Super Stardust Delta Review

Super Stardust Delta is probably the best reviewed game on the Vita. It is the Vita equivalent to Super Stardust HD, released on the Playstation 3 awhile back. The game is a top down arcade shooter, with an emphasis on high score collecting. HD was, and continues to be, one of the best arcade shooters on any console; therefore Delta has a lot to live up to. Since HD was given away en masse as part of Sony’s “Welcome Back” program after the hack, many people should have gotten a chance to try it out. For those that have played HD, there isn’t going to be some new learning curve as the game plays almost exactly the same. However, the refinements to the gameplay make Delta a triumph as a portable game, unlike the subpar Super Stardust Portable released for the PSP a couple of years ago.

There’s a Greek character on here somewhere. The hint is: it’s not the wings or the Roman characters.

First let’s talk about the scam, which you’re going to need to put up with to buy this game. Delta only costs $10, which is pretty damn good for a game of this calibre; however, it was released with day on DLC, which costs an additional $8. In order to really get it across that the developers are scamming the player, they bundled the game and DLC for $15, which is the average price for a game like this. Despite the fact that it is a clear scam and the militant anti-DLC gamer might have been awakened in you due to this outrage, just buy the damn bundle. The DLC comes with a variety of fun modes, and $8 is prohibitively expensive. Therefore, just bite the bullet and buy the whole game for $15 and not part of it for $10. I know, I didn’t like it either.

This game wasn’t made by Capcom, but the way it scams you makes me feel as if it should have been.

Now that’s out of the way, let’s talk about the gameplay refinements. Delta does away with the three weapon system from HD of Gold Melter, Rock Crusher, and Ice Breaker. Instead the weapons are simply fire and ice. Fire being exactly the same as the Gold Melter, and ice being the same as the Rock Crusher. This might seem like a downgrade, but it is anything but. The game is entirely built on a weakness system, which will have the player switching between these two weapons repeatedly in order to properly tackle enemy weaknesses. In HD you could easily never touch one or even two of the weapons. Delta, on the other hand, strongly encourages you to use them against enemies, whose survival instinct is such that they have colour coded themselves according to their weaknesses.

If enemies were smarter they would code their weaknesses with green or something to totally screw us up.

Speaking of enemies, there are some new additions to the HD formula. The asteroids, triangles, centipedes, and cannons are back, but joining them are a couple of enemies, which change up the game. Firstly, there are manta ray like things, which are immune from damage from the front, and, in fact, will charge at you if you hit them on their front side. This encourages smarter weapon use and not just random flailing, as you could end up smashed to bits by these things. Another new enemy is one, which sets up walls around the arena, and should be a priority immediately in order to prevent clogging lanes. There are also suicide bombers (Very sensitive, Delta), which come out in great numbers and fly on a collision course. These, in combination with black enemies, which are devoid of weakness, makes Delta a much more strategic game than HD, as ascertaining a threat is definitely more of a priority instead of just flailing the Gold Melter at everything.

According to the name of this picture, the manta ray things are appropriately named “Absorbers”. Thank you, Internet!

With all this good there must be a bad side right? Well, cynical reader, you’re right. Delta is by far the worst example of integrating Vita auxiliary features that I have seen so far. There are two choices for playstyles: Pure, and Delta. Pure is the exact same as HD, and Delta throws on some interesting bells and whistles such as blackholes, missiles, both of which are activated by one of the touch screens, and slow-mo boosting. The touch screens work quite well in this regard, but in Delta, the camera is controlled by the gyroscope, and, unless you keep you’re hands very still, you are going to experience the camera rolling around quite a bit, which is very irritating, and, for me, makes Delta mode unplayable.

No, keep your hands very, very still.

All of the minigames included in Delta make great use of the various Vita features, and none of them are really any good. They range from a decent way to kill two minutes to barely playable. The gyroscope is very imprecise and it is hard to see why it has been so widely integrated. Similarly, the back touch screen is very inaccurate so the minigame Crush, which requires you to touch the front and back touch screen at the same time to “crush” asteroids and enemies, is not fun in the slightest. All in all, the minigames aren’t bad additions, but they aren’t anything of substance and probably won’t occupy anyone more than a couple of tries. This is a shame as it seems they were designed to show off the interesting features of the Vita, and only ended up showing how limited they can be when made the core game mechanic.

This is not a good combat strategy, suicide bombers!

Despite the minigames being less than average, the main game is as fun as ever and the legitimate extra modes are also a great way to spend time. The main game is basically the same as in HD, but with different planets and this time the bosses aren’t recycled at all. If you bought the DLC, and you should have, you’ll have access to four other modes: Endless, Bomber, Twin-Gun and Impact. Twin-Gun uses the gyroscope for steering, but manages to be a lot more fun than any of the minigames; although it is equally limited. Impact has you boosting and steering through hordes of enemies to maintain your boost and is far more fun than it deserves to be. Bomber is as frustrating as it was in HD, and isn’t particularly fun at all. Finally there is Endless. Endless is an excellent mode which you may find yourself spending the bulk of your time playing. It is an unending mode with constant waves of enemies, and is quite fun. All in all the main game and most of the DLC modes make this game a very good purchase.

Insert witty/filthy comment about a black hole

As I said at the beginning of the review, Super Stardust Delta is the best reviewed game for the Vita, and there is little question as to why. For $10-15 dollars, the game is packed with enough content to keep the purchaser playing for a long time. On top of this, most of the content is actually quite good; one might go as far as to say that it is excellent. So the basic point here is: if you have any interest in top down arcade shooters, there should be no question in your mind whether or not you should buy this game. For those who aren’t genre fans, you can do a lot worse than Super Stardust Delta.

– Mistranslations for the Modern Gamer.

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