WiiU

North America

Nano Assault Neo

by Guillaume Veillette - November 25, 2012, 10:00 am PST
Total comments: 10

8.5

Both skill and luck are required to clear this infection.

The Wii U's first twin-stick shooter has you chasing high scores as a microscopic ship clearing infections on the surface of individual cells. Nano Assault Neo relates no story whatsoever, not even in its manual, but we can infer that much from the game's pulsating, squishy, translucent environments.

The goal is to destroy the viruses chasing you (or shooting bullets at you) to purify the sixteen levels. Each level has a limited number of enemies that keep spawning around you, and once you have cleared 90% of the "infection", you have 30 seconds to reach the exit that appears on the other side of the cell. The defeated viruses occasionally leave behind power-ups or credits to upgrade your ship between levels.

Shin'en has always loved to show off their technical chops on Nintendo hardware, and Nano Assault Neo is no exception. Never have gigantic shiny bugs, viscous germs, and hairy critters looked better. They have also borrowed a page from Super Mario Galaxy and place a floating camera above your ship as it scours the irregular surface of planetoid-like cells. It can be occasionally disorienting, but never unpleasantly so.

The game is all about the action and chasing high scores. There are no cut-scenes to speak of, even when you finish the game. If you have beat your own personal high score, the leaderboards appear in a fraction of a second to show where you stand. Don't worry: there are filters to compare yourself to the people on your Friends list if looking at the worldwide rankings is too discouraging.

The game is a visual showcase and a ton of fun, but sadly, randomness can frustrate score chasers. Skillful players will always do better than unskilled ones, of course, but getting the right power-ups early can make the difference between doing well and doing great. The first power-ups you'll wish for are satellites that shoot alongside your ship to double your firepower and widen your shots, making it much easier to sustain combos. At times, you'll get a few of them right away, but the next time you try, you might not be so lucky. When that happens, you might as well start over.

Randomness affecting your score would be a minor gripe in another game, but when chasing high scores is literally all the game is about, it is hard to ignore. Still, Nano Assault Neo is fun, plays well, and looks great whether you are looking at the TV or playing solely on the GamePad's screen. The ease of getting in and out of a game means that any unsuccessful attempt at improving your scores will likely compel you to try again. The Wii U has launched with a great twin-stick shooter right out of the gate, and until more entries in this prolific genre come out, I expect to come back to it again and again.

Summary

Pros
  • A visual showpiece
  • Great leaderboards integration
  • Satisfying shooting action
Cons
  • People not interested in getting high scores get little else
  • Random power-ups can make or break your score

Talkback

Gui, have you played the 3DS version? What's new or different?

I've played the original for like 5 minutes.

I kind of wanted the game to be taken on its own terms so I skipped the feature comparison, but the major differences are:

No more cutscenes
No Starfox-like levels
Increased emphasis on chasing high scores
Bosses are different, or at least the first one of the 3DS game doesn't show up in Neo
Level design might be slightly different, but mostly they're the same environments

That's really disappointing considering the Star Fox levels were the only reason I liked the first one.

roykoopa64November 25, 2012

Nice review Guillaume, I've been enjoying the game very much so (you have some great scores on the leaderboard to shoot for!). I guess I didn't realize how important luck is, but it's true that it seems a bit random whether I end up getting that secondary weapon or extra satellite that I so highly desire. So those are not necessarily rewards for playing well then? Even the bonus letters?

ShyGuyNovember 25, 2012

Good review. Right on about the randomness seriously affecting the game. Some levels you get all the BONUS letters, some levels you get none.

Quote from: roykoopa64

Nice review Guillaume, I've been enjoying the game very much so (you have some great scores on the leaderboard to shoot for!). I guess I didn't realize how important luck is, but it's true that it seems a bit random whether I end up getting that secondary weapon or extra satellite that I so highly desire. So those are not necessarily rewards for playing well then? Even the bonus letters?

As far as I can tell, playing well or poorly doesn't affect the rewards you get. It might seem like you are getting more power-ups but I suppose it's just that you're killing things faster, so power-ups appear more closely one after the other.

@ShyGuy

Thanks!

And to be fair, going for high scores is still a lot of fun despite this design flaw. I'm really hoping we'll see Nano Assault Neo 2 before long!

CericNovember 26, 2012

The do give you a bonus for your hit percentage.  SO in theory the highest score can only be achieved be someone who never has a stray shot, doesn't get hit, and can almost be immediately done with the cell while clearing everything.

Combo are more important than anything else though. Especially in arcade mode.

HyawattaNovember 28, 2012

Do you have any info about the multiplayer? Is it co-op or competitive; is it local or online? Or, is it all of these or a combination of these? Thank you.

I have not played the multiplayer yet. It's not online, local only: one person on the TV using anything from the Wii's classic controllers to Wiimote and Nunchuck, and of course the Wii U Pro, while the other is on the GamePad looking at his screen. The 2 player mode is cooperative, and I believe there are separate online leaderboards for it.

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Genre
Developer Shin'en
Players1 - 2

Worldwide Releases

na: Nano Assault Neo
Release Nov 18, 2012
PublisherShin'en
jpn: Nano Assault Neo
Release Feb 27, 2013
PublisherArc System Works
eu: Nano Assault Neo
Release Nov 30, 2012
PublisherShin'en

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