If you played the first Nanostray and weren't happy with the touch screen weapon swapping or the way the graphics were tilted to make it seem like everything was flying towards you, you'll be pleased to learn that the sequel corrects those blunders. The default control scheme uses the directional pad and buttons, and the perspective is no longer skewed, so you don't have to rack your brain dealing with bullets that veer sideways when you want them to go straight ahead. On top of that, the hit detection is a lot more accurate this time around. We just wish the hero's ship was slightly smaller for those more hectic moments.
The biggest complaint most people have with shoot-em-ups is that they're too short. Sure, you can go back and try for high scores, but if you're the sort that just wants to bleed ships through the final boss, you usually get 20 minutes of playtime out of the typical shmup. Nanostray 2 responds to this common complaint in spades. High score buffs can replay stages in the arcade mode and upload their scores to a worldwide server, while those constantly seeking new thrills can dive into the challenge mode, which offers 32 unique mini-levels with various scoring and survival requirements. If you can convince one of your friends to buy a copy of the game, you can also participate in scoring duels or go through the adventure mode co-operatively. As it is, each of the game's eight main stages is easily double the length of the stages found in most shooters.
Bleeding ships won't see you through to the end anyway. The stages are long, they're packed with enemies, and a single hit will cost you a ship. Even on the easiest setting, this game is tough in that old school way, where you need to develop twitch reflexes and memorize the layouts so that you make the five ships and three continues you're given last. This game is probably tougher than you're accustomed to. Whether that's good or bad is up to you.
Unrelenting difficulty aside, Nanostray 2 for the Nintendo DS is a top-notch shoot-'em-up that will give you your money's worth.
Mar 17, 2008