Nintendo 3DS

What Sets Shin’en’s Nano Assault Apart From Other Shooters?


On November 22nd, Majesco will publish Shin’en’s first Nintendo 3DS game, which is a sequel to their Nanostray series. Unlike Nanostray, Nano Assault isn’t a linear shooter; it’s a mix of linear shooting levels and a Super Mario Galaxy-inspired design with spherical areas that your ship “sticks” to.



We got in touch with Shin’en founder, Manfred Linzner, to ask him a couple of questions about Nano Assault that we were personally curious about.


Nano Assault isn’t just your first 3D shooter, it’s stereoscopic 3D. How do you go about designing art for a stereoscopic game to make it look good?


Shin’en founder, Manfred Linzner: When we got the early 3DS devkits, we were amazed by the possibilities of stereoscopic 3D. After some first tests we learned quickly that the art style and the size of the gaming world changes drastically how the 3D effect is perceived. So we brainstormed what type of game and which setting would amaze the player the most.


We then had the idea to explore the nanoscopic world, a theme which is rarely used in games to great effect. It was also a perfect chance to visit again our Nanostray universe to finish the trilogy.


While we enhanced our internal engine for the 3DS, we created a prototype for the Wii where you were able to move around cellular landscapes and launch projectiles that follow the form of the cells. This already looked marvelous and it was clear that with real 3D this would be a blast.


When it came to developing art assets in stereoscopic 3D, what procedures did you follow that differed from developing art for regular 3D display?


We learned that 3D is a bit more effective in closed areas then in open areas but this depends a lot on the setting. Another important thing for creating stereoscopic 3D artwork is that the overall brightness contrast must not differ too much between different far away placed objects.


This can induce ghost images when the viewer is looking from shallow angles. There are more guidelines but they are of technical nature and don’t influence artwork creation. In general it’s easy for the user to adjust the stereo depth himself with the 3D slider.


Your ship is drawn by the gravity of different bodies and “sticks” to their surface, similar to Super Mario Galaxy. Why was the game designed this way?


That was for two reasons. First of all it works phenomenal with stereoscopic 3D. You really believe in that nanoscopic world. Another reason were the enhanced gameplay possibilities. There are action games like Super Stardust that allow the player to move on a sphere. This is nice, but we wanted to create something more complex, more immersive and more believable. This gave also a certain feeling to the game. It’s non-stop action, but you need to learn how to master a level and find your way through that strange universe.


Since you’re navigating the ship around “bodies” rather than going straight forward like in a 2D shoot-em-up, is there any kind of exploration, like maybe going around and back and forth to look for powerups or enemies you missed?


It depends on the level you play. There is a wide variety of game play styles in Nano Assault. You either explore a level with your mother ship or with a tiny Nanite ship. In your mother ship you have a more linear experience where you cross large areas to get to the next cell cluster.


In your Nanite ship, you explore the cells in each cell cluster freely. You need to eliminate infections on the cells, solve puzzles, find DNA fragments, collect “sub weapon” energy and find ways to conquer certain larger types of enemies. There are also a lot of “boss fights” in the game. Most of them introduce different game play styles and unlock new gadgets that allow you to solve the upcoming levels.

Ishaan Sahdev
Ishaan specializes in game design/sales analysis. He's the former managing editor of Siliconera and wrote the book "The Legend of Zelda - A Complete Development History". He also used to moonlight as a professional manga editor. These days, his day job has nothing to do with games, but the two inform each other nonetheless.