The successor to NanoStray is a different kind of shooter, but still gorgeous.
I've been fascinated by German developer Shin'en since they first introduced Iridion on Game Boy Advance, a striking pseudo-3D shooter that utilized FMV backgrounds for an unnaturally detailed visual presentation that handheld system. They evolved the concept and mastered real-time visuals with two NanoStray games on DS, and now the unofficial series continues on 3DS with Nano Assault. One thing that has never changed with these games: they look incredible. We captured a few minutes of video from the TV display, but the game looks much better in person on the 3DS screen, even with the 3D effect turned off.
This game takes on the twin-stick shooter formula, with ship movement on the Circle Pad and eight-directional shooting assigned to the face buttons. This setup is never going to feel perfect, but it seems to work fine given the slightly slower nature of Nano Assault compared to its predecessors. Your ship is no longer restricted to a 2D plane, but nor is it fully 3D or even forced to scroll in a given direction. Instead, it sticks to the surface of solid, meteor-like levels that reminded me of something from Super Mario Galaxy. As you approach an edge or outcropping, the ship and game camera simply follow that contour and continue on the other side. If you've played Super Stardust HD, this effect will be familiar, although the levels I played in Nano Assault were more complex and asymmetrical than a simple sphere.
Even in the short demo, I saw a number of distinct enemies, some of which required a bit of strategy to defeat. Nano Assault may not be as fast or brutal as past games, but there seems to be little danger of it being a bore. Finally, I must stress again that this is easily one of the best-looking 3DS games I saw at E3, perhaps only rivaled by Resident Evil: Revelations. Let's hope it will be a great shooter as well as a fine showpiece.