Nova Defender Guide Part II: Level Walkthrough
Hi there! This is a continuation of my previous guide (Nova Defender Guide Part I) so do read that before proceeding on to this next segment! If you've already read it (or at least the introduction), you will know that this guide is written with the purpose of getting a trophy-worthy score... before finishing level 7!
Sounds impossible? Are you stumped by the magnitude of that task? Not to worry, read on for a step-by-step guide on how to finish each level to get the most points possible for that trophy!
Onwards to the levels!
Since this guide is to maximize points in the first 6 levels, you're gonna have to play it on HARD. The main difference between the difficulty levels is the respawn rate of the enemies, and that HARD gives you the most points per round.
Each Level will have a specific, stated objective. For the first 6 levels, they are as follows:
Level 1: Destroy 30 Novas
Level 2: Destroy 40 Novas
Level 3: Survive for 1:15
Level 4: Protect your friend
Level 5: Survive for 1:15
Level 6: Destroy 100 enemy Novas.
I will now describe the differences in playing style for each level.
Level 1: Destroy 30 Novas. All the Novas in this stage do not fire pulses, and a maximum of 6 of them will appear at any one time on the screen. These Novas are programmed to follow your movement, but can be destroyed in one shot. To maximize your cumulative score bonus, do not fire at enemies the instant they spawn. Avoid bumping into any of them until 6 appear, then start firing. If you're lucky, some Novas will spawn into your line of fire as the original 6 are destroyed; collect all the gems in one shot to maximize your bonus. Repeat this until you've destroyed 29/30 Novas (check the counter in the bottom left hand corner).
Now comes the trick: by now, your shield bar should be fully charged. Wait till 6 Novas have spawned, and start moving in a circle around them to gather them into a cluster. When they all overlap, fly into the middle of the cluster and quickly double-click. This allows you to destroy 35 Novas in this level instead of stopping at 30, and can let you collect up to 35 gems too! This will definitely improve your score.
With consecutive gem bonus and the "shield-bomb" at the end, it is possible to score more than 60,000 points at the end of level 1 alone!
Level 2: Destroy 40 Novas. Mechanical Novas will now spawn. These Novas can fire singular pulses sporadically, and have similar movement patterns to the plain Novas. At the start of the level, you can start destroying enemies as they appear, and try to collect as many gems consecutively as possible.
Upon destroying ~15 or so enemies (check the counter in the bottom left corner again), STOP firing and let the enemies spawn and gather, while avoiding the pulses. I find the easiest way to do this is to move in a circle around the centre; you only have to move fast enough to evade the pulses, and the enemies will gather there in a cluster.
Keep your eyes peeled and watch out for a red gem in the centre of the screen. When it appears, check that no more enemies are spawning, then swoop in and grab the red gem! When you see your golden shield along with the barrage of shots, start flying around to ensure that all the enemies are defeated, and to distribute your shots as much as possible. Collect all the gems in one shot as well!
After that, you should have shot down more than 30 enemies if you check the tally. Do the "shield-bomb" trick again; shoot down enemies until you reach 39 shots, wait for the enemies to hit the max and stop spawning, gather them in a cluster in the centre, swoop in and double-click!
At the end of this stage, you should have enough gems to purchase your first upgrade - 3 way shot! Remember to activate it before starting on Level 3! It gives you an additional 2 lines of fire, so you shoot a fan-shaped volley of 3 shots whenever you press the button! After purchase, you should (hopefully) have about 2,600 gems left over.
Level 3: Familiarity with this stage is the key to a high score!
This stage is different for 2 reasons: It is the first stage which you have to pass by surviving, and you get a new enemy which take 2 shots to kill: the Fire Novas.
Fire Novas have a movement patterns which is more erratic than the earlier two Novas. They do not follow you around, but prefer to fire their shot and strafe to the side. Furthermore, if their shot misses, it will continue for a while, then curve back and aim towards you! Fortunately, the pulse will disappear after some time.
Here's a brief outline on what to do in this level:
Upon starting the level, immediately pepper the sides with volleys of pulses. Just hold down the arrow keys and let loose. Since the Fire Novas take 2 shots to explode, it is good to cover the field with so many pulses in order to let them take their two shots as closely together as possible. This reduces their danger to you as well, since it reduces the number of tracing shots. Collect as many gems as you can.
A tip to let you focus on evading shots is to keep your field of vision around your Nova as you move it. Ignore the bottom of the screen where the gems fall to, and focus on where your Nova is, what dangers are heading toward it, and possible lines of escape. This may mean you end up not collecting all the available gems, but it certainly increases your survivability.
Check the timer on the bottom right corner as you do so. Once it reaches ~0.45, activate your shield! Now, try and move such that you avoid destroying Novas that approach you. You want to increase the total number of spawns on the field in order to maximize the gems you can collect in one go when you collect the red gem and unleash its firepower upon the Novas!
Watch for the red gem in its usual position, and when it appears, grab it! Now fill the field with shots. CAUTION: The golden shield does not flicker before it disappears, so watch carefully where you're headed! It is common to lose sight of enemy shots in the mass of your own, and hence end up flying straight into one after the red gem effect ends. If you are low on health this is especially important.
After the red gem effect is over, continue spraying the field and destroying enemies as per normal. The only difference is: as close to 0.01 as you can manage, deliberately take a few shots to fail the level!!
Why would you want to do that? Because this level doesn't set a limit on the number of enemies you can kill, it also doesn't limit the number of gems you can collect! Furthermore, when you fail a level you still keep all the gems you collected in that level! Hence, deliberately failing at Level 3 lets you increase your points greatly and collect more potent power-ups before proceeding to higher levels!
After your first deliberate crash at Level 3, you should have enough gems to purchase the 5-way shot powerup. This adds a further two lines of fire to your shooting, and you can almost hit enemies perpendicular to the central line of fire! (In other words, extremely large range...) Getting it will improve your survivability and score greatly.
Now, restart level 3... and lose again! This brings you down to one life, but maximizes your score. This leaves you with one life to clear through higher levels, but practice will improve your playing. After losing again, you should be able to get enough gems to unlock the "Piercing Shot" upgrade, and even the "Ultranova" upgrade. Do so. Start level 3 for the third time, and this time, complete it successfully.
Level 4: Survive for 1.15 minutes. This time, your goal is not to defend yourself, but your friend, an Ultranova in the centre of the screen who's strayed into danger. Enemy Mechanical and Fire Novas will spawn at the corners and sides and fire not their regular shots, but shield-piercing bullets at her. Your pulses can destroy those shots. Your friend's health meter is displayed below her, and will deplete if a shot hits her or a Nova hits her. If either of you run out of life before time is up, you lose!
For this level, the trick is to destroy the Mechanical Novas as soon as possible. Mechanical Novas shoot a stream of shots more steadily and continually than the Fire Novas. Destroying them quickly will prevent them from unleashing so many shots. Fire Novas still move in a pattern similar to previous levels, so they take quick potshots before darting off. Their firepower is less of a concern than their resilience.
For this level, surprisingly, the enemy Novas cannot pierce your shield! Use this to your advantage: if you find yourself overwhelmed, activate your shield and move around to absorb shots. Remember to release your own shots while moving, and to watch out if your shield begins to flicker. You can also press the space bar to unleash your Ultranova powerup, which clears the screen for you. In 1:15 minutes, your shield will charge to full twice, which you can then activate twice to maximize your survivability, but at the cost of the cumulative gem bonus. Ultimately, you should focus on survivability for this stage.
As the Novas are not actively firing at you, you can choose to check the sides and corners for when Mechanical Novas are spawning, instead of keeping your eyes on the area around your Nova. Collect as many gems as you can in this level!
Unfortunately, no red gem will spawn in this level. :(
At the end of this level, unlock the "Backshot" upgrade if you wish, or buy another Ultranova if you lack the gems.
Level 5: Survive for 1.15 minutes. The setup is exactly the same as Level 3, except for the addition of a new enemy: the Attack Nova! This Nova does not fire pulses, but will move randomly around the map and leave red blinking dots - mines! Moving over these will count as a hit and lower your health accordingly. Other than that, however, for this level the approach is the same as that of level 3; the red gem will even spawn at around the same time! Try and collect as many gems as you can while maneuvering the three different attacks heading your way.
For this level, I find it useful to keep your eyes in the same area: the region around the Nova, and evade as many dangers as possible.
After this level, you should have the "Backshot" upgrade, which increases your range. Whether you choose to get it or the shield upgrade depends on your playing style; if you play defensively, you may prefer the shield upgrade to let you survive longer, but at the expense of getting the cumulative gem bonus! "Backshot", on the other hand, gives you an additional line of fire: directly opposite to your main shot. This increases the chance of stray shots taking down your enemies that try to sneak up or spawn behind you!
Level 6: Destroy 100 Novas. A new enemy has emerged: the Pulsar Nova! This particular enemy flies around the map but aims its shots towards the centre. For this level, though, the gameplay is much like levels 3 and 5. Destroy as many enemies as you can, collect as many gems as you can, avoid the attacks... While this is the last level that I've mentioned is necessary for a trophy score, you can still play more defensively here to proceed to higher levels!
For this stage, a red gem will appear! (about the same time as for previous levels) Following the same process, activate your shield such that your shield is gone the moment the red gem appears, then collect it to clear the battlefield!
Unfortunately, for this level the shield-bomb trick at the end is slightly harder to manage, as you have too many shots to keep track accurately of how many enemies have been taken down and to bring your count up to 99/100. Also, enemies no longer cluster together at the centre, so you cannot dive into a mass of them to blow them all up at once. You can, however, employ this tactic wherever you see a temptingly overlapping group of Novas! Also remember your Ultranova!
If you survive this (phew!), purchase any powerups you have remaining, and get another Ultranova if you can!
Level 7 (optional/luck)
Whether you chose to get here or happen to find yourself on Level 7, it doesn't matter! A new enemy appears: the Dark Nova, which is only vulnerable when it fires. It also fires a 3-way shot which moves faster than the other Novas' shots! However, the same tips and tricks as above are applicable. If you find yourself overwhelmed, however, just take down a big group of Novas and collect a stream of gems in a blaze of glory!
.. or you can destroy 150 Novas to advance, but this guide stops here! Well, I hope that you've found this guide readable and useful, and that the tips and tricks mentioned here can help you get that Nova trophy to adorn your lookup! And if you're not gunning for the trophy, the fast-paced action, nostalgic setup and the cute, valiant Nova you control will make this game an enjoyable way to earn your daily NP!
*note: On the reset day after completing this guide, I got awarded the Bronze trophy (just one short of Silver, but a Bronze Nova on my lookup still feels awesome) and I didn't complete round 7 that game! Getting trophies IS possible without having to complete the game, so don't give up!