Review: Nano Assault EX (3DS eShop)

EXceptional

Shin'en is certainly no stranger to the shoot 'em up genre, having already had some solid success with its Iridion releases on Game Boy Advance and Nanostray titles on DS. For those who don't remember, it was just a little over a year ago when the developer released Nano Assault on Nintendo's 3DS system and showed just how amazing the visual experience could be when coupled with the 3D depth the system offered. This was followed by the equally impressive Nano Assault Neo for Wii U eShop, and now Shin'en is back and offering 3DS eShop fans an enhanced version of the original Nano Assault — this time with a host of new gameplay tweaks and new additions.

At its core, Nano Assault EX is still basically the same game you played at retail. You're still tasked with saving the world from the destructive Nano virus and to do so you'll have to not only collect strains of healthy DNA in each level, but also face off against a wealth of nasty and rather challenging boss fights. This is accomplished by piloting your ship around various planet surfaces and tunnels, blasting enemy virus strains that will be constantly attacking. You'll be able to not only manoeuvre your ship with the Circle Pad, but you'll also have the ability to fire in various directions and patterns using the face buttons. As this is an updated release, you'll also have the ability to use the Circle Pad Pro accessory for a full range of directional fire.

Story Mode is the meat of the package and allows you to play out the levels in order with a host of plot details being fed to you at various intervals. This is also the mode you'll need to beat in order to unlock individual levels to tackle for a high score in Arcade Mode, and to unlock the exciting Boss Rush Mode that pits you against a barrage of the game's bosses, one right after another. Shin'en has also chosen to add in a brand new Survivor Mode to test advanced shooter players, and online rankings to further sweeten the pot.

The play controls in Nano Assault were already solid, but the increased responsiveness and added ability to use the Circle Pad Pro give an even more well-rounded interface. All of the difficulty is still intact, and Survivor Mode adds another unique gameplay aspect that hardcore shmup fans will certainly appreciate. It's nice to see a developer go the extra distance and improve an already enjoyable and playable experience.

To label the visual presentation of Nano Assault EX as "impressive" would be a massive understatement. There's not a square inch of the game that doesn't show an attention to detail that provides a graphical "wow" factor. The sheer level of vibrancy and detail is stunning, but when you add in the depth of field the 3D effect brings to the table, it's impossible not to be impressed with what the developer has been able to accomplish with the system. Suffice it to say, if you like a lot of eye candy in your shmup, Nano Assault EX is your game.

When it comes to the audio package of its shooters, Shin'en doesn't mess around. Not only are you getting an absolutely massive and spacious musical presentation, you're also getting some incredible tunes to boot. It doesn't hurt that each track seems to perfectly fit the mood and setting of the area it's featured in. There's even the same great female-voiced dialogue that even further adds to the quality of the entire sound production.

Conclusion

Nano Assault EX basically offers up exactly what you'd expect from an eShop upgrade release — better controls, more options, and a brand new mode. And as if all of these bonuses weren't enough, Shin'en is also pricing the title at an extremely affordable £12.49/$14.99. Make no mistake, Nano Assault was already an amazing retail shmup — those of you who have picked it up already will know this — but for anyone who's been holding out on purchasing the title, the new upgrades and manageable price should give you all the incentive you need to finally give this impressive shoot 'em up a blast.

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