There are a lot of genres in video games that provide short bursts of fun for those who lack the attention span to sit through a 40+ hour narrative (myself included). What happens if you take a little bit of each of those genres and blend them all together into a single game? Imagine taking a little bit of pinball, adding in some brick breaking with a side of physics- and puzzle-based elements, mix all together and you will have StarDrone. The game marks Beatshaper’s first, full fledged PlayStation Network offering that doesn’t fall under Sony’s “mini" classification. The PSN exclusive title blends together a variety of elements across numerous genres into a fast paced action game that is often as frustrating as it is fun but ultimately falls short of hitting its mark.
The premise of StarDrone is pretty simple; players control a rogue ship shooting across the galaxy with no ability to directly control its course. You can’t steer and you can’t stop. The only option that you have is to use your trusty grappling hook to grab onto nodes scattered around the environment and swing your ship into the desired direction using your momentum. There are also a variety of environmental objects such as bumpers and speed rails present which can help, or hurt, your ability to maneuver the landscape (make that space-scape) in a timely and efficient manner. You will have to worry about more than just directing your ship though, as you will also need to avoid a plethora of bad guys out to destroy your ship while collecting both stars and star-shards (fragments) in order to completely each of the 53 stages.
Players are presented with a variety of stages and given not only a goal to complete (collection of stars / fragments) but also score and time goals which are used to rate your performance. Some stages are smaller and simpler than others but they all ask you to complete the same goals with varying levels of difficulty. Depending on how well you do on a given stage you will be awarded a bronze, silver, or gold medal and your ranking on the worldwide leaderboards reflects your achievements accordingly. Earning different rankings opens up more stages further down the list, totaling 53 in all.
There are numerous ways that players can improve both their score(s) and rank as you are judged and / or awarded for things such as highest consecutive star combos or enemy kills in a given round. The surest way to the top of the leaderboards and to that gold ranking is to complete your goal as quickly and efficiently as possible, taking out as many enemies as possible along the way. You will want to monitor your ships shields too as you will have points deducted for any damage incurred.
The game controls as simply as it sounds, players simply “aim” in the direction of their desired node with either analog stick and press the X button to latch on. The rest is left up to your momentum and perhaps an occasional powerup. Some of the powerups offered in the game include the ability to magentically pull the stars you are lighting up towards you and The game was built from the ground up and meant to be played with the PlayStation Move but I found myself preferring the standard Dualshock 3 controller over Sony’s motion-based peripheral. It is much easier to aim in a general direction using a controller than to pinpoint a specific node using the Move. That isn’t to say that the Move doesn’t provide an interesting experience when in use and alter the gameplay slightly. I found that it made the game more frustrating and actually detracted from the overall fun factor found when using dual analog sticks.
StarDrone is fun and simple but ultimately the same aspects that give the game its charm also serve as its downfall(s). While I can appreciate a game that offers brief gameplay sessions with a lot of variety, I want them to also give me reason to come back and play those brief sessions multiple times. StarDrone just doesn’t do that. I am am one who has the classic gamer mentality which enjoys challenging myself to topping my previous top-scores, but just cannot find the desire to do so with StarDrone. There game offers a small margin when it comes to the varying means of improving your scores that the fun is lost in the process. I have gone back and played some of the early stages over again, but just don’t care to go back and do it again. The game is over and done with before you know it and I imagine most gamers will not find a want, or need, to go back for more once they have made their way through the initial offerings. Long story short, it’s a little fun while it lasts but it just doesn’t last very long...
While I found StarDrone to be enjoyable, the novelty wears off pretty fast. Players can fly through a majority of the stages at a quick pace and not find much reason to revisit them again, which could turn a lot of gamers off. If you enjoying challenging yourself to top your personal scores, there is quite a bit of replay value to be found, but I don’t think a majority of gamers do or will...
Rating: 7.9 Above Average
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.
If you have been here before, you know the basics: lifelong gamer, father, and of course, certified news monkey. I have been blogging on the industry for close to a decade now, in some form or another. It wasn't until I landed here at Gaming Nexus that I really dove in head first. Now, writing about games has become what I do for fun (and sometimes work) and something I intend on doing until the day I die.
I'm a huge fan of just about everything you can interact with using a controller, no matter how old or new. If you put it in front of me, I will play it... end of story.