4cr Plays – Nano Assault Neo

by Antonio Garcia

Stop the deadly Nanostray virus from spreading in the nano cosmos. Traverse a breathtaking microscopic world. In Nano Assault Neo you are one against millions.

Nano Assault Neo is a brand new game set in the Nano Assault universe that, until now, consisted of Nano Assault on the 3DS (released as a cartridge) and a Europe-exclusive 3DS eshop title which improved on the original by adding a survivor mode, support for dual analog stick gameplay, a bump in graphic quality, and other general improvements. So, where does Nano Assault Neo on Nintendo’s brand new Wii U fit into this mix?

As part of the initial WiiU eshop offering, Nano Assault Neo shines as a 1080p 60 FPS bump-mapped, flare-filled, fast-paced twin stick shooter. It tasks you with eliminating insanely tiny viruses at all cost and your equally small ship is the only thing that can save the universe, one cell at a time. Your adventure covers 4 different clusters with 4 levels each, and you must destroy 90% of all the viruses in each cell in order to unlock the exits. Once the exit is open, you have 30 seconds to get there before the cell explodes. If you make it on time, you get a score bonus based on the time left on the countdown and an accuracy percentage of your shots, which means you just can’t shoot all the time or your bonus will be too low.

To add to the challenge, if you manage to track down and destroy the remaining 10% of viruses, you will instantly get a 100,000 score bonus. You must decide if going after the viruses will leave you with enough time to reach the exit or if you’re better off making a break for the exit in the limited time available.

Defeating viruses can reward you with credit pick-ups which are also available at the start of each level at specific spots. These rewards include a Nano forcefield that shields you from all damage for a few seconds, a Satellite icon that adds one orbiting satellite to your vessel (up to a max of 4) and special sub weapons that will help you along the way. Credits can be used to purchase upgrades at the Nanoshop between each level in a cluster, and can completely change the way you play the game. If you want an insanely hard challenge, you can skip the store and carry on without any upgrades, but for those that decide to make the most of their credits, extra ships, an upgrade that doubles the value of the credits you collect, one that increases the score multiplier, and any other upgrades that show up during normal gameplay can be purchased to tailor your experience.

The game can be played either on the television screen or on the Wii U Game Pad, and it looks amazing on both. If you decide to play on TV, the screen in the Game Pad will have a map of the current cell and an icon showing your ship and any satellites you have obtained. Touching the screen pauses the game and allows you to rotate the map to look around for enemies, credits and power-ups. You can control your satellites by bringing them closer or further away from your ship and rotate them so that they can fire in any direction. This means you can have your ship firing ahead of you while your satellites focus on soothing to the sides or any other angle you choose (though you can only adjust the firing angle for the front or the back pair of satellites). If you play on the Game Pad, the sub-screen is hidden, and you can access it by tapping the screen on the Game Pad.

Every now and then you’ll run into a small rotating letter that will appear after destroying a virus. If you collect all five to spell the word BONUS and complete the current cell you will be taken to a special bonus level that is filled with credit chips worth 10 credits each and several obstacles that can end your run in one hit. Things start out slowly with no obstacles, but you will soon need to roll and dodge several deadly stalactites that are sometimes covered by motion blur and fog. Think microscopic Sonic bonus levels and you have a pretty good idea of what these stages are like.

Once you complete all 4 clusters you unlock Survivor Mode where you are tasked with surviving for as long as possible on a single life; 3 hits and you’re gone! Another available mode is Arcade where you aim for a high score that will allow you to break into online leaderboards, a very welcome extra that may motivate you to replay levels over and over again. There is also a two player mode where one player uses the TV, and the other one uses the Game Pad which is very fun and hectic and allows Nano Assault Neo to feel like a new game. While the Wii U does not have unlockable trophies or an achievement system, there are several missions that present special challenges, such as completing a single cell without getting hit, or completing a cluster without dying.

Nano Assault Neo is a great entry in the series, and it brings the best qualities of the previous games to the table. As you can see from the screens, it’s a gorgeous game. What you can’t see is the equally awesome soundtrack. Play this one loud! For $10 you really can’t go wrong.

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