techno soundtrack is also well done and suits the on-screen action perfectly while gameplay is addictive and rather entertaining if you like the genre.

If I had to compare this shooter to other European-developed shooters, I would say Shin’en was able to develop a little tech marvel which is actually also fun to play. Levels don’t suffer from the typical linearity or flatness usually found in other euro-shmups. And the difficulty is set just right, without the game being impossible or unfair.

Another thing worth mentioning: the various play modes available which certainly add longevity to the game. Specifically, I am thinking of the Challenge mode, which consists of about 32 short trials, in some new locations. These trials are based on the levels present in the Adventure Mode, although the layout is different. You might have to survive for a certain amount of seconds while navigating a short level, or you might have to destroy a certain number of alien waves in a given time, etc...

I really enjoyed a couple of missions, such as the “Survive” trial which consisted in wiping out enemies in a certain amount of time while the screen would gradually rotate in a beautiful and slightly disorienting way! Another trial consisted in a beautifully designed speed-run through various tunnels and obstacles. The kind of graphical effects displayed in these trials really put the Nintendo DS hardware to good use, while the game gets even more fun and challenging. Complete 8 of these trials to unlock a simulator, which consists of remixed 3D renditions based on classics such as Arkanoid, Asteroids or others.

On the negative aspects, I should mention that the ship you control doesn’t look very detailed especially when the camera zooms on it, and the weakness of the spaceship model is exposed, with few and edgy polygons becoming more evident.

Also, the way the main weapon system works is a bit strange: first, there are basically no power ups, if you exclude the two side-shots you can collect, and this is somewhat underwhelming since I would have expected some cooler looking main weapon upgrades. Oddly, once you complete a level, your main weapon is again downgraded to its basic state! I didn’t like this much...but at least, when you lose a life in a level, you won’t lose the weapons upgrades you collected until you exit the level.

Sometimes collision detection seems to be slightly off too, and there are cases where the game slows down but this doesn’t happen often.

In the end, I certainly recommend Nanostray 2 to all the shmuppers out there; you will have a good time playing through it, and you will certainly appreciate the citations to other great Japanese shooters, especially if you played a few of them!

Bottom line: One of the best traditional shooters on the DS, improved over the prequel and technically accomplished. 8/10


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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