By: Jeff Cater
Nano Assault Neo-X is a visually boosted port of the Wii U hit of the same name, minus the hyphen and the X. You are the pilot of a microscopic ship, scaling the various terrain given by cellular organisms and bringing destruction to the harmful bacterial and viral life! Developer Shin’En has provided the cure: Us.
Nano Assault Neo-X is easy for anybody to get into because of the simple and extremely snappy controls. Being a twin-stick shooter, you can expect to guide your ship with the left stick while dispatching hot laser justice with the right. Hitting the touch pad will let you arrange your offensive satellites into any position you like, which offers great tactical decision making on the fly. R1 will use your secondary weapon, and having that bound to the shoulder is great because you never have to lift your thumbs off of the sticks while in the heat of combat.
All 16 of the available stages look fantastic. The cellular surface is fibrous and bulbous, with a nice sheen of some clear slime that glistens with the ambient light of the level. In the background, vast pillars of nerve clusters (or what appear to be, anyway!) and small explosions of light decorate nicely and only serves to bring better immersion to the cell cluster you are currently on.
The various forms of hostile life you encounter are varied and fit the environment very well, but they can sometimes have a little spout of hiccups during certain sets of animation. That minor flaw goes largely unnoticed because things are mostly just blowing up everywhere.
To compliment the visuals, the weapon impacts and explosions are nice and plump, and the soundtrack nails the pace of the game perfectly. There’s no spoken dialogue other than simple one-word phrases every now and then, so don’t expect to sit down for story time here.
Nano Assault Neo-X is definitely a game I would have lost many a quarter to, mostly because it’s simply a lot of fun. You’ve got a ship, you’ve got weapons and you’ve got creatures trying to kill you. Add those three features up, toss in (unfortunately mediocre) boss fights, plus couch co-op and what you are left with is a game full of fun that can immediately be shared with anyone.
Nano Assault doesn’t rely too heavily on mobbing the player with enemies, but instead decides to mob the player with bullets. This provides a nice mix of traditional twin-stick shooter action with that of bullet-hell titles like Ikaruga.
Also fresh is the setup of the levels themselves; instead of having a flat plane to fly and shoot across, levels are wrapped around oblong cells. Initially this can be a bit disorienting due to the camera, but after picking up on the nuance of the camera you won’t have any trouble tracking and dispatching your enemies.
As mentioned above, you can position your satellites to your liking. This is probably my favorite feature, as it allowed me to make a devastating wall of fire or have them all set in a “4-Corners” kind of way. Never underestimate your satellites!
Also scattered through the stages are “B-O-N-U-S” letters that, when collected, transport you to a different part of the stage where the camera is positioned behind the ship. Now the ship starts to pick up speed as you see how far you can get while avoiding pillars and other obstacles. Honestly, I wish there was a game mode that was just that.
Although it’s really short, Nano Assault Neo-X is one of those games where you get the feeling you can get a better score next time around. Combine that with couch co-op, slick graphics and pumping tunes, and it’s hard to believe it’s so cheap. If you’re looking for trippy visuals and something you can come back to in order to improve on, look no further.