Review by Nigel Wood
I’ve had this game a while now. “So why haven’t you reviewed it already?” you say. Well it’s not because I haven’t wanted to, it’s just this particular game had a level that stumped me, and I couldn’t very well review a game from the basis of only a few levels. I like to think I’m pretty good at games, but I guess any self respecting gamer would say that about themselves. But, a boss in this game right near the beginning, had me beat. Dave called me a noob, I wouldn’t go that far…. I like to think that I was being unlucky!
But I digress, Stellar Blaster by solo developer Jean-Piere Martineau is a top down shooter of the asteroids arcade ilk. The game requires you to rid the 25 levels of Enemy ships, all the while avoiding asteroids. You’ll also encounter bonus levels and boss battles, which I’ll get on to later. Shooting them will split them into smaller rocks and occasionally reveal a power-up to aid your mission, these include shield upgrades and weapon upgrades, as well as bogus power-ups (or power downs) that annoyingly drain your power ups.
The graphics are pretty simple, but they feel right. And I wouldn’t have expected much more for this classic-style game. The backgrounds look good, and change as you progress. As mentioned before the game is top down, and has the level spin around the ship which remains fixed. This works particularly well and avoids any neck injuries!
The control is where the game shines. A mix of tap and tilt. You tilt to steer your ship, kinda like a bus driver steers. And tap the thrust button to propel your ship forwards. To fire, tap the shoot button. Simple!
This brings me onto my only real problem with this game (which was also the reason for the delayed review ) and that’s the boss battles. Every 5 or so levels you encounter a giant spinning ship which shoots out non-stop bullets. Avoiding them is task enough, but the main problem is your shield. You see, before the boss level you have the opportunity to max out your ship with various power-ups in a bonus level. But even then you probably won’t last long enough to destroy him. Many times I’d whittled his shields down to almost nothing, only to have a stray bullet finish me off at the last moment. To add insult to injury, when you materialise not only are you back to basic power, but the bosses shields have miraculously regenerated. I can understand this in the last level, but not at level 5.
Overall it’s a nice little shooter, and a good time waster. The controls work great, and the visual style is pleasing in a retro way. I enjoyed just sitting back and blasting away, and it’s only the boss battles that broke my flow, and to the point of frustration. I’d almost prefer if the game simply had a survivor mode, allowing you to see how long you can last as more and more ships appear with increasing AI.
Presentation & Graphics:
No fancy effects here, but it’s good looking in a retro way.
No music, but the sound effects fit well
The overall gameplay for a shooter is great, especially with the intuitive control setup. But, unfortunately, the difficulty increase too early on brings the score down a half star.
If you are hell bent on destroying the boss ship, then you will be playing this until the cows come home. There’s an online score table. But beyond the 25 levels there’s just empty space.
If you like classic shooters, then you might want to take a look at Stellar Blaster. But if you get frustrated quickly then you may want to steer clear. Stellar Blaster is available now for $2.99 (£1.79)