Jeff Craven

Nanostray 2

April 30, 2008

The first Nanostray game started out as a little-known vertical scrolling shooter on the DS in 2005. The game’s developer, Shin’en, took influences from its Iridion games they developed for the Game Boy Advance. It was a sleeper hit and solid game; Nanostray 2 takes most of the first game’s flaws and corrects them, but adds a few more problems in the process.

Nanostray 2‘s menu is set up much like its predecessor: it has Adventure, Arcade, and Challenge modes, as well as offering co-op via multi-card and single card play. To unlock all the levels, you first have to go through the Adventure mode, which happens to be excruciatingly hard, even on the easiest setting. The game gives you five ships and three continues to work through all the levels. Once a level becomes available in Adventure mode, it unlocks in Arcade mode, allowing you the ability to replay a level you’re having trouble on.

The gameplay is standard shoot-em-up fare. Your ship progresses through the level and you destroy waves of enemies leading up to the boss of a level. Standard fire is the A button, and your special weapons are the B button, attached to a meter which drains after a few presses. Enemies drop yellow and blue coins which can be collected: yellow adds to your score while blue replenishes your special weapons meter. You don’t choose your ship, but you do choose your special weapon and, in addition, you can choose where your outermost lasers fire, which you can control through the trigger buttons. The special weapons you start out with include a high powered laser beam, seeker missiles, and an electric field that surrounds your ship. As you progress in Adventure mode, you gain new special weapons which will also become available in Arcade mode.

The game’s eight levels have varied settings and the game mixes up the gameplay by having your ship facing different ways. The first level, Teppeki Dock, scrolls horizontally from left to right while the one of the game’s second set of levels, Shinkai Bay, scrolls vertically from bottom to top and even rotates the screen at several points. The unpredictability is interesting, but can be frustrating at times and requires memorization. Challenge mode adds more to the game by setting different requirements, such as getting a high score on a level you’ve already completed, after you’ve unlocked those particular levels in Adventure mode.

Nanostray 2 seemingly improves on the first game in every way while keeping up with detailed, interesting levels and gameplay. The sheer difficulty of the game, however, is enough to recommend that only dedicated shooter fans pick up this title. While the game is fun, it’s also extremely hard, and will probably be a turn off for some gamers who don’t like replaying the same thing over and over again because their ship got shot up just before they finished a level. For everyone else, it’s a great time, and Challenge mode adds to the replay value after you finish the main story.

Best of Tests

April 30, 2008

Although the Nintendo DS launched in November of 2004, one could argue that the Brain Age games brought the company into the mainstream light and did away with the notion that video games are simply for kids and young adults. Middle-aged and even senior citizens have picked up the DS and Brain Age for their intuitive nature and ease of use. With successful products come imitators looking to cash in on the latest trends, and that’s exactly what Conspiracy Entertainment’s Best of Tests DS has done. What Best of Tests hasn’t done, however, is captured what made Brain Age fun in the first place and the result is a shoddy piece of software which tries hard to be like its brain-teasing predecessors but falls flat on its face.

The back of the box claims that the game A


March 10, 2008

Combine a rhythm game like Guitar Hero with the Puzzle League-inspired idea of matching three same colored blocks to clear a line, and you’ll get Audiosurf. Add to the mix the ability to listen to your own music, which the game then translates into an audio track for you to “ride” along on as you match colors, and you get a game with infinite variety and replayability.

The game is as hard or as easy as you want it to be. You race in a futuristic ship on a track which can vary from almost a straight line to literally turning the track upside down. For those who want a nice, slow ride, the game offers “Mono” mode, a gametype in which it’s your job to collect all the colored blocks as they appear on the track while avoiding the gray blocks. The colored blocks change in color according to the intensity of the music and it, along with the backgrounds, provide a vibrant atmosphere in which you may lose yourself. The main gametype is A

Rez HD

March 10, 2008

When Rez HD was announced for the Xbox Live Arcade as an early 2008 release, Microsoft was answering the prayers of thousands of gamers who had been enjoying the little-known game on the Dreamcast and PlayStation 2 since late 2001. There were many outcries for a port on a current generation console, mostly for reasons involving a desire for an HD version of the game, as well as hearing the game in surround sound. Their cries were for good reason: the game looks great and sounds even better.

Rez is, at its core, a music game. At first glance, many would consider it an on-rails shooter similar to games like Panzer Dragoon or Star Fox. What separates Rez from those games is its fundamental relation to music. The game has its own soundtrack playing in the background, but every move you make and every enemy you kill makes a particular sound. The game literally makes it impossible for you to create a A

Ask any game forum on the Internet for a list of the most overlooked DS games, and the Ace Attorney series would be right at the top. Capcom released the fourth iteration of the Ace Attorney seriesA