A shooter of the vertical scroller type, Nanostray is similar to past games like Raiden and Tyrian to mention but a few.
Players unlock features (concept art, backgrounds etc.) by fighting through an adventure mode, which in turn allows finished levels to be played in arcade mode, which is purely for attaining high scores. High scores in arcade mode can be logged on the games official site for ranking against other players around the world.
Adventure mode also allows players to tackle missions in non linear order, however all three in one group must be finished before the next three can be attempted and so on.
The touch screen is used for current status and to scan the end of level bosses for weaknesses.
Challenge modes are added when adventure levels are completed, allowing players to play through the game with a set of restrictions, making high scores more difficult, but increasing the challenge and lastability of the game.
Two players can fight competitively to get the highest score before a timer ends or be the first to reach a certain predefined limit of points.
The game supports single cart play for multiplayer so only one copy is needed.