We had the opportunity to get hands-on with Nano Breaker--an action game currently being developed by Koji "Castlevania" Igarashi--at Konami's fall press event in San Francisco. Set on an island in the distant future, Nano Breaker will see you assuming the role of a cyborg warrior named Jake Warren, who is armed with a shape-shifting plasma blade. The game's story revolves around nanomachines turning on humankind and transforming the island's inhabitants into powerful monster machines known as orgamechs, and, as Warren, it'll be your job to destroy all of the monsters before they make it off the island and contaminate the world.
Played from a third-person perspective, Nano Breaker initially gives the impression that it's a quite mindless hack-and-slash affair, but playing through the demo, we found that the game isn't nearly as simplistic as it would have you believe. Combos in the game, for example, are divided into four categories: vertical, horizontal, thrust, and juggle. As you progress through the game and find different colored computer chips, you can also access a special combo screen, and, provided your chips are the correct color, you can use them to unlock additional combo moves.
Another intriguing feature of Nano Breaker is that you're rewarded for spilling copious amounts of bright red machine oil (it looks like blood, but we're assured that it isn't) all over the environment every time you kill an enemy. We weren't able to determine whether certain attacks yield more oil than others, but, for example, after we painted the demo areas with 10,000 gallons of the red stuff (it didn't take nearly as long as you'd expect), we were rewarded with a slight extension to Warren's health bar.
In addition to the numerous combos at his disposal, Warren will have the ability to perform double jumps and special moves that include but are not limited to: surrounding himself with an energy shield, striking the ground and killing every enemy on the screen, and performing a "perfect block" to deflect enemy projectiles back at targets. The plasma blade is also an incredibly versatile weapon, which, although it generally takes the form of a sword, will actually transform into a spear, a hammer, an axe, or even a whip, depending on your attacks. In its whip form, the plasma blade can be used to pull smaller enemies toward you, and, if you time your attack perfectly, you can slice them in half for a one-hit kill.
After battling our way through the Nano Breaker demo's linear, corridor-like locales and jumping across a few platforms, we happened across what will presumably be the game's first boss at the end of a pier. The boss attacked us with tentacles, bites, and laser blasts and was only vulnerable to attacks in the chest area--which, in turn, was only exposed for a short time after we managed to land three consecutive blows on its head. The boss, like all of the visuals in Nano Breaker, was actually quite impressive to look at and was big enough that the camera--which performed its job admirably at all times--had to pull back quite a long way just so that we could see what we were up against.
Nano Breaker is currently scheduled for release in the spring of 2005. We'll bring you more information on the game as soon as it becomes available.