E3 2011: Nano Assault hands-on preview

While we’re sure you’ve already read the title to this preview, we just feel we need to reiterate that this is probably the sexiest-looking 3DS game we’ve seen so far. Yes, we know Dead or Alive: Dimensions is on the 3DS. Shut up. This is about overall art quality, not freakish boob physics.

Nano Assault is a continuation of the top-down screen-scrolling shooter Nanostray series by developer Shin’en. Just as before, that pesky Nanostray virus is threatening to infect and destroy humanity so it’s up to you and your comically miniaturized ship to blast the biological terror into submission. It’s not Shakespeare, but it gets the job done.

Gameplay in Nano Assault takes a different approach this time around. Instead of top-down screen scrolling, the first level we played found our ship zipping around the surface of a spherical infected cell. Tasked with destroying all strains of the Nanostray Virus, we maneuvered around the organic globe Mario Galaxy-style blasting any critters that got too close. It was incredibly fun and extremely hectic as our viral assailants would constantly rotate around the infected cell attempting to cordon off our escape. We had access to a standard pair of blasters and some homing missiles, but the game makes use of an experience system that gradually unlocks better weapons as you kill off pieces of the virus.

The second mission we got our hands on played like a level straight out of Star Fox. Enemies, virus clusters and giant cellular columns flew by as we travelled deeper into the Nanostray Virus. It was at this point that we finally started to notice just how well the 3D effects popped in this game. Beautifully animated cells and DNA strains really give off the feeling that you’re actually flying around inside some bacterium in a Petri dish. Nothing in the two environments we saw ever remained completely static.

Aside from the two game types we saw, Nano Assault will also feature a survival mode where players can face off against the ten bosses of the game and then upload their high scores to an online leaderboard. Likewise, the game also has a jukebox that saves all of the music from each level for players to listen to and a “Nanopedia” which details the strengths and weaknesses of the various bacteria and viral bosses you’ll be going up against. With some truly slick visuals and fast-paced combat, Nano Assault is looking to offer 3DS shooter fans a real treat when it ships this November.

Jun 14, 2011

Jordan Baughman is a freelance journalist who has written for the likes of GamesRadar and Gamer magazine. With a passion for video games and esports, Baughman has been covering the industry for years now, and even hopped the fence to work as a public relations coordinator for clients that include EA, Capcom, Namco, and more.