Nano Assault EX is a fast-paced action shooter for 3DS, based on the original retail game with new modes and features. You control a small microscopic “Nanite” ship across various cell clusters within a virus, to fight off an overwhelming onslaught of infections. Your objective is to progress through each cell structure and eliminate the Nanostray virus, which threatens civilisation.
You guide your ship using the Circle Pad, while A, B, X and Y buttons are used to shoot. L trigger allows you to change how your weapon is fired and R Trigger is used for secondary weapon fire. A map displaying enemies and collectables can be found by pressing any button on the D-pad.
The game also offers Circle Pad Pro support, which allows advanced aiming and firing in some levels. Personally, I felt the default control settings worked well, and the Circle Pad Pro benefited the boss fights but was a little sluggish for the on-rail levels.
In Story mode, you will advance through many colourful and alien looking cell clusters, locate and collect “DNA sequences” and destroy infections. Enemy infections vary in size, movement and attack patterns. There are on-rail levels where you will have to dodge a barrage of attacks and a changing environment and boss fights which you will have to tackle in stages in order to defeat them.
As you progress through Story Mode, you will unlock new weapons, which can be equipped prior to entering a new level. These weapons are more powerful but have limited use. They can be replenished by collecting gems and I would advise holding back on using these weapons for when you’re in a tight spot.
Arcade Mode allows you to take on levels you have unlocked in Story Mode, with the addition of various different challenges. Completing challenges will give you Nano Coins, which in turn can be used to purchase additional content such as music for the Jukebox and entries for the Nanopedia, a gallery of the Nanocosm organisms found within the game. Play Coins from your 3DS can also be converted into Nano Coins.
You can share your scores in Arcade Mode online, and compare it against a friend or worldwide scores. A Boss Rush mode can be unlocked on successful completion of the Story Mode, along with a brand new “Survivor Mode” that wasn’t in the retail version of the game.
At first, I found the game to be fairly easy. I quickly mastered the controls and was able to defeat enemies with ease, but I was surprised to find the difficulty jumped within just a few levels. I soon found myself facing a barrage of enemies and an onslaught of firepower. There are no shields, no protection and it only takes a single hit to bring an end to your life. This game is certainly no pushover! As frustrating as it was to continuously die, I just had to go back for another attempt.
Visually, this game is beautiful; the environments are bright, colourful and alien. The graphics are of a high standard, detailed and look great, much better than I was expecting. The 3D is well supported; enemies stand out from the background and you can see plenty of depth. All of this is complemented by a high quality, catchy electronic score that fits the game perfectly.
Nano Assault EX should be praised for how fresh each level and boss felt. The game doesn’t copy and paste previous levels, each one is uniquely different in terms of shape and colour, offering different threats and challenges. As the game progressed, I found obstacles that had to be avoided and timed objectives where I had to race back to a certain point on the cell before a barrier was raised, avoiding enemies and obstructions along the way.