PS Vita
4 stars
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13.8
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Overall Grade
4 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Game Itself
4 Stars
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
4.5 Stars
The Audio: Rating the Sound
4 Stars
Replay Factor
3 Stars

Super Stardust Delta

Street Date:
February 6th, 2012
Reviewed by:
Review Date:1
February 17th, 2012
Game Release Year:
2012
Platform:
PS Vita
Publisher:
Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer:
Housemarque
ESRB Rating:
E (Everyone)

Introduction

First created by the Finnish developer Bloodhouse for the Amiga, Atari STE and PC, the Stardust series got started nearly 20 years ago. Inspired from Asteroids, the space theme of the game allows players to fly a spaceship through levels firing at everything in sight. Since that time, Bloodhouse merged with Terramarque to form Housemarque and started pushing out new versions of the game. One of the more recent versions, Super Stardust HD, hit the PlayStation 3 during 2007 and was used by Sony as a “welcome back” gift after the PlayStation Network hacking debacle during 2011.

The company also released a version for the PSP called Super Stardust Portable during late 2008. This version was considered something of a failure due to the lack of dual analog sticks on Sony’s old portable. Now that the PlayStation Vita offers dual analog functionality, Housemarque is back with Super Stardust Delta and is ready to enthrall Vita owners with fast-paced, tense shooting.


The Game Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

Combing the frantic pace of Geometry Wars with the general theme of Asteroids, the player controls a small, zippy spaceship that blasts away at a seemingly endless amount of enemies swarming the screen across 25 unique stages on five different planets. Rather than offering up three weapons to swap between as in Super Stardust HD, Housemarque focuses down to two weapons that can be alternated by using the right trigger. The blue weapon fires off a spread shot of ice particles and is most effective against blue-tinted enemies and space rocks. Similarly, the red laser beam is ideal for dispatching red-tinted enemies. During each level, the player has to constantly swap between these two weapons to use the most effective attacks against the A.I.

In regards to advanced offensive options, Housemarque brings back the standard bomb attack to wipe the screen clear of attackers in addition to introducing two new devastating weapons. The black hole weapon sucks all enemies and asteroids into a gaping abyss and homing missiles weapon targets a specific point on the screen. All of the special attacks are pulled from the same allotment during each level, thus you have to carefully choose the best attacks for the situations. It’s also easy to mistakenly launch a special attack if your fingers brush up against the rear touch panel. However, I still generally found the bomb to be the best all-around special attack. There’s also a boost function that allows the player to race out of tight situations and slice through space debris to a safer section of the planet.


While the regular game mode includes all the features such as special attacks, boost and touch screen controls, the player can opt out of all the fancy extras to the core arcade mode. Since it’s often difficult to jump between touchscreen actions and the main controls, many players will find the complete focus on the physical control scheme a welcome inclusion. I found the arcade control scheme preferable over the Vita’s extras, especially during the boss battles at the final level on each planet. Beyond the main levels, Housemarque has also included some silly mini-games after the player unlocks them when completing all five levels on a planet. Designed to put focus on the Vita’s new features, the mini-games utilize the SixAxis motion controls as well as both touch screens to mess around with asteroids.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

The game simply looks fantastic on the Vita’s 5-inch OLED screen. While not as detailed as more expensive launch titles, the colorful graphics are vibrant and the special effects are gorgeous in action. Even with all the moving particles on screen, the frame rate is rock solid, ideal for a shooter that requires split-second decisions. In addition, the load times are very fast compared to the rest of the launch lineup.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

The techno soundtrack is the main showpiece of Housemarque’s auditory work. The speedy, frantic pacing of the music only adds to the intensity of this twin-stick shooter. I even tried playing my own music during the game, but Weezer just can’t compete with the high-energy tunes in Super Stardust Delta. The sound effects are on par with previous Stardust titles and exactly what you would expect from a space-based shooter.

Replay Factor

There’s no multiplayer mode included with the game, but players can compete for spots on the global or friend leaderboard. Sony is already selling add-on DLC content in the form of the Super Stardust Delta Blast Pack. Somewhat exorbitantly priced at $7.99 (only $2 less than the full game), the DLC pack adds four new game modes to Super Stardust Delta. The four modes include Bomber, Endless, Impact and Twin-Gun. In Bomber mode, the player has to navigate the ship carefully through enemies and select the perfect time to use an explosive (the only offensive weapon in this mode). While somewhat challenging, it wasn’t particularly entertaining.


However, my favorite mode was Endless. It’s an endurance challenge that gives the player a single life and the only goal is to simply stay alive. This mode gets progressively harder as the player frantically tries to avoid death. Once you’ve mastered the full game, this is the mode that will continue to challenge you over time. Within Impact mode, the player can only use boost and Twin-Gun mode doubles the firepower by adding an analog stick, but the player has to use SixAxis motion control. It’s incredibly difficult to adjust to motion control if you have used the mapped buttons during the main game.

Pricing Note: If you want both the full game and the DLC, check out the Super Stardust Delta Interstellar Bundle on the PlayStation Store. It reduces the cost of downloading both items to a combined $14.99 cost. Slightly cheaper, but still fairly expensive for one solid game mode.

Final Thoughts

Sony’s got a winner with Super Stardust Delta, both in the price category and the entertainment value. It loads quickly on the Vita, offers excellent visuals and music, uses a small amount of file space on your memory card and is just as addictive as Geometry Wars. At just $9.99 on the PlayStation Store, this is an easy game to recommend, especially if you enjoy twin-stick shooters. It’s also the least expensive game available within the Vita launch titles.

Tech Specs:

  • Location : PlayStation Store
  • Download size: 208 MB

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1Q HD

Audio Formats

  • Stereo

Motion Controls

  • Yes

Supplements

  • DLC: Super Stardust Delta Blast Pack ($7.99)

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Amazon
13.8
In Stock. Buy Now»