I owned an Xbox 360 before I had my PlayStation 3, and most of my friends who had an Xbox 360 were hooked on a little game called Geometry Wars. I played the demo and liked it enough for the most part, but it never quite clicked with me for some reason. Fast forward another year or so, and I had a PlayStation 3 and one of the first titles I picked up was the similar but much flashier looking Super Stardust HD.
The concept is pretty simple – it is a twin stick shooter where one analog stick moves your ship and the other shoots in the direction you push. I think my first experience with a game of this style was Smash TV in the arcade a very long time ago. The formula is fun, fast-paced and generally addicting.
Graphics – 8:
This is a very pretty game. I do not know why, but the visuals in Geometry Wars just never really sat well with me. No such qualms about Super Stardust HD, however. The amount of movement and particles filling the screen is impressive. There are hints of slowdown now and then however, when too much is going on. Disappointing since the game itself generally moves at a brisk pace.
The 3D Perspective: Super Stardust has a lot going on at once, so I was concerned the various particles might be more distracting than cool. Overall, the 3D is actually quite nice. It is not quite up to the level of games like WipEout or Uncharted 3, but it looks clean and has a nice enough field of depth. 7 out of 10.
Sound & Music – 7:
Nothing special. It is nice that there are different music themes – it would have been easy to hear only a few songs overall in a game like this, but it does vary from time to time. The sound effects are also ‘fine’, but not great and they do grow a bit repetitive since you are constantly firing off shots at debris.
Gameplay – 8:
The controls might take a small amount of time to get used to if you are unfamiliar with dual stick shooters, but really it is pretty intuitive. The game is fast-paced and pretty well balanced. I touched on this in graphics, but there is unfortunately some slowdown, and that is a shame because Stardust is at its best when things are humming along quickly.
Intangibles – 7:
There are different worlds, different modes and different bosses. Still, in the end, they all feel pretty much the same. That is not a bad thing since the core game mechanic is a lot of fun, but you are not going to get a ton of variety out of it. There is a cooperative mode that helps liven things up – I had fun playing with my son.
I will come right out and say that I preferred this game to Geometry Wars, and that is the title Super Stardust HD is most often compared to. The slowdown issues are a bit annoying at times, but hardly a deal killer. This title has been out for quite some time, but it is a lot of fun in small bursts. Do not go in expecting a hundred hours of deep, story driven play – but if you are looking for a quick action fix, this may well do the trick for you.