Ye Olde Skoole

No matter what happens, a video game genre can never truly die. Guilty Gear and King of Fighters are preserving 2d fighters. Trace Memory and Indigo Prophecy are keeping the adventure genre alive. Now, games like Ikaruga and Nanostray are preserving the 2d space shooter. However, this only appeals to people who are seeking this sort of experience.

Nanostray lacks any story. Seriously. Nothing. There isn?t a sentence of dialogue. There isn?t a single character established. There is no discernable reason whatsoever why there is this one ship flying around, killing everything in sight. Even Zero Wing (of ?all your base..? fame) has a story. Try harder next time, Majesco.

The gameplay in Nanostray is, for the most part, the standard arcade style for this genre. There?s a fire button for shooting, a smart bomb button to clear all the enemies off the screen, reminiscent of games like Capcom?s 1942 simply because it is just so remedial in its control scheme. The bottom screen is where it is really at, though. The four weapons are selected on the bottom screen. Available is a standard dual beam that shoots straight, a lightning beam that offers some mild homing, a curve beam best used for evasive shooting and a side beam that has a wide blast range but only shoots out the sides. Other things like scores, lives, smart bombs, the radar, life remaining and meters are also displayed. Needless to say, this is horribly cramped, and makes the weapon swapping difficult quite often, and will definitely result in numerous deaths. To its compliment, it is fast paced, has dozens of enemies on the screen at a time, and has no frame rate issues, offering a generally fun experience. However, the difficulty is very great, and the poor little ship will explode early, often, and frequently. The frustration builds quite quickly as well, as simply skimming an enemy ship takes a life, and there are loads of unavoidable hits that need to be taken. There?s also an unimpressive multiplayer that holds no appeal at all. There are also three levels of difficulty available, however they just do not add anything to the gameplay, as each level still plays out the same as it does on the other two difficulties.

In all honesty, Nanostray is a pretty fun game in its classical appeal. However, it is so terribly, cripplingly short, it makes this game barely worth renting. The game has only a measly little set of eight levels, and that reduces the game?s length to a maximum of four or five hours. Not to mention that the frequent deaths, and the simple repetition of the levels throughout the skill levels just don?t add anything worth playing to the game.

Nanostray does excel in the graphics department, however. The ships, enemies, levels are all very clear and nicely detailed. In addition, the opening sequences for each stage show just how good the graphics can be on the DS. The sound is not particularly memorable, however, with just some shooting sound effects and some unimpressive music.

Because Nanostray is not a particularly bad game, it is somewhat disappointing that the game felt so half-assed. The retro gameplay with a modern twist is charming and entertaining, but right before the time it becomes a must-buy, the ending credits appear. This game really just is not worth buying for full price. Only consider purchasing this game after if falls below the bargain bin price of $10 bucks.

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