PS Vita Review – Super Stardust Delta

Super Stardust HD was released on the PlayStation 3 when it was just a handful of months old, later becoming the first game to receive a trophy patch when firmware 2.40 went live. The series then saw release on the PSP, but the twin-stick shooter could never reach its full potential on the single-stick platform. Now, Super Stardust Delta has graced the launch of the PlayStation Vita. Can it rival the awesome Super Stardust HD? Read our review to find out.

Developer Housemarque is back at the helm again, and they have brought their arcade chops to the table here. Within a few moments of firing up this game, you’ll feel right at home if you’re a veteran of the series. Every game mode from the earlier entries, including Impact from the PSP port, have made an appearance here. The more traditional modes of Super Stardust such as Arcade, Planets and Endless support two different play styles – Pure and Delta. Pure mode is there for the Super Stardust purists who only want their trusty analog sticks, bombs and boost as their weapons of choice. Those who want some more options can utilize the PS Vita’s unique input offerings to include more firepower. Using either the front touchscreen or rear touchpad, you can fire off a chain of missiles or a black hole. In either case, the game slows down for you to pick exactly where you want to fire the impressive weapon. Massive, glorious destruction is sure to follow once your weapon is fired.  Some people may feel the touch controls are unnecessary – I actually find myself preferring it, because who can say no to more weapons?

Graphically, Super Star Delta is just as awe-inspiring as its PlayStation 3 brethren. Perhaps even more so. The action remains fast and furious, and you cannot help but to be completely bedazzled by all the particles that are on your screen in any given moment, all while the frame rate remains rock solid. It can get a bit overwhelming, and occasionally you’ll suffer a death because you didn’t see a small asteroid coming up behind you. Challenge in Super Stardust Delta mostly comes in increased enemies and asteroids, both of which require either your fire or ice gun to eliminate in less time. Controls are also nice and tight; this is one game that showcases just how accurate the PlayStation Vita’s dual analog sticks, and also shows you how ridiculously inaccurate it was to play on the PlayStation Portable.

The soundtrack is thumping as well, with some of the series’ familiar tunes thrown into the mix. The Vita’s speakers really shine with Super Stardust Delta, and you can completely lose yourself to the game if you listen to it with headphones on. You can unlock more soundtracks by utilizing the Near social software that came with your Vita, which may be incentive enough for fans of the game to use the service. Speaking of sounds, there are few as rewarding as that “ding” you hear when you earn a trophy. The trophies included in Delta are pretty challenging, inviting you to test your skill and really earn them. They’re mostly for completionists as usual, and segmented depending on if you bought the already-available DLC or not.

Housemarque has also seen fit to add a minigames section to Super Stardust Delta. You unlock these by clearing planets in the main game. The minigames mostly use the extra input methods available to you in novel ways, and have leaderboards to coerce you to giving it “just one more go.” Some will find these to be addicting, but they are mostly just put in there to make you use the Vita in different ways, even when it shouldn’t be. The minigames are also a bit on the weak side, with the best stuff like the series staple Bomber mode sold separately as launch day DLC.

Much like the two before it, Delta shows us just how much fun a twin-stick shooter can be. Thanks to the Vita’s dual analog sticks, the game can finally be played how it was meant to be, but on the go. With a slick presentation, optional Vita-centered controls, solid frame rate and a booming soundtrack, this is a no-brainer to fans of twin stick shooters, or arcade fans in general.

PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score

+ Finally, tight, dual analog control for a portable Super Stardust.

+ Amazing visuals and audio, solid frame rate throughout.

– Need to buy DLC for the full package

8.5 out of 10