Can the portable live up to the original?
Many of you may be familiar with the title Super Stardust HD. It was part of Sony’s “Welcome Back” package (in NA) following the PSN outage in 2011. I had never even heard of the game until then, but after some quick research I decided to give it a shot. I chose it as one of my free games and it quickly became a favorite of mine. That’s why I’m excited to announce: the twin-stick space shooter from Housemarque is back, with Super Stardust Delta (SSDD, Starstrike Delta in JP).
The idea of SSDD is simple enough: blow up as much space crap as you can without dying. With each item destroyed, your score builds up, and surviving longer will award you with a score multiplier. You’ll start off destroying giant chunks of ice or rock, not much of a threat, but they must be dealt with all the same. Soon after, you’ll find yourself facing more intimidating foes, who are all hell-bent on destroying you. Once you clear enough, a final wave of enemies will spawn which, once destroyed, will allow you to advance to the next stage. There are five stages on each planet, each one more difficult than the last, leading up to an epic boss fight. Once you defeat the boss, you will be able to progress to the next planet. When you finally finish, or run out of lives, your score is posted to the leader boards. There’s a certain satisfaction seeing your score go up and up as you pass your buddies, solidifying your place as a SSDD master.
At your disposal, you have an arsenal of weapons, each with a specific job to complete. Your two primary weapons are a chain of fire, and icy projectiles. Your fire weapon is used to destroy pretty much anything red, from semi-molten chunks of rock, to red hued enemies. The ice blaster will destroy pretty much anything blue, including mountainous chunks of ice and blue hued enemies. These two weapons are upgraded through power-ups dropped from green chunks of rock. Your ship also comes equipped with missiles, an EMP bomb, a black hole generator, and an invaluable boost mechanism. Using your missile ability sends out a barrage of missiles in every direction, destroying anything they hit. The EMP bomb sends out a shock wave originating at your ship, annihilating everything in its path. The black hole generator spawns, you guessed it, a black hole. Objects are all sucked towards the black hole, effectively grouping them up and allowing you to quickly destroy everything. The boost gives you a short burst of speed while making you invulnerable (crashing through objects destroys them) and slowing down time, allowing you to navigate easily. You’ll need to know how and when to use these tools if you hope to defeat the game’s epic bosses.
The boss battles in SSDD are awesome, each boss utilizes different mechanics in an effort to destroy you. Every boss has a weak point, usually identified by a blue, red, or purple glow (determining which of your primary weapons you need to use). You’ll have to find these, as well as use all of the tools at your disposal if you hope to live, all the while, avoiding any debris which continues to rain down from above. The gameplay in between boss battles is frantic, but can become a bit repetitive at times. Fortunately, there are several game modes to break up the monotony.
The two basic modes included with the game are Arcade and Planets. Arcade is the traditional style of gameplay described above, while Planets will have you completing only a single planet. Also included in the core game are several mini-games making use of the Vita’s unique features such as touch and tilt controls. While these are fun to play once in a while, they often feel gimmicky and don’t hold up to the original game modes. If these aren’t enough for you, the day-one DLC Delta Blast Pack adds four additional game modes: Endless, Bomber, Impact, and Twin Gun. Unlike the mini-games, these modes are incredibly fun and well worth the small price tag on the DLC pack.