Nano Assault Neo: Of lens flare and leaderboards

December 6, 2012

Wii U’s eShop launch started strong with titles that could each appeal to different audiences. One such game is Nano Assault Neo, a twin-stick shooter that seems to have taken inspiration from the Sony-exclusive Super Stardust series. Simply put, this is a game that’s all about shooting things, while trying your best not to be shot by those things. It does what it needs to and does it as well as it possibly can.

As with Super Stardust, you pilot a small ship around a large, oddly-shaped planet, destroying enemies and collecting power-ups as you progress. The ultimate goal is to destroy a certain percentage of enemies on a planet to make the exit appear. At this point, you can rush towards the exit, or attempt to destroy the remaining enemies in order to potentially raise your score. Both methods have their benefits, but it can be fun to mix things up from level to level in order to see how high your score can go. There are four levels in the game, each with four sections that need to be played through from start to finish to unlock the next level. It’s not a long game, but for the audience that will get the most out of it, it doesn’t need to be.

As you play, you’ll collect power-ups, such as additional guns that you can position in any direction using the Wii U GamePad, and special attacks that have a limited use. If you lose a life, you’ll lose your special attack and one of your additional guns, making the goal to get through all four sections in a level while losing as few lives as possible something you’ll want to strive for. If you can get to the boss of a level with four additional guns and an awesome special attack, your chances of upping your score and defeating the boss with relative ease are high.

While the aesthetics are nice and the basic gameplay is as fun as twin-stick shooters get, this is a game that’s all about high scores. That means you’ll either be someone who replays levels to improve their scores, attempting to carry as many power-ups as possible through a level without dying, or someone who blasts through the game’s four levels and never plays it again. There is a survival mode that unlocks once you finish the game, throwing you into random levels with only a single life to see how long you last. This quickly became my favorite part of the game, as it randomized the sections of levels in interesting ways and keeps you on your toes.

It can be fun to compete with friends for high scores or just try and improve your own scores, creating your own personal challenges for each level, but not everyone will see the appeal. On top of that, the game doesn’t do anything particularly new that separates it from an overcrowded genre. It feels like a slightly different version of Super Stardust, with all of the polish and high score chasing that you would want. It’s fantastic for what it’s trying to be, but it doesn’t try to do a lot outside of the bare minimum.

It may not be the most original game in the world, but Nano Assault Neo is still a lot of fun for a great price. It won’t win anyone over who may be tired of genre, but if you’re looking for another great game in a long line of twin-stick shooters, you can’t go wrong with this one.

Pros: Gorgeous visuals, satisfying gameplay, survival mode is addictive
Cons: Not a ton of content, doesn’t stand out in a crowded genre

Score: 4/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.