Space shooters have come a long way since Galaga, and a fair few of them have improved and kept us entertained for years. Super Stardust HD blasted onto the screen and it was the video game version of chocolate. It was deliciously fun, addictive and a visual feast for the eyes. Now, after many years of remakes and ports, the game is once again remade, but for the PS4 in mind. Does Super Stardust Ultra live up to the name, or is it just a supernova?
Let me just start off with saying, the only version of Super Stardust I’ve played is Super Stardust Portable, so while I can compare it to the PSP version, I can’t compare it with the PS3 version (Super Stardust HD) or the Vita’s Super Stardust Delta. Good thing is, since all of them are similar it shouldn’t be that big of a jump.
The main premise of the game is to protect a planet from incoming asteroids and space enemies that revolve around your planets orbit. The only thing protecting it from utter annihilation is one teeny tiny spaceship. It’s your job to fly around and vaporise these nuisances. It’s a very simple idea, but the execution is brilliant and, most importantly, it keeps you glued to the action. The controls for the game are equally as simple; you move your ship with the left analogue stick, and aim & (automatically) shoot with the right stick. The L1 and R1 buttons are used to alter the type of gun you use, while the L2 button is used to boost your ship and the R2 button is used to set off a bomb. That’s it. Simple Simon.
Once you get the hang of the controls, you’ll need to practice… a lot (especially if you want to beat people like @Keenest). It’s not a very easy game to play, so unlocking all the planets will take some time and effort. There are five planets to unlock, each with their own unique enemies. You need to finish five waves to beat the planet and unlock the next. Not only that, but you’ll need to be quick and smart if you want a high-score.
The main opponents in the game are asteroids, aliens and turrets. Each enemy or asteroid is colour coded, this indicates what kind of gun it happens to be weak against. You have three guns in your arsenal: The Rock Crusher (Green laser gun), Gold Melter (a red laserbeam) and the Ice Splitter (a blue laser gun). It’s quite obvious by the name as to which gun is strong against what, so I won’t go in detail. Switching between these guns is important as you’ll need to remove all asteroids (or as many as you can) to clear the orbit to make safer for you to fly around. Inside some of the bigger asteroids are these green rocks, that, when broken, give you tokens such as extra lives, gun upgrades and extra points. An enemy ship that occasionally appears in the level holds two bombs for you to collect as well.
Once you’ve beaten the level or game, or died, your highest score will be added to a global scoreboard – because that’s totally fair.
Aside from Arcade mode (which is the normal campaign mode), the game includes quite a number of extra modes for you to sink your teeth into. This includes Endless, Survival, Time Attack, Planet Mode, Bomber, Blockade and my personal favourite, Impact. Blockade is basically the normal game, but you’re constantly moving and a trail of blue mines that appear behind you. Impact mode disables your weapons and only allows you to use your boost to destroy enemies.
Another new mode is Interactive Streaming, which allows you stream your game. I haven’t been very successful in this particular venture, but my internet is stupidly slow anyway. It allows your watchers to have some control over what happens in your game – bad or VERY bad. A co-op and local multiplayer option is also available if you have friends over. You can even fight against each other in versus modes. Oh, and if you have a massive high-score, you can challenge a friend to beat your score.
I haven’t seen a lot that’s new, or a significant change in terms of visuals. It runs at a beautifully smooth (as custard?) rate, even when the screen is hella busy with tiny asteroid fragments. The game is crisp and clear, and the explosions are very pretty to look at. It’s a bit on the short side, but the extras add some longevity to it. There’s not much that’s wrong with the game, there just isn’t enough new material to make old fans love it. It’s great to play if you’ve never experienced a Super Stardust game before, and it’s definitely a game you should play if you love Resogun. It’s not quite on the same level, but it’s fun, and for the price, worth it.