Minis Review – Stellar Attack
Top-down shooters are fairly common on the PSP, and usually involve one thing – shooting anything that moves. While that stays true in Laughing Jackal’s latest Mini title, Stellar Attack, there is also a layer of strategy thrown into the mix in the form of color-coordinated shooting. Does it all come together for a slightly more complex shooter, or would Stellar Attack be better off being tossed into a black hole? Find out in our review!
First off, this game just screams retro, with LED-like text for the main menu, vector-styled graphics for the ship and orbs, as well as a thumping MIDI-sounding audio background track. There are high score tables with ridiculously high set scores as well. Fans of 1980’s Star Castle from Cinematronics would feel right at home here.
Much like Star Castle or Yar’s Revenge, the goal is to destroy an enemy surrounded by multiple rings of protection. In the case of Stellar Attack, these rings are made up of color-coded orbs. Some of these orbs have special logos over them, which do varying actions when hit by the properly-colored laser from your ship. This can vary from speeding up the rotation of the orb rings to firing extra shots at your ship. The control scheme also follows that of retro games – rather than pointing the analog stick in the direction that you wish to move, you can only rotate left or right and thrust forward. The L and R buttons do add some side thrust controls to the ships, which helps, but it is definitely something to get used to if you do not play older arcade titles regularly.
There are three difficulty levels across the three different game types, and each of these variations have their own separate local leaderboards to ensure fans will keep coming back for more. On top of that, there are six different ships to choose from that have unique shapes and varying degrees of speed, turning, and gunpower. So that’s a total of 54 different combinations that can be made up in an attempt to attain an ever-higher score.
Gameplay can be very challenging, due in large part to the control scheme. Retro gamers will love the challenge, but those of us who do not have the luxury of experience will likely feel a bit overwhelmed at times, even on the easiest difficulty setting. There is a tutorial included, but the best way to train yourself is to simply play the game. Memorizing what color is on which button takes some time to learn, so deaths are fairly frequent during the first few run-throughs of the game. Square and Triangle are also mapped to somewhat similar colors, which may be difficult to discern from one another during intense moments of the battles.
Ultimately, your enjoyment of this title rests on how big of a fan you are of these retro-style games. There is plenty of strategy to this title, but the game’s control scheme does present a lot of challenge that some people may not be able to overcome. Despite this, however, there is a lot of gameplay here and racking up an ever-higher score due to quality time spent with this title is always a rewarding feeling.
PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score
A retro gamer’s dream.
Control scheme may be too daunting for some.
Plenty of variety and strategy to ensure replayability.