It takes a lot for a twin stick shooter to stand out of the crowd as Nano Assault Neo-X does with its interesting premise and high production values. Players will appreciate the fun they will experience but may be disappointed by how brief it lasts.
The premise of Nano Assault Neo-X is that a virus (named Nanostray) is threatening humanity so a nanoscopic machine must assault it before it takes over various bodily cells. In other words, you're a little ship that must navigate stages in order to shoot all of the enemies. The three-dimensional stages are reminiscent of Super Stardust. However, these stages aren't spherical as each one has its own unique shape. This adds a great deal of diversity to the experience as stages have clearly defined structures and sets of enemies that force players to utilize different strategies in order to eradicate all of the enemies as effectively as they can. The controls are simple and responsive as your ship moves at a decent speed and reacts seamlessly to your input. Because of this, it feels both fair every time you fail and rewarding to overcome the challenging gameplay.
Nano Assault Neo-X looks fantastic. Everything appears flashy and alive. Each cell has distinct topography with shiny surfaces and various protrusions. The player's ship is small but looks pretty cool when you see it up close. Even though it's little, it stands out from the action well so players will never lose sight of it. Players will encounter enemies such as large flame-throwing worms, invisible crawling bugs, and pillars that explode into an array of projectiles when shot at. Each one looks unique and becomes easily recognizable by the player so they can learn how to deal with them effectively after a few encounters. Projectiles pop off the screen with flashy colourful effects. The music matches the fast-paced gameplay quite well as each track is an adrenaline-inducing mix of electro and trance. Sound effects are both subtle and satisfying since shooting your weapon is quiet yet enemies die with a bang. Some sound effects come out of the controller's speaker which is always a nice touch.
The main mode consists of four clusters with four cells in each. The end of each cluster is marked with a different boss. These bosses are large and are defeated by destroying all of their weak points. They're a ton of fun and an appropriate challenge to wrap up each cluster. Players can collect letters to spell "bonus" in order to activate a bonus round before starting the next stage. This round will have you accelerating through a winding tube while collecting credits and avoiding obstacles. It's quite a fun distraction but doesn't last long because the intense speed makes it rather difficult to. Credits are also collected in regular stages and can be spent between stages to upgrade your ship. You can purchase items such as extra lives, three different sub-weapons, a temporary shield, and satellites (which act as additional guns). The most interesting items are satellites as you can possess up to four at a time and intricately position them however you wish. You can focus all of your firepower straight ahead, spray a wide array of bullets, or position one or two to shoot behind you. All of the upgrades are awesome and utilizing many of them at once will make you feel very powerful.
Other modes include multiplayer, arcade mode, and an unlockable survivor mode. Multiplayer is for two local players to play cooperatively within their own half of the screen, and is basically the same as the main mode. Arcade mode acts as a stage select mode as it allows players to choose specific cells to play. Survivor mode will assign players random stages to beat as they try to survive as long as possible with one life. Each mode has its own leaderboards to climb. Considering the game only consists of 16 stages with a few modes that aren't much different, players will probably be done within a few hours. There's only so much leaderboard climbing you can do before it becomes tiresome.
Nano Assault Neo-X features some truly solid twin stick shooter gameplay in a great looking (and sounding) package. Players will have a lot of fun although it is short-lived with little variety.
- + Challenging and rewarding gameplay meets tight and simple controls
- + Incredible graphics and sound
- + Power-ups will make you feel unstoppable
- - The main mode is too short
- - Not much variation when it comes to modes