Why does this remind me of the Galaxy Rangers?
Have you ever wanted to just jump into a huge ass mecha! A mecha that had the means and power to take out anything in its path? NO? Well, I certainly have and more times than I can recall. I guess that’s why a game like Stardust Galaxy Warriors is practically calling my name. Who am I resist such a primal need to just blow up stuff in a giant mech! Let’s do this!
Game Name: Stardust Galaxy Warriors
Publisher(s): Dreamloop Games, Vasara Entertainment
Developer(s): Dreamloop Games
Release Date: November 10, 2015
In fact, the first thing I thought of when I played this game was it reminded me when I was younger and when I would sit in front of the tv and watch cartoons all day. There’s just something about Stardust Galaxy Warriors that brings out that spark of nostalgia. There was so much that I saw in the game that reminded my of Saturday morning cartoons that I hit up the developer and asked: “Which cartoons were an inspiration for this game?”. I expected them to reply back with this two or three. Instead, they replied back with “Every. Saturday. Morning. Cartoon. EVER!” It definitely shows, I can see tons of traces from some of my favorite old school cartoons; from Galaxy Rangers, Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs, Robotech and that’s just naming a few.
We’d be here all day if I went through how many shows where the inspiration for Stardust Galaxy Warriors, so just take my word for it. OK?
You’re able to change the characteristics of how the game plays. For example, when you start a game you can select the option to “Customize your Experience.” What that does is allow you to change certain things like changing the durability of the enemies, drop rates, fire rate, multipliers and a lot more. I have to say that I haven’t seen an option like this in a shmup title or for that manner, any game. It’s actually pretty cool and what it allows you to do is knock the game down a notch or two, which is helpful if you’re constantly getting wrecked. Once you’re ready to get into some action you just pick your favorite mecha or do what my co-op buddies did and pick the one that looked the coolest… which usually ended up being the one I wanted to pick. Just pick your character and then you still have one more option which is to decide on which piece of weaponry you’ll want to take on the mission with you. I know, so many decisions and you haven’t even started the game. Yet it’s refreshing to see that the developers have taken the time to give you, the player multiple options, instead of just dropping you in the game and saying “Go forth and kick some ass“.
Stardust Galaxy Warriors comes with three modes to tackle; Campaign – a story drive mode, Gauntlet – pits you against waves of oncoming enemies to see how high you can score and the Challenge mode that has several preset challenges. During my time with the game, I typically played both the campaign for the achievements and to beat it, while with the gauntlet mode it allowed me to see how long I could stay alive, especially since it gets harder the further you progress. The challenge mode just didn’t seem to interest me as much as the other two modes and I feel that the lack of any leaderboard may have something to do with that. If all I have to challenge against is myself and anyone else in my home who plays the game, it defeats the purpose of having it.
Gameplay is standard shmup flair. You progress and attempt to take out as many enemies as you can without them doing that to you first. Each mech is equipped with a shield that helps protect it from damage. Lose it and you’re left to try to stay alive as your mecha will now start taking damage and once you’re at zero, well I don’t have to tell you what happens. Thankfully your shields do return after a while if you manage not to take any more incoming hits. There’s also random power-ups that are dropped from various enemies, all of which give your mecha a different ability and help give you a fighting chance. Or you could just bank your credits and wait for that zany yet friendly space vendor who has everything you need, for a price.
Yet while it seems like a basic shmup, Stardust Galaxy Warriors shines with its colorful and animated graphics, it’s pseudo RPG-elements and more importantly, the game doesn’t take itself to seriously as it even throws in bits and pieces of comedy. A clear example of that is early in the game when you’re told to take out a “Big Ass Asteroid”, that when you finally do destroy it the asteroid appears over your radio and claims “I shall have my revenge!”. I was cracking up because it was so unexpected, it’s rare to find those type of things in a shmup. Those RPG elements I also spoke about are handy as well. Every time you complete a level, you’re given the option of choosing from a set of enhancements. You can stack firepower, get better shields among other things. So you a make a glass cannon who can dish out the damage, a beast that can take anything thrown at it or a mixture of something in-between. The options are limitless.
Since this is a shmup I tend to do testing to see how much give there is when it comes to hitboxes and how much you can get away with. As such I’m happy to state that as long as you don’t run smack into the enemy fire, you’ll do just fine with dodging. Speaking of dodging, you’re able to play this game via keyboard/mouse, as well as with a gamepad. While many people will quickly choose a gamepad over the keyboard/mouse combo, I gave it a spin and came away amazed at how well I had done. I got half way through the game without much difficulty using that control scheme and that’s damned good for just using the keyboard and mouse. As expected however the gamepad just felt more natural and with that in hand, I was able to complete the game without much issue. Though had I put more effort into using the keyboard and mouse I likely could have done it with that as well. Stardust Galaxy Warriors definitely has great controls, something which I feel is a requirement for any shmup title.
The game look stunning runs well and doesn’t require a beast of a PC to manage that feat. During my gameplay, the game ran at a rock solid 60 frames per second and looked very fluid. Each mecha is very detailed incoming ongoing barrage of enemies and even the backdrops. I also have to mention that you’re also able to make a few graphical changes in the options, which surprised me. You’re able to change the texture quality, Vsync, bloom, anti-aliasing, screen resolution and even enable letterbox mode if that’s your thing. I wasn’t expecting to find those options available yet it’s nice to see that the developer had the PC market in mind and provided the ability to adjust the graphical quality.
Finally and this important, is the soundtrack. It’s freaking catchy as well heck. In fact I’ve been listing to this while writing this review and I’ve yet to get tired of it. They advertise the soundtrack is a throwback to those old school cartoons and the 90’s, but I’ve getting vibes of techno, dance as well as some bass and drum.
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I also wanted to say that I love the fact that the developers have been and do frequent the Steam community and are listening to feedback by their fans. It’s nice to see that rapport between consumer and developer, something that is sorely missing in this day and age.
* This game was provided by the developer for review
When people mention shmups on the PC, they don’t mention Stardust Galaxy Warriors and after playing this gem I feel that is a crime. Tight controls, catchy music, every game is handled different thanks to the customization and 4 play co-op make this game stand out in a big way. In fact, the only thing that hurts this title is that its an offline affair only. That said, for $10 you’ll have a blast, literally. And if you have 3 people to play with then you’re in for one hell of a time. Hopefully, we’ll also see some much-needed DLC as the game as it stands if pretty short, that is unless you keep coming back to the gauntlet and challenge modes.
- Looks and plays good for a $10 game
- Tons of customization options to enhance your game-play
- Great sounding soundtrack
- Tight and responsive controls
- A shmup with humor? You don’t see those very often
- The boss fights are tad on the easy side
- The combat gets stale at times when you’re playing solo
- Sometimes there’s too much going on at once on the screen
- No online co-op