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NGR Review: The Legendary Starfy - Starfy Makes His Way to Western Shores
on May 20, 2013
The Legendary Starfy is the fifth game in the long running Densetsu no Stafy (Legendary Starfy) series; however it is the first Starfy game to be released outside of Japan. The game features a brand new style of platforming called "marine platforming" by the developers, and has that Kirbyish charm, but how does it stand compared to the other platforming games on the DS? Well, lets find out!
The Story of Starfy:
Although The Legendary Starfy is the fifth game in the series, it really doesn't matter. Just like with the past games, The Legendary Starfy features it's own stand alone story, so it is very easy for anyone to just pick up and completely understand what is going on. While throughout the game characters will mention that they've been on adventures before, none of them really effect the events that unfold here.
One day the lazy prince Starfy was sleeping in his bed in the floating castle of Pufftop Palace, when all of a sudden a strange rabbit wearing a space suit crashed through the castle and landed on top of him. At first Starfy wasn't quite sure what to do, but when a few strange characters show up to capture the poor creature, Starfy decides to help; however the rabbit had other plans. After using his special spin attack to save him, Starfy finds that the rabbit fell into the ocean below, and the bad guys were still after him. So, being the kind prince he is, Starfy, along with his best friend Moe the clam, decide to jump into the ocean and follow him. Soon after, Starfy and Moe once again find themselves on a grand adventure.
Tose and the Starfy Charm:
Two things that really make the Starfy series stand out are, the developers who developed the game, and what I like to call the "Starfy Charm." The Starfy series is an original series created by the almost completely unknown company Tose, but it isn't the only game they have worked on. The thing about Tose is, they are a ghost company who almost always is behind the scenes of just about EVERY game! Yep, that's right, Tose has developed and co-developed thousands of titles, and chances are that includes almost every game you have ever played. They never put their names on the games they work on, and their staff NEVER shows up in the game's credits, they stay completely unknown. From Final Fantasy, to Kid Icarus and even games like Metal Gear Solid on the Game Boy, Tose has a long line of games under their belt, with plenty of game experience. Even so, due to them holding the copyright along side Nintendo, the Starfy series is the only one they call their own.
Besides the fact that it's developer is a ghost company, the game itself has quite a lot of charm, and that's what really makes this game stand out. The entire game uses some really nice bright colors, the music is really catchy and sounds like something you would hear in a Kirby game, all of the enemies are cute animals and sea creatures, and Starfy himself just really makes this game pop. His bright yellow colors really stand out, when he runs his feet spin around like Sonic the Hedgehog and he waves his arms and grows big eyes like he's scared of falling down, he can get dizzy if he spins too much, he smiles and flaps his arms as he glides through the air, and he makes cute little "WHEEEEE" sounds from time to time. Starfy is just a really stand out character, and he makes the entire game enjoyable!
Besides how the game looks, there are a few other little touches Tose threw in which really help give the game character as well. Whenever you open and close your DS, you'll hear Starfy make his "WHEEE" sounds, and whenever character's are talking on the touch screen, they'll open and close their mouth and turn around in sync. Although neither of these features are anything major, it is pretty nice to see a game that uses the close/open feature for something other than single use story events, and it is also really nice to see the characters actually move as the talk instead of just having still images. Really, they're both just something you'll have to hear and see for yourself.
The Gameplay of Marine Platforming:
As I said before, the Starfy series uses a brand new style of platforming gameplay which Tose calls "Marine Platforming." Since most of the Starfy series takes place underwater, Tose has created a game where the sea creatures can make full use of that water, and do things other games just tend to avoid.
While underwater, Starfy can do quite a few different moves, and each one of them actually has different uses. While at the very start of the game his moves are limited, as you go through the adventure more and more become unlocked. Even so, his basic moves always stay the same. First of all, Starfy can move in any direction while he's swimming underwater, and he can also go faster by holding down the B button. By hitting the Y button Starfy can do his famous spin move to attack enemies, but as it gets upgraded it can be used for other things as well.
Underwater is a dangerous place, and it is filled with many different enemies, water currents, and obstacles to get in Starfy's way. While some water currents can be pushed through by using his spin moves, others are simply too strong and will require other solutions to get around. From finding hidden paths in walls, to pushing rocks over jet streams, this is what makes up the core gameplay of the underwater sections of Starfy. While the gameplay is actually pretty basic, with enemies not putting up much of a fight, there are actually many secrets to be found in these stages, and you must explore every nook and cranny if you want to get through them. While the first few levels of the game are in fact basic underwater sections, a little bit later on things really start to get creative. Once Starfy starts leaving the water for the land above, things change, and the game truly becomes a unique platformer.
While Starfy is on land, his gameplay completely changes, and the game becomes a lot more like a standard platforming game. Stafy can do a weaker version of his spin attack, he can run faster by holding down the attack button, he can jump (and later double jump), and glide, and he can make full use of any traces of water still left around him. For example in some levels water drops will actually be falling from the sky, and Starfy will be able to jump into them, swim through them, and then launch himself into the air to hit the next water drop, or he can use them as platforms to make it to the next area. Soon the game transforms from simply swimming through tunnels, to bouncing off of enemies heads, soaring through the sky, swimming through water suspended in mid air, and using every trick you can think of just to reach that next area. Still, this is only half of the gameplay in The Legendary Starfy.
After meeting up with the rabbit, Starfy soon finds that he can transform into different creatures which have their own powers. Although these transformations can only be used in specific areas of the game, each one plays differently, and that really helps change up the gameplay. From running down a forest path burning away vines with a dragon, to turning yourself invisible as a ghost to sneak past enemies, these transformations offer a wide verity of gameplay types, but they are pretty limiting in the end; even so, they do end up playing a major part when it comes to the underline goal of the game.
The truth is, above all else, Starfy is a treasure hunting game. There are over one hundred pieces of treasure for Starfy to find during his adventure, and MANY hidden stages to unlock as well. Because of this, you will find yourself searching every inch of each level, solving puzzles you would normally just pass by, and playing mini games just to find that next treasure or unlock that next hidden level. While the game is divided up into worlds, each world has three extra hidden levels, and in these hidden levels you'll find hidden power ups to increase Starfy's health, as well as make his transformations stronger. To go along with the standard treasure hidden in each of the levels, these additions really give you a reason to explore as much as possible; however it still isn't that simple.
A lot of the areas you'll come across will actually be off limits the first time you see them. There will either be a strong current blocking your path, enemies that seem to make a bridge but with no true way to get across, or the platform will just be too high to reach. Whenever you come across these sections, it is very clear that Starfy will need to learn some kind of new ability before he can get across, and that's exactly what you'll have to do. You'll have to move on with the game, unlock Starfy's later abilities, and then return to see what you had left behind. Sometimes it was just treasure, but other times it is an entire level, either way you will have to back track if you want to see everything this game has to offer. The good news is, that throughout the game you will also unlock different touch screen features as well. Although most of these are simply there to give you information on how much you've played, and how far you've progressed through the game, others (such as Moe's) will actually help you find the secrets, so you don't always enter a level blind.
Mini games and mini side events also play a part in Starfy, but only the latter really matter. Although you will unlock a few mini games to play, they really aren't anything special, and I personally didn't play them more than a few times. While one is a simple fishing game, another is just rubbing the touch screen as fast as possible, and there's also one where you just tap coins on the screen to shoot them. While they may be fun to play from time to time with friends, there really isn't much to offer you if you're going it solo; however the side events are important!
As I said before, you can unlock extra levels in each world, but to do so you have to find a door, AND you have to play a mini event. Normally in these mini events one of the sea creatures will ask you for help, and all you have to do is, well, help them. While some events require you to race to the end, others might require you to figure out a little puzzle. Either way these events must be played if you want to unlock the other levels, and they are a very important part of the game. Just a word of advice, you might want to play the game using headphones if you've got them; a few events actually use 3D sound to help track things down, and the DS speakers just don't do it justice.
The final, main, feature in Starfy is it's multiplayer mode. At the start of some of the levels you can actually talk to Moe and call in Starfy's little sister to help him out. Although she plays a lot like Starfy, she does have access to abilities that Starfy unlocks later in the game, and she even has a few moves Starfy NEVER learns (such as her wall jump). Although this really is a nice addition to the game, there are two down sides to this. First of all, there are some areas of the levels Starfy CANNOT access, so you MUST have a second player if you want to get the rewards, but since this is a DS game it really isn't that simple. If you want to be able to explore every inch of every level, you'll have to own a second DS and either use the single card play, or own another DS and another game card to do the multicard play (which is actually a lot faster). Since buying another DS isn't cheap, chances are this is a feature a lot of people will miss out on.
The second major issue with the multiplayer is the fact that it can only be used in a few rooms, normally the first room of each level, and it actually takes quite a bit of time to use. For the sake of this review, I wanted to 100% the game, and explore every inch of every level so I could give a fair review of it; however that required the use of a second DS, and that alone was pretty time consuming. If you only have a single copy of the game, you'll have to talk to Moe, hit download play, turn on your second DS, go to download play and download the Starfy data, and then you have to wait about a minute before you can even play. Sure once you download the game data and start playing everything is fine right? Well, actually, NOPE! The thing is, these two player sections may only last you thirty seconds at most, and once you go through that door at the end, the two player mode ends, and the second player's DS shuts off. Yep, you heard me, it shuts off! Now if you want to play multiplayer again when it allows you to a few rooms later, you'll actually have to do everything all over again. In the end you might actually spend more time waiting for player two to connect than you'll spend time playing.
Sure the multiplayer mode is nice, and it can help you out when it comes to fighting bosses, but it is a pretty big pain if you only own one copy of the game, and it really isn't worth messing with unless you're having a hard time fighting a boss; which really shouldn't happen given how easy most of this game is.
Pearls and the Shop:
One thing I really liked about Starfy is it's whole Pearl system. While most games have coins, rings, or any other object to collect, most of the time it is simply used to collect one hundred of them and to unlock an extra life; however Starfy actually gives an extra use to the whole system! While collecting five pearls will heal Starfy's health some, they also actually go into your pearl count where they can then be spent on little extras. Now these extras really aren't anything major, they are a nice little something to give you a reason to pick the pearls up.
The first extra is the whole clothing shop system. Every time you click on "shop" on the main menu, you are given the chance to buy a random piece of clothing which you can put on the 3D model of Starfy (or his sister) which appear on the top screen when the game is paused. Although these pieces of clothing really don't change the game that much, they do allow you to customize your pause screen some, and by completing a clothing set (which only consists of two pieces) you can unlock a special "scene" for the top screen as well. Once again, this really isn't a major feature, but it is a nice little something you can do.
The second way these pearls are used is actually in a locked feature which the game doesn't actually allow you to use until you've finished the main game (most likely to avoid spoilers), and that's the toy shop. Basically you can put five pearls into a toy machine, turn the dial, and then open the toy bubble to see what you got. These toys are the enemies and characters you met throughout the game, and they simply provide extra background information on them. Once again, it's not a major feature, but it is kind of nice, and it gives you a reason to keep picking up pearls even after you've got everything from the shop.
Although Starfy can be beaten in about ten hours, the game actually doesn't end there. Once you finish the game more content opens up, more modes become unlocked, and you can still go back and find any treasure or hidden levels you may have left behind. In the end, although Starfy actually does have a pretty long main game, the game still offers you more reasons to keep on playing, and that's something most games tend to leave out now days. To avoid spoilers I will not say what you all unlock once you finish the game, but I will say it is sure to add on quite a few more hours of gameplay.
The Good and the Bad:
Starfy is a great game that does a lot of things right, but it also has quite a few problems as well. On the plus side, the game looks really nice, the 2D sprites are nice and colorful, and the 3D backgrounds really help add depth to the game as well. The characters are nice, it has a pretty good (yet simple) story, the mix of underwater and land gameplay was a nice change of pace from what you see in most platformers, the music was great, I really liked the whole pearl system, I liked how the game used 3D sound for some events, and the game was overall REALLY fun! Sure it was simple at times, but a game doesn't always have to be extremely hard to be fun, and this game is a perfect example of that; however there are still some down sides.
Although I just said that games don't always have to be hard to be fun, The Legendary Starfy is in fact the easiest game in the Starfy series, and Starfy fans may be a little bit disappointed because of that. The multiplayer mode was also pretty much a pain due to how long it took to connect, and due to the fact that there were areas you could only reach with multiplayer, and the mini games weren't anything special either. Another thing that a lot of people may find annoying is that the touch screen and menus also spoil quite a bit of the game as well, as it lists how many treasures you can find in the world, how many of them pieces of treasure will be notes, how many transformations there are, and it also spoils how many pieces of clothing there are to collect. If you like being kept in the dark about things, I'm sorry to say but Starfy will tell you everything; heck one of the treasures you find at the VERY START of the game spoils that there's a secret boss. That's just something most people tend to enjoy finding out on their own, but this game doesn't allow them to do so. Everything is spelled out for you, and that might be an issue for some.
The good news is, the good in Starfy outweighs the bad, and that's what matters. Sure it has it's issues, but it is still a really good game! Personally I'd rate Starfy a 10/10, but that rating just wouldn't be fair. When it comes down to it, The Legendary Starfy deserves a good rating of 8/10. The game is great, but the fact that it is easier may disappoint Starfy fans, and its other few problems really bring it down.
Even so, The Legendary Starfy is a star that really shines, and is a must own game if you're a platforming game fan, and you own a DS.