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Critical Reception: Shin'en/Majesco's Nanostray

This week's Critical Reception, a regular column that looks at how the gaming press has received a particularly notable recently released game, focuses on the recent Maje...
This week's Critical Reception, a regular column that looks at how the gaming press has received a particularly notable recently released game, focuses on the recent Majesco-published Nintendo DS shoot-em-up, Nanostray. Following on from the Game Boy Advance titles Iridion 3D and Iridion II, as well as the company's work making audio for a host of notable GBA games, German development studio Shin’en learned from its experience and have created another frantic, Japanese-influenced space shooter, this time for DS. Scoring an average rating of 73.75% with reviewers, according to review aggregation site GameTab, the title’s reception is not unreasonable. However, Iridion II offering fared a little better with critics, scoring an average rating of 80.63% according to GameTab. Why would that be? On first look, IGN’s Craig Harris lauds Shin'en's latest title as “an absolute treat to see on the DS. It’s also an energetic and fun old-school design.” Modeling in the style of a classic twitch-gaming shooter, Nanostray is certainly easy on the eye, and a game that Harris sees as “easily one of the most visually impressive titles on the Nintendo DS.” The frenetic action expected of such a game is found here in abundance - 1UP’s Jeremy Parish enjoyed the gameplay, which “packs a perfect amount of content for its platform and genre – the levels are only about five minutes long, which makes them ideal purveyors of the pick-up-and-play immediacy one expects from a handheld title.” The other reviewers agreed that the gameplay was at least satisfactory. But Nanostray does have some issues - IGN's Craig Harris notes that the game has “a fair share of little quirks that could and should have been ironed out during its production cycle.” The first problem noted by many reviewers is the use of the touch screen as the sole way to switch between weapons, which forces the player to take their hand off the controls to switch crucial functions. Of the other setbacks, Gamespot’s Greg Kasavin sums them up best: “A weak multiplayer mode, repetitive level design (even for a shoot-‘em-up), and limited replay value put Nanostray squarely in the 'almost, but not quite' category.” Similarly, while 1UP’s Parish enjoyed his first attempts at the game, he found that “the challenge level is where the game’s problems creep in... [the game has] painful design quirks that detract from the game experience for the sake of technology or ‘innovation.’” In conclusion, reviewers see Nanostray as a solid addition to the DS lineup, adding a quick, low-frills shooter that gets the job done. The title reminds us that 2D-style shooters can exist in the 3D age, retaining all the fun that past titles like Galaga or Blazing Lasers gave to a generation of gamers. However, initial retail distribution of Nanostray from Majesco seems patchy, according to Internet reports, so it remains to be seen whether the game is still shipping to retailers, or whether it will appear in more limited amounts than initially believed, a key factor in its commercial success.

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