There are some combinations in this world that just seem to fit together naturally; peanut butter and jelly, Laurel and Hardy, Batman and Robin or David Hasselhoff and Germany. Then there are some combinations that just shouldn’t work out so well, but do; Tom and Jerry or french fries and a Frosty. After that you’ve got some things that you never would have thought to put together like Dr. Mario, Super Mario Galaxy and Geometry Wars, or as I like to call it Dr. Mario Galaxy Wars. Actually what I’m talking about is Nano Assault Neo for the Wii U eShop.
What You Need to Know
Nano Assault Neo is a top-down, dual-stick shooter that takes place inside your body; well maybe not your body, but someone’s body. Your job is to clean up infected cells with all of the firepower that’s available to you. You use the left analog stick of the Wii U GamePad to fly around 3D cells that are very similar in shape to the planetoids from Super Mario Galaxy, while using the right analog stick to shoot in 360 degrees around your ship. Unlike the recent handheld version, this has no real story. It’s all about racking up points by killing viruses that like to fight back. There are four campaigns to play through, each with three levels and then a boss fight.
Shin’en Multimedia is no stranger to good looking games. Jett Rocket was one of the best games, visually, to appear on the WiiWare service and Art of Balance looks great on whatever platform it appeared on. The Wii U gives them one of their first opportunities to take advantage of HD screens and boy do they. Light bloom, particle effects, even hair like “foliage” are in full effect and it looks stunning. It might almost be easy to become distracted simply because of how great the game looks. Each of the four “worlds” are a different main color with plenty of highlights to make everything pop. They also have very different “terrain” features that make them stand apart from each other visually.
Enemy viruses have almost a creepy crawling look to them. They’re not anything I’d like to really examine up close under a microscope, but that’s a good thing as it makes them that much easier to blast away. It might take a little bit of time to orient yourself to just how you move around on the cells, but after a few minutes it will become second nature and you’ll be zipping around, dodging enemies with relative ease.
This game is brutally difficult, especially as dual-stick shooters go. You can take three hits before losing a life and three lives to complete each cluster of cells before dying. Luckily if you’re having some difficulty, or you just want to take a buddy into a microscopic horror land, Shin’en has allowed you to do that with split-screen multiplayer. Rather than having both players share one screen and lose valuable visibility the developers have literally split the players apart. One player uses the Wii U GamePad and the other can use a variety of controllers on the television screen so no one has to be limited by what they can see at any one time. I couldn’t really tell that the game got more difficult with a second player, so having a friend a long might take some of the pressure off.
Light on Content
This is a really good game, but many people might find that it lacks a little bit of content. Like previously mentioned it removes any story elements in favor of a score-attack style of play. There are four clusters of cells each with three levels and a boss. Once you finish all four clusters you do unlock a survival mode, which tasks you with completing every level of the game in a random order. There is also an arcade mode which lets you play any one level you want to try and get as high a score as you can.
There also isn’t really any upgrade paths. You simply gain credits as you play and in between levels these credits can be used to purchase upgrade items, such as armed satellites, credit doublers and magnets that will pick up collectibles. There’s no persistence to this so you’ll lose anything you’ve purchased should you restart the game.
There are a lot of twin-stick shooters out there that are very good. I would argue that none look as good as this one does. The game also plays very well. The controls are easy to understand. The levels are interesting to look at and unlike anything you’ve probably seen in a game like this. While it might be light on content, the stuff that is here is difficult and you’re bound to spend numerous hours going through the levels trying to get the highest score you possibly can. There are not a lot of games currently available to purchase through the Wii U eShop, but this is easily one of the best and should find a place in most Wii U owners’ libraries.
Review copy of the game provided by Shin’en Multimedia.
Played through all four main clusters. Did not complete survival mode. Sampled multiplayer.
Total play time: 7 hours