Why are the stars not out tonight?
Back in the good ol’ days of video games, before companies needed millions of dollars just to get started on a title screen, the industry was dominated by the powerhouses known as the side-scroller. Every company had their attempt at brand mascots, most of which remain where they should be: obscurity. I doubt we’ll ever see a revival of Acro the Acrobat (He’s a bat! Get it!? Acro-BAT! Ha ha ha…) or Sparkster from Rocket Knight Adventures (please, somebody prove me wrong on that one!), but it is nice to see a new character done in the classic style.
[image1]Even if they do make me want to impale my face with a candy cane.
The Legendary Starfy is the “story” of a small star-shaped prince (with, apparently, very unoriginal parents) out to save the little bunny that crashed into his life and – gasp! – suffers from amnesia and has no recollection why he’s being chased by bad guys! So together with his friend Moe, a pastel-colored clam, he ventures out into the water-logged worlds to collect the shards of a crystal that his new bunny pal Bunston (who also has unoriginal parents) has lost.
The whole package is as colorful and smooth as possible, almost like a "Saturday morning" cartoon, which is good for visuals, but the writing and dialogue is on par with one as well: plenty of "We’ll save you!" dialog, so little effort, and just enough irritation. The animation is very nicely done, though it feels disjointed when the story elements are told in cut-scenes – it changes from smooth animation to jumpy, and surprisingly grainy, comic book presentation.
[image2]Save points are ridiculously common throughout each level; I admit I’m a bit of a save-whore, but when there’s both a "save-at-will" system and a "save-at-point" system, it makes the whole thing way too easy. When the levels are a few minutes long each, maybe eight minutes at most for a multi-tiered stage, having five or more save points is just absurd. Maybe I’m getting jaded in my old-gaming-age, but this is just too much, even for a kid’s game. Back in my day, we had to replay entire levels. And we liked it!
One perk is that The Legendary Starfy captures the feel of a classic platformer from the Genesis/SNES era, almost like a cute combo of Kirby’s Adventure and Ristar (meant in the best way I know how). Controlling the various abilities of the little star is simpler than the gradual "tutorials" throughout might indicate; they’re easy to make second-nature throughout. And with the few transformations made with Starfy and Bunston, each “new”creature handles in a unique way that really does bring a nice touch to the already-tight control scheme.
The environments are nice enough, but the package is plagued by not being anything… fresh. The “I’ve gotta help!” angle is running dry, and it hasn’t been taken anywhere here that it hasn’t gone before. The whole game feels like a mash-up of things little boys and girls like, penguins and stars and huggable dragons… it’s almost as if Nintendo and TOSE took every adorable idea they had, threw the list in a blender, then poured out the concoction on a microchip.
[image3]But again, the old gamer within me says it’s just too damn easy. The only learning curve is in the few abilities Starfy has at his disposal; other than that, it’s get from point A to point B. The enemies are bland and predictable, there aren’t any platform puzzles worth mentioning, and each boss is a joke. This game is for either those who need a serious retro-style play style, or for those who need something for the newbie gamer of the family. There is some multiplayer, which is good (maybe) for a brand-spankin’-new player to experience, but it’s really just playing a side-scroller in a co-op fashion; the entire thing is just fine for a single person.
If you have any experience playing video games, you simply don’t need Starfy. If you’ve been playing as long as I have, you’ll recognize the cookie-cutter characters, the attempt at a mascot akin to every game of the early ’90s, and will blow through it easily enough… if you don’t give up from sheer boredom. If you’re just starting out though, it definitely has a place… but this is a Nintendo system, so you know there’s better.