Nobody likes a copy cat.
Review written by
December 15th, 2012
The twin-stick shooter has had a major uprising within the past few years. It all started with a game called Geometry Wars a few years back. Geometry Wars spawned a slew of sequels and spinoffs. Super Stardust is a recent example in the genre to become quite successful and it seems that Shin'en, the creator of Nano Assault Neo wants a piece of the action. The sad thing is that Super Stardust managed to feel familiar while at the same time being wholly original, Nano Assault Neo just feels like a copy and paste effort.
As I picked up Nano Assault Neo, I felt great joy and memories of the great Super Stardust games came rushing in. Unfortunately, I kept playing the game. Nano Assault Neo has virtually no story. There are no cutscenes, no dialogue of any kind. The game just revolves around shooting and reaching the exit. The game has you steering with the left control stick and shooting with the right stick. This feels natural and works really well. Unfortunately, that is about the only thing that does feel great in Nano Assault.
The shooting is precise and works without a hitch... most of the time. I did run into a few, what seemed like glitches. I would start a stage and my gun would automatically start firing downwards and could not aim anywhere else, but slightly to the left and right. This happened to me about 3 or 4 times, which is frustrating considering how difficult the game is - it is absolutely brutal. I had a difficult time just finishing the first world. That is until I became familiar enough with the game to scrape through the first two worlds. The difficulty spikes insanely high after the second world. There are bullets from every angle and no amount of dodging can prevent imminent death. This is a game that will make you want to karate chop your Wii U GamePad in half with frustration. I agree that some amount of strategy and difficulty can pay off. After all I just reviewed Mighty Switch Force HD which is difficult, but fair. Nano Assault however, completely eliminates any enjoyment.
There are power-ups that you earn by destroying enemies and picking up points that are scattered throughout each stage. These are used to upgrade your ship and buy extra lives. This seems like a cheap way to keep you playing because the game is just not fun. It copies so much from previous twin stick shooters that it does nothing to make me want to keep playing. You can buy shields, drones to add fire power and special weapons, but it doesn't make playing the game any more enjoyable.
Nano Assault does look pretty great though. It definitely has that going for it. The environments that you play in are beautifully detailed and the ships and enemies have a nice polished feel to them. There are a few great graphical moments in the game that did surprise me. The first level has you playing on a planet covered with little patches of grass that look and move realistically as you fly by them. There is also a later level where some very pretty water effects are used that really look amazing. The enemies also look great with variety and nice bullet effects.
I only wish listening to Nano Assault was just as impressive as actually seeing the game. Nothing here stands out. The music is pretty generic and the sound effects are nothing special. There is a lot of futuristic music that all sounds a bit cheesy. Overall, there is nothing special to listen to, but there is nothing that will want to make you turn off the volume.
Nano Assault features four worlds with four levels each. Each level is pretty short, offering about 2-5 minutes of gameplay each. If you can survive long enough to make it to the end of the game, you can replay every level in either single player, multiplayer, or arcade mode. None of these modes are particularly great, but multiplayer lets you and a buddy suffer together. This way you can both yell in frustration. There are also mission objectives to complete that add to the frustration if you are an ardent completionist.
The Wii U GamePad specifics are nothing special here. You can either play on the television screen with a GamePad or pro controller. You can also play without the TV. If you do opt to use the TV, then the GamePad acts as a radar. This radar shows you layout of enemies and point pick-ups. You can also adjust where you want to put your drones in position of your ship. These additions are neat, but ultimately useless.
Unfortunately, with the few things that Nano Assault Neo gets right, there is much more that is just so unoriginal and downright flat. The difficulty spikes way too fast, leading to one of the most frustrating games in recent memory. The game design is poor and there is just nothing that differentiates this game from the pack. If you are looking for a twin stick shooter and don't have any other systems to play them on, I still suggest waiting for a better one to come around. If you like unfair difficulty and frustration, then by all means get this game. Just don't say I didn't warn you.
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